Twitter

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Networking is all about social skills, how you interact with others, and that pretty much leaves awkward people out in the cold (cue “Let It Go” getting stuck in my head for the sixth time this week). If schmoozing isn’t your thing, I have some tips to help you out:

1. Just don’t say it: boring4Telling your boss at a company event that the dress she’s wearing makes her rack look fantastic is NOT a good idea. Sure, she might be happy to hear that she’s still “got it,” but really, that’s going to get you a nice visit to HR. Basically, keep it appropriate. Dead baby jokes are a big no. Stay away from politics. No “yo mama” jokes ever. And, oh my God, do not insult their children.

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2. Don’t be negative: This is going to sound paranoid, but be careful what you’re negative about. One time in class we were going around the room saying what pets we had. I declared that having two guinea pigs was a bit embarrassing because I wasn’t 9 years old. Turns out my professor has 14 of them! boring3Awesome! So unless you know they also hate war, crocheting, and the creep who works in IT, keep your mouth closed.

3. Start with a 5K: You’re not ready for a full marathon just yet. If you’re not experienced in networking, keep it small to begin with. No lunches, no long-winded emails, no one-hour business talks. Short emails that simply establish a connection and don’t ask for favors right away are how you want to start out. boring2Begin with networking online, through LinkedIn and Twitter, which is much easier than in-person networking. Take your time to observe how it’s done before you send your 5,000 business cards to the printer.

4. Don’t fear the silent abyss: If you’re an introvert, reshape yourself into a good listener. Ask questions to keep the conversation flowing, say “right, yeah, mmhm,” but mostly kick back – mentally – and let the other person do the talking. boring6To avoid looking bored, counteract your quietness with a smile to show that you’re enjoying the interaction and don’t feel as if you’ve been trapped in a convo with a blowhard.

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It’s not so bad once you get the hang of it.  Just keep going and know that you’ll look back on these experiences when you’re the CEO of a multibillion dollar company and you’ll laugh.

Do you have any memorable networking experiences?  What are your networking tips?

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classroom

With a technological age upon us, where high-tech gadgets now permeate our daily lives, it’s becoming increasingly clear that social media has an important place in education. From Moodle to Skype, social media allows for a myriad of learning opportunities that educators have never seen before. Being such a new, unfamiliar development, it may be a bit daunting for today’s educators to think of ways to properly harness these opportunities and provide their students with a truly modern education.

I’ve created a brief list to outline the ways in which our university’s professionals can fully integrate social media into the classroom.

Twitter

With only 140 characters at one’s disposal, Twitter may seem like a restrictive choice for classroom use. It is, however, this very quality that makes it suitable.

  • Twitter is a great way to ease students into using social media to enhance their learning. It is, after all, much less intimidating of an assignment to tweet than to have to write multiple paragraphs on Moodle.
  • Students have proven their ability to be creative in their use of Twitter, even using different accounts to tweet as the characters in The Crucible.

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  • Twitter is also a quick way to let students know class is cancelled for another snow day!

Moodle

Vital for online courses, Moodle can become the hub of learning even for more traditional on-campus classes.

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  • Created and structured for educational use, Moodle is a great site for educators to post assignments, class material, announcements, grades, and questions.
  • In my own experience, I found Moodle essential to remain organized and prepared for class. It acts as a central location for anything I might need to know.
  • The discussion boards serve as a great way for me to post and read other’s questions for the professor – questions that may not have been asked in person.

Facebook

Existing in the spectrum between Twitter and Moodle, Facebook can act as an epicenter of communication. Less suitable for posting PowerPoints and syllabi than Moodle, Facebook is a center for communicating with fellow students and staff.

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Skype

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  • Skype is an inexpensive and easy way to invite notable people to “visit” and speak to your class. Hearing a firsthand perspective on something learned in class not only educates, but also captivates.
  • Skype is helpful for off-campus office hours between professors, students, and study groups.

YouTube

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  • This site allows professors to upload lectures, create curated playlists, and invite students to react to class material.
  • For auditory and visual learners, Youtube is a helpful way to disseminate information in a way that facilitates learning.
  • It allows students to watch and listen to a lecture as many times as needed to fully absorb the material.

Beyond traditional classroom teaching methods lies social media, an innovative invitation to educators to augment the learning experience of their students. With so many options available, social media is certainly a good fit for learning enrichment.

How have you used social media in the classroom? In what ways have you found it helpful?

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I think we can all agree that social media has grown to be so much more than just a tool to connect with friends. Your digital identity is a huge part of who you are and, when used correctly, can be extremely beneficial to finding a job or internship. Instead of hiding behind a mask of anonymity and early 2000′s screen-names, customize and expand your social networks to attract employers and key players in your major or industry. It’s not that hard, I promise.

Twitter

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter is not just a place for hashtags, seflies, and Justin Bieber. Twitter is, in the most basic terms, a “micro-blog” made up of 140-character blog posts. If your Twitter is public, you never know who may be reading it. In my case, it was Ed Cabellon,  the Director of the RCC, who found me rant-tweeting about BSU a few years ago and decided to bring me on as an RCC blogger. Click here to read my story in a vintage RCCblog post.

  • Follow key companies, thought leaders, and publications in your industry. RT and respond to industry news when applicable.
  • Follow and interact with BSU pages to showcase your college community involvement- even if it’s minimal. Some employers like to see that your college experience was more than just a degree.
  • Keep the party pics and “R-rated” content to a minimum. I don’t mean to sound like your digital helicopter mom, but if you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing your tweets or photos to your grandma, you probably wouldn’t want employers seeing them either. Be witty and fun without dropping f-bombs or posting “not-safe-for-work (NSFW)” content. Call me old-fashioned, but I promise it will pay off.

LinkedIn

You’ve heard it from professors, over-achievers, and career consultants: “You need to update your LinkedIn!”

While it may be way more fun to just pretend the “Facebook of job-hunters” doesn’t exist, it’s a huge part of the application process and can make or break a job opportunity.

  • Keep your profile focused on your major/industry. Yeah, it’s great that you’ve been a summer cashier at K-Mart for the last three years, but unless you want to work there forever, it’s best to leave it off your profile.
  • Create a digital portfolio by uploading documents to “scrapbook” your college career.
    That paper you wrote about the economic status of the Middle East? Upload it.
    That fictional short-story you wrote in your creative writing class? Upload it.
    The graphics you designed during your internship? Upload them.
  • Write recommendations for your classmates and colleagues and ask for one in return. In this modern form of the classic Myspace “pic comment 4 pic comment,” everyone wins.

Email

Email is the web’s most archaic form of social media and writing a proper, professional business email can be key to finding a job opportunity.

When a company posts a job listing online, their inbox is flooded with hundreds of resumes and it’s easy to be lost in the tide of applicants. To set yourself apart from the crowd, it never hurts to try to establish a professional social relationship with key players in your industry of choice before submitting a cover letter.

  • To start, simply begin to search online for companies you could see yourself working at after college. In my case, I Google’d “public relations firms Boston.” Organize your finds into a basic spreadsheet containing the company’s name, key contacts, and social media pages.
  • Follow some of the companies from your list on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The smaller the company, the more they’ll notice. Actively RT and “favorite” their content when applicable- but don’t get carried away.
  • After a few days/weeks of social media “flirtation,” draft a formal, professional email to the HR manager, office manager, or low-level associate employee of the company requesting an informational interview.“Hi [contact name],
    My name is [you] and I’m currently exploring future job opportunities to pursue after I graduate. After researching and following your company on social media, I would love the chance to learn more about the industry and what it takes to be a part of an organization like yours. Are you available for phone or in-person informational interviews?I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!”
  • After the email is sent, the ball is in their court. Worst case scenario, they’ll either never reply or tell you they’re not interested. Best case scenario, you may score some face-time with someone from your dream job; face-time that may just single you out in the crowd of future applicants. (Note that this method is also very effective for finding internships.)

Whether you like it or not, employers will Google you and Facebook-stalk you for hours before ever deciding to bring you in for an interview. Take your social media presence seriously and put your best foot forward to make a strong impression on the people who could potentially control the next chapter of your life.

Heidi, a BSU and RCCblog alumni, works as a PR executive for a major marketing communications firm in Boston. You can keep up with her post-grad adventures by following her on Twitter, @HeidiFaith.

Have YOU ever found a job through social media? How important do you think social media is to the job search?

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