If you’re going to spend time on social media, at least make it productive

Do you need to spend hours a day on some social networks channel or bopping from Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter? Do you need to tweet? About what do you tweet?

When I work with six-figure earners and executives in transition, I often find their efforts on social networks confused, disjointed and purposeless. These symptoms say, “I am doing something but I really don’t know what I am doing.”

Others harness channels like Linked in and others with limited success, but they still fall short of maximizing their experiences with a social-networking plan. The result: an epidemic of wasted time comprising countless hours spent on online social networks with little to show for it.

How do you take advantage of online resources in your job search ? Do you need to spend hours a day on a single social-networking channel or flitting from one social networks channel to the other? Do you need to tweet? About what do you tweet? How can you do all of this and remain productive in your search when it’s new to you and seems like an epic waste of time?

If you regard yourself as a business, consider social networks just another business tool. See social networks as an investment that You Inc. needs to make. Time is money. Time wasted is money wasted. Your fiduciary responsibility to your career search means you can’t afford to waste time or money.

Investing your time building your brand while you are searching and developing key relationships is not new! The only thing that is new is the use of online vehicles to conduct this work and the speed with which they operate. Social networks let you develop rapport and relationships quickly. But you don’t need to be on 50 social networks for hours per Decide on a few worthwhile social networks channels, make those channels work for you, and leave the others behind.

In other words, I would rather see an executive in transition demonstrate his value on LinkedIn, contribute insightful views one or two days a week on Twitter, and harvest new contacts by contributing to industry-centric blogs than dither online about where they got his last coffee or, “It’s 80 degrees in New York!” unless those tweets or updates matter or are germane to his idiosyncratic brand.

So invest time in work, interactions and behaviors that make business sense. If you want to use some of your time on social networks to chat, entertain yourself, reconnect with old friends and look busy, feel free. But as an executive job seeker, look hard at every digital step you take, and don’t be influenced by the latest fad. Learn how to take productivity and brand-building communications to a new level fast. Don’t be in a hurry to catch the latest social-networking fever; instead, move quickly to learn productive social-networking behavior that enhances your career and unique value proposition.

For more on how to stops wasting time on online social networks, read ” 8 Steps to Leverage Social Networks.”