Social media and your career (part 2): Do you look like a professional?

angel blowing a trumpet

Try not to blow your own trumpet.

No-one likes a show-off, but most people respect expertise. So, using Twitter to build your personal brand needs some thought if you want to get the right balance.

I mentioned in a previous post that there are three aspects to think about: your professional image, your networking activity and your personal style. I covered the last of these first, because it’s the hardest. Now for the first: building your professional reputation.

How do you want to be seen? As an expert? You might not yet feel confident in that role. As someone who cares about their profession? We can all do that. As a high achiever? Be very, very careful!

As writer Susan Hill tweeted, in response to my last post: “Don’t boast or do non-stop self-promo. V off-putting.”

Yes, you do want people to know what you’re doing, but this can be done without blowing your own trumpet. Remember, too, that there are ways of talking about work without talking about what you’re working on. I’ve seen a conference speaker discussing business hotels, for example, and numerous freelance writers comparing notes about procrastination techniques.

Mentioning work is one way of building your professional visibility. Another way is to share information.

Twitter has been promoted for a long time as a place for information sharing, and it’s a great way to create your own specialist newsfeed. Follow the right people and you’ll find a stream of useful links to keep you informed about developments in your field.

You could be one of those people. But just sharing the same articles as everyone else – or articles from the most obvious sources – won’t do a lot for your credibility.

My pet hate is when someone tweets a headline and a link without stating the source. I won’t know whether it’s something they’ve written themselves, something from a credible source, or something from a website that I know has nothing useful to say. Clicking on a link and finding out you’ve wasted your time doesn’t make you warm to the person who shared it.

But if someone states the provenance of an article and – even better – adds their own opinion, I’ll be grateful for the information. It might even start off a conversation, and networking with like-minded professionals should, after all, be one of your goals.

I’ll come onto networking in the next post. Meanwhile here are my do’s and don’ts for raising your professional image on Twitter.

Don’t

  • just promote yourself or your company
  • retweet the same old, same old
  • just tweet work stuff
  • ever call yourself a ‘thought leader’.

Do

  • let people know what you’re doing, but without boasting
  • share interesting things that people might not have seen already
  • comment on what you’re sharing
  • dare to have an opinion.

More posts on social media and your career

Part 1: Branding or boring?

Part 3: How to talk to people on Twitter

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