The importance of being social

The real value of social media lies in connecting with people outside of your close circle of friends.

The other week, I had a conversation with a friend about social media in the job search.

“It’s a liability,” he said. “What if employers find things from your personal life? That won’t help you get a job.”

While the harsh flash in those party photos may not do you justice, there’s far more to social media in the job search than weekend pictures of you and your friends.

Every piece of content you post online, whether you created or curated it, reflects on who you are, your personality and interests.

Being socially proactive online will help you connect with like-minded people and thought leaders in your field. But beyond that, it allows you to establish a presence and network.

There is so much potential with social media that it shouldn’t be locked away under intense privacy settings. The real value lies in connecting with people outside of your close circle of friends.

And although some of your friends may not be safe for work, it’s how you respond that truly reflects on you.

So, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Use your good judgment and common sense when you professionally approach social networking. Get out there and make connections. Interact with people of interest. Refrain from engaging in the fluff that’s just not worth your time.

If you play your cards right, you’ll have a well-curated social presence that boosts your professional image and helps you learn and grow in your field. It’s especially important for new grads, who often have trouble proving their potential to prospective employers.

The size and depth of your networks is up to you. I’ve found immense value in Twitter and LinkedIn, even when my network size was only in the dozens. Look for the value in every connection and make it work for you.