As mangers, we are always looking for low cost ways to hire new employees, find quality consultants, and other standard management related tasks. Social media tools are the gentle giant that can help you achieve these tasks on a shoestring budget.
The first step toward being able to benefit by social media in this way is to begin using it. By using social media, I don't mean connecting to your family and friends on Facebook, even though that may, in fact, have some business value. I'm referring to the social media tools designed specifically for use in the business place. These tools include:
LinkedIn and other similar business networks
Professional association and industry-specific discussion boards
Vendor/product specific discussion boards
Yahoo and LinkedIn professional groups
Industry blog sites with an active and engaged community in regard to discussed topics, work-related suggestions, and straight-forward, honest advice
Participation in these online communities has many specific business advantages that can help you in the workplace, not just help you find a new job. Tools like LinkedIn give you a permanently updated contact list of your business connections. Need a recommendation from your old boss, but she took a new job at a new company and you don't have her new email address, no problem, you can reach her via LinkedIn. LinkedIn can also help you find an old colleague. Say you want to hire a person who previously worked for you at another firm and you lost track of him. No problem, you can search for him on LinkedIn. As an important note, if you're on LinkedIn and/or other professional networking sites, you may be the one that's contacted for a great new job.
The association, industry-specific, vendor, and product oriented discussion boards are a great way to:
Identify the thought leaders in your business area
Find potential new hires
Locate quality knowledgeable consultants
Unearth small companies with products and/or services that could be of value to your department
Learn about local chapters and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that may have nearby meetings, thus allowing you to make new professional contacts fact-to-face and listen to quality speakers related to your industry
Gain advice on what companies and products to avoid based on online chatter about their quality and/or professionalism
In addition to discovering new products, services, companies, and people, simply reading these discussion boards will help you grow professionally by:
Enhancing your knowledge of the business community related to your profession
Helping you follow industry trends
Teaching you new techniques and processes that can help you manage your department and/or increase its efficiency and effectiveness
Lastly, actively participating in these online communities, rather than just being an observer of what others write, has the following significant advantages:
By posting online questions to difficult problems, the online community can collectively provide you with valuable insights and potential solutions
By answering questions posted by others not only illustrates your willingness to help people within the online community, but it also helps showcase your knowledge and ability to others who may be in a position to help you professionally
Another huge advantage of actively participating in the online communities is that it can help establish you as a thought leader in your professional area inside and outside your company. This thought leader status can help get you promoted, provide you the opportunity to speak at professional conferences, enhance your personal professional brand/reputation, and increase the potential of receiving a call out of the blue about a great new job.
As a final thought, posting questions online, answering other people's questions, writing a blog, and reading how others post their thoughts online, will help your writing ability via the observation of others and practice by doing. Improved writing skills can help you in your job today and with personal career growth in the future. It can help you today by enhancing the readability of your emails, memos, written documentation, and presentations. It can help you in the future for all these same reasons, but at a higher professional level.
The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
Social media can be a low cost way to hire new employees, find quality consultants, and perform other standard management related tasks.
Using social media and as an observer can dramatically enhance your professional knowledge.
Actively participating in social media can enhance your professional visibility and personal professional brand.
This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.