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Google+ has been getting a lot of attention since its launch in 2011, especially as the company has rolled out a variety of new features for the site like Hangouts and brand pages. While Facebook is still decidedly the king of social media, more and more businesses, professionals, and individuals are flocking to Google+ to take advantage of the new and innovative opportunities it offers for everything from marketing to professional development.

Wondering where to get started on your own Google+ journey? Sign up for an account and we’ll take you through the steps of making the most of your new G+ capabilities, including getting you ready to network, branding yourself, and even finding a great job after graduation from your MBA program.

Getting Started

Check out these tips to learn the fundamentals of using Google+.

  1. Decide if you want a personal or brand page. Google+ offers you the chance to make either a brand page or a personal page (which you can also use for business). There are pros and cons to each, so do your research before choosing, or set up one of each.
  2. Make sure your posts are public. No one responding to your posts? Make sure that all of them are public, as this isn’t always the default setting in Google+.
  3. Keep it professional. While Google+ gives you the option of creating circles so you can limit who sees what, it’s still smart to keep everything you put on the web professional. That way, nothing can come back to bite you later.
  4. Get social. The purpose of social media is to be social, so start socializing. Post on other people’s content, make friends, and get involved.
  5. Get a vanity URL. A vanity URL can make it easier to share a link to your G+ page, and it’s not hard to come by. Follow these instructions on Mashable to get a short and easy-to-remember link for your page.
  6. Jazz up your profile with photos. Google+ profiles display images from your album across the top, so it can be smart to make these images interesting, beautiful, creative, or all of the above. Some have even used multiple images that combine into one to have fun with the layout.
  7. Modify notifications. You probably don’t want to get an email notification every time someone adds you or comments on your G+ content, so you’ll need to go into the settings and change that.
  8. Use cool features like drag and drop. No more hunting around for photos on your computer with drag and drop! Simply take the content you want to share and drop it into the appropriate place on the screen. So easy, anyone could figure it out!
  9. Get the app. If you’re going to be using Google+ to do marketing or networking, then you need to keep up with what others are posting or saying to you. The G+ app makes it possible to take that content with you anywhere.
  10. Check how your profile appears to others. Your profile might be looking pretty good to you at this point, but you need to make sure it looks equally good to others in your circles. Hit the profile button and type in the name of a friend in the “view profile as” box to see your hard work from another point of view.
  11. Control hover text. You can control what comes up when users hover over your name, so create a short, snappy tagline that embodies the image you’d like to create online.

Networking

Google+ is a social network, so get social! These tips will help you learn some great ways to build your network and connect with professionals and businesspeople in the industries you want to know more about.

  1. Don’t be afraid to comment. The only way to really build connections through G+ or any social media network is to communicate, so don’t be afraid to comment and reach out to others.
  2. Connect with LinkedIn. Already using LinkedIn for your professional network? You can easily import your contacts from that network to G+ following the steps in the link here.
  3. Seek out professionals in your industry. Do you know who some of the leading professionals in your industry are? Find them and add them to your circles on G+ to start building a strong network.
  4. Manage your circles smartly. You’ll want to organize your circles in a way that makes it easy for you to share content with people in distinct groups, without much overlap.
  5. Invite new contacts. Not seeing some of your favorite business leaders or professional colleagues on G+? Send them an invitation.
  6. Chat it up. You can chat with your network in real time or at your leisure when you use Google messenger.
  7. Use symbols to designate important circles. Have certain circles that you want to stand out from the rest? Use an asterisk or other symbol at the beginning so that these circles always show up first.
  8. Cross-share content. If others in your network find a great link, there’s no reason you shouldn’t share that information with your circles, too. Just acknowledge your source! Others may thank you for passing on their links.
  9. Build a PLN. Networking on Google+ can help you find work or make great business contacts, but it can also be a great way to learn more about business or your industry in general. Don’t forget to reach out to more educational profiles as well.
  10. Expand your circle. While it’s fine to connect with school friends and business colleagues on Google+, you’ll get a lot more out of the experience if you expand your horizons and reach out to people you don’t know as well. This could help set the stage for future partnerships, jobs, or other opportunities.
  11. Import your contacts. Not sure where to start looking for friends on Google+? Your first step can be to add your email contacts, Facebook friends, and those from other sites. It’ll give you a great foundation to work from in building a large network.
  12. Respond in a timely manner. Whether feedback is positive or negative, make sure to get back to those who are talking with you online in a timely manner. The responsiveness will help make you look more professional.
  13. Always double check with whom you’re sharing. Before you post anything, make sure (and then check again) that you’re sending it to the right circles.
  14. Tag people in posts. Think you’re posting something a person in your circles might find interesting? Tag them in the post to make sure that they see it.
  15. Direct certain posts to certain circles. Certain types of posts or comments might be more interesting to one circle than another. Be smart about who you include and direct information to.

Building a Brand

Whether you’re branding yourself or a fledgling business, use some of these tips to make a stellar debut on Google+.

  1. Get creative. One of the best ways to get your branding off on the right foot is to stand out from the crowd. Get creative about the things you post, your content, logos, and even hangouts. It’ll help you garner some serious buzz that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
  2. Track your stats. If you’re using Google+ for business purposes, then you’re going to want to track who’s looking at your profile, what they’re clicking on, and what’s most successful for you. Google can help you with that, as well.
  3. Be smart about keywords and hashtags. When used wisely, certain keywords and hashtags can attract attention to your posts and bring in new readers and followers.
  4. Present the image you want. Is your brand young and fun or serious and stable? Pick the image you want to project and stick to it in your posts and content.
  5. Know busy times of day. Google+, like most social media sites, has times when it’s busier than others. You’ll maximize the response to your posts if you capitalize on this, posting your best content in the early evening or midday.
  6. Promote your account. Get new people to visit your Google+ account by promoting it on other pages as well, including your brand webpage, Twitter, or even in your email signature.
  7. Host a hangout. Hangouts are one of the hottest Google products out there right now. Host your own to talk about industry ideas, share new products, or just have fun with your peers in business.
  8. Create a strategy for use. Before you begin marketing yourself or a brand on Google+, create a strategy for how you want to use the social media site. This will help you have a plan in place for what you share and how often.
  9. Share relevant information. Make sure the content you’re providing is relevant to those in your circles, or at least something they might find interesting.
  10. Create a headline. You want your posts to stand out, right? So create a headline! This is easy to do in Google+, just surround the text with asterisks on either side (no spaces) and that text will show up in bold.
  11. Use images. A picture is worth a thousand words, a phrase that’s even more true when it comes to the web. Use images to give your posts and your page more life and interest to readers.

Job Hunting

Worried about putting your MBA to work after graduation? While there are no guarantees, it doesn’t hurt to do a little job hunting on Google+ before graduation. Read on to learn how.

  1. Follow job seeker accounts. There are some great accounts on Google+ that can help you keep up with the job market, get advice, and more easily market yourself. Add them to your circles!
  2. Connect with alumni. Alumni are often very willing to help young professionals get a start in their careers. Reach out to graduates from your school to help you get your foot in the door at a variety of businesses.
  3. Make sure to share contact info. Being the highly qualified MBA student that you are, someone might just want to learn more about you or get in touch. Don’t make it hard for them! Share email and even phone numbers so that anyone who wants to talk with you, can.
  4. Pen a great introduction. If your profile is the first time people are seeing you, make sure they like what they’re seeing. Write a great but short introduction for yourself on your page.
  5. Connect with your college. Keep up with everything going on at your college by following their page, if they have one. This can help you learn about events and opportunities you may be able to take advantage of to find work.
  6. Let people know you are job hunting. While you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops (or whatever the digital equivalent of that is) you should let people know that you’re open to finding a job. They might have just the thing for you.
  7. Link to your resume. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by linking your Google+ page to your resume. Those who find you to be an interesting prospect can easily learn more about you.
  8. Showcase your knowledge of the industry. Google+ can be an awesome place to show off what you know about whatever industry it is that you want to work with. Anyone who looks at your page can see a long history of involvement, learning, and engagement with the community.