For every master of social media like Guy Kawasaki – the former Apple evangelist with 1.4 million Twitter followers – there are thousands of people who can’t quite figure out all the fuss about social media. Many of them work in industries or for companies that have actively warned against “misuse” of social media.

The online team of one large corporation recently confided to a colleague of mine that they were having trouble getting executives to use social media, because “we did such a good job over the past five years scaring the you-know-what out of them about what could go wrong.”

That said, our whole society is moving towards sharing information online, and there are certain prudent steps that all working professionals should take:

Create A Rock-Solid LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn provides you with an opportunity to create your own accurate and reliable profile. It is now the first stop for most people who want to learn about another professional. No longer is LinkedIn of interest only when you are looking for a job; it is now the way that you tell others – peers, colleagues, partners, clients, investors, and neighbors – about your career.

No matter how conservative your industry, it is never a mistake to tell the truth about your skills and experiences. Your profile does not have to read like a resume; it simply needs to present an accurate and appealing snapshot of your career.

Share What You Find Valuable

Intelligent human beings share important lessons; this has long been the case, well before the digital era. But social media has made it easier to share insights. The degree to which you do this depends on the degree to which you wish to interact only with a few close associates, or with a wide network of people with whom you share – at best – loose connections.

I won’t push you to go beyond your comfort zone, but consider this fact: most new opportunities arise from loose connections. This is true of job offers, new clients and business opportunities.

While a few social media gurus like Kawasaki create original content, millions of other people mainly share news and information that others produced. One safe way to get started in social media is simply to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or even Facebook to share articles and books that you liked.

Be True To Yourself

If you are a somber and analytical financier, don’t go overboard in social media and start posting cute cat pictures. Instead, find like-minded people who share your interests and tastes. Use Google to find topics and sites that interest you; most of these lead to social media sites on which other professionals routinely share valuable content.

The truer you are to your own nature, the more valuable you will find social media to be. If you are only willing to invest ten minutes once a week, then take those ten minutes and focus on what matters most to you. If you do this, the odds are good that you will soon find a valued new employee, partner or client. Even better, when someday you have a pressing need, the odds are your network will be broad and strong enough to stand behind you.

What’re your thoughts on FI executives being on social media? How should or shouldn’t they be using it? Let us know in the comments below!