Tweet Your Way to the Top, Or Something Like That

Posted on December 19, 2013. Filed under: Job Search Tips, social media | Tags: , , |

Tsocial mediao the top of what, you may be asking…which is exactly the question I have been asking for a long time now, particularly when it comes to Twitter.

It is no secret that I have been a Twitter fanatic. When I first started using it, as a small business owner, I saw so many possibilities for me as well as for job seekers. Twitter, unlike other social media outlets, has many interesting layers. It can be a networking tool, information-gathering tool, and marketing tool. As a result, at least in theory, it can open doors that were once before difficult to open, and it does so in a less formal environment than LinkedIn, which can get a little stuffy at times.

But Twitter can also be a gigantic time sucker.

Worse than Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter can draw you in, and when it spits you back out, hours later, you can easily wonder what was really accomplished.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “I still don’t really ‘get’ Twitter. I go on there, and it is a sea of comments not really going anywhere.”

And for the newbie, that is exactly what it is. Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, which are more user-friendly (you set up your profile and link up with people you know first and then join groups where you might meet others), Twitter is a bit like being tossed into the middle of a crowd of people all talking to themselves.

And that is where the time sucking begins.

Twitter isn’t so much a time sucker because you spend a lot of time “stalking” others like you might looking through people’s photo albums on Facebook or perusing their profiles on LinkedIn. No, on Twitter, where you will begin to lose time is in trying to turn this sea of non sequiturs into real conversation.

Now, Twitter does try to help you out…a la hashtags and Twitter chats.

By following hashtag streams and showing up for “chats,” you can start to find some real engagement with people who are interested in discussing the same things you are.

And then that is where the time sucking can come on full force.

So now you think you are actually starting to get somewhere, you are adding followers and you are talking to people instead of at them. You show up for the chats like Norm walking into the bar on Cheers. You find yourself thinking about clever things to say at the next one, and you don’t let little things like traveling and watching TV with your family members get in the way of participating because you just bring the chat(s) with you.

You are hooked…because you are “engaging.”

After all, isn’t that what social media is all about?

Yes, on the surface, yes. If you are looking for an outlet in which to meet people virtually to discuss different topics of interest, then you have come to the right place.

And there are certainly a lot of high-minded social media purists who will say that is what social media should only be about.

But, we live in the real world. And in the real world, social media isn’t thriving on engagement (shock and awe); it is thriving on turning that engagement into opportunities.

If people don’t create opportunities from the engagement, then it’s all just conversation.

And really isn’t that true for all types of networking, including face-to-face networking? You can attend lots of events and have lots of nice conversations, but how often is it leading to opportunities?

Now, once again, my social media purist pals will say, “social media is about giving, not taking.” Many of my fellow career colleagues will second that sentiment (I know because we’ve been “chatting”) with comments like, “networking is all about doing for others.”

Of course, we know what they mean. They want you to understand that you don’t “spam” people with your needs/wants. You don’t expect things that you aren’t willing to give in return. You share and promote others.

But, let’s face it, networking, social or otherwise, is not a charitable event. And it shouldn’t be.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others or that you should spam them with your desperation. But we should bring enough value to the engagement to position ourselves for referrals or recommendations.

This is authentic use of Twitter, any social media, and networking in general. We’re there to build connections that recommend and refer services to solve problems we each have, and you want to be part of that referral pipeline.

In other words, we “engage” in the free market.

We give. We act as a resource. AND we position ourselves to be the Go-To referral in our area of expertise.

This is as much true for the small business owner as it is for the active corporate job seeker or the passive candidate.

So can you tweet your way to the top on Twitter?

Well, it depends. To the top of the engagement meter, sure. You can ignore your family and talk all day if that suits you. But if you can’t turn all those chats into something actionable, well, then, you’re just…chatting.

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Is LinkedIn Too Stuffy?

Posted on November 19, 2012. Filed under: social media | Tags: , , |

LinkedInThis was the question I found myself asking not too long ago after participating in a discussion group on LinkedIn, where some of my colleagues were acting as though we were negotiating some type of high-end corporate merger instead of “discussing” (more like vying for the microphone) the finer points of career transition. After attempting to make a comment to lighten up the conversation (nothing off-color, I assure you) and to engage instead of one-up, one of my counterparts basically reprimanded me!

Now, if this had been the first time I had come across this scenario on LinkedIn, I would have just chalked it up to that, but it turns out to be somewhat the norm when it comes to that environment.

Certainly, it is true that different social media sites have different “cultures,” but exactly what the “rules” are for each culture are still a little murky, if you ask me.

A colleague and I were chatting recently about the LinkedIn versus Twitter culture, and he was telling me why he did not like the Twitter “vibe.” Basically, he felt Twitter was too loose of a forum. Anyone could just participate in a Twitter chat (instead of gaining acceptance into a group, like on LinkedIn), and he felt like from a techie front, it was mostly inexperienced people or posers trying to sound “techie.”  On the other hand, he found LinkedIn made more sense to him because it had a more “corporate” feel to him, random streams weren’t whizzing by, and he could take his time to craft a well-written response. Plus, he could look up a person’s profile and get a better sense of his or her experience and background. Basically, he liked knowing who he was talking to, and he liked that it was a more formal discussion, especially if he were looking for advice or direction on a particular project or subject.

When I pointed out to him that some people lie or stretch their credentials on their LinkedIn profiles (see my recent article “Who Says LinkedIn Profiles Are Truthful?“), he still was not deterred. Overall, he felt like it was a more trustworthy environment and that more “experts” hung out over there.

He could be right. I certainly think he brings up some valid points.

In my mind, however, I still find the LinkedIn culture, well, stuffy.

And from a longevity standpoint, I’m not sure how well that will continue to play out as more people become comfortable with social media.

As someone who hangs out in both Twitter and LinkedIn groups, I find Twitter to be more cutting edge, frankly. It is true that it takes some time to get familiar with how things work there. And finding the right mix of followers and people you want to follow can be more time consuming for sure. But whether it is #TCFchat, a Twitter chat hosted by the Tech Career Forum on Wednesdays at 3pm East, or #tchat, hosted by Talent Culture, on Wednesdays at 7pm East, generally I find the discussion, well, more of a discussion.

For all of my LinkedIn discussion groups, I find them more of a lecture, where each participant is trying to impress me with his or her knowledgebase (so I can score them on the “best” answer). I’m not sure how that is engaging exactly…? Especially when it feels like we are constantly in interview mode, 3-piece suits and all.

Now it could just be my rebel entrepreneurial bias showing through, but generally, I am usually in favor of a more structured approach to things. And certainly there is a lot of silliness that goes on with Twitter (even if it is avoidable). However, in the case of LinkedIn, honestly, I just don’t find it an interesting place to be (it’s like one of those jobs where I’m stuck in an endless meeting, wondering “is it 5 o’clock yet?”). Now, if like my co-worker, I want a good lecture and some advice (although I rarely see the quality of the advice as any better, just longer winded), I can see the value, and it certainly is becoming the place to be for social recruiting, but the air is certainly thicker (and you might want to change out of your PJs before logging on).

But whatever you do, and I say this with all earnestness, don’t try and be funny!

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Job Search Engagement Strategy on Twitter for Techies

Posted on October 18, 2012. Filed under: CIO, Interviews, Recruiting, Resumes, Technology | Tags: , , , |

Getting started on social media sites like twitter can be a daunting task, particularly if you do so at the same time you’re launching a job search. For technical candidates that tend to be more skeptical of these social forums, thinking they’re just plain silly, this can be a big challenge.

Well, on Wednesday 10/17 at 3pm ET on twitter at #TCFchat, a panel of job seekers, HR folks, recruiters, and career professionals convened to discuss just this topic. We covered whether a type “A” personality is truly required, the demeanor or persona the job seeker should assume (especially if they are new to twitter), and other strategies.

The major takeaways were that even loners can and should use social media for the job search. Being authentic is vital. Also, sage advice was offered to “Think twice. Click once.”

If you were unable to join us for the live chat, go to our Tech Career Forum LinkedIn Group page to post comments. You can also view the Storify summary.

Or feel free to weigh in here. We’d love to hear from you.

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