Social networking has seen a huge increase in the numbers of users and the types of networks available for those users over the last several years. Initially, many people were using networks such as Facebook and MySpace to connect with friends and families. Other networks such as LinkedIn – as well as smaller networks that focus on specific professions such as nursing, teaching, or physical therapy – are also becoming more popular. One of the advantages to sites like these is they allow people to connect with others in their profession and build their professional network.
As a temporary or per diem employee, it can be difficult to build a network of work associates. However, it is even more crucial for these types of employees to do so because of the very nature of their work. Once you move on from one position to the next, it can be very easy to lose touch with your supervisor and coworkers, the very people you may want to contact for a reference in the future. By establishing an online presence in the world of social networking, you make it easier to stay in touch with these coworkers and supervisors as well as find leads for career and education opportunities.
When you create a relationship with people at a new work site, find out if they are on the same social networking sites you are. If they are not familiar with a niche site, this is a great time to introduce them to it; they may even be grateful for the new resource! If you do maintain a profile in a smaller social networking site, you may also want to create a professional page on one of the more popular sites such as Facebook. This will make it easier to connect with people who are not willing to maintain more than one account and who keep all of their contacts on their personal page. However, if you do choose a more mainstream site, be sure to keep your personal contacts and professional contacts separate. The purpose of social networking as an employee is to help promote yourself in your career journey, not to let past coworkers know your vacation plans.
Once you have your network portfolio set up and have begun to add coworkers and supervisors what information should you share? Articles about your profession, online resource they may be interested in, education opportunities, and work opportunities are all good choices. Of course you should inject your personality into your online community as well; just remember to only share what you would be comfortable sharing in a work environment. This will help maintain your professional image.
Do you use a social networking site to help advance your career? Do you keep it separate from your personal networking? Has social networking helped your career?