Fast-forwarding IT Careers with Social Media

Fast-forward IT Social

I have been encouraging all Intel IT employees to get on social media (internal and external) for a few years and really embrace mobility (i.e., start by downloading the Intel IT Business Review mobile app for the IT industry intel.com/IIBR). And I am so happy to see so many of my peers in IT now on Twitter or LinkedIn — and blogging on our internal collaboration platform and our external community. 

But it’s 2014 and there are still a lot of people “on the fence” — watching and waiting, but not quite jumping in. Here’s what I am learning about shifting the fence sitters.

It’s about the Benefits 

One thing that seemed to help was collaborating with my peer in Intel IT Training to create an online training series, “The Benefits of Being Social.”  The 5-part courses cover both internal and external social media platforms typically used by IT people (including LinkedIn, Twitter, HootSuite, and Jive). The first portion of the course reviews the benefits to the employee and to the company.

Each of the Benefits of Being Social courses walks through getting set up and creating your profile, how to follow and just lurk for a while, how to comment on things others post, and then how to post your own ideas or share useful information and start to really engage. It’s quite methodical – you do these same actions for each platform. Online training is great because people can go at their own pace.

We have had hundreds of people take each course — and a lot of people tell us they have figured out how participating in social media can help them in their jobs, which is great.

And Specifically Career Benefits

I saw this cartoon today. It underscores the importance of embracing social media not just to do your job — but to help your career!

Dilbert social engineer

When you can see the benefits to your job – the next step is to take a queue from Dilbert and start looking at the benefits of social media for your career. 

So where are you along the social continuum? That’s the first question to ask.

The best way is to step back and ask, “Can people who want to collaborate and network find me?”

I recommend doing a quick one-step assessment. Here’s how: Open Google Search, then type in your name.

  • Does your LinkedIn come up on the first page of search results?
  • Do your papers, speaking engagements or other social networks you are on appear there?
  • Could someone figure out what you do and your area of expertise?

You can do the same, type your name in the search bar of your company’s intranet site.

  • Does your current profile appear? 
  • Does any of your internal content or blogs show up?
  • Would your peers be able to figure out what you do and your area of expertise?

My guess is that you are not “dead” as Dilbert concludes in the cartoon, but you may be missing out on projects, collaboration or speaking opportunities or connections. You have to make sure you “exist” and that you convey what you want to convey (i.e., build your personal/professional brand). You can use social media to do that.

Build your Social Presence

Here are some things you can do to get started:

  • Pick a social platform. Remember you don’t have to be on every platform. Choose the one where your peers and experts you rely on are.
  • Update your profile. Add some high-level info (no project code names or company confidential info, of course) on the types of projects you work on. Make sure you underscore your areas of expertise.
  • Include a profile picture that conveys the image you want to convey. It may be time to get a new one.
  • Follow/connect with some people you know and industry experts and join some industry groups.
  • Start sharing good articles from publications you generally read and comment when you see good stuff shared.
  • Reach out and work with someone on a project. Blog about it and share the link on your social platforms.

The Comfort Zone Thing

You don’t have to do all of these at once. Just get started and progress as you get comfortable. One thing that helps deal with the comfort zone thing is to be clear about what social media is – and isn’t. Then you can set your expectations. I like this no-nonsense list of  age old “truths” about social media.

  1. It’s not a “strategy” (it’s just a tool to communicate)
  2. It’s not a panacea for all that ails your business (no magic wands there)
  3. It opens up your world by leaps and bounds (in ways you’ll never think possible)
  4. It will expose your “analog” weaknesses (so be careful when you jump in)
  5. It can, if not managed properly, make the user terribly unproductive (don’t I know it)
  6. It has some of the best people you will ever know practicing it (if you’re serious about building real friendships & business relationships)
  7. It’s not going away (so learn how to use it)

Even Dilbert gets that last one!

While the sky is the limit, the most important is to get started. Having the skills to do your job is important — communicating what you do and being open to sharing and collaborating are what will help keep your career moving forward.

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