Social networking is not just for teens and young adults anymore—more than half of MySpace users are over 35, according to a comScore study. And, just as it's beneficial to your personal life to keep in contact with those close to you, it's valuable for your professional career to keep close contact with the people in your industry and organization. Below are some ways to enhance your career, both inside your organization and out.

Social Networking Inside Your Organization


By using social networking, you can give yourself a face to the other employees in your organization. In addition to creating a more pleasant and personal experience, this will increase the likelihood that employees will give positive reviews/recommendations to your boss. By developing a relationship beforehand, you can improve future encounters and create a more positive experience for employees when something does go wrong.

One way to get the conversation started is to use Twitter to send mini-updates on when the network goes down, times that the network will be unavailable, or associated blips that regularly occur. By being proactive, employees will be able to plan their schedules accordingly, and they will appreciate you thinking of their needs (which will also reduce the incidence of complaints). Another use of a service like this is to send quick reminders, such as reminders on safe Internet browsing or how to troubleshoot common problems.

In a similar vein, you can create your own blog, use the company Intranet, or use blogging sites such as MySpace or Xanga to write in-depth articles on troubleshooting problems. This will empower employees and also reduce the amount of frivolous calls you have to handle.

Social Networking Outside Your Organization


Even if you have no immediate plans to leave your organization or search for new opportunities, now is the time to start building up a portfolio and reputation that will enable you to be successful in the future. One of the best ways to do this is to start your own blog or contribute to other industry blogs. Write in-depth pieces or just comment on the latest industry trends, and you'll have a backlog of reputation-building material the next time a potential employer Googles you.

If you like the idea of building relationships with others in your industry but don't want to commit to a blog, you can always join an industry-related forum. By signing your name at the end of each response you send, you will not only build relationships with the people whose problems you troubleshoot, but you'll also increase the amount of search results Google indexes for your name. To get started, feel free to take a look at the forums on WindowsITPro.com, and see if any of these interest you.

Balance Is Key


Obviously, it'd be easy to let these pursuits get in the way of your day-to-day tasks. Start small with one or two social networking commitments, and increase your communication as you become more comfortable and efficient with managing this new element of your professional life. By building a positive reputation in the industry and in your organization, you'll make new friends, new professional contacts/references, and maybe even solidify the next big milestone in your career.

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