The Value of the Public Forum
Among all the various places one might find oneself using digital tools for career advancement purposes, Twitter is perhaps the most unique. Many of the ideas below hold true for any social network, yet perhaps more appropriately in a network such as Twitter that has more open structure in its DNA. Twitter is not like Facebook or LinkedIn in that the moment you join Twitter, you have in your network – and can publicly message – every other Twitter user. Most other social networks are “walled gardens” that make it difficult to send a message to other users without first adding them to your network. The ability to publicly communicate with any other user is one of Twitter’s most valuable features in regard to career search and professional networking, but it is not the only aspect of Twitter that has value in that manner.
Attaining Company Research
Brands, nearly as much as individuals, have established a presence on Twitter. As a result, in the process of generating new business, companies and brands expose certain elements of their internal culture and priorities, which makes Twitter a great place to do research on a company’s culture. Brands and companies have become wise to this and are now using the platform strategically in such a manner to communicate corporate culture directly to prospective employees. Many employees tweet also tweet on behalf of their companies as individuals which provides (when in line with social media policies and guidelines) an excellent, more intimate view of life inside company walls.
Remaining Aware of Industry Trends and News
What Twitter has become on the national stage is a bit of a news hound. Because of the “real-time” 24/7 nature of the flow of information it is not unusual to have major trends and news break on the platform first. Whether you’re an investor on the hunt for cues an industry might be moving a certain way or an individual concerned about what’s going on at the train station two stops in front of you, the “real-time” flow of information on Twitter can be a powerful way to stay abreast of industry trends and news, so that when you are in that interview you can impress your future employers with an awareness of the freshest of the fresh. Unlike a “friend” or “Rolodex-like” inspired network, there is no negative connotation to an “unfollow” so pruning the list of people who provide content for the stream of posts that fill your feed is a necessary task to be undertaken regularly in order to provide you with the information you need when you need it most.
Locating Mentors or Arranging Informational Interviews
There is no substitute for a good mentor when it comes to approaching an industry with interest in career success. The margin in our lives, however, doesn’t always allow for the time to be a mentor or a mentee. Digital tools provide excellent asynchronous communication opportunities and Twitter adds a layer of synchronous coordination that can’t be matched even with the most ubiquitous of digital communication tools like email. Likewise, approaching potential mentors for assistance is less intrusive since any Twitter user can publicly send a message to any other Twitter user. The barrier of entry for a mentoring relationship is much lower and more navigable since the implied burden is reduced. That isn’t to say that rules of protocol don’t exist. Like any other community, Twitter has a set of standard procedures and taboos, though it doesn’t take long for a user to quickly become inculturated. Once connections made with potential mentors become more solid Twitter can be an excellent forum for proposing an informal informational interview – either digitally or IRL (in real life) – in an equally low pressure way.
Establishing a Peer Learning Network
Beyond connecting with individuals above your station to provide mentorship and learning, Twitter can be a fantastic place to network with your peers and establish an ad-hoc cohort of individuals climbing the ladder of success together cooperatively instead of competitively. Because of the open nature of the platform it is easy to share information from a variety of sources and coordinating with geo-locationally similar people in your industry or field can happen naturally given time. No matter where you are in your career journey, there is always someone else who is right where you are and willing to be a source of inspiration and camaraderie.
Connecting to Trade Organizations and Conferences
Just as brands have found their way to Twitter, organizations have also recognized that being present in a public place is the best way to be seen by the public. Organizations of all kinds have found ways to create vibrant communities around their causes, interests, topics and beliefs. One of the best ways to extend real life networking through trade organizations is to participate and to assist in the promotion of an organization’s dialoge online. Conferences and workshops don’t have to cease in their teaching value once the actual event dates have passed, and conversation carries on under #hashtag organized chats or categorized media and learning.
Discovering Open Positions and Recruiters
Ask anyone who is trying to get a job or move into a different job or career what they are most interested in finding and they are likely to simply ask for job listings. Ask an recruiter what they are most interested in and they are likely to answer that they would simply like to have their job listings put in front of the right set of eyes. Enter Twitter – full of job seekers, recruiters, brands, organizations – each with a content vacuum to fill, and it is no surprise to know that every day there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of Tweets about #jobs to be found. Even though this might seem in itself like the best and only reason to be on Twitter for job search, it is important to not let access to this vital data overshadow the vast potential of the platform for the above listed networking opportunities or the below listed “most important” of all reasons to be on Twitter.
Creating a Professional Voice
A writer may struggle for years to make it such that, when writing, there is a clear and familiar voice that runs common through each sentence, word and phrase. As you move along your career journey, you are speaking through your choices, accomplishments, positions held, and skills attained. Establishing a common theme is part of any career objective. Likewise, as you move about the internet in this new, connected, digital world, you are leaving behind a trail or a story for others to find – this can help them know who you are and in what ways you might contribute to their work. Keeping an eye toward creating a professional voice in these channels may very well be the most important career choice you can make, and Twitter – as a public forum – may very well be the best place to do it.