Building skills with social media, webinars, and blogs
Typically associated with personal and recreational activity, social media has a pivotal role to play in career development.
In a world where cell phone users check their phones an average of 150 times a day, it’s vital to make time spent online an investment, not a distraction. Toward that end, SWE offers a robust selection of ways to gain new skills and find or offer support, all with the convenience of today’s online technology.
Online interaction is ever present in modern life and, for many, it’s a career necessity. In her recent webinar, “Social Media: The Cliff Notes for Busy Businesswomen,” Kelly Janowski, SWE social media and public relations manager, notes, “95% of recruiters use social media as a screening tool, and 39% use it to judge personality and organizational fit.” Does that mean you have to build an online presence? No, but you may be missing out on significant contacts and opportunities. “Social media has changed the way we speak, network, stay in touch,” Janowski said. “It’s only natural to make it part of career strategy. Whether you’re active online or reluctant to log on, potential employers and business associates will search for you online. Why not take control of how these vital groups view you by mastering your social media outlets?” The big three platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and SWE is growing fast in all of them. Janowski reported that “SWE recently celebrated 20,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and growth across all social media sites is up 45% over last year.”
SWE webinar content has increased by more than 50% since 2012, and online participation is growing with it. Webinars are part of the Society’s continuing mission to provide professional assistance and development opportunities to women at every stage of their careers. “Webinars are one of the many exclusive membership benefits you receive,” Janowski continued. “You can log in from anywhere and connect with the most innovative leaders in our industry, as well as access previously recorded content. With SWE’s robust offerings, you have a multitude of professional development courses just waiting for you.”
Blogs are an informal way to discuss new ideas, share tips, and solve problems. Post-webinar blogs are also a venue for continuing discussion after the presentation ends. For those on a tight schedule, microblogging site Twitter offers a rapid-fire forum where text messages are limited to 140 characters. Janowski recently introduced SWE “tweetchats,” which take place at noon Central Time on the third Friday of every month. “It’s an hour-long virtual coffee date,” Janowski said. “Each time, we discuss a given topic, such as developing leadership skills, preparing for your first semester of college, or setting goals. These sessions allow users to connect online with SWE and your fellow members, share insights, and learn from women who have walked the same path you’re on now.”
Finding the bandwidth
With so many offerings available, it’s easy to lose track of time or decide you don’t have time at all. Janowski has a number of suggestions that have worked for her and are simple to implement. “Set a timer,” she said. “Decide you’re going to spend only X amount of time online in a given evening and get it done. Otherwise, it’s too easy to see an interesting story link and go down a rabbit hole of distraction. Sometimes I’ll send myself an email with interesting content I’d like to share and address it in the time I’ve set aside.” Whether a webinar, tweetchat, or blog best fits your schedule, the final result is enhanced networking. “It’s no surprise to me that our online community loves to give advice,” Janowski said. “It’s an extension of the insight our members get from their sections and our annual conference. Some of the most popular topics have been from other members asking for guidance on career or education on related choices in their engineering journeys.”
This content originally appeared in SWE’s Spring 2014 publication. Edited by Brittany Merchut, Project Manager, CFE Media, bmerchut(at)cfemedia.com.