THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Lie, lies: Social media has its limits

Everyone knows that the best way to get a job is to leverage your network. And almost everyone knows that social media is a great way to build your network.

But many of you are making lots of social media mistakes. I know because so many people tell me that social media is a waste of their time. They're wasting their time, and continuing to make mistakes, because there's a set of common lies that people believe about social media. Here are those lies:

Lie #1: LinkedIn is for networking.

LinkedIn is great. I'm on LinkedIn. I have 650 connections. At first, I wondered, why do I need this list of connections published on LinkedIn? What was the purpose of it? But now I get it. With LinkedIn, people can tell that I am a very connected person.

Most of you already know I'm well connected– I'm a print journalist, blogger, and startup founder, which are all very network-intensive jobs. But if you're someone who doesn't know how to tell whether someone is connected, LinkedIn is a great scorecard.

Potential employers like LinkedIn because they can glance at your LinkedIn profile and get a sense of how connected you are and how much money you make. (Yes, large networks correlate to large salaries.) That's the utility of the scorecard.

But what you cannot do on LinkedIn is build a network. Networks are built on relationships, which grow from conversation. LinkedIn is not for conversations. So you need to go somewhere else to build your network, and then, when it's big, display it on LinkedIn so you'll look great.

Lie #2: Twitter is for conversation.

So if you need conversation to grow relationships into a network, then you look for the social media tools that are for conversation. Right? Twitter seems easy. It's only 140 characters, so it's appealing to someone who is weary of spending every waking minute using social media.

The problem with using Twitter for conversation is that we need more than 140 characters to make a genuine connection with someone. So you're not going to have a whole conversation there; Twitter is great for finding people who have similar ideas, and for keeping track of them in a superficial way.

But you still need to go elsewhere– offline or online– to solidify the relationship to the point where you would actually care about each other in the way a solid network connection does, but Twitter is a good start.

Lie #3: Blogs are personal journals.

Your blog is a record of what you're thinking, and that record will represent you online, as a high-ranking search result when someone googles your name. So if you care about building a network, you'll stop using your blog as a diary.

Your blog is intellectual exercise for you– to keep yourself thinking in a disciplined way about things that interest you. And it's an intellectual exercise for other people– to follow your thought process and decide if they'd like to engage you in conversation. The blogosphere is a cocktail party for the intelligentsia without J Brand jeans or Jimmy Choo shoes. It's just ideas, bouncing back and forth, and you're deciding who to talk to.

I know I'm always telling people to stop worrying about what their blog is going to be and to just start blogging. I say this assuming that you understand that a blog is a networking tool. It's one of the most important ways you can create career stability, by being who you are and connecting with people who like you for who you are.

Your blog is a career-management dream-come-true.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.