Busy professionals who use social media for personal branding, networking, job search, etc. normally don’t have time to throw away. Yet, most use social media without having any real strategy. Sure, they may get a “hit” on occasion with a business referral or job opening information, but those happenings tend to be a happy surprise. In fact, I addressed an audience last week in Washington D.C., asking participants if they have a documented social media plan. Out of hundreds of people in attendance, only one raised her hand. Creating a plan for your personal brand does not have to be time consuming. These are the three action items I gave the audience.

Three step social media plan

  1. Write down your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to increase your website views by 25% in thirty days? Do you want to be contacted by two new recruiters with hot job leads each month?  It’s important to identify targets before taking action on social networks to ensure that your chosen networks and actions on them are in alignment with your goals. Also, you have no way of knowing if you are successful without understanding your goals.
  2. Write down who you need to connect with to reach your goals. If you want to increase website traffic, who is your target market? Write down demographic, geographic and psychographic descriptions. Do you need to connect with stay-at-home moms, 25-45, living in the United States? Depending on your product/service offerings, Pinterest, a picture-based social network that boasts over 86% female users, may be a good option. Similarly, you likely would not use Google+ to connect with that demographic as it is mostly male. In the recruiter scenario, write down firms known to work with your dream companies. If internal HR reps, write down the titles and industries they work in. Then, use LinkedIn Advanced Search to locate and connect with the firm’s recruiters or type in job titles, industry and location to create a “connection” list consisting of your desired future contacts.
  3. Begin connecting with your desired connections and build “real world” relationships. For some reason, many social media users believe that the rules of engagement online are different than in person. However, you build relationships online just as you would in person, over time. Don’t try to immediately sell your company’s offerings or yourself. Ask questions, offer assistance, and show that you are interested in building a long-term business relationship.

This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.