Friday, December 5, 2008

Thoughts on Pursuing a Career in Social Media

I've had a few people ask me recently how to get started in social media. Most recently, @busynessstudent tweeted me and specifically asked about how he might get a job at my company, Powered. Since 140 characters was a little limiting, I thought an Utter-cast might be a more appropriate way to share my thoughts.

Now that I'm back at my desk (and not just typing in a couple of brief sentences on my iPhone), I'd like to expound on this idea a little bit. For those chosing not to listen to my utter-cast, here are the three recommendations I made for those looking:
  • Make sure you are blogging, Twittering, podcasting and being active on the other main social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace.
  • Consider doing a video of yourself and clearly articulate what type of job you are lookin for. Also talk about why you would be a good fit at a particular company (and don't just say "because I know how to blog"). Remember to tie your skills into what a business' goals might be like:
    - product development
    - lead generation
    - awareness
    - thought leadership
    - customer support
    - engagement marketing
  • Network with EVERYONE you know. However, here's the key. Make sure you package yourself up in a way that makes it easy for others to pass you long. For instance:
    - make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date or create an online resume
    - create a bulleted e-mail that spells out your 5-7 strongest traits and sums you up
    - tell people you've asked to help you EXACTLY which companies you'd like to work for and what you'd like to do - making them guess creates room for complacency on their end
In addition to those three idea, Kipp Bodnar suggests that you should also be commenting on the blogs of the people or companies you would like to work for. This is not only an excellent idea, I've heard of people actually getting hired this way. Another opportunity is to participate regularly in that companies discussion forums (nothing says "I'm useful and know your company" like a little free customer support). Be careful not to be overly critical but also make sure you're not too complementary either 'cause nobody likes a kiss ass.

Doug Haslam recommends that you shouldn't be waiting until you need a job to start networking. I couldn't agree more and in fact, that has been the reason I've always moved seemlessly from job to job in the past. Obviously this doesn't help those of you out there who are already looking but for those that aren't looking, at least not yet, start networking TODAY. For those that are looking, once you land a job make sure you don't forget to keep up those networking activities after you land on your feet.

Anybody else want to chime in? If so, please leave your recommendations in the comments below (or feel free to reply with an utter of your own).

First, thanks to Kipp and Doug for adding some excellent points 

Mobile post sent by astrout using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3


  1. Aaron,

    Very good advice. As someone working in social media I think that all of your points are right on. I would also say that it is really important to comment on blogs of the companies you are targeting for future opportunities. It shows that you can about the organization and that you are passionate about the work they do.

    I think that you must market yourself, you have to hustle and work hard to demonstrate your talent. Beside having a blog, twitter profile and a presence on other networks, I would create a social resume. Here is a sample I create using ning for free that has worked well for me:

    Good thoughts! Thanks

  2. Aaron,

    Great topic- I would add that networking is not just for people looking for jobs. The best time to get it going is before you need a job, so the net is already out there to help you (presumably you have helped members of the net in some way yourself along the way)- -I added more in my audio response on Utterli. (via the link above in the post)

  3. Aaron - This information and Doug's points could not be more relevent, especially today, when people are getting laid off left and right. Networking has always been a key component to winning business, getting a job and gaining friendships. Social networking has become today's version of meeting a group of people at a job fair.

  4. Wow Aaron, what excellent timing!

    I graduate soon and have been trying to figure out how to "break into" social media, so to speak. Something I suggest is not only to network with anyone you can, but also have one key person who acts as a sort of mentor. Mine (@asquillace) has been nothing short of incredible in helping me out.

  5. Shawn - great advice. And you could do a lot worse than @asquillace (a close friend and former co-worker of mine). Thanks for contributing!

  6. Someone once told me that your first day at a new job is when you should start looking for your next job. In other words, networking never ends.

  7. This is a great write-up. I have recently been asking this question myself. I will be putting some of your tips into action.

    Do you have any tips on networking freely on the internet (with the goal of a different job), without jeopardizing your current job? That seems to be one of my big hangups - but I think I'm just about past it.

  8. Great post! I completely agree with what you say about networking.

    I was talking to a group of college juniors yesterday trying to preach and share stories about the importance of networking and how easy it is to do especially with them going to school in Boston. There is so much going on every night that there are no excuses why anyone can't start networking todya!

  9. @Michael - my recommendation would be to "connect" with as many smart people as you feel comfortable with. The agenda can be simply "I'm connecting with you because you seem like a smart person who talks about interesting things." Once you've made a connection and established a conversation (remember to go out on a few dates before asking for more), then you can privately connect with the right people and ask for their help in a job search.

    @Cort - good on you!

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