Comment: Keeping social networking social

Columnist Martin Kubler advises on avoiding trolls and navigating the manners minefield of social networking

Martin Kubler
Martin Kubler

It’s that time of the year again! ATM is upon us and with it a host of networking events and parties, all followed by various other industry events before Ramadan kicks in. Oh wait, but then we have iftars to attend. Hospitality folks are, virtually by default, very social, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all automatically good networkers.

Let’s leave our company social media accounts aside for a month and focus on our own professional social networking activities.

You’re probably on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, perhaps even on Twitter, too, but are you as effective an online networker as you could be? Sure, face-to-face meetings are still a fundamental part of our working days, but, like guests, many business partners, suppliers, and contacts are much more online savvy than 10 years ago.

There are many benefits of building and maintaining an active online professional network: done right, your professional online presence is the backbone of your personal brand and can help you to advance your career, fill vacancies in your property quickly and cheaply, provide free-of-charge expertise in many areas, and generally open potentially useful doors.
Unsurprisingly, professional online networking starts with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social network.

There really is no excuse anymore, not to have an up-to-date and fully completed LinkedIn profile, which, on more senior levels, should also include a number of recommendations from past colleagues or business partners.

Equally, you should be a member of a few of the many LinkedIn groups for our industry — it makes it easier for people to find you and, in turn, learn more about your property. The professional summary field of your personal LinkedIn profile deserves particular attention, because it is extremely search engine friendly.

Ditch the bullet points and compose a keyword rich professional summary that reads well and ensure your name turns up on top of search results for as many of the million relevant searches carried out on LinkedIn daily.

Many industry professionals are now also taking their professional networking efforts to other platforms and even if you’re not a fan of using Facebook for professional or business purposes, you should be familiar with the platform’s functionality and privacy settings. What’s the purpose of having a stellar LinkedIn profile, if a quick google reveals less than stellar content on your Facebook profile?

Take some time to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook and Google (even if you’re not actively using Google+ you’ll most likely have a public Google profile already if you’re using services such as Gmail or YouTube) and make sure that only suitable information is publicly visible.

If you’re present on a number of platforms and find that things are getting a little unwieldy, you may want to consider setting up your own website using a suitable domain and free or low-cost tools like Wordpress or wix.com.

Your website can then act as the heart of your professional brand and, unlike your LinkedIn profile, you’ll actually own your website and can customise it to your exact requirements.

Even if you haven’t got the time or interest to get your own website, you can use services such as https://about.me/ to quickly create a professionally looking web presence that acts as a repository for your professional online content and as a central referral point to your various social networks. This also avoids cluttering up your email signature or business card with too many links. Most importantly, perhaps, have fun when online networking and be personal and helpful.

Sure, professional online networking should result in tangible business opportunities for yourself or your company, but it’s equally important to take a longer-term view and build your professional niche and brand in the online space.
Building strong and useful online networks requires time and if you wait with setting up your presence on LinkedIn et al. until you need the power of your network, it’ll probably be too late.

Whatever you do: Keep it social!

About the Author:
Martin Kubler is the CEO of Iconsulthotels, a Dubai-based ultra-boutique consulting firm. Iconsulthotels assists companies in achieving their business goals through PR, social/digital media, and customised business strategies. Email: info@iconsulthotels.com.

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