Spending time on social media is a little like adopting a new kitten.
You know you’ve got a massive To Do List waiting.
But you’ll just spend 5 more minutes on the floor with the cat toy.
And then another 5 minutes…
Before you know it, the morning has disappeared and you have nothing to show for it except a few new scratches on the furniture.
Social media can be fun, it’s true.
But it’s also a practical tool that you can use to benefit your career.
It’s actually the most powerful way to expand your network and skyrocket your visibility.
The key is to use this tool strategically to help raise your profile to a whole new level.
5 Ways to Increase Your Network with Social Media
1. Focus on 1 or 2 networks
Part of the pressure of social media is the assumption that you need to maintain a presence on 25 different platforms.
By the time you’ve updated your Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook pages, it’s time for lunch and you haven’t even looked at a student email.
The key is to choose 1 or 2 social platforms that you’re comfortable with.
The three most relevant platforms for online teachers are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
2. Separate personal and professional profiles
But if you’re already on Twitter or Facebook for personal use, consider setting up separate profiles that are intended for work purposes only.
That way, you can focus strictly on work-related updates.
You can present your professional persona in a consistent and impressive way.
It’s harder to do that if you’re also posting updates on your dog’s recent vet visit, bargains you found at the mall, and what you’ll be wearing to your niece’s wedding.
3. Craft your biography or profile with care
Your profile is the single most important element of your social media accounts.
This is what potential new contacts use to decide if they want to connect with you.
So keep your profile brief, focused, and full of personality.
And this is another opportunity one of the fantastic new photos you took in Lesson 2.
Draft up a profile for each of your new professional social media profiles.
Each social media profile has a set word or character limit, and a preferred size for your photo.
The requirements change regularly, so the safest option is to Google a search term like this to get the most current requirements:
“LinkedIn cover profile picture size” or “how many characters in a Twitter profile”
And, if you need to resize your photo, remember the ‘resize’ function at PicMonkey is free, and takes mere seconds to use.
You may be surprised to see how many of your existing contacts are already on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in their professional capacities.
Reach out to the people you already know, and ask them to join your network.
You can also make contact with relevant professionals in your field, but outreach to people you don’t know should be done with caution.
While this is common practice on Facebook and Twitter, you should be more careful who you invite to connect on LinkedIn. This social media platform is much more vigilant about penalizing users for inviting relative strangers to connect.
One way around this is to be active in LinkedIn groups – as people get to see your name repeatedly and read your comments, they’re likely to reach out to you first.
If you do decide to connect with someone you don’t know on LinkedIn, always include a covering note explaining why you’ve made contact. It’s only polite.
Make a list of people you already know that you’d like to connect with on social media – and then invite them to be part of your professional network.
Check your email contacts, and also consider people you’ve worked or studied with in the past.
Warning: Don’t upload your email address book to LinkedIn – it seems like a short-cut, but there are many stories out there of LinkedIn sending automatic invitations to connect to everyone in your address book.
This is not ideal, and makes you look irritating (and desperate).
5. Share your articles
When your work starts appearing in print and online, it’s a great idea to share those articles and updates with your network on social media.
And, if you can include a picture with your articles, you’ll increase engagement and make people more likely to click on your link.
That’s really all there is to it!
Now you know how to use social media as a network expansion tool.
Spending regular (yet limited) time on social media can grow your network almost exponentially.
Because the people you connect with are also connected to hundreds (or thousands) of other people, the potential for expansion is unlimited.
And by building a relevant, engaged network, you become part of a community that will be able to help you reach your goals.
At this stage of the course, you’ve learned a lot about painless self-promotion and increased visibility.
The days of beavering away thanklessly in the dark are far behind you.
Next, we’re going to bring it all together, and talk about how to get maximum benefits from all your hard work.