What follows is my first attempt at networking. Let’s take a peak.
A couple weeks ago, I came across a tweet from Trevor Turnbull promoting an event he was presenting at. Being familiar with his work I was intrigued at the chance to hear him speak as he is very much in tune with social media in sports. The event was called ‘Your Keys to Networking Success,’ by ‘Networking in Vancouver.’ Or NIV.
Talking to strangers is not something that comes easy for me. I used to see networking as shameless self-promotion involving all sorts of fake courting and interaction in order to peddle ones hidden agenda. Not exactly an optimistic view of humanity. Forgive me for my short-sighted ignorance, but that is how I felt. Despite the prevailing hypocrisy, I decided to register.
The day came a week or so later. I had to go directly from class on campus downtown to the venue. This meant a long, uncomfortably steamy bus ride on the 44. It was pouring rain and windy outside. As the bus driver was prodding us in like cattle, I suddenly remembered my prof last semester lecturing about how busy Vancouver busses were operation zones for frotteurs (use that word in a sentence to impress someone). Great. Standing room only. Between listening to my ipod and constantly shuffling with my phone I managed to spear about three people with my umbrella as the bus crashed to every stop.
This guy drives like an animal.
I got to the venue, walked in with my heart racing as nerves started to creep in. It represented a pretty big deal for me to step outside my comfort zone and go by myself to something like this. I was greeted by one of the organizers asking if I had a business card to put in the jar for the raffle prizes. Blindsided, I said something to the effect of: ” You know I don’t have any with me today,” could barely keep a straight face while I crafted that one. Crisis averted.
Now what do I do before this thing starts? Clearly I mistimed my arrival. To my dismay, a friendly face! I went over and we chatted for a bit. Natalie recently completed her MSc in sport management. Check out her blog here.
The NIV event consisted of six groups of speakers: some on their own, some in pairs. They preached a variety of different strategies for networking. I eagerly listened as they talked about personal branding, finding unique ways to differentiate yourself and positive networking. The content was great. After they spoke, there was a mandatory networking period where they encouraged people to… Network. Shit. Should I just bolt and go watch the Canucks game?
Despite the new knowledge, networking still is not as easy. Especially for an introvert like myself. I curbed my natural escape tendencies and managed to introduce myself to a few people, actually making an awesome contact in the process.
I can provide one suggestion. Motivated trial and error is extremely important in order to make progress at just about anything. I learned this playing sport, but networking is no exception. Yes Allen Iverson, we are talking about PRACTICE!
If you are like me and are shy around new people, I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to a friend of a friend or a stranger. A smile is a start. Be yourself and be honest. Why be someone else? Why be Dishonest?
A good resource for introverts is this primer on networking for introverts.
NIV has some great networking events coming up.
Any good networking tips, resources or events I should know about? Any good sites to order business cards?
The other day I talked about the transition I am making from amateur athletics to a more career centered approach in social media. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about the cold reality of the application process.
The most important part of my self-education for a career in social media is an internship. While the idea of working for free is not something that I am particularly thrilled about, I am happy to do it in order to gain relevant experience and learn more about the field that I am passionate about and would eventually pursue a career in. That, and the fact that I have no formal education in marketing or social media and extremely limited applicable experience. Not exactly in a power position here.
Where does one find internship postings? Searches on Craigslist, Twitter and Monster gave me some decent leads as a starting point.
Next, I had to spruce up my resume. The fact that I had to scramble to even find it on my computer probably tells you the current state of said resume. The hectic training schedule associated with being an amateur athlete makes regular employment a bit tricky. While most of my friends went to school during the winter and worked in the summer, I took part-time classes at UBC year round in order to be able to balance school with the travel and training for Field Hockey. This is also part of the reason why I’ve only worked as a coach or in manual labour. Is that a cop-out? Nevertheless, I feel this is a common issue that many athletes face.
So with my resume freshly updated, it was time to start thinking about a cover letter. Much to my chagrin, my sister was kind enough to assure me that you need an entirely separate cover letter for each job you apply for. Cover letter’s are meant as an opportunity to make the ultimate creative pitch to an employer. AKA blow as much smoke as possible, but keep it to one page. Seems like a cocktail of corporate buzzword mumbo-jumbo with a dash of neuroticism is the recipe for success.
As a way to use my self-proclaimed social media prowess in order to write the best cover letter, I turned to Quora (awesome site) and Twitter. Quora is like the Google effect on steroids. You type a specific question and industry professionals answer. The Quora search gave me some great tips and info from supposed “experts”. Susan the ‘Career Counsellor’ got the highest rating from users for her spiel on cover letter secrets; she must be legit. Good enough for me. Armed with a template draft for a cover letter, I started applying for internships.
Then… I randomly found an awesome website through the UBC AMS Society. Apparently they have an internship coordinator for students… Who knew? I met with the coordinator and sent her my resume and a cover letter. She goes over your info and applies to internships on your behalf. Highly recommend this for students. Also recommend you follow @YouTern on twitter. They post internships to places all over North America daily.
Few moves made. Couple of developments in the works. The wheels are in motion as they say.
Any good resources for internships or writing cover letters? Holler.
The transition from a full time amateur athlete playing Field Hockey (guys do play field hockey) for Canada into a more career centered approach is tough!
As my never ending undergrad degree is finally coming to a close in April (victory lap… Van Wilder… all that), it’s frightening to think what my next move is and how I am going to make a living and find a career. I’ll be graduating with a “useless” Bachelor of Arts degree… Add me to the list of all my friends with these arts degrees that have no idea what to do next.
Social media could be my saviour. I’ve been Facebooking for a while. But other channels of social media have sparked my interest over the last year. Initially, I took a liking to twitter: saw a few friends on it and thought it would be fun to try.
I’m often reluctant to tweet things because it’s hard to convey your intentions; especially for those that may not know me very well. The nature of an audience reading one tailored message in black text is such that delivery, body language (wait you can’t see my smug smirk?) and the emotional valence of your message is lost. Having no immediate reply or validation for your tweet is somewhat daunting. Is this funny? Nope. Should I delete the tweet? Is Bill Simmons going to retweet me if say something funny? These are three questions that cross my mind daily. But… This is what makes it fun.
My interest in social media moved from twitter to just about everything else. My dabbling has extended to LinkedIn, Hootsuite this tumblr page and a few other random social media apps and sites. Judging by the reaction I got last weekend from a girl I told that I was on Pinterest, I’ve determined that I am just about the only guy in Vancouver using it.
How can social media promote or determine my career? Wouldn’t it be sweet if I could create an awesome website or app, market it and live the dream? Not very realistic given my current situation. I wouldn’t know where to start.
Social media marketing, building and developing a brand online is something that draws my curiosity. How do you declare yourself an expert in social media marketing? The lack of formal education out there makes it a bit tricky. Having reached out to a couple of people I see as experts in the field, it has become clear that real world experience sprinkled with self-education is the key.
I am now looking for an internship in social media marketing. I’ve started participating in several online webinars, listening to podcasts and reading e-books. I am making plans to go to Social Media Week -Toronto in February. I also started reading a great book on the subject by David Meerman Scott called ‘The NEW RULES of MARKETING & PR’. Looks like my undergrad classes are on the back burner for now.
Any tips or suggestions for my self-education? Lets hear it!