Regular and engaged use of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is a great way to meet people and share information.
Overall, social media can be a useful tool for advancing your career and learning more about the world of structural engineering; but if not used wisely it could end being the thing that holds you back.
If you want to be taken seriously in your professional life you should probably apply the same level of rigour and judgement to your social media posts.
So, what kind of things should you look out for?
- Complaining – how favourably is your current or a prospective employer going to view whining (or worse) about your boss, colleagues, or your job? Maybe that stuff is best saved for conversations with your close friends or family.
- Over-sharing: yes, you might want to tell your friends the intimate details of your life, but is that really the kind of thing you want colleagues to read? Direct messages, rather than public broadcasts, might be the best place for that. And those boozy night out snaps? Is it a good idea to have them available for everyone to enjoy?
- Over-sharing: professional – you might well have landed a great new job, or be about to quit one you hate, but does it really improve your prospects to shout about it all over social media? And yes, your new client might have awful toilets, but perhaps it’s best to keep that to yourself. Or, if the client is a wind turbine firm and you spend a time disparaging renewables, how is that going to look?
- Poor execution – you might use Twitter responsibly, but what does it say about you if you use bad grammar (or no grammar?) or fail to correct your spelling? Text speak is one thing, but do you really want to sound like a teenager in your communications?
- Trolling – it’s a poor thing to do in the first place, but going out of your way to cause arguments or upset others doesn’t paint you in a good light. You might not consider social media as the real world, but what could this makes people think of you?
- Too much contact – when does successful networking turn bothersome? It might be a fine line, but if you’re actively trying to build relationships through social media you need to be acutely aware of how much contact is too much.
- Nothing at all – what if you don’t do social media? That’s fine, it’s not a necessary requirement, but might you be cutting yourself off from a rich and rewarding career avenue?