On August 3, the Foundation Center hosted Bonnie McEwan, president of
By following McEwan’s advice, you can use online tools to convey your values, skills, and expertise. You can also connect to leaders in your field and attract the attention of potential employers and business partners.
Starting up with social media may seem daunting. Where do you start? How much expertise do you need? McEwan’s tips answer those questions and prepare you to take on the challenge.
1. Know what you need to know about social media:
- In today’s digital age, demonstrate that you are familiar with using social media. That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, nor should you spend hours every day surfing social media sites or tweaking your profile. Basic facility is sufficient as long as you understand how these sites operate and how they can be used in professional settings.
- Visit the social media sites used by an organization to which you are applying for a job before any interviews.
- When applying to jobs or looking for business opportunities, indicate that you have a level of facility with social media in your resume or cover letter. Depending on the position sought, you could indicate that you have a “manager’s working knowledge” of social media, meaning you are comfortable with overseeing and managing social media content. This is not the same thing as being hired to create it.
2. Use social media to create and disseminate your "personal image":
- Create accounts and profiles on a number of different services (you’ll find a list recommended by McEwan below).
- Use these accounts to send a message about who you are, what skills you possess, and what expertise you have.
- Aim to have 2-3 main messages that comprise the core of these profiles. For example, McEwan uses her profile to show that she is interested in social justice causes, and that she is up with the current technology. Both of these messages help her attract business as a nonprofit consultant.
- Make sure to use consistent images and language across the different media. You should develop a "brand" for who you are as a professional.
- "Cross promote:" For example, use your Facebook page to link to your Twitter feed. This will give you more virtual exposure and make it more likely that your name will come up in a search.
3. Remember, the "work me" IS the "real me" online:
- Make sure that your profiles reflect you as a professional. There is no separation between the content you display online and what you use in a business environment.
- That means NO displaying photos of your karaoke debut at the office Christmas party! Keep your profile professional and carefully manage this aspect of your online persona.
4. Use social media to access people and share ideas:
- Put your ideas out on Twitter and Facebook to invite commentary.
- Pay attention to the ideas that your contacts are posting and respond to them.
- Try to link up with people who are considered influential in your field. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their blogs, re-tweet or post their ideas. You might get their attention and you will at least gain the credibility of being associated with a known expert.
- Reach out to people with similar interests through social media and create online communities. In the digital world, there are fewer gatekeepers. Take advantage of easy access to key figures in your field.
Sites and Technologies Touted by McEwan
Below is a list of a few of the most important technologies that McEwan mentioned or recommended.
~ Facebook.com: the most popular social networking site (over 500 million users!). Use the search and message functions to get access to key figures in your field. It makes connecting with these people much easier
~ LinkedIn : a must for any professional, this web site allows you to create a professional profile and develop a network of contacts.
~ Twitter: McEwan called this her current “favorite social media.” In 140 character posts, you can quickly and simply express things that are on your mind. It’s important to tweet what you are thinking, not what you are doing.
~ Foursquare: uses GPS locators to track people. Great for promoting attendance at events and demonstrating conscious consumption at businesses.
~ bit.ly: condenses long URLs into small, manageable addresses. This web site also gives you access to a powerful analytical tool that helps you track how often people are clicking on your links.
-- Reilly Kiernan, Educational Services Fellow, The Foundation Center