Education

Social media in your career: Learn to give back

Many people using social networking sites for their careers do so in a one-sided way. Here's how to give back.

Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can lead to very serious self-obsession, as anyone who has been privy to a Facebooked, "Having a cup of coffee" update can attest to. And many people who use these tools for career development often do so with the self-promotional zeal of a Kardashian.

But the thing is, to get the best out of social media, and to just be a better person period, you should make sure you give back. So take some time to do one of following in the next few months, courtesy of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies (really, that's the name of the book. For once, I'm not being sarcastic.)

  • Write someone an unsolicited recommendation; try doing this once a week.
  • Share interesting and helpful articles with your network via status updates on a daily basis.
  • Connect two people with similar interests without being asked.
  • Make exceptions to your rules; for example, if you connect with only people you've met in person, break that rule every once in a while when someone seems to really need help.
  • Keep an eye out for job opportunities and send them to people in your network who may qualify.
  • Take someone under your wing and mentor him. Even if you're just starting in your career, you could have something to offer.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

13 comments
hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Having a sense of humor, I, too, did a double-take on the title to which you referred, in the august "for Dummies" how-to book series. Doesn't a book so-named assume the existence of some large number of jobs which even self-described 'dummies' could perform (if only they had a little help navigating social-media)? I know dummies DO find jobs; I've seen a few doing them from time to time: In my local video store some time ago I saw the movie 'Fantastic 4' in a section named 'Prequels & Sequels'....I asked the clerk arranging that section if he'd ever heard of Fantastic 1 through 3, and if so, where THEY were. He said, "If its got a number after it, I put it here." I went over to 'Westerns' and found him 'The Magnificent Seven'---as he put it up I suggested he see them all in order, and enjoy the full saga.... Anyway, it occurs to me that being a Dummy may itself be a greater impediment to a job than an unfamiliarity with social media is.

kauberdi
kauberdi like.author.displayName 1 Like

Intuitively I do all the other points except unsolicited recommendation. I don't know why, but I'm not comfortable with that yet. Even when is solicited I tend to refuse if I don't know the person or never have been engaged with him/her in a professional environment.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I have only the vaguest idea how to write a recommendation. I've done two; one around 2000, another around 2008 or so. Each took me a couple of hours to complete to my satisfaction, an amount of time I'm not willing to burn unsolicited.

spdragoo
spdragoo

My only caveat with this is make sure that the 2 people in question are open to being connected to complete strangers. If 1 or both of the people don't like being "surprised" (or would use the term "ambush" to describe the experience), better to not spring it on them unannounced.

WritingEducator
WritingEducator

This is such a needed commentary. On the "take" side, I'm a fabulous lurker, and I read a ton of good "stuff" in my LinkedIn groups without comment. I suppose a person doesn't always have to make the most pithy or brilliant observation. THANKS for the nudge.

fremonty
fremonty like.author.displayName 1 Like

At the same time, I get daily updates on Linkedin where the only comment someone makes is to agree with a previous comment. If that is all you have to say, keep it to yourself.

DFO_REXX
DFO_REXX

and a career-related one at that. Heck, in some ways Tech Republic counts too (consider these comments, blogs etc. that TR has). I agree with Lazarus439 about Facebook, but that's not the only social medium out there. I share things, mentor people, write recommendations, and connect people to others (and jobs) all the time over on LinkedIn.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Tech Republic counts too" I guess it's time to close the ol' TR account. :-( Seriously, I haven't figured out how to use social media for my own benefit yet, or even for entertainment. I'm sure that's at least partially due to my general lack of real world socialization. I'm not unfriendly, I just don't go out of my way to associate with others in my free time.

alopez
alopez

what free time?... I might spend mine going to fb and defriending all of the non-er's cluttering up datastores with how much fiber they are taking in, what menial unimportant routine task they are about to do...or what color crayola they discovered they are. I also have not really figured out how to use social media for my own benefit other than to fill the gaps in time between things. If I want to socialize, I'll pick up the phone or actually engage in a real conversation.

spdragoo
spdragoo

If you want a bunch of digital "acquaintances", Facebook & Google+ can provide that for you... as long as you're willing to give up some additional digital privacy to go with it. If you're looking for a boost in a search for a new job, go with LinkedIn. It's not as obtrusive as Facebook or Google+, & it's primary purpose is as a "networking" tool -- just like with door-to-door sales, your success rate is much better when you "know someone on the inside". If you're looking for a place to find people that like to discuss the same topics as you do, or have your same interests, you're better off looking for online forums or "groups" (i.e. Yahoo! Groups). That gives you a social interaction on par with Facebook...without having to use your real name if you don't want to.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't know what I want from it. I wrote social media off a couple of years ago in a Discussion here, saying it didn't solve any problems I had. On the other hand, I can't seem to reconcile my logic with the repeated growth and emergence of new tools in this area. Obviously there's something going on, but I can't figure out if it is worth revisiting. I may also be too sensitive regarding my cyber-privacy to just create random trial accounts.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

I don't argue for a minute about lending a hand one way or another, but there a lots of ways to do so that don't require turning one's personal details over the likes of Mark Zuckerberg who regard your and my privacy as an inconvenience to their business model.

hiteshrawal
hiteshrawal like.author.displayName 1 Like

It's really great idea to give back to our favorite social media. This is also one of the way to put some contribution on our social network.

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