Use Social to Stay Visible and Stay Current

Build your online network and stay top of mind with your contacts.

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Social media platforms change a lot. New tools and social networks pop up every day. These changes can sometimes overwhelm the casual user, but consider the danger of putting all your energy into a single network or tool. Instead of waiting for a moment of crisis, begin exploring new social media channels now.

If you invest all your time and energy mastering only one platform, what happens when traffic plummets, it becomes accessible only through paid membership or the service is acquired and goes away altogether? This does happen. As a result, you can lose your audience, community and friends. It's wise to proactively set aside some time experimenting with new social networks and social media tools. You’ll want to assess the quality of the community, audience demographics and growth and whether your friends are migrating there.

Spread it around. A word of warning: if you only put your content on LinkedIn or another free platform that someone else owns, you can’t control what the future holds. Nor are you reaching your full potential audience. This is what makes the world of social media and technology so exciting. You don’t want to miss the next big wave. Plus, being an early adopter means there is less competition and it is easier to be perceived as a big fish in a small pond.

Show off your communication skills. If your résumé states that you're an excellent communicator, it's time to demonstrate this skill. Start blogging about things that interest you. Your topic doesn’t absolutely have to relate to your ideal occupation. It could be about sports, cooking or other interests you are knowledgeable about. Your blog becomes a sample of your work. To help people see how great of a writer you are, share your blog posts on your Facebook page, as a LinkedIn profile update and Google+.

Visually highlight your talent. Graphic artists and photographers know they must have an online portfolio for their work. Do you have one too? One way to begin is by capturing online references to your work, such as awards, newsletter mentions or newspaper mentions. You can even immortalize the big day when you reach a milestone on your favorite social media platform. For instance, on the day yougain more than 500 connections on LinkedIn, on the day your group discussion becomes most popular or at the time your status update receives a humongous number of shares, snap a screenshot to document the occasion.

Take screenshots of your online mentions using Evernote’s Skitch, or the tool on your computer or mobile device. You can embed the shots into your LinkedIn profile, write about the mention in a blog post, share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ plus create a video montage using Animoto or a similar online video maker. These tools turn photos, clips and music into video easily, plus they're great for sharing.

YouTube is great for hosting video, but if you're shooting video from your phone and want to upload it quickly, then Vine and Instagram are two mobile apps that help make shooting and sharing faster and easier.

Talk about it. You don’t need to rent a studio to create a show. There are free and low-cost tools that enable you to record video. All you need is a Google+ account to host a Google Hangout and invite your network. This is another way for you to show your "excellent communication skills."

If you aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, why not record a podcast and share your knowledge and expertise that way? Check out Spreaker or BlogTalkRadio – both allow you to record and easily share links to your recording. If you're trying to prove you have strong presentation skills or verbal communication skills, this is one way to do so.

Consistent, quality and constant. There are some basic guidelines you want to keep in mind when embarking on any brand building action. The first is to be consistent. Use the same name and similar avatar across social networks. Don’t forget to tag images you share with your name and appropriate key words, like your occupation, where the shared content originated from or other words that people would search for if they were looking for you. Hosting the original screen capture on your own site is also a good idea. It ensures website traffic comes to you, and once people find your home base you can control the information your audience learns about you and your expertise. All these steps help search engines find your name.

The second is to never sacrifice quality. Use tested best practices for high quality video and audio. When you're writing, always double check your work to ensure it reflects your best effort. However, don’t let perfection get in your way of delivering. Practice and improve upon your work and the content you share.

Third and finally, your consistent, high quality content should be constantly updated and shared. You can’t expect instant results. Building an audience of followers, fans and friends takes time. With some regularity, either hourly, daily, weekly or monthly, share and deliver value. Don’t feel you have to develop all this yourself. You can share inspiring quotes, links to relevant news articles or a humorous video to lighten the mood. Just be sure to attribute the work to its original source.

Don’t wait until you need it. You’ve heard similar warnings about building a valuable professional network. The same holds true for your online network. Build content and your following while you have the confidence and security of a job. Don’t wait until the crisis of a layoff to begin a mad dash PR campaign.