Social media has become one of the most important inventions of our lifetime. It certainly has lots of benefits, but if you’re not careful you can easily end up wasting a ridiculous amount of time scrolling through meaningless pictures and videos achieving nothing but the temporary gratification that comes from seeing that someone liked your post. According to the latest studies, the average person spends 28% of their day on some form of social networking.

If you are going to spend a lot of time on social media, you should at least be using it in a way that is productive and provides you with opportunities for the future. Here are five ways that you can use social media to develop your personal brand.

1. Showcase your skills – Whether you’re into sports, music, speaking, or cooking social media has made it easier than ever before when it comes to sharing your gifts and talents. If you are currently working a job that you hate or not in a position you want to be, you can utilize social media to independently share what your interests are with the world without the threat of having to meet anyone’s expectations. Even if you are a student, it is never too early to start building your personal online brand by showcasing your passions and your strengths.

2. Networking – Social media has made it amazingly easy to connect with people anywhere in the world. Once you have established what skills you would like to promote, you can also connect with other people, businesses, and associations who share the same passion. Even if you don’t reach out to them, they can connect with you by simply adding a hashtag (#) next to the topic or skill you post about. Some people go crazy with the hashtags in their post, while others are annoyed by the sight of it. Either way, it is a great way to connect with those who share your same interests. I have met some amazing mentors and been given a lot of opportunities to monetize my skills by networking on social media.

3. Monetize your knowledge – There are so many ways for you to monetize your knowledge using social media. Creating an e-book, videos, or hosting a virtual webinar to share knowledge or experiences that add value to people are a few ways I have seen people monetize their knowledge. Millions of people live on their phones and tablets so all you need to do is capture a small portion of whatever market you are affiliated with. Unless you happen to become a Youtube star, the revenue you can generate from videos is not enough to create sustainability. At the same time the content can be used to build a strong brand and other streams of income.

4. Gain information – Instead of only following your buddies from high school, stalking your ex, or spending hours watching one of the many “challenges” that come out every other week, why not follow people whom you can gain useful information from? The greatest thing about social media is how quickly you can access information and ideas. Take advantage of it.

5. Inspiration – Having a rough day? Trying to look at different ideas for a project you are working on? Social media is a great source of inspiration for whatever you are working on. Unfortunately, too many people inadvertently utilize social media to compare themselves with others. Don’t fall into this habit. If you can’t find any inspiration, then try being a source of positivity for someone else.

With social media networks constantly finding new ways to compete for our time and attention, it is important that we utilize these networks to provide value to our individual lives. If not, I believe there will be many people who look back on their life years from now realizing that they spent the majority of it looking at their phone and never really living to the fullest of their potential.

Rennie Curran is the author of “Free Agent” — The Perspectives of A Young African American Athlete,” a leadership and personal development speaker, consultant, professional athlete (Free Agent), and director of business development for SportChirp. You can follow him on Twitter @RennieCurran53, Instagram RennieCurran, or visit his website at www.RennieCurran.com.