The blogosphere is bountiful with posts and articles that proclaim the secrets of networking or job search within the social media space. However, instead of being reactive to the base of contacts you might already have, or the job postings that look perfect, it’s time to take charge of your digital identity in a fresh, proactive way.
Even if you already have a job, there’s no need to confine your identity to your current work. Being social is human – you have thoughts of your own, and a natural opportunity to sound off and differentiate yourself. In my work as a community manager, I deal with several different networks, but I’m consistent when it comes to my personal content creation. It helps to maintain my thought-leadership orientation.
Find Your Social Media Niche
It’s a frenetic, digital playground. The noise and competition is pretty heavy, but the good news is that you don’t have to wait for your turn – the ground is permanently fertile. Decide where to plant yourself, and grow your digital character.
Let’s address the first thing: where do you start in social media? It isn’t like a checklist where you can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – and boom! You’re a social media activist. It won’t fare you well. Trying to become comfortable with varying landscapes is like stuffing your Rolodex with cards without a frame of reference for the names! You want to choose an environment that stimulates your mind, and will make your participation easier and less of a task.
By the way, Twitter and LinkedIn do make sense for basic social networking. They’re ideal places for smart chatter and intelligent exchanges, but they’re also huge, and don’t have a lot of unfilled niches.
If you really, really want to stay there I would start participating in tweetchats and LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your skills, interest, and industry. Be forewarned – you most likely won’t make as strong of an impression unless you have a supplemental social platform that showcases your thought leadership and innovation. Do yourself some justice!
Why Social Media? It’s Appealing to BusinessesNiche social media sites are plentiful, and have much more room for you to stand out and be seen.
Present businesses will falter without ongoing innovation and the ability to shift radically. So it’s imperative to display your talent and knowledge of present trends.
You have to innovate – but where can you build momentum? Generate views? Showcase your goods? Social media.
There’s a significant bonus to partaking in social media: you expand your career experience with the work you put in. Your digital character is revealed, and listeners (and potential employers) can get a better idea of you and your talent.
The more you invest yourself, the harder it’ll be to resist you! Launching a project on a platform presents you as the kind of hardworking, fearless and social creative weapon that businesses want.
Launch A Pet Project
It’s an opportunity to make a ripple in the big pond.
Take my personal project, for example. When I was searching for a job, in my free time I created Signs for Startups with the intent to highlight key skills made for a social media management position — such as crowdsourcing and collaboration.
As a Deaf person who’s all about improving communication, brand inclusion, and one who geeks over startups, I set to merge these so I could reveal my abilities and personality – and demonstrate that Deafness wasn’t going to stop me from joining the industry.
The heartbeat of any social community happens when the content incites the community to take action on their own. And that’s what happened! Business/concept owners were encouraged to develop gestures for their product, get front of a camera and share it on video. I provided the forum for participants to share their end product using List.ly (a social list that allows the audience to vote and embed links).
Own Your Idea
Let’s hash out a few ideas and get your creative mojo going!
- If you’re a UX designer, do a video scribe describing your approach to designing work flow.
- If you’re a graphic designer with emphasis on advertising, you could utilize Pinterest to showcase your professional tastes in areas such as as color theories and what philosophies influence your eye and office style. You could even create a board (or video) telling a story of how you came about to a particular logo design.
- If you were born with a camera in your hands, you can become a RawReporter prodigy and share ‘breaking news’ on the latest technology trends. Video has incredible effect, even with a simple, clear lens.
- Designers could also sign up for Dribbble – show and tell for designers (mobile, web, whatever’s visual candy). Before you randomly start sharing screenshots of your art, you want to get fans who become repeat visitors. Thousands of designers on Dribbble are trying to get noticed. Set a commitment to share a graphic one or two times every week (with a meaningful description please, not a weak one liner like “this is my work on _____”). Each screenshot could be a puzzle piece to a story that will leave your viewers hanging on for the end. While you’re at it, check out the job listings — if they haven’t snatched you up yet!
As you develop your project, vigorously defend it and keep it alive! Social Media is a organism feeding off human instinct by sharing stories, crowdsourcing, and through disclosure and collaboration.
Here’s another tip: Don’t be bashful when it comes to showing your face or telling people you’re looking for work. Use your platform as a resume or portfolio and include in your bio that you’re seeking work and/or are open to opportunities. How else will anyone know you’re searching? Even if you’ve mentioned it before, people could use reminding.
Develop Your Personal WebsiteYour personal web site is the hub for your personal brand, the nerve system for your social media “ecosystem”, and a starting point for networking.
Before you get ready to unleash your awesomeness: do you own a website?
I know it seems like an entirely different project to launch. It is. So why do it on top of your project, you ask?
Your website is a hub for all things you. Please invest the time to make a gorgeous, customized, digital hub. Include an “About Me” page, some high-resolution pictures (of your face, too!), and call your visitors to action to join you on the social platform(s) you end up choosing.
If you’re a designer, you’re practically naked without one — like I would be if I didn’t have a Twitter account! If you’re more into digital marketing and less into design, there are many inexpensive tools that will help you navigate and customize your website without coding experience.
Check out WordPress, Themeforest templates, GraphicRiver (buttons, stock graphics) and HostGator for domain and web hosting. You’ll find the process rewarding, and it’ll be tough for anyone who visits neglect to appreciate your professionalism and extra effort.
The vast digital space has boundless playgrounds to showcase your uniqueness. Finding the right one can make your skills a must have to interested listeners and potential employers. Good luck!