New-age net­work­ing is a grow­ing ne­ces­sity

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US­ING so­cial net­work­ing sites is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant be­cause of the grow­ing use of tech­nol­ogy in per­sonal and pro­fes­sional mar­ket­ing, pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ex­perts ad­vise.

Sites such as Twit­ter, Face­book and LinkedIn can pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for those want­ing to de­velop their ca­reer and broaden their hori­zons.

Hughes PR dig­i­tal and so­cial me­dia con­sul­tant Michelle Prak says there are a wealth of on­line net­works where work­ers can learn more about their in­dus­try niche or fol­low in­dus­try lead­ers.

‘‘You can join on­line groups for your in­dus­try and par­tic­i­pate in fo­rums, which can be im­mensely re­ward­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘Of­ten it’s im­pos­si­ble to con­nect with some­one we ad­mire or want to learn from but we can do this via their so­cial net­works.’’

She says the pro­fes­sional world is be­com­ing more aware of the im­por­tance of an on­line pres­ence.

‘‘So­cial me­dia is pri­mar­ily about peo­ple con­nect­ing with peo­ple, cre­at­ing their own con­tent and fol­low­ing top­ics of in­ter­est,’’ she says. ‘‘And it’s be­cause it’s so wildly pop­u­lar, garner­ing mil­lions of users, busi­ness has be­come in­ter­ested.

‘‘For in­stance, busi­ness has no­ticed that peo­ple on so­cial net­works ask their friends for rec­om­men­da­tions or they share re­views of places they’ve been or prod­ucts they’ve used.

‘‘Busi­nesses are think­ing of in­ven­tive ways to be part of that.

‘‘They can use so­cial me­dia for prod­uct re­search, for pub­lic re­la­tions, cus­tomer ser­vice, en­gage­ment with their lo­cal com­mu­nity, to po­si­tion them­selves as an at- trac­tive place to work, to lobby gov­ern­ment and much more.’’

She says so­cial me­dia can in­crease the chances of a worker or a busi­ness be­ing no­ticed.

‘‘So­cial me­dia web­sites are in­dexed on search en­gines like Google so, for ex­am­ple, if you have a Twit­ter ac­count or a blog, peo­ple have more chances of find­ing you,’’ she says.

The Ca­reer Con­sul­tancy di­rec­tor Cather­ine Cun­ning­ham says LinkedIn has been an im­por­tant tool in her pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘I think it’s a form of net­work­ing and that any­body who is look­ing af­ter their ca­reer should in­cor­po­rate a range of me­dia to do that,’’ she says. ‘‘The dif­fer­ence with LinkedIn is that it is a shal­low in­ter­ac­tion but it has breadth so you can form re­la­tion­ships all around the world.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant not to be pas­sive on LinkedIn so there is a range of ac­tiv­i­ties savvy peo­ple use. Things like up­dat­ing your in­for­ma­tion means your name ap­pears on the home page and com­ment­ing on changes to other peo­ple.

‘‘A longer-term, deeper strat­egy is to join rel­e­vant pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment groups and over time you can be­come recog­nised as an ex­pert.’’

Pic­ture: Tait Schmaal

Michelle Prak at Hughes PR tweet­ing on her iPad.

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