This blog entry is the second in a series about increasing your professional networking abilities and tactics.

Part Two: Get online today!

In this day and age, you’d be totally lost without trying to leverage social media to build a stronger professional network. After all, everyone’s connected with the ubiquitous smartphone…it’s just the way things are done nowadays. Here are some tips:

Create and Maintain the Right Kind of Social Profiles

Each industry will have a set of social media platforms that it’s most drawn to. Many are geared toward Twitter and Facebook, but some use Pinterest, Google+ or one of another dozen or so. Familiarize yourself with the industry standards before diving in. Once you’ve settled on a social media platform and signed up, it will be time to build your profile. Here are a few tips:

  1. Separate your social life from your professional one.
  2. Always remember who will be looking at these profiles.
  3. It’s acceptable to maintain separate accounts on the same service.
  4. Use an appropriate photo: A headshot against a neutral background in which you are both smiling and looking directly into the camera, while wearing attire that is appropriate for your field of work.

Creating a strong profile is only part of the battle. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to begin engaging in conversations via current thought-leaders’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn posts, groups, or pins. Use all that knowledge you’ve acquired over the years to contribute your expertise within these online conversations. You’ll find others are much more likely to connect with you as a result.

Last, but certainly not least, post your own content! Posting relevant statements, articles, or industry-specific best practices on a regular basis (up to 2x per day) lets your audience know you’re serious and continuously engaged. By building your credibility online, you’ll be able to leverage that credibility into influence, and expand your network.

In the next part of the series, I’ll dig deeper into how to get the most out of LinkedIn, make great contacts, and discover new business leads or employers.

How have you used social networking to expand your contact list? Share your tips in the comments!