How to Use Social Networks to Advance Your Career

How to Use Social Networks to Advance Your Career

By Michelle Hainer

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. And though some of it can probably be filed under the “time suck” category, much of my social networking is actually career-related. As a writer and blogger, Facebook has become an invaluable tool for me because it allows me to instantly share the latest stories and blog posts I’ve written, as well as follow and comment on my colleagues’ work. This keeps me connected to them -- and inevitably drives traffic back to my own stories.

Yes, social networking sites can definitely provide endless hours of procrastination, but you can -- and should! -- be using them to advance your professional goals as well. Here’s how:

1. Create a Facebook page. Use a Facebook page, separate from your profile, to post articles and links directly related to your profession. People can then “like” your page. It not only prevents the general masses from accessing your personal page (where you may be posting things like vacation photos), but also allows you to reach other users who have a direct interest or affiliation in your area of expertise. To set up your page, scroll to the bottom of the home screen, click on “Create a Page” and follow the prompts.

2. Tweet often. It may seem like yet another thing to have to learn to do, but Twitter is actually one of the most effective social networking tools out there for promoting yourself. You’d be surprised how many people will find you and follow you. Keep your tweets related to your business (you can even set it up so that your Facebook page updates posts to Twitter directly) and start following people who have a similar professional profile to yours. And when people follow you, follow them back.

3. Start commenting. If you have a blog, go to other blogs with similar content and start leaving comments regularly. (Be sure to post your URL so the blogger can find your site and comment back.) Comment on Facebook status updates that are of interest to you and retweet tweets that are relevant. The more of a presence you have in the social networking world, the more people will take notice -- which will only lead to more opportunities.

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Michelle Hainer blogs at Made By Michelle.She has written for The Washington Post, Real Simple, InStyle and other national publications.

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