For a student, and any professional for that matter, there are three essential networks that are a must to have an active presence on. Without much surprise, they are Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Each is extremely important for one’s online presence, but each has a distinct purpose.
The question you must ask yourself though is: Do you understand those purposes, and how do you successfully manage each network?
LinkedIn is your online portfolio. It is a place to display your career and accomplishments, so don’t be bashful. You wouldn’t hold back in telling an interviewer about your accomplishments and career history, so you certainly shouldn’t here.
LinkedIn is also a great way to stay in touch with those that you have met. I highly suggest adding those you have met because it usually strengthens those relationships. That being said, this isn’t Twitter–only add people that you know, otherwise you run the risk of killing a relationship before it begins.
Twitter is your gateway to the social world. This is your platform to express your opinions, knowledge, and build new relationships all the same time. To have it work for you, you can’t just have the social tool you have to be social. Joining conversations with a unique voice and perspective is key to building your brand on social media.
That being said, you have to be mindful of what you say and associate yourself with because Twitter is the most public of the three forums. Like brands, an individual’s public perception can be seriously fractured with something as simple as a controversial tweet. While building a career, Twitter can be your best friend as well as your worst enemy.
LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to display your professional development and knowledge but Facebook is where your personality now lies. The most popular of the networks, Facebook may be the most important when it comes to your online brand.
Any student or young professional must be mindful of who and what they are associating with and what they are allowing to be shared. While not as public as Twitter, your Facebook presence is generally available to anyone, including potential employers.
Despite the harm it can do, Facebook is now becoming an outlet for professional relationships and sharing as many students and young professionals are using groups and pages to build contacts and their knowledge of the industry. Facebook is your opportunity to harness the transparent nature of the social web and blend your personality with budding professional expertise.
Social media is not just a bunch of tools, but rather a gateway to being social. While there are distinct drawbacks to these open platforms, if you consistently manage your online presence and understand how to enter the on-going conversations, you will be on your way to new career with strong relationships in both quality and quantity.
Harrison is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. As evidenced through his previous projects, Harrison has a passion for all things social media, philanthropy, and finding new ways for students to understand the power of a brand. Before moving to New York and while still a student at Temple University, Harrison founded the PR/Social Media consulting firm, Kratz PR as well as Engage TV and the #PRStudCast podcast. Feel free to connect with him to discuss community, social good, branding, or the Philadelphia Phillies on Twitter, @KratzPR or Linkedin