New-age networking is a growing necessity
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.’’
Michelle Prak at Hughes PR tweeting on her iPad.