Carmen Barber loves her current job, but she also sees herself becoming a market manager one day—and she knows that how she uses social media is a key step to hitting that goal.
“I recently interviewed a couple of people to come work management at Walmart, and one of the first things I did was look up their LinkedIn profiles to see what they’re all about,” she says. “Having a social media presence today is essential to moving up in your career. It helps you promote your brand as an associate. It’s a running resume of what you have going on.”
That’s one reason the store manager stays current and active with her profile and posts on the professional networking site. Interacting with her 320+ connections of other Walmart leaders, manufacturers, and community partners helps her stay informed about area events, opportunities, and industry changes—as well as harvest test-driven ideas for Store 4438 in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
“It’s nice to be able to take away ideas that I can use in my store and then also share my own,” she says. “We don’t often interact with other managers in person. We’re so spread out, and we’re like the CEOs of our buildings, so it feels good to have someone say, ‘Hey! That’s cool. Good job.’”
But, says Carmen, there are rules for using social media effectively. Her No. 1 rule for associates looking to establish their social media brand? Keep. Everything. Positive.
“There’s always going to be negative things that we’re dealing with on a daily basis, but your LinkedIn account is like a working resume. So you want to keep the positive stuff public and the negative stuff private.”
If you must discuss a problem that involves a negative subject, says Carmen, keep it off social media. “Have a peer group, whether it’s a friend or a mentor, that you can just vent to, and do it offline, whether that’s private messaging or a phone call,” she says. “We all have times when we need that outlet.”
One way that Carmen makes sure her social media interactions stay relevant and achieve their goals is to ask herself: Will this benefit anyone? “There can be a lot of nonsense out there. So, I try to create posts that can benefit a peer or someone out there looking to promote to my position one day,” she says.
“For example, I walked into my Garden Center the other day, and I thought it looked great. So, I started taking pictures and piecing together my next post in my head in order to recognize my associates for doing a great job.”
Ultimately, Carmen says, for any associate using LinkedIn to create their brand on social media, it’s about one thing: showcasing the best parts of you.
“Be authentic,” she says. “We’re each unique in our own way. Post things that you’re passionate about and proud of.”