You need only watch the newly viral YouTube video of Greyson Michael Chance singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” to wonder what would happen if the right people saw you do your thing. Indeed, it seems careers can be made or lost in the wilds of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sure, they sounded like a bunch of hogwash when they first arrived on the scene, but social sites have become a major force for enhancing social and professional opportunities.

So how do you follow in the footsteps of Mr. Chance? Before you decide to whip out your best Lady Gaga outfit or film yourself going down I-95 surfing on the roof of your friend’s Winnebago, check out these 5 tips on using social media to jumpstart your career:

  1. Follow the leaders – Most likely, there is someone that everyone else listens to in your field of interest and they are most likely talking online. These people play a major role in deciding what is good and what is crap (think Oprah). Find these people online and start following what they say. If they have a blog, sign up to receive their posts and participate in their comments sections. Reply to their tweets. ‘Like’ them on Facebook. As you participate in their conversations, you will be able to add them to your network.
  2. Get your own blog – You need a place- a headquarters, if you will- where you can establish your identity and display your talent. This way, as you expand your networks, you have a place to which you can send them that belongs to you. Blogs can be acquired for free. Sites can also be bought and maintained for cheap.
  3. Share the love – Social media doesn’t work as a one-way conversation. The fastest way to get the contacts you desire is to pay attention to and share other people’s stuff. “You scratch my back, I scratch yours” is definitely in effect on the web. Retweet, dig, and stumble other people’s stuff. You might also giving a way examples of your stuff for free. If you design, give away free prints. If you make music, let people download your MP3s for free. You will be glad you did when web karma come swinging back your way.
  4. Be real – Make sure you represent yourself and your talents accurately. Although the web has been known for anonymity, the connections you will want to form will extend into the real world. Therefore, you will want to make sure the things you say are true and verifiable. For instance, don’t tell someone on LinkedIn that you invented Facebook but lost your shares in a poker game in Monte Carlo. Sooner or later, someone’s going to find out you lied.

So there you go. With a lot of work (and a little common sense), you can use social media to open doors for your career.

About the Author: Marcus Varner writes articles and blogs for Classes and Careers and numerous other sites. He earned a BA in English and a MBA in Marketing from Brigham Young University. He loves trivia, especially regarding comics, movies, books, science, and history.

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