Social Networking for Career Success, by Miriam Salpeter
Q & A

Who should read this book?

This book is for anyone who cares about their career or business and recognizes visibility is key to success; it’s for new graduates, experienced professionals and everyone in-between. It’s for career changers, people returning to work after retirement and those seeking an encore career (work offering continued income, personal meaning and social impact). It’s a resource for job seekers going back to paid work after taking time off, for small business owners and everyone else who wants to take charge of his or her own career.

Social Networking for Career Success is written as a how-to and a why-to, (to address the skeptics who don’t believe social networking can help). It’s perfect for beginners, but is full of advice and tips even the most seasoned social media users may not know. Each chapter is rich in first-hand advice from over 100 experts (including recruiters and other career professionals) as well as success stories from job seekers and business owners.

Both job seekers and entrepreneurs need to do whatever they can to stand out in the crowd of similarly qualified candidates or contractors. Social networking, and my book, are for anyone looking for a job, those who may look for a job in the future and anyone considering starting or growing a business.

What does social networking have to do with career success?

In a competitive market, success seekers need to do what they can to differentiate themselves and highlight their value propositions. Social networking is an amazing tool to do just that.

It’s clear from reading general online forums addressing career and job search topics that the average person does not understand how social media can help someone succeed professionally. Comments include, “Right, people really want to hire someone who plays Mafia Family or Farmville on Facebook all day.” Or, “Sure…Tell me what you had for lunch on Twitter; that’ll get you hired.” These commentators are missing two major points: 1) social media offers users a chance to share their expertise and 2) using these tools can connect them to people they would probably never otherwise know; those people may be exactly the ones to introduce careerists to a targeted contact. The book highlights hundreds of ways to harness social networks to achieve both of these goals.

Listening to the news, it would seem using social networking is the best way to LOSE a job, not get one! Isn’t it dangerous to share information online?

The media make a big deal every time someone posts something they shouldn’t have on Facebook or Twitter and gets caught. (As Anita Bruzzese noted in her forward to the book, “They always get caught.”) I advise readers to do an audit of their profiles and eliminate information or photos that could be interpreted negatively or cause someone to question their professionalism.

Keeping a close eye on Facebook privacy settings and advising friends who post on your wall to keep things professional is important. In the book, I explain how to review those privacy settings, but also remind readers to consider everything they share online to be public. If you’re a teacher in a religious school, it is probably not a good idea to share your atheist views in online forums, even if you think no one will notice. (A story in the book shares why.) If you answer 911 calls, don’t post about your recreational drug use – even if you were “Just kidding.” Doing so calls your judgment into question.

While it may not be “fair” to discriminate against people for things they post and consider private, employers and customers want to hire people who exercise self-control, know how to handle themselves and won’t embarrass the employer later. In the long run, for anyone who has enough good judgement to keep online information above board, the benefits of getting involved in social networks far outweigh the risks. I challenge anyone who reads the book and tries it out to differ!

How can people use social media to illustrate their expertise?

All of the networks I highlight in the book, especially LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging, make it easy to let your network know what you do and how you solve problems. Sharing expertise can be as easy as sharing a link to a relevant article along with a smart comment on Facebook or Twitter. It’s as simple as answering a question via LinkedIn with insight and expert information.

Don’t underestimate the potential these connections may offer. I actually hired my first website developer because he answered a question I asked about WordPress on LinkedIn. I launched my business online and earned clients, in part, by responding to resume questions via LinkedIn. By using LinkedIn to share expertise, in combination with updating my blog regularly and commenting on other large, career niche blogs, I grew my own reputation as a business owner.

If someone has strong writing skills, blogging is a great way to extensively highlight what they know that is relevant to their field. Done well, bloggers can connect with readers who return to their blogs to keep posted on the news and useful commentary in their industry.

The book teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs what they need to know to be successful leveraging social media tools to share their expertise!

You say social media can connect people to others they’d otherwise never meet. How can that help?

Any job seeker or business owner’s goal is to be found. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, the Tipping Point, outlines how important it is to broaden your network – to meet and connect with weak ties, people who previously had no direct relationship with you – in order to find contacts who can help. Think about it, the people you already know probably can’t hook you up with someone you don’t already know yourself. A New York Times article points out how important it is to expand those “weak ties.” It notes, “Remote acquaintances will be much more useful (than current acquaintances), because they’re farther afield, yet still socially intimate enough to want to help out.” In other words, touching base with people beyond your immediate network may be just the thing you need to connect with someone who can really help you propel your plans forward.

Another thing many not already involved in social media don’t realize: online connections have a tendency to be extremely generous and willing to help strangers they only know via a few tweets or interactions via LinkedIn. Maybe it is because social media users self-select, but it’s a generous group.  The book is full of stories of people who received crucial help from strangers online.

What’s the best social network for job seekers?

The first place job seekers should spend time is on LinkedIn. It is the “go to” hub of professional networking, and continues to expand the ways it allows job seekers to connect and extend their networks, especially via the Answers section and by using Groups. That said, my favorite network is Twitter, because it is so open, and allows users to find, follow and interact with people they otherwise would never know. Once users find a community of people in their field to follow and communicate with, Twitter can provide a constant stream of information, professional development opportunities (right on your desktop), information about specific jobs and the chance to connect directly with colleagues, mentors and prospective bosses.

The philosophy I share in the book, though, is that no one network is right for all people. For some, writing is not a strong point; they may want to rely on connective via vlogging (video blogging), or radio, such as BlogTalkRadio. Maggie Mistal, a nationally known career coach and professional radio personality on Sirius/Martha Stewart Radio, shares extensive tips for anyone who may want to create their own radio online show – which you can do now with just a phone and a computer!

What’s your most important piece of advice about social networking?

It’s crucial for anyone considering building or enhancing their online presence to first do their research to determine how to approach the online “market” to attract the interest and attention they want. That means knowing exactly what you want to do (be it a job or a gig) and how your skills and accomplishments fit into the roles you seek. In chapter 4, I discuss how to create your online “brand” – essentially, your reputation — how people will view you from your digital footprint.

Once the job seeker or entrepreneur understands his or her value proposition and how it fits into the big picture, my best advice is to focus on building a community instead of looking for a job or business. Don’t consider social as a tool to find a job; use it to grow your network of people who WANT you to get a job. It makes all the difference! My book will show you how.

To download a SAMPLE CHAPTER and other information, please visit the PRESS PAGE.