Succeeding in an MBA program isn’t about doing well in classes – it’s also about networking and nowadays that means social media. One of the best things MBA students can do to succeed in their careers is to grow their professional network…and social media can help students do that.
This article will cover some best practices for building a strong professional network using social media and also discuss some behaviors to avoid on your personal pages.
LinkedIn is perhaps the most important social media networking sites when it comes to networking with other business professionals. But to get value from LinkedIn, you have to be active on the site.
Here are some tips for getting value from LinkedIn.
- Start by creating a compelling profile – Include keywords in your profile title that might allow others to find you easily. Check profiles of similar professionals to see what keywords they are including in their position title and in their descriptions.
Be sure to include a professional photo and use your profile description to highlight real results you have achieved and things that make you unique.
- Use LinkedIn to research and find people you want to connect with – LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with new people, even people you haven’t met in real life. Unlike Facebook, many business professionals are willing to connect with other people to grow their network.
You can use LinkedIn’s search features to search for companies that you are interested in. Then you can click through to see who works at that company.
- Ask for introductions and provide introductions for others – If you use LinkedIn’s search feature, you can search for people you want to connect with. For example, if you want to connect with people with business funding expertise, you can type in “business funding” in the search box.
The results will often show second and third level connections, so if you have a LinkedIn connection that can introduce you to that person, you can ask them for an introduction. In return, be sure to help other people in your network by offering introductions that help other people.
Although most people don’t view Facebook as a place to form new connections, it can be a valuable platform as well. Connect with business associates and classmates that you consider to be friends and keep in touch by liking and commenting on their status updates as well as posting updates of your own.
Here are a few other things you can do to get value from Facebook:
- Check privacy settings – Be sure to check your privacy settings so that your public profile only shows images and updates that you want to be visible to the public. Sometimes potential employers and associates will search Facebook for information on people. You might want to set privacy settings so that any wild partying pictures are visible to personal friends only.
- Join Facebook groups and communities – Facebook groups can be a great place to network with others in your industry. Do a quick search for active Facebook groups in your niche and join them. Don’t forget to be an active participant.
- Search Facebook events – Sometimes businesses post events on Facebook, which can give you opportunities to network with people in real life. Search Facebook events periodically for such opportunities. Utilize the “interested” button to keep track of events; Facebook will notify you when these events are coming up, so you don’t have to worry about remembering everything you find.
Other Social Networks
Some other social media sites you may want to explore include, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Companies and people that you might want to connect with could have active accounts on those social media sites.
Follow these accounts and add meaningful comments to new posts when appropriate. Following people of interest on social media can be a great way to learn about them, which will allow you to start meaningful conversations in the future when you want to connect with them.
If you enjoy social media marketing on certain channels, you can even start to build your own personal brand on those channels. For example, if you enjoy creating videos, then uploading videos to YouTube could help other people get to know who you are.
Social Media Behaviors to Avoid
While social media can be a great channel to form connections with others and build your own personal brand, it can also cause harm to someone’s reputation if they are not careful. Here are some behaviors to avoid on social media.
Avoid starting arguments with people you don’t know. Participating in conversations with people online can be a great way to start connecting with them, but be careful about voicing disagreement with someone you haven’t interacted with yet.
And if you do voice your opinion, be sure to do it diplomatically and respectfully.
Sometimes people can take things personally if you contradict them, especially on social media where messages can be seen by lots of people. While some people may welcome good-natured debates, sometimes it’s a good idea to get to know someone a little first before participating in such discussions.
Students should also avoid negative, embarrassing or controversial behaviors that might get shared on social media. Social media can make small incidents go viral with far-reaching consequences.
For example, a drunk medical student was fired from the hospital she was working at when a video of her attacking her Uber driver went viral on YouTube.
In another incident, a CFO who was rude to a Chick-fil-A employee got fired from his job and was unable to find another job for several years due to the negative publicity from the video. He was reportedly surviving on food stamps three years after the incident.
Grow a Strong Network Using Social Media
Social media can provide opportunities for students to connect with plenty of other people that can help them in the future. Be sure to behave respectfully any time you are in “public” online spaces and be tactful every time you post something on social media.