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Contrary to popular belief, social media sites aren’t just for catching up with old college friends, wasting time at work or researching that hottie you just met last night. Now they’re primary tools for those looking to advance their careers and growing professional networks. Follow these five tips and watch your online profiles work for you and score you contacts to help you up the ladder to your dream job.

1. Make your online profiles work for your professional self

Not all social media sites are created equal; some avenues are more formal than others but that doesn’t mean they can’t all work in your favor. LinkedIn, the most formal social networking site, is like your resume — a one-stop-shop for all your career aspirations and accomplishments. However, the danger lies with more professionally ambiguous venues like Twitter and Facebook.

Professional career counselor Melissa Llarena recommends using Facebook as a showcase of your casual self. Just remember to keep your party monster hidden. “Treat Facebook as an expression of your extracurricular interests,” Llarena advises. “So feel free to show that you have a personality, however hide those pictures of you potentially making a fool of yourself in Cancun.” On Twitter she advises users to follow and engage with heavy hitters in their field via “retweets” (forwarding a message) and “replies” (responding to someone). “You never know if you’ll actually get a real conversation going with (them),” Llarena says.

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