Think back to a time not long ago when people used the term “computer literate” to describe themselves and their skills. Understanding how to power up a PC, attach a printer and use productivity software like Office or WordPerfect was a pretty big deal. Having this skill could give you an advantage over your competitors. Those skills are assumed now and you better have them. Remember that every kid coming out of college has been using a computer since birth.
We are at that same tipping point in the use of social media. If you know how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and other sites, especially in ways that help your organization and your professional reputation, you have a marketable skill. If you haven’t taken the plunge and signed up and figured it out, you are getting lapped by the field.
Think about how you are going to use these tools to stay connected. In the world of many employers and organizations, if you aren’t on line, you don’t exist.
Quora: What do know? Everyone is good at something and has special knowledge to share. Get into it by following topics that interest you and post quality answers. Ask questions and give feedback to the answerers.
LinkedIn: Use the site’s learning center to understand everything it can do. Start with a simple profile with a good photo of yourself (think corporate headshot, not party pics) and tell the world what you do. Start working it to find people you have known professionally and personally. Use the site’s news feature to track industry stories and social media updates.
Blogging: WordPress and others allow you to share longer ideas like this. It also gives others – including potential employers and clients – the chance to understand your thinking and evaluate your skills in a non-threatening way. Take the time to post quality work, and keep it fresh. You don’t have to post every day, but you don’t want to fall into the land of
abandoned blogs, either.
Twitter: Stay current on topics that interest you. Send out tweets that use industry jargon and you will soon have followers. Link your Quora and LinkedIn accounts to Twitter and your thoughts will get out into the world.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Social media activities have short shelf lives, and you can always delete from your own profile. Jump in, experiment and see where it takes you. With some effort, you may be able to say you are no longer “social media awkward.”