Using social media for professional purposes is becoming common practice amongst the workforce in recent years. People have been expressing their views, opinions, sharing news of their projects and career to the world to see. Social Media has been used as a marketing tool for both individuals and companies. For example, I use this blog to share my thoughts on Project Management and my career and different blog (Link) to share my thoughts and projects with Lotus Notes. I am no longer a Lotus Notes "Guru", but I maintain the site to share any technical blog posts, keeping in touch with the community.
Social media is open for everyone to see, which means that you need to be careful with regard to your posts. Many companies that I work with are protective in regard to their projects and information leaking to the public domain which could cause potential problems to their share price and be useful information to their competitors. An example of this is that in a high risk business, such as banking, if you were to share information about a risky project, the customer, shareholder and competitors may use the information to detrimental effect.
I once worked for a large Japanese investment bank and ran a project to move all of their email from a Lotus Notes platform to Exchange, setting up new infrastructure and rolling out new technology to 27 different countries around Europe. This was deemed a risky project and one that had to be kept from the public domain, as it could have made existing and potential customers nervous. When I was writing the blog posts, or communicating twitter snippets, I had to remain vague in relation to information on the project.
Blogger - Keeping a blog is a useful guide and a great repository for Lessons Learned. I write blog articles with content that reflects issues and actions that have been useful, or with articles that contain attachments for future use. An example of this would be the weekly report that I use to report a status update to my stakeholders. I use the Google's Blogger application for my blogs. I am an avid Google user, including Android mobile technology, so it made sense to keep using the technology for my blog.
LinkedIn - I use LinkedIn as an online CV. As a consultant, I move from company to company and so my CV could stretch to 6 pages, if I was to include all of my previous employment and project history. I keep my CV short and limited to the last two or three roles, but my LinkedIn profile keeps a record of all of the roles that I have ever had. Sometimes it is quite interesting to look back and see the variety of companies and business sectors that I have worked in. Keeping LinkedIn updated is useful for by potential clients as they can see the work that I have completed and immediately see any references that I have for each role. If I am interviewing candidates, I look for additional information on LinkedIn to back up their CV.
In addition, each week, I try to contact at least 5 people that I have worked with in the past, ensuring that I keep a network of contacts. It is often fun to meet ex-colleagues for a chat to see how companies have evolved and to gain feedback and updates on the projects that I was working with.
Facebook - I do not use Facebook for my professional life. I keep Facebook to my personal life and use it to keep in touch with long lost friends. Again, this is to expand my network of friends and keep in touch with friends and family today's busy world. People often do not see each other for months, but keep updated via Facebook. Personally, I prefer face to face contact, but sometimes my busy work and home life do not allow this.
Twitter - I have two twitter accounts. The first account (Link) is used for my work life, where I connect with fellow Project Managers. The second account is for Paul Cable (Link), where I connect with like-minded people, link to the news, sports and friends. I like the instant responses with Twitter. For example, last week I had a bout of Gout and I mentioned this on Twitter. Within minutes I have received many messages directing me to help and gout related websites. I try to Tweet something regularly regarding my work, for example yesterday I had a problem with some communication breakdown within my project, so I simply stated a reminder to all project managers that "Communication is KEY".
Overall, social media is a powerful communication resource. Be careful what you post, as this could be detrimental to both your client and to you as a person, but used wisely it can keep you informed on the information you need and when you need it.
Remember : Communication is Key and Social Media should be used as a simple, easy access communication tool.