We’ve previously discussed the myth that Facebook may destroy careers, highlighting its plausibility and its exaggerations. But social networks comprise much more than Facebook, and the impact (both positive and negative) that they may have on your career is inestimable, especially in the good way. No progress was ever achieved without making the most out of one’s resources, and one’s social circle is among the most valuable resources out there.
What counts as ‘social network’?
Many users ask us questions like “Does Linkedin actually count as a social network or only sites like Facebook count because you can have fun on them, too?”. As understandable as the inquiry may be, let’s make something clear: technically, your social network doesn’t just include your online circle, but your offline one as well, provided you’re able to get in contact with all people in it, even if you’re not actively in touch.
All the people you have known and currently know, which you interact with or with whom you could interact with, if you wanted, comprise your social circle. That includes your elementary school colleagues, the friends of your parents and their children, people you met at a temporary job and added online but haven’t stayed in touch with, old friends, new friends, your current colleagues and so on, no matter if they’re online or not.
How can the social network impact your career?
Since you can’t really exist outside your social network, it is bound to have an impact on your career in all stages of it. The desirability of that impact can vary, but here are, in short, the most common ways things can unfold.
- You can find jobs easier through acquaintances, or help others find jobs you don’t want for yourself.
- You can compare jobs or working fields easier, so you know better if you are earning as much as you could by migrating to a different branch and so on.
- You can find out more about potential collaborators, employers or employees and colleagues: their previous work background, common issues etcetera.
- You can prove your commitment to your field and your involvement in a new job’s specific issues by offering a glimpse into your social networking background.
- You could make our individual project or entrepreneur initiative more known by promoting it in the social network. That could attract funding, awards or at least more publicity.
- Of course, your social network could also easily have a negative impact on your career if you use it carelessly or in an unprofessional manner. Read on for a few dos and don’ts.
Dos and Don’ts to Maximize your Social Network’s Potential for Your Career
- Be careful to only promote a professionally desirable image of yourself through social networking. No need to become an insufferable know-it-all, but refrain from posting (or allowing others to post) images of you drunk or in other such unflattering poses.
- Befriend as many different people from different environments as possible. According to a sociological theory called ‘the strength of weak ties’, the further a person is from your close circle, the more it is likely to find out about a new opportunity from them.
- Create the image of an expert by posting about 1 in 5 articles about your field of work. If more than 1 in 5 articles linked by you is a piece of news related to your field, your profile may seem specifically designed to maintain your job persona. If the articles are any less, they won’t have the desired impact, so 1 in 5 is the ideal ratio.
- Don’t be caught off-guard browsing social networks from your work place or any such other professional faux-pas.
- Don’t neglect the offline component: to help your social network have a greater impact on your career, go to frequent coffee meetings, tell people that you’re looking for a job even if they’re just acquaintances, and promote your work and skills when you have the chance and so on.
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