To some social media may seem like a fad, but it’s clear that millions continue to rely heavily on this mode of communication. Last spring the School of Public Affairs Alumni Committee and the Office of Career Services and Alumni Affairs hosted a panel on social media and how to use it to develop a professional network to further one’s career. Some advice distilled from that panel:



  • Audit your online reputation before you establish your social presence. Google yourself to see what’s out there. Then set up Google alerts to inform you when your name is mentioned.
  • Properly brand yourself. Invest in a professional headshot to use on each networking site; create content related to your niche; and be consistent with your feedback/comments to relevant blogs and websites.
  • Network constantly with professionals. When it’s time to ask for a favor or recommendation, resources are already lined up.
  • Use privacy settings. Show information only to those who need to see it.
  • Pay attention to industry trends and share information to engage your network.
  • Establish a sense of balance between personal and professional networking.
  • Don’t approach social networking as a monologue; it should be engaging.
  • Don’t be informal just because it’s online networking. Approach online contacts with the same professionalism you would use if you were meeting that individual in person for the first time.
  • Don’t use social networking as a replacement for offline efforts. Continue to attend industry conferences, networking events, and Tweet-ups.
  • Don’t post anything on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or other sites that shouldn’t be broadcast to the nation. Even with privacy settings, accounts can be hacked.
  • Don’t be intimidated by social networking. Get your feet wet by starting a profile on LinkedIn and maintaining it until you are ready to branch off into other social networking sites.

—Sheena Neal (MPA ’11) works in the School of Public Affairs Career Services Office.