Social currency is the influence you have over your social network. It’s earned by building your reputation, your personal brand, and your network online.
However, many don’t think about how valuable it is when they’re looking for a job.
Studies and surveys have repeatedly shown that being referred to a company by someone who works there is the most effective way to land a job. For example, a survey from Recruiter Nation found that a referred candidate is 15x more likely to be hired than someone who applied via a job board.
That means the absolute best way to increase your chances of finding a job is to increase the number (and quality) of the people you know. And that’s where building social currency can be a powerful tool, since it helps you build a better reputation within your network (and can even help you grow it).
Here are 4 simple but powerful ways to build social currency and fill your network with high quality people who can help you find a job — even right now, when the job market is so tough.
4 Simple Ways To Build Social Currency
There are 6 key attributes of social currency that all contribute to your personal brand. Those include:
The more you can build these 6 attributes, the more social currency you’ll have. Here are 4 actionable ways you can optimize each of these attributes.
1. Clean Up Your Online Footprint
Anything you post online, whether on LinkedIn or Instagram, can either add or subtract to your personal brand and therefore, how much social currency you have. So the first step to building social currency is to get rid of any “negatives on your account” (think of it like paying off a credit card).
Take a second and Google yourself. What do you see? Does it make you look like someone your dream company would want to hire?
If not, you’ll want to clean it up until it does. This could include deleting posts that are off-brand (i.e. not related to your professional life) or even something that paints you in a bad light (I’m sure that party was fun, but it doesn’t help your career).
Take a second to assess what it is that you want to be known for and what a potential employer might want to see (or not see) in a future team member and make sure your social profiles reflect that.
2.Create Value-Added Content
After you’ve set yourself up with a blank slate, the next step is to fill that slate with things that increase your personal brand value (and therefore social currency).
One of the best (free) ways to do that is to share your expertise.
For example, share your experience with solving a particular problem, or talk about a lesson you learned and how it’s changed your perspective on something related to your job. Share a common misconception in your industry, or ask a thought-provoking question and start a discussion.
You can do this with something as simple as a Tweet or as long as a blog post. And though it may sound intimidating to sit down and write a blog post on a topic (especially if you’re not a writer), you don’t have to write a 10 page essay – just share a few words about something valuable you learned.
As long as you’re trying to “pay it forward” from your own experience, you’ll do just fine. Brands with the most social currency to spend almost always are known as helpful and authentic.
This post by Neil Patel breaks down how to create valuable content on LinkedIn really well and even provides topic ideas (skip to the header that reads “What should you post?”) that you can use on other social media platforms too.
3. Use Hashtags
Value-added content will only build your social currency if people actually read it. That’s where hashtags will help you increase the visibility of your content.
However, it’s important to use the right hashtags to make sure the right people (i.e. the ones you want in your network that can help you find a job) see it.
One of the best ways to do this is to look at what hashtags other people in your industry are using.
For example, if you’re in sales (and for example, inside SaaS sales), you might consider tagging your post with a few hashtags that other sales professionals in your industry are using.
Just don’t over do this – they have to be relevant to what you posted.
4. Engage With Others and Their Content
Social currency isn’t something you mine from the ether like Bitcoin. It’s something you earn from others around you like a wage. That means the only way to get it is just like you would a paycheck from your dream job – you have to give something first.
Three of the best ways to do that are unbelievably simple:
- Comment on someone else’s content – tell them what you got out of it or how the things they shared helped you. Or, add something to the discussion (pro tip: ask a followup question).
- Share someone else’s content – helping someone else increase the reach of their content is giving them something for free.
- Connect others with people they’d benefit from knowing – know someone who is looking to hire but you’re not the right fit? Know someone who would be? Connect them!
The more you can help those around you with the things they care about, the more it will build your social currency and network.
However, there’s an important caveat that you must keep in mind, which Dale Carnegie highlights in his book How To Win Friends And Influence People:
“You can make more friends in 2 months by being interested in others than you can in 2 years by trying to get them interested in you.”
Point being, you have to do these things selflessly for this approach to work. If you do it expecting something in return, it will actually work against you.
Give freely. What goes around will come back around!
The Key Takeaway
If you take nothing else from this, the key to building social currency (and increasing your chances of finding a job) is to be helpful and authentic.
That means no faking it until you make it!
If you can’t help from your experience, ask a question. Sometimes, a thoughtful question can do more to build social currency than sharing your expertise ever can. Besides, a growth mindset is one of the things that top companies value most in those they hire!
Scott Turner helps entrepreneurs and small business owners use their expertise to drive sales with content. When he’s not laboring over the perfect headline, you’ll find him surfing, diving, or searching for the best tacos in San Diego.