Monday, May 13, 2013

Does Your Social Media Presence Support Your Career Goals?

By Jo Miller

How seamlessly does your social media presence support your career goals?

According to Liz Brenner and Margaret Resce Milkint, if you’re not utilizing the personal branding opportunities offered by social media, you’re passing up opportunities to position yourself as a leader in your field of expertise.

Senior Director of Talent Marketing at SAP, Liz Brenner, believes that when social media is used in a thoughtful and targeted way, it can be a powerful tool for differentiating yourself in your career.  “Social media gives us all an opportunity to become influencers in our areas of expertise" said Brenner, speaking in the women’s leadership webinar Building an Influential Brand with Social MediaIf you can get beyond the noise of social media and use it strategically, you can build your brand as a thought leader, and cultivate an influential network.”

Margaret Resce Milkint, Managing Partner with The Jacobson Group, is a widely-recognized insurance industry expert, author and speaker on topics related to best practices in career management. Resce Milkint cautioned the webinar audience that “social networking can work against you just as easily as it can work for you.” She went on to explain, “Your digital footprint can be viewed by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Sometimes, this online footprint is the only version of us that people know. That's why it's very important that your personal social media pages capture your true personal brand. You must protect your brand and develop a smart and strong digital footprint.”

So how can you clearly communicate your brand to a social media audience? “Don't boast or brag. You will lose your audience if it's all about you. You want to make it all about them” advised Resce Milkint.

Added Brenner, “Share content that's valuable and that adds value to your audience. The information and the content that I'm sharing is consistent with my brand, and it's tailored for the audience in each of those sites or social networks.”

You may be thinking, “But I’m not yet an expert or an influencer. How do I start to build an influential brand?” It can be easier than you think if you understand the three distinct stages involved.

3 Stages of Building an Influential Brand

1.  Informational powerhouse
Early on in your career, when you're embarking on becoming a specialist in your field, before you've developed deep expertise, you can build a brand as an informational powerhouse. Spend time finding, collating, and disseminating others’ expertise. 

“Be timely,” advised Milkint. “Share newsworthy information. It's important to be a part of the current buzz, what the state of the market is, and the state of thought is.”

You can quickly make a name for yourself by sharing valuable, timely information that relates to your domain of knowledge.

2.  Expert
Once you've become an informational powerhouse, the next point on the journey to building an influential brand is to become an expert. Experts are highly knowledgeable about their field. They share knowledge that they've gleaned from other sources blended with their own unique content, in forms such as blog posts, articles, and musings – all based on unique ideas that they've generated. Experts mix the collating and disseminating of others’ information while putting their perspective out there, too.

“Find and share content with other influencers” said Brenner. “This builds the halo effect. If you're seen as hanging out with and sharing information from other influencers, you'll start to be seen as an influencer yourself over time. Commenting on a blog or sharing an article can lead to real discussions and opportunities.”

3.  Thought Leader
The final stage is to become a thought leader. Thought leaders break new ground and push the cutting edge in their field of expertise. They generate their own unique content in the form of articles, videos, blog posts, webinars, and more. Some thought leaders to follow on twitter are @nilofermerchant, @padmasree and @hollypavlika.

What stage are you at, when it comes to building an influential brand? If you haven't started yet, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need to be a top expert in your field to have an influential voice on social media. You can start by sharing information. Be an informational powerhouse and go from there.

Take the first step
“Invest some time in figuring out who you are and what your brand is,” advised Brenner. “Know your values and figure out what's important to you so that can be reflected in social channels. We all have an opportunity to be influencers in our area of expertise. The first step is knowing who you are.”

And don't ignore social media, warned Resce Milkint. “Social media is here to stay. Jump in. Explore your options. Be bold. And be a game changer.  Sheryl Sandberg says, ‘Fortune does favor the bold and you'll never know what you're capable of if you don't try.’ So try, try, try and have fun doing it.”

To learn more, watch the webinar “Building an Influential Brand with Social Mediawith guest speakers Liz Brenner and Margaret Resce Milkint. 

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