By Chris Lee
Social networking can be good for your career, but only if used wisely. This is the view of Mamta Saha, psychologist and director of consultancy ThinkSpa. Saha believes that a new kind of social climber is emerging in the UK workplace, one that understands the power of using social media tools to excel in their careers.
Recent research from Google found that 86 per cent of frequent social media users said they had recently been promoted and nearly three quarters (72 per cent) said they are likely to be promoted. This compares with 61 per cent and 39 per cent of non-social media users respectively. So, how can people use social media to get ahead in their careers?
Think about your online image
According to Saha, the first thing people need to think about is their online image. But as the boundaries between social tools for business and pleasure continue to blur so people shouldn’t be afraid to give out sensible information about their personal interests and views online, she argued.
“This can lead to common points of interest and boost your circle of contacts. However, you should remember that you’re presenting yourself to a broad audience of colleagues, bosses and possibly clients so you should also be highlighting your strengths through offering intelligent viewpoints, or listing your experience and areas of expertise, and clearly showing off your unique selling points,” she said. “Think of social channels as an extension of your CV, but don’t go overboard and get too self-promotional for obvious reasons.”
People at companies slow to take off on social media can take the opportunity to become a “social ambassador” and show leadership and initiative, as well as foster a more collaborative working culture, Saha argued.
Expand and grow your network
Saha believes that while social tools offer a new way to interact with colleagues who you see regularly, people should also be aware of the power they have to expand their network and communicate with those beyond their company and potentially in other countries.
“As well as helping you communicate with others, social tools offer an excellent channel for knowledge sharing, enabling individuals to be exposed to an array of thinking and ideology,” she advised. “If you’re prepared to do some research into the kinds of blogs and other interactive resources out there you may well find your industry knowledge expanding. This could result in more confidence and conviction when you need to express your views on an industry issue or advise a client in your chosen field.”
Saha believes ambitious young pros should blog personally and even offer to set a blog up for their company. They should also mine the wealth of online assets and interact on forums relevant for their industry and liaise regularly with other industry gurus, she added.
“Don’t fear the social world,” Saha said. “If you’re not used to the world of social media it can seem daunting at first, but remember that they are just another channel of communication, like emails or phone calls – they just allow you to work smarter and faster, and to tap into an infinite pool of knowledge and ideas.”
Ambitious social media users should be careful not to get too addicted though, Saha warned.
“It is important to close down any unnecessary services which could be distracting when you have a task that needs all your concentration,” she concluded. “Otherwise you could find yourself becoming less efficient and this would not go down well with the boss!”