10 Reasons Social Media Should Rock Your World

10 Reasons HR Staff Need to Participate in Social Media for Career Success

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Social Media Participation Is Enjoyable - and Useful. Klaus Fedvelt/Iconica/Getty Images

Social media participation is an essential tool in networking with professional contacts, making new contacts, recruiting employees, and keeping in touch with the world. If you’re not participating in the top social media and networking sites, the world is leaving you behind.

Why not become involved on the social media Web sites while your participation can advance your Human Resources career, help you obtain superior employees by enlarging your candidate pool, and enable you to easily stay in touch with coworkers and former coworkers at one location.

You will need to explore the possible social media sites to see which sites fit your needs for participation. Some sites specialize in certain industries and on specific topics. Some even focus on networking within regions and nations. I have profiles and participate in some activities on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Social media sites are a critical component in professional networking, career success, and career development going forward. Social media sites will play an increasing role in networking, career advancement, and professional success.

Need convincing? These ten reasons make your HR social media time investment mandatory for your career and business success.

  • Stay in touch with colleagues and friends. If, like me, you have “lost” people over the years, look them up on the popular social media sites. You may find them. And, if your whole network is profiled and linked, you’ll never lose them again. Former colleagues, out-of-touch since the early eighties and nineties have reached out and added me to their professional networks at LinkedIn.
  • Help colleagues find you. I can’t tell you how many former colleagues, friends, and associates have found my profiles and contacted me. Just recently, one of my best friends from high school, whom I sought for thirty years, found me online and called. Who would ever have thought to look for her in northern California in her geodesic dome home where she has lived since the early seventies? Not me. We started out together in Detroit.
  • Find candidates for jobs. You can email your social network with job requirements and ask for referrals. Tap into the power of your current employees’ networks by asking them to broadcast available positions to their networks. We're receiving top applicants from employee networks on LinkedIn and Facebook; you can do the same. This is also one of the top ways to find passive candidates, people who may not currently be actively seeking work. Search on keywords to expand your contacts even beyond your network. As an example, here’s how to use LinkedIn for recruiting.

    Develop a recruiting network and a candidate pool of potential employees with skills that will become increasingly scarce. Especially as the baby boomers retire or seek part-time opportunities, determine where you will find the employees with technology, medical, and quality skills, as examples, that your organization will need for the future. Various social networks exist for a variety of career fields.

    Plant your foot firmly in the social networks that will provide the future employees for your organization. Develop the skills necessary to fully utilize the potential of social media networking for HR and for your own career. Seek the assistance of your current employees, too. They are already networking on these sites (and wondering where you are). Your current employees want to help you find and recruit the kind of people with whom they want to work - and these potential employees are all on social networks.
  • Find a new job. Desire to move on from your current employer for whatever reason? Use social media sites to assist you in your job search. Everything recommended for recruiting candidates is recommended for your HR job search. Take a look; social media is a huge component in a current job search - or should be.
  • Establish your online brand. Who are you? What expertise do you have? What do you want to be known for accomplishing? How do you want to be known and recognized by colleagues, other professionals, and potential employers? The information you put in your social media profiles will eventually serve you well to promote your career progress - or, failing to develop an online presence in social media - not at all.

    When a potential employer or a potential employee searches for your name in Google or another search engine, will the employer or potential employee find the credentials of a proficient professional? Will they find nothing at all? Or worst, will they find your unprofessional college profile, developed for friends and family at Facebook, and, oh my, look what friends have written on your wall! Nothing at all and unprofessional pages or profiles do nothing to further your career or your job search. And, an increasing number of employers are searching your online presence.

    As an example of the visibility I am promoting, enter "Susan Heathfield" in a search engine. Last I looked, a professional profile emerged. You want the same results for your name. You want to establish your online image before you need it. Establishing this image can take awhile. Why are you waiting?
  • Join groups that share your interests, your community, or your profession. Facebook, as an example, allows you to create groups. I’m a member of a LinkedIn HR Group that you can join. Following people on Twitter also yields content recommendations for my website.

    For job searching leads, Twitter plays a role that is increasing. In 140 characters or less, it's tough to apply for a job, but you can tell colleagues and employers that you are looking. Employers can "tweet" (broadcast a message) about available jobs and how to apply for them. People can also "retweet" (re-broadcast your jobs message) to their networks on Twitter. This will enlarge your field of potential, qualified candidates who receive news about your available jobs on Twitter.

    Twitter groups are increasingly scheduling in-person meetups so that people who are interacting online can meet face-to-face. The mid-Michigan group holds regular meetups; I'll bet that meetups are available in your area, too. If you attend conferences or trade shows, Twitter is a great way to schedule get-togethers at the show.

    You can provide up-to-the-minute information about your location and availability for meeting. I know a colleague who tweeted their availability to meet at a conference and had secured a job offer by the end of the show (pending confirmation by a comprehensive background check after the show, of course.)

The next four reasons to participate in social media are big...

See the first six reasons to participate in social media. Here are four more reasons to participate in social media.

  • Develop social connections over time on social media sites. Sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow much more “fun” than the more professionally oriented LinkedIn. Connections send me karma and virtual plants from Facebook, as an example. While both of these sites started for young people, mature professionals are increasingly joining them. Despite the fact that a friend’s daughter tells us we are too old for Facebook, it is increasingly populated by professionals, too. In fact, mature professionals were, last I checked, the fastest growing segment of new participants.

    Be careful what you share to safeguard that professional image referenced above, but don’t doubt its power to expand your relationships. An added plus? College students, whom you may want to recruit, populate these sites and are well-versed in their use and comfortable reaching out from them. One of my nephews disappeared from email recently; another niece sent him a message on Facebook and he was back in touch with me that day - on my Facebook wall.
  • Provide a space in which the users of your product or service can interact with you. Consumers want to have a conversation with you about their wants and needs. They want to tell you how you can better serve them. Many of them want to build community around products or services that they love. Give them the opportunity. Blog, sponsor user forums, and answer user comments.

    Use your customers’ feedback to improve; it’s much easier to zap a note off to you on Facebook, or to comment on your blog, than it is to write a letter to an anonymous company address. Be out there. Interact. Zappos, the only shoe store I purchase from anymore, has a lively feed on Twitter. It’s just one example. And, if you need a strategy for helping your customers find you and talk with you, go where they are already talking and join the conversation. In fact, do this, too.
  • Build community around your product or service. Are the people who are the “face” of your company approachable, likable, knowledgeable, and out there in social media? You need to find these people and nurture them. They are increasingly the voice of your company. More than paid media opportunities, such as ads, television commercials, and traditional mass media approaches, the online world seeks company and product evangelists who build a community of people who follow them and whom they follow. Word of mouth marketing/advertising (WoM) provides the most powerful opportunity for you to reach people and for people to reach you.

    Forums and blogs on your company website, forums and blogs within your Human Resources Intranet, and other online community opportunities build this sense of community. Both within and outside of your company, you need to develop relationships. They are your communication life line - for employees, for mutually beneficial networks, and for your continuing career advancement. Create them; use them; value them; benefit from them.
  • Finally, Betsy Weber of TechSmith Corporation, sent me a note worth heeding. Your company, in addition to individual employees, needs to establish a company presence on significant social media sites. The recent Cone Business in Social Media study indicates that "93% of Americans believe that a company should have a presence on social media sites and 85% believe that these companies should use these services to interact with consumers." Of the study responders:

    --60% of Americans regularly interact with companies on a social media site,

    --43% of consumers say that companies should use social networks to solve the consumers' problems, and

    --41% believe that companies should use social media tools to solicit feedback on products and services.

    The Internet has opened up communication across world boundaries. Why not use its social media components to expand your network, enhance your career, add friends, make connections, recruit employees, find people with scarce skills, develop candidate pools of passive potential employees, and enlarge your world view? I’m participating. Why not you, too?

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