Is social work ready for the social media revolution? How to become LinkedIn
Social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. Three years ago, the term barely existed. Today, social media encompasses social networks, mobile platforms, information sharing, online video, and far more. Facebook the leading social network has over 200 million members. An interesting development has been the growth of professional networks. Networking is about building relationships, facilitating knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
Research undertaken by Bersin and Associates http://www.bersin.com/Blog/post/Informal-Learning-becomes-Formal.aspx indicated that informal learning now accounts for over 80% of the learning that takes place in organisations. Social media can make informal learning formal, encourage employees to contribute to the development of a learning organisation and empower people to publish their expertise and learn from each other.
Social media and collaboration tools such as basecamp provide organisations with an easy way to connect with stakeholders, provide direct access to information and an environment for them to contribute to developments and discussion. One of the biggest professional networks is LinkedIn with over 56 million registered users in 200 countries with 2.6 million registered users in the UK. LinkedIn is a good way to raise your profile and connect with people who share similar interests across the world. The launch of the network for professionals who work with children and young people in care was a response to a request to provide a forum for professionals from across the children’s workforce to share good practice and information.
If you are new to LinkedIn I thought it would be helpful to offer a few tips for making the most of your presence online.
1. Complete your basic profile
It is straightforward and worth the time to do this. Put as much detail on your profile as you can, including your current position, work experience, education, specialist skills and interests. If you upload your CV you can complete your profile in minutes. HR people and recruiters use LinkedIn for candidate searching and they do it by key words. Add targeted words to your profile summary so that people can find your areas of specialism and expertise.
2. Upload a photo
A photo makes your profile more personal. It is good to put a face to a name. Everyone has at least one good photo of themselves but do make sure that it is suitable for a professional network. It is worth asking friends for an honest opinion of your photo.
3. Start to connect
Find out which of your colleagues and friends are already on LinkedIn and invite them to connect with you. I suggest that you create your own messages rather than use the default settings. You do not have to accept invitations to link in with people you do not know but always respond with a polite message if you do not know the person.
4. Get Involved in groups and discussions
Find out about interesting groups to join. For example the network of professional social workers. This means you can ask questions, answer questions, link up news articles and other relevant information and you could even moderate a group.
5. Update Regularly
Keep in touch by regularly updating your news, interests and activities.
6. Get Recommendations
Having other professionals confirm your skills and knowledge is very powerful. You can ask your colleagues, your manager, clients and even friends if relevant.
7. Accounts and Settings
Spend some time familiarising yourself with your account and settings. LinkedIn is a secure site but you do have choices about what information is accessible only to your network and more publicly available. You can decide how you wish to communicate with the world and how the world can communicate with you. Apart from my email address I have not included any personal information. You can edit your profile, your public profile settings and your contact settings.
8. Personalize your LinkedIn page
There is an option of making your public profile have your name in the URL. For instance, instead of www.linkedin.com/00x00sa28ur09 you can change it to www.linkedin.com/in/shirleyayres Go to the edit my profile page and change the public profile URL address. But be aware that this is also open to Google and other search engines, as it becomes your public profile which is accessible outside of LinkedIn.
9. Explore the Applications
There are a number of additional applications that you can add to your profile page. You can browse through the applications and find the ones relevant to you. Slideshare Presentations allows you to upload and share presentations. If you are a keen reader, you can create a reading list from Amazon and Events allows you to share information about conferences and events you are attending and interested in.
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