Should You Create a Professional Social Media Profile?

I realize that social media is in a constant state of flux, much like the internet itself.  Sites come and go (who remembers Myspace?) and user interest ebbs and flows.  Since you are a veterinary professional, I think you should create a professional profile on LinkedIn or a similar system.  Here are some reasons why.

1) It’s fairly painless to do.  The system can be a bit detailed about your skills etc., and entering your education and jobs may be tedious, but it really should only take half an hour.  Make sure to add a professional picture of yourself.

2) You can create professional connections.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t connect with many veterinary types on my other social media platforms.  My accounts on those platforms are for me and my friends.  On LinkedIn, though, you can connect with casual professional acquaintances, students you taught a decade ago, and new colleagues.  It’s a very low-level commitment since people aren’t posting things on the site you feel you have to keep up with.  I have more than 200 contacts but my feed consists primarily of ads and a handful of relevant posts.

3) Professional connections can lead to jobs.  Although the job market is currently, “Do you have a heartbeat?  Hired!” it can turn on a dime to where finding a job may be difficult.  Or maybe you want a particular job in a particular part of the country.  Most people get jobs because they Know Someone in the hiring system.  It’s just human nature- we’re social creatures, and we trust people we know more than strangers, even if the level of connection is superficial.

4) You get exposure as a professional.  If you are trying to promote an image of yourself as a professional, making a profile is a convenient way to make that step.  Every now and then I search for one of my friends or colleagues and can’t find a profile.  I think, “That’s odd….”  You COULD go so far as to build your own website for your professional presence, but most people won’t do that.  Creating a LinkedIn profile is sufficient for most professionals.

5) You can learn some cool stuff.  I have followed my almae matres and some interesting professional organizations.  They often post things that I find interesting and relevant.  This isn’t material posted by some friend of yours on Facebook.  This is usually curated content which LinkedIn believes is relevant to you.  In my experience, it usually is.  I like learning new things, so enjoy reading some of the articles I come upon.  It’s also an easy way to keep in touch with my almae matres and see what’s going on there.

6) I want you to.  This is partly a selfish plea since I promote some of my posts on LinkedIn because it’s relevant to the veterinary professionals there.  I only post things oriented at faculty members- not things oriented at students.  I get people reading my articles, which makes me think they find them relevant.

Having a professional social media profile won’t help your application, or make you a better candidate, or otherwise affect a hiring or selection decision.  I’ve never searched for any social media for an applicant for a position.  But one day you will want a job, and having numerous connections throughout the veterinary world may help you achieve that goal.  It’s an easy step to take to improve your future professional prospects.

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