I knew that to connect with my community and build professional relationships I needed to utilize several platforms of social media. If you don't have a Facebook page, you almost don't exist, and Twitter is a great way to find out who is talking about your interests. Despite all my hours distributing paper flyers throughout my community, Meetup.com and Craigslist (and some word-of-mouth) are still the outlets that bring people to my meditation groups.
As soon as I self-branded and dove into social media, things began to happen and they happened quickly. I'm not gloating here, nor am I claiming to know a lot! In reality, I feel like the more I learn about social media, the less I know...I'm still extremely small in the social media world and business-wise, but I have seen benefits quickly, and my purpose is to highlight and discuss the power that professional social media can have. In fact, I'd like this to be an open and ongoing discussion so that we can learn from each other -- who will be the first to comment on this post??! I digress...
Through my Twitter activity, I was found and featured on UTHSCSA's Standout (see this article at Dr. Lindsay Bira's UTHSCSA Spotlight), I was retweeted by some big organizations (e.g., Wounded Warriers, American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, KSAT, Military Officer Magazine), and my following grew accordingly. I was picked up and featured by Humans of San Antonio (see my thoughts on that here: HOSA Dr. Lindsay Bira overcoming barriers), which was unexpected and fun, increasing my exposure in San Antonio. Simultaneously, I was working in the background on my blog and other content that I was actively promoting on my platforms. [[Side note: self-promotion feels weird -- some people may read it as self-absorption (if they don't understand professional social media), but I simply remind myself of my professional goals and reasons for doing so and that's really all that matters.]]
As time went on, I found and connected with other professionals in my field on the same path, which helped align my vision. Most recently, as mentioned, UTHSCSA invited me to be a featured writer for a piece on professional social media tips for graduate students (see below for infographic), which was a great opportunity. I hope that my social media presence will continue to grow and offer more surprising connections and opportunities, as I'm sure it will. The possibilities with social media are endless, and ceilings do not exist. You create your content based on your interests and goals, and make connections that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
In sum, social media provides effective space for creativity and personal expression within your profession (if used correctly), and can help you connect with people you may not have come across otherwise. My passion is related to distributing psychology-related information in a digestible and inspiring way to those who may not normally access it. I've discovered ways in which to do so effectively while trying to walk the line between professional and personal disclosures (a hard line to walk). I will continue to learn how to become more effective, as social media is an evolving world and our interactions with it evolve as well.
Now, in 2015, social media is a powerful and necessary business tool, regardless of your career path or stage of training. It's interesting that we don't get more training about how to use it well, professionally, as the world depends on it. There's often fear related to social media exposure, but that fear (like all fear) is focused on extreme negative outcomes and failing to face it may keep us from growing in important ways.
Read more in my Professional Social Media & Self-Branding Tips article, leave comments about your thoughts, and share my infographic, below:
The vulnerability in launching yourself into social media is real, and that is scary. The growth potential is also real, and that is very exciting.
So, how might you use social media help your professional goals come together or simply build credibility in an area of interest?