As I’ve noted here often, the fundamentals of records management haven’t changed in hundreds of years. We manage information – regardless of the media on which it is recorded – effectively through all five stages of the information lifecycle: creation, distribution, use, maintenance and disposition.
Until relatively recently, the information we have managed has been recorded on some form of physical media. Usually, though certainly not always, on paper. Over the last couple of decades that has all changed. Now, of course, the vast majority of the information we manage is in some form of digital format. Though physical records still remain, today’s records managers are undeniably information technology professionals.
And as IT professionals, there are a number of activities outside of our normal job-related responsibilities that records managers are expected to participate in, not the least of which is social media.
Active participation in social media has become both vital to our profession and our own careers. The free flowing exchange of ideas through social media channels helps advance innovative records management methodologies that benefit our industry, our customers and ourselves.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer this multi-part series on my thoughts on various social media channels and how they can best be used by records management professionals. I’ll begin with LinkedIn.
I start with LinkedIn intentionally. It is thee preeminent social media channel of professionals in all industries across the world. Bar none. Not having a LinkedIn profile today is no different than being without a resume twenty years ago. A LinkedIn profile is the foundation of our personal branding as records managers. You can’t possibly put too much thought or effort into it.
You can have a valid profile without a photo, but I don’t recommend it. Your photo is the first thing everyone looks at on your profile – even before your title or the organization you work for. Your photo should professional, without being overly serious. And don’t be afraid to change it periodically. You want people to view your profile to keep you (and your personal records management philosophy) in their thoughts. Almost all changes to your profile are widely announced to your connections on LinkedIn. Studies have shown that changing your photo is one of leading drivers of traffic to your profile.
Unlike most other social media channels, quantity does matter when it comes to connections on LinkedIn. LinkedIn stops posting your connections total when you reach 500. Strive to reach that mark. Send out connection requests to everyone you know, both inside and outside records management. I can’t count the number of times I was happy I was connected to relatives, old college friends, social acquaintances, neighbors and the like. You never know when those types of connections will prove useful.
And err on the side of accepting connection requests. Yes, there are a million trolls out there who will immediately spam you as soon as you accept a connection request. But those connections are easily removed and that kind of activity is easy to bring to LinkedIn’s attention, where the user can be appropriately dealt with.
But the truth is the vast majority of the users on LinkedIn are good people who simply want to connect with you. I rarely deny a connection request.
Be sure to include a well thought out summary on your profile. Unlike your work experience, the summary is your opportunity to express who you are, what you believe in and what records management challenges you are passionate about solving. Surprisingly, most LinkedIn users don’t include detailed summaries in their profiles and it is a major missed opportunity.
The listing of your work experience should be clear and comprehensive, but each entry should be as succinct as possible. Strive to make each entry just compelling enough that a potential customer or employer will want to contact you for more detail.
When it comes to recommendations on my profile, I must admit, I am something of a hypocrite. I believe your profile should necessarily include some recommendations. It would be a glaring omission without them. But getting recommendations requires you to proactively pursue them and I sometimes have difficulty doing that.
I know more than a few people who ‘trade’ recommendations on LinkedIn (i.e. ‘If you write one for me, I will write one for you’). Though I understand why you might disagree, I actually don’t see anything wrong with this practice and it might be a good way to begin to build your list of recommendations.
Choose the groups you belong to wisely. Like your summary, they also define who you are and what is important to you. You should think of membership in these groups as an endorsement and ask yourself if you believe what these groups represent. When you decide to join a group, make an effort to truly participate in the discussion threads it generates. Even if that means simply liking an occasional comment someone has made, at least the effort shows you care about the topic the group represents.
Lastly, always be sensitive to the fact that LinkedIn is a professional network. You may be excited about your new puppy or proud of your daughter’s soccer team championship, but LinkedIn isn’t the place to talk about it. Posting comments or announcements unrelated to records management or business in general looks unprofessional and damages to your brand. Save that stuff for Facebook.
That’s it for LinkedIn. Please added anything I may have overlooked in the comment section. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Part 2 of this series, in which I provide some tips for creating and maintaining a records management blog, will be out shortly.