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The Benefit of Continued Professional Social Marketing Past the Initial Job Hunt.

Following your graduation day, you knew the hunt was on to find a starting role to launch your career legacy, and you honed your social presence to move you from the “recent graduate” space to the “employed” work category. Now you can sit back, take a sip of your seasonally-flavored coffee and let your social accounts cruise on autopilot while you plug away at your day-to-day tasks list and grow through the ranks – right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

Staying active and relevant on professional social networking platforms like LinkedIn is the best way for continued career progression, and here’s some science as to why…

The Mere-Exposure Effect

The Mere-Exposure Effect is a simple and well-documented psychological phenomenon where people prefer other people, products, and services that they have been exposed to before. This familiarity principle is one of the main reasons for professionals to maintain their social presence, even if they are past the job hunting stage. If your career progression strategy is within a specialized industry, where eventually working for a competitor is a very real possibility, you can set yourself up with those future employers even while they’re still competitors. By simply inviting future employers to your network, and then posting any content to “get a foot in the door” in these employers’ psyches, you have already surpassed a candidate who has not exposed their name and their professional brand across these same industry professionals.

Reducing Prejudice

Hand-in-hand with merely exposing your name within an industry-specialized social media network is reducing the bias that industry competitors may experience after realizing that you’re, in fact, potential competition for them. Another well-documented psychological process is the reduction of prejudice and discrimination between individuals and groups of individuals, which is primarily done through cooperative efforts between the two prejudiced parties. So, to avoid being viewed negatively as a competitor and instead be viewed as an industry asset, posting content that aligns yourself with the wider industry’s struggles will allow those competitors to see you as a force to be joined cooperatively, rather than a force to fight competitively.

Cognitive Dissonance

The last psychological principle outlining why you should stay active and relevant on social networking sites, even past the initial job hunt, is Cognitive Dissonance, which is that yucky feeling you get when your attitude about something doesn’t match your behavior towards it. At this stage in your working career, you have taken the time to develop a professional social brand and have begun networking with industry specialists, imagine that you now start posting irrelevant content, or content that doesn’t seem to match who you are within that brand. You better believe that your colleagues, peers, and coworkers will pick up on this insincerity, and experience that uncomfortable feeling of dissonance…all because of YOUR social presence! This feeling with definitely translate into future assessments of your skill and experience, and, if felt by someone who makes hiring decisions, impact the outcome of your job application. Best to avoid the whole issue by posting material that fits how you market yourself professionally.

Post early, post often, but don’t post foolishly. Whether looking to start a career, shift careers, or passively monitor the industry, staying active and relevant in your network’s eyes is the easiest way to develop a fundamental social marketing strategy that will project you to your goals.

Be Engaged To Engage

When possible, meet with people face-to-face. A face-to-face meeting allows you to have a full communication experience through body language, eye contact, and tone of voice which helps to establish rapport, build bonds and cement stronger relationships. It also affords you practice for that really important face-to-face, the interview. As you interact with your new connections, ask a lot of questions and try to understand their career journey. Why did they choose this field? What did they expect when they graduated? How did they get to where they are today? Are they on the same path they started on? Even though you’ve graduated from college, your need to learn has not diminished. Also, notice that none of these questions are direct questions about you getting a job or how much money is earned. These questions are more about you learning and preparing for what you want to do in the future, long-term and less about your immediate need for a job.

Speaking of immediate need for a job… The next pointer is, find a job. It may not be your dream job, it may not be connected to your major, or even require a college degree. But aside from the fact that having a job provides income, albeit not the income you’re shooting for, it is one of the best ways to get a feel for the “real” working world. Perhaps you’ve already been able to do some internships in your chosen field. Even better! You’ve got a head start! Just the mere fact of having a job, even if it’s not in your chosen career path teaches you things. Basic lessons on being a good employee such as being reliable, taking direction, interacting with team members. Plus, it gives you a taste of dealing with some more complex aspects of working like collaborating with peers, recovering from mistakes and taking responsibilities. These are invaluable lessons that will serve you well as you travel your career path to do what you REALLY want to do. If you’ve taken the time to build some professional connections, you can use your newly formed network for advice on navigating some of these challenges.

Remain Professional – ALWAYS!