By May “Mosaic” Advincula, Editor-in-chief

Social media has evolved the way we interact with one another, and whether on a personal or business level, the fact remains that more people are turning to social networks as a means to communicate.

Professional networking is an important facet of any successful career. Whether it is to find mentors, connect with other professionals, or to search for a job, social media, when used effectively, can enhance traditional networking methods.

Here are some ways that you can use social networking to build and maintain connections that can eventually help you along in your career endeavors.

LinkedIn, a business-oriented networking site, allows you to connect with other professionals in your field. Think of your profile as an online resumé and make sure that it is up-to-date to reflect all your experiences and skills such as previous jobs, internships, and your college extracurricular activities. To make your profile even stronger, reach out to others who have worked with you and ask them to provide recommendations on work you have done in the past.

Connect with other professionals in your field by joining groups and introducing yourself to others in-person just as you would at a networking event. LinkedIn is also a great place to find current information and best practices in your industry of interest. The more engagement you have with others, the better off you’ll be in keeping up-to-date with top of mind issues while also building your network.

Another popular social network, Twitter, is not just an outlet to express yourself in 140 characters or less. If you’re in the job market, Twitter can be utilized as a resource in your search. Many companies have a designated Twitter account that lists available positions. Like LinkedIn groups, you can utilize Twitter to find articles and other content that will enrich your knowledge about topics that may interest you. The key to effective use is to research, follow those profiles that provide valuable content, and engage in conversation when appropriate. And the key to effective social networking in general is, well, being social.

While you can use social networking to build and maintain professional relationships, always remember that first impressions are important. Think of all your social networking profiles as a representation of your personal brand.
If someone you didn’t know looked at the information you decide to display, what kind of impression would you leave?

Many people have a false sense of security when it comes to the type of information that they share online. Though the Internet is a vast space, you have to keep in mind, that anything you put out there has the potential to be searched and found. If there are some things that you do not want your employer, coworkers, or potential employers to see, make certain items in your profile private, or simply just watch what you put out there because you never know who might be looking.

A golden rule of thumb: Think before you Tweet.