On Wednesday 27 April 2016, the La Trobe Law School welcomed Kris Young to present a workshop on social media and networking.
We’ve summarised her top 5 tips to help you navigate through the social media and networking minefield:
1. Understand and identify your personal brand
A personal brand is a combination of the associations people make when they think of your name. It is what separates you from someone else. Consequently, the true tests of your own personal brand are the comments people make about you when you aren’t in the room or how someone would describe you to a colleague.
2. Build your brand
Acknowledge that you are a brand and work to build it. First, evaluate what information already exists about you. This can include things like posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Kris advises that the content you post on social media can either enhance or diminish your personal brand and the image you portray about yourself to future employers, so think twice before you post. Next, identify the primary social media avenues that are appropriate for you at this time and set up a strong profile page. Start to learn from the best and build your own personal brand by sharing relevant information and knowledge with your network. By sharing information, you can add value to your own brand and build your network which can aid in securing future career opportunities.
Kris advises that it is wise to set up a LinkedIn profile. Take a minute to have someone else review your profile before you post it so they can consider whether everything you have listed is accentuating your personal brand. Make sure you use or take a professional photo. Be appropriately dressed and groomed – your appearance speaks volumes, even when you don’t. Join groups of value to you and think about who you want to connect with and why. Do you have someone you would like to learn from? Is there an expert in the industry who is the “go-to” person about developments in the profession that you would like to keep up to date with? Are there companies that you would be interested in working with? Consider these questions when expanding your network. Take the time to personalise each of your connections with a message. Kris asserts that people want to know why you want to connect with them before they open up their network to you, so it is important to tailor each message to the person you want to connect with. When you post or share, add a comment or link to an additional source or person– it will aid in building your brand and personalising you posts. Don’t oversaturate your network with too much of the same posting – keep it relevant and varied. If you are going to post, be consistent and commit to a regular schedule of posting if you can.
4. What is networking?
Networking is the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Kris advises it is much more than simply extracting information from people. It is about sharing and developing a personal rapport with someone whereby you add value to your connection with them.
5. Tackling networking events
Arrive five minutes early. This allows you to get comfortable in a new environment and scope out the people you would like to speak with before the evening has begun. Research and prepare. Come prepared with a few questions or pieces of information you would like to take away from the evening – it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will make the conversation flow and give you something to talk about. Master the art of letting someone go – one you have connected and had a conversation with someone it is perfectly okay to excuse yourself and move onto the next person – everyone understands that these events are about meeting new people and exchanging information, so work the room! Try not to over-drink or over-eat. These events are not about the food and drink, they are about the connections you make and the impressions you leave people with. Also, logistically it can be difficult to shake someone’s hand or say hello appropriately if you’ve got a mouth full of food or are balancing a wine glass. Do what works best for you, but be aware of presenting your best self, which may involve sticking to water and eating beforehand. Finally, find ways to connect with people that add value – be yourself, show a genuine interest in the person you are talking to and follow up if appropriate after the event. Networking can be awkward, but remember, the more you do it, the easier it becomes – so just keep at it and eventually it will become more natural.
Want to know more about developing your professional skills? Read our post on Career Expert Kris Young’s Top Tips for Perfecting your Resume and Cover Letter, here.