How to Leverage Social Media for Young Professionals

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Before their careers even start, young professionals can start to use social media to create a positive portfolio of accomplishments. Regardless of your industry, social media can offer massive benefits to professionals just getting their start. From starting to manage your search results, to building thought leadership, to networking with experts in your industry, social media has the ability to help build your positive online reputation. However, even with all of the benefits or social media, blunders can still be made. So, how can young professionals start using social media in a positive way?

We asked 15 experts to share their best tips for young professionals who want to build a positive online resume.

Promote thought leadership

George Bradley, Circa Interactive, @CircaEdu My number one tip for young professionals when looking to build a positive reputation through social media is to ensure that you are promoting thought leadership from an early stage. Sharing valuable content from external sources is a good start, but it is better to lend your opinions and thoughts to these stories and topics too. How does this impact the the field you are in? Look to bounce your thoughts off other industry experts and make them aware you can make a difference. Thought leadership is vital!

Create a strong LinkedIn profile

Bill Corbett, Jr., Corbett Public Relations, @WJCorbett LinkedIn is where your personal brand lives online and what you write and posts is how you bring your brand to life. Every young professional should have clearly written LinkedIn profile with professional headshot. The profile must explain who they are, why they do what they do and outlines skills. The profile must contain a video of them demonstrating that they are articulate, focused and likable. The profile should clearly answer the question: Why should somebody hire, work with or build a business relationship with them?

Ensure your name and expertise come up in your search results

Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency Create a blog so your name and expertise come up in search results when a prospective employer Googles your name. Don't have any compromising images on social media (i.e., weird selfies, drinking, or racy shots). Create a cohesive Instagram feed (especially if you want to work in social media marketing or PR) to show your prospective employer that you know what you're doing. When I am about to hire someone, I always check out their Instagram to ensure they know what they are doing. Lastly, try to get a column on Entrepreneur.com or Inc.com so you're positioned as an authority over your competition.

Keep your social media professional

Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke, @IdeasThatEvoke Keep it professional on your social media channels; it’s increasingly easy for companies to vet candidates via social media channels. A good rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t show it to your mom, it’s probably not something you want potential employers to see either. Also be sure to check what you’re being tagged in, better yet set your settings so that you need to approve content before it shows up on your profiles.

Use social media to highlight positive extra curricular activities

Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia, AnksImage, @AnksImage Extra curricular activities say a lot about you. So if you're helping to set up a shelter for the stray dogs in your campus, or have organized a carwash campaign to raise funds to buy more trash bins and get your locality cleaner, you need to put it up on your social media profiles. Everyone loves a good story, so whenever you post, make it a good one. It brings more zest to your personality, not to mention show off your killer storytelling capabilities, which are nowadays an important skill, whether you are in design, or app development.

Reserve your name on all social media platforms

Bob Bentz, Purplegator Assuming you don't have a common name, the most important thing you can do is to reserve your name on all social media accounts, even those you don't plan to use immediately. If your name is available as a .com, reserve that too. To build a positive online reputation, it's important that you control your own identity. Parents of young children should do the same thing for their family members. Your kids will thank you for it one day.

Create bite-sized videos daily

Tracey Bond, Beneficience Get into your audience's social media feed 'diet' daily with your own video bites. Daily video that is bite-sized is a great way to attract, engage, entertain, impact and interact with 'ideal' social media audiences that integrate your key messaging. Mobile users in today's attention economy are looking to interact with personalities and professionals that can deliver integrate entertainment that communicates audiences shared values in the social media spaces and places they virtually occupy!

Perform a social media audit

Hailey Vasquez, Odd Dog Media As you are preparing for graduation and job applications, perform a full social media audit on yourself. Ask yourself: What platforms do I currently have profiles on? What kind of content is on each? Is that content work appropriate? Completely clean house and delete content that you wouldn't want a hiring team to see.

Have the courage to participate

Joonas Jukkara, SEOSEON, @SEOSEON_com First go and find the discussions relevant to your industry. When you meet a new person in real life go ahead and send them an invitation to connect. When you share something that is liked and commented by somebody in your industry, go ahead and connect. Follow the conversation first so that you understand the context and current relevant topics. When participating, it’s ok to ask questions. Had a new problem that you managed to solve? Share the solution! Others are probably struggling with the same problem. Be real. Even the feed algorithms love that.

Publish one insightful post a week

Sarah Salbu, Mendix, @SarahSalbu One of my key recommendations is to view social media as an extension of your professional activities. It’s similar to exercising, if you want to get results you have to do it consistently over time. I typically recommend that young professionals set a goal of posting one insightful post a week – whether it be an article they have read related to the industry they work in or company they work for – on Twitter, LinkedIn and possibly Facebook. And to interact with at least one person a week. Thoughtfully and purposefully reach out and interact with a post that someone has made. Especially if it’s a someone who is a prospective customer, a prospective manager or influencer.

Change your search results

Andrea D. Smith, The ADS Agency, @theADSagency First, Google yourself and see what’s showing up in the search results. Don’t like what you see? Can’t find yourself? You can change that by using your real name on your social media sites (and removing old sites if they aren’t professional enough). Next, get a professional headshot. Don’t do a selfie – at least let someone take it of you, but investing in a decent professional one can go a long way. Lastly, share content you want to be known for. Are you in architecture? Education? IT? Start sharing articles & give your commentary to show your expertise!

Keep it positive

Jesse Weinberg, Global Yodel, @GlobalYodel Let your true honest personality shine and keep it positive. No one likes to spend time with people who are constantly negative and complaining. The same goes for your online connections. If you need to vent once in awhile do so but keep the content you publish positive and authentic and you will be off to a great start.

Find creative ways to use Instagram to help your career

Amanda McLernon, McLernon & Co., @AmandaMcLernon Create a professional Instagram handle to promote your skills and engage with the people and companies you are interested in. To find the companies and/or people that you are interested in getting to know, search for them by name, or if you're looking to connect with companies you do not know, search by industry hashtags. Like or comment on the company posts in a genuine way that supports their post/work. (Comments are not the place for self promotion!) Doing this method brings that company/person back to your page to look at your profile, so make sure it is a positive reflection on you and that it includes relevant work related content that you would like them to see.

Ensure your images reflect your personal brand

Bella Vasta, Jump Consulting Always keep clean, good looking profile and cover images reflecting the personal brand you are trying to put out into the world. On Facebook, add a story to your profile and cover image in the description so a person searching can learn about you.

Also, get Google alerts on your name or any variation of your name to keep your reputation in check.

Express gratitude

Kim Kohatsu, Charles Ave Marketing, @CharlesAveMarketing One strategy to build a positive online reputation is to use your social media profiles to communicate with businesses who do a good job. Most people only tweet at companies when they're upset, but taking the time to thank a helpful rep or compliment a great service is a surefire way to have your messages replied to and possibly shared. In turn, this will increase your influence in those prospective categories and position you as the type of person who should be listened to.