I recently worked on some research about how social networking is used in business and the result is striking: those embracing social tools at work are more likely to get promoted than those not using them.
The research showed that 86% of frequent users say they have recently been promoted and 72% say they are likely to be promoted, compared to 61% and 39% of non-users. The report hails these workers as ‘the new social climbers’, because they know how to embrace the tools in the right way to get ahead.
So what are these high fliers doing differently when it comes to social networking? First, the obvious one. They are making connections. Those embracing social networking in the workplace have recognised its potential to broaden their circle of contacts – and a lot of business contacts will come into that. Building a network of contacts also offers an effective means of problem solving, giving access to a wider panel of individuals with different areas of expertise and whose knowledge can be tapped into to help solve problems and give advice on unfamiliar situations.
Second, they are building a personal brand. The most successful social networkers are not the ones who give away vast quantities of information about themselves online - this can look unprofessional and even damage your reputation. It tends to be those that have filtered down personal information to build their own ‘brand’, including their skill set, experience and connections, who are most likely to be successful in using social networking to progress their careers.
That said, individual touches such as occasional updates on hobbies and interests can also lead to more meaningful connections with influential people. In Google + for instance, contacts with similar interests can be grouped together, making it easier to ensure that updates and requests are relevant to those receiving them.
Last, today’s ‘social climbers’ are using these tools to help them work in smarter ways. Most of us are familiar with being bombarded with emails that we don’t have time to read and being pulled into meetings that seem to last longer than necessary. By thinking creatively about what social tool could do the job more effectively, you can change these time-draining practices in your company. Instant messaging, for instance, can be a time saver when you want an answer to a question quickly. Collaborative documents edited online by multiple people at the same time could replace some meetings. It is only through embracing change and trying out different tools that you will learn these shortcuts for yourself.
It is important to remember that an opportunistic, driven individual is likely to grasp any opportunities that come their way. And that’s why they’re not waiting a second with social networks. They know that these services can help to make them better informed, better connected and more productive.
So if you’re reading this and wondering what all the fuss is about, it could be time to wake up and hit the ether…
Mamta Saha is director of Think Spa, a group training and coaching specialist. She recently contributed to a Google study on the effect of social networking in business.
Check out the infographic below: