social-media Are you positioning yourself for growth?  How much buzz surrounds your personal brand?  Wonder what you could do to change that?

Well, one way to start giving people another facet of you is to leverage Social Media.  Social Media is made up of many types of tools that can help you not only work to enhance your brand, but also start connecting with people in new ways.

From Wikipedia:

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share content, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives, and media themselves.

Social media can be more than the sum of its parts; blogs, wikis, social networks, presence applications, lifecasting and video are just tools and methods to enrich interactions with your connections.  While broadcasting your every move (lifecasting) may not seem like a wise move to most of us, it’s one example of gaining exposure for your idea (i.e.

However, social media also includes ideas and things that have become common, even mainstream – take blogging for example.  Blogs are becoming ubiquitous in communicating, sharing ideas, reporting, and personal branding.  Blogs are really your own social network in their own right (but hey, that’s another post) because they allow you to do so much more.

From your personal blog, you can talk about your own ideas, topics, perspectives, and most importantly – set your own agenda.  From your blog, you can launch into podcasting, video posts, host your own OpenID, host a PDF of your resume, and link to all your online resources.

Some of those resources should be a social network.  For nearly any professional, a service like LinkedIn is a great place to start.  Yes, it’s an online social network, but it is tailored to professionals connecting with professionals in a controlled environment.  It’s really an organized, standardized way to host a copy of your resume, allow people to search resumes, gain authority (via recommendations which are like references), post & search jobs, and accept/deny invitations to “connect” with peers as you see fit.

Some more socially adept individuals will point out that LinkedIn is deficient in many interactive social aspects, such as being able to share pictures, status updates, funny icons, favorites lists (movies, music, etc), and the like.  The good part is that none of this clouds the primary purpose of LinkedIn: to network with like-minded professionals.

Now for the more adventurous, there is Facebook where many professionals are starting to leverage the advanced features, using them to better understand their contacts and communicate with them around the world in real time.

Another quickly growing tool in social media is a micro-blogging/presence application such as Twitter.  The speed with with you can communicate, share information, get updates, news, and the like is incredible.  The important thing to remember about Twitter (and similar services) is to not judge it by it’s original purpose.  The Twitter question “What are you doing?” was just a launchpad.  In 140 characters or less, you can communicate a status, a thought, a question, a frustration, a plea, a thank you…  Twitter is just another view of the online community that you build.

I guess the point of this is that online communities, be they blogs, social networks or IM are only as good as the effort you put into them.  Just like in offline relationships, the effort to understand, learn and grow is crucial to succeeding and gaining benefit for you – and your network!

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