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WTS-GNY 2019 NJ Winter Networking & Professional Development Event: “How to Use Social Media to Enhance your Professional Network”

From Issue 44 of the WTS-GNY March 2019 Chapter News update:

The focus of this year’s New Jersey Winter Networking & Professional Development Event was social media. Speakers Elizabeth (Liz) Geary-Archer of Dewberry and Nicole Pace-Addeo of Stokes Creative Group addressed an audience of over 30 WTS members and their guests and shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for these forms of communication.

According to Ms. Geary-Archer, social media is ultimately about communicating your unique point of view and using your voice to build conversations around topics about which you are passionate with others who share those interests. In her portion of the presentation, she shared several case studies illustrating successful posts. One valuable example was by Sal Cowan of NJDOT, who has a strong professional presence on LinkedIn, and his way to share the story of his son’s recovery from kidney disease. Even though the topic was not industry-oriented, the post generated a massive positive response from his contacts. Ms. Geary-Archer suggested that while it is important to be professional online, giving your connections glimpses into your personal life helps to make your online persona feel more authentic. She cautioned about oversharing though, and also the importance of keeping personal posts positive.

Ms. Pace-Addeo delivered the second half of the presentation, focusing on what social media is and how it can be harnessed most effectively, peppering her presentation with interesting statistics and useful tips. Social media is effective because it keeps various stakeholders (clients, agencies, consultants, etc.) connected in a conversational way, through shorter messages and quick updates. The five largest social media portals, or “Fab Five,” as defined by Ms. Pace-Addeo, are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. Facebook is used by approximately 68 percent of all Americans. She also pointed out that roughly 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube daily, and both YouTube and Instagram boast 1 billion users worldwide (that’s one third of the internet!).

It is clear that there is a huge audience on social media, but how can it be harnessed for professional purposes? She says that companies love employees who promote the companies or agencies for which they work, referring to them as ‘brand ambassadors.’ She offered some best practices and tips for the audience. The do’s included: recruiting content creators (everyone!); listening and responding to feedback, even if it is negative; and trying new strategies like polls, blogs and vlogs. The don’ts: posting more than 20 percent sales content; deleting or ignoring comments; and forgetting to review and re-strategize every once in a while. The main takeaway from her message was that content is king, and people love to see dynamic content, such as industry/breaking news, tips and how-to’s, as well as videos (vlogs, interviews and presentations).

At the end of the presentation, audience members addressed questions to the presenters and flexed their social media muscles by posting about the event on LinkedIn.

Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers who helped to make this event possible: Liz Archer, Kruti Barut; Janet Keiser; Mariya Riley; Kerri Tyerman; Janet Sharkey, NJ Programs Committee Chair; and Zenobia Fields, Vice President – New Jersey.

— Article written by Mariya Riley (Goldman), PE, Structural Engineer at Michael Baker International (Hamilton, NJ). Reproduced in full with minor corrections.