Social Media can be a springboard or an anchor to an effective military-to-civilian career transition. Share the most trending news and information in your new profession and it will give you instant credibility as a thought leader. Share a lot of unprofessional behavior and ill-considered thoughts and you will have a lot of explaining to do to an interviewer.
Social Media expands your contacts so you meet and interact with industry professionals who can help determine your career future. Social Media gives you the best up-to-date transition information and Social Media helps you understand and avoid potential career pitfalls. Social Media can be a career stumbling ground when heat-of-the-moment comments and poor word choices can have lasting impacts on a choice of careers and opportunities.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of Social Media and to understand how to use Social Media to be your best.
1. The Full Landscape of Social Media. We all know about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other industry leaders in the Social Media field. Social Media is also any electronic item that you put your name to or that can be associated to you. Writing in a comment section on a newspaper story or a discussion with your local school board on a problem, all of these constitute your Social Media transcript. Make sure that when you post, that the posts reflect who you truly are and that you are proud of each and every Social Media post.
2. Social Media Rules: Be Considerate, Honest, Respectful & Kind. Passions and tempers can run high on Social Media and there is nothing wrong with that. Being passionate about issues, looking for answers, and testing solutions are some of the primary benefits of Social Media. What Social Media interaction needs is a dedication to civil behavior and discussion. Your Social Media posts and response should be considerate of the other person’s opinion; honest in your own views, respectful of that person’s opinions, and kind in how you write and interact with that person. You can have an intense discussion about issues on Social Media, but make sure that your posts and responses are considerate, honest, respectful, and kind. If you are in doubt about any one of these things, then reconsider your writing.
3. Conduct an Honest Appraisal of Your Social Media Use Starting 12-18 Months from Transition. Social Media cannot be cleaned up overnight or a new image or persona created. When you are 12-18 months from your career transition, start by doing a complete inventory of your online persona and begin removing, updating, and refreshing your image. This “personal brand” review will ensure that a historical look back at your social media activity truly reflects the person you are and want to become. Make sure you fully understand the controls in each Social Media application so the right message reaches the right audience.
4. Align Social Media Use With Your Career Goals. Social Media is a reflection of you – bottom line. So who are you and what do you want to become? Align your Social Media interests and likes to reflect your career interests, personal passions, and outside interests. You will be amazed at how these contacts will give you information on job activity, career advice, and detail other industry trends that are not even in the traditional media yet.
5. Be An Active Participant On Social Media with Relevant Content. If you want to post about your dog’s breakfast, I’m probably not that interested. If you want to tell me about a new dog food company that is operated by military veterans and uses new ingredients for animal health, then I am very interested. Great Social Media activity is about being consistent and being relevant to your audience. Being a conduit of news activity that is below the radar, finding trends that others miss, or finding unique solutions to problems that are supported by evidence are all ways for you to make a big “splash” in Social Media.
6. Start a Blog To Showcase Your Interests and Abilities. Blogs are a great way for you to promote yourself and conduct in-depth exploration of issues and ideas that you are passionate about. Furthermore, with Medium and LinkedIn Pulse and others, there are a number of great, free, and high traffic websites that you can start blogging in as little as 5 minutes. Blogs really are your showcase to tell your story, why you matter and what you can bring to an organization.
7. Employ Social Media as One of Several Networking Tools for Your Job. Networking is probably one of the most important tools for a successful career transition. Contacts created on Social Media are one avenue for you to have a wide range of contacts and make relevant connections. Again, a lot of times, it is the friend-of-a-friend of a connection that leads to a potential job opportunity. Finally, these Social Media connections are people that are just like you and can really expand your horizons as well as your potential. Face-to-Face interactions, conferences, and other networking avenues are equally as relevant to networking as Social Media.
Social Media is an incredibly powerful tool for an effective military-to-civilian career transition. Used wisely and with grace, Social Media is a tool that builds your personal brand as a professional, creates contacts to propel your career, and demonstrates the full breadth that you bring to an organization. Be Active, Be Relevant, and Be Kind in Social Media.
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About the blogger:
Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success. Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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