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6 Ways To Use Social Media To Network After College

6 Ways To Use Social Media To Network After College

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It’s time to grow up. That’s what they tell everyone after college. It’s time to get a job and be a productive member of society.

Nearly everyone in the professional world has some kind of a social media account. This is something you can use to your advantage as a fresh college graduate.

Who would have thought that all that time you spent managing your MySpace would turn into practice for finding the right career? Being savvy of the trends in social media is one of the distinct advantages that millennial has over the older members of the job seeking community.

Social media can play a key role in helping you establish your professional brand as well as create numerous opportunities that might otherwise not have been made available. I’ve outlined a few ways you can use social media to network after college below:

1. Create An Online Portfolio

With any potential job opportunity, an employer is going to want to know what you’re capable of. There’s a heavy interest in the type of results you can deliver, what your skills are, what you’re experienced in, and so on. That’s where an online portfolio comes into play.

Sites like Behance.net or dunked.com allow you to create a free online portfolio and upload your work to share on their site as well as other such as LinkedIn (I’ll talk about this more later). Another benefit to online portfolios is they give you a place to share your academic accomplishments.

Not all of us are able to engage in work experience prior to graduation, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience or haven’t worked on projects that demonstrate a real and creative person. So, really…add any relevant work you’ve done that helps demonstrate your ability and accomplishments whether it be professional, educational, or just stuff you’ve done freelance or on your own. There aren’t any limitations unless you set them yourself.

2. Create A Blog

Of the best ways to demonstrate your thought leadership and skill set is to create a blog. With your blog, you can share your own thoughts and ideas, as well as the thoughts and ideas of others. If something is happening within your industry, write a blog post and discuss it. Share content you come across and write something up about it. One of the cool things about a blog is conversation it can create.

First, with blog comments, users can comment and share their opinion and a conversation can start. Second, if you’re referencing someone else’s content or write something based off other content, you can contact that person and let them know about it. That leads to an opportunity to potentially build a relationship with them as well as potentially have your blog post shared with their networks. The real thing to remember is a blog allows you to express yourself and your thoughts, and increase the opportunity to be seen and speak with others.

3. Join LinkedIn

More and more, you hear people saying it’s a good idea to get on LinkedIn …and that’s because it is. LinkedIn is the premier social network for professionals to connect. LinkedIn allows you basically create an online resume to brand yourself professionally. You can also obtain professional endorsements; so if have any previous work experience, find who you worked with and ask them for an endorsement. These are a great way to let others know what you’re capable of, and depending on whom that person is, can carry a lot of weight in how others perceive you.

One of the really cool things with LinkedIn is that it allows you to bring a more personal touch to finding a job; something that seems to have been lost in such a digital age. It used to be if you made a good impression with the hiring manager face-to-face, it was likely you got the job. Well, with more and more job applications being done online, it’s hard to even make that first impression. With LinkedIn, you can search out jobs as well as search out companies who are hiring.

From there, you can find the individuals who work at that company and find an opportunity to engage with them. Depending on the person, you could message them, find their Twitter or blog, or find a group they’re a member of on LinkedIn and join that group, too. In a sense, you’re cyber stalking them, except that you don’t want to put them in your trunk …you just want to create a professional relationship and make a good impression. Ultimately, LinkedIn is the place to brand yourself professionally on a social network and you can do that through both your page and by connecting with others via groups and direct messaging conversations.

4. Keep Your Accounts Professional

It’s no secret that when someone is applying for a job, they’re going to get Googled, and the buck doesn’t stop there. It’s likely that the hiring manager is going to take a look your various social networks, so it’s a good idea to remain professional online (sure you could make your accounts private but that hinders your opportunity to demonstrate who you are and why you’re different from the rest so just keep them public).

Don’t go off blasting F-bombs every two seconds and posting pictures being passed out at the local dive bar on a week night. Now, I understand that the way we carry ourselves is open to interpretation, but there is a definite understanding of what should and shouldn’t be posted online. Think of it this way…would you want hire someone who is making a fool of themselves online …probably not.

Now, I’m not saying conduct yourself online in a sense that is looks like all you care about is landing a job and talking about x,y,z in industry news and updates …because that looks very fake and boring. What I’m saying is just act like a normal AND professional person. Share anything that interests you and talk with your friends …but just keep it PG-13.

5. Be Social On Social Networks

Contrary to what you may think, or see, not everyone is interested in how many industry articles you can share in a day. If you are using social network, be social!  Talk with others, comment on their posts, share other people’s post that you find interesting or you think your friends will enjoy. Find relevant hash tags or trending topics within your world and use them to join in conversation. As mentioned earlier with LinkedIn, join relevant groups to either jobs you’re seeking or the industry you’re in.

Another important thing to remember is to have a purpose or strategy behind how you’re socializing. Don’t spend all of your time talking with folks who have no bearing on your career or future. Create targeted lists of people, companies, or industries you wish you network with and focus your time and energy engaging with those people since they will be more beneficial in advancing your career and where you want to be. Lastly, by being social, you are able to learn from others, gain new insights, and learn about potential opportunities that otherwise may not have been made available to you.

6. Take Online To Offline

Alright you’ve spent time creating some stuff, you’ve been talking to some people, and people know who you are …now what? Creating and establishing yourself online can get you far…but in order to take it one step further and really carve a niche out for yourself, take your online relationships to the offline level.

Once you’ve created relationships with these people, find a place you can meet up and meet face-to-face. It could be a networking event, a coffee shop, a restaurant for lunch …all of that is up to you but the point is to meet in person. Meeting in person can strengthen your relationships and help position you for future opportunities. The more and more you spend networking with your peers both online and offline will help create brand recognition and people will begin to recognize who you are. The stronger your relationships become, the higher potential that when an opportunity comes up, that you’ll get the heads up, or in some cases, the recommendation.

All in all, it’s no secret that employers have the upper hand in today’s job market. It’s vital that you do your best to stand out amongst other job seekers. By using the social media skills that have been outlined above, you’re sure to have your voice heard, and be opening the door much sooner to your successful future after your college graduation.


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Benjamin Taylor Benjamin is a writer for Eloqua, an international online marketing firm that provides social media marketing and asset management software. His professional insights are surpassed only by his rugged good looks, quick wit, and personal charm.