2015-02-26

How to get started in Social Media

Yesterday, I shared my basic philosophy about leveraging social media in your professional life. 
The essence of which is basically: make yourself available.

Getting started:

1. Sign up for all of the popular accounts. 
Use similar naming and the same headshot, so people in your industry can recognize you when your networks overlap, and make yourself easy to find (or more likely to show up as a recommended connection to others).

- Naming: I started out on forums 15 years ago as Wanderer, but, for the past 10 years (since I started this blog), my primary branding has been with the nom de guerre "Mistress of the Dorkness". I could just use my name, but, let's face it, no one gets my name right. Melissa, Melinda, Miranda, Madeline... Natalie? Christine? Or, even just being confused with another young brunette Melanie in our industry. It was a hopeless case, I had to go by something more memorable.
- Headshot: I know, you're not a model, you're probably a very pragmatic down to earth guy who doesn't even like having his photo taken. BUT just follow my advice, it won't cost you anything. 
- Profile: Complete your profile. Provide basic industry data with a bit of experience and personality. Have all of your contact data pointing back to a single, dedicated personal email address for simplicity's sake (and don't forget to check it at least multiple times per year, opening emails to keep addresses from being placed on an unresponsive or invalid list). If there is a field, fill it out (and use spell check), don't leave blanks.

2. Connect with others.
LinkedIn? Look up your local colleagues and send connection requests.
Twitter? Look up profiles of Autodesk or AUGI and start following some people that follow them, or those they mention or retweet. Or, just find one Twitter guru and follow a "list" they've created, so, the people they find most worth interesting are curated for you, no following required (though that does cut out some reciprocity, following would let those people know you're there).
Forums? Find the topics that interest you most and either create a shortcut for quick access or subscribe to email notifications for new posts (for me, the essential is the Facilites Management forum http://forums.augi.com/forumdisplay.php?519-Facilities-Management-In-Practice ).
Google Plus (G+)? Search the networking site for industry key words, or, ping a guru and ask them to share an industry-related Circle with you.
Facebook? Some people keep this for personal connections, and I respect that, however, loads of people started off there with only professional connections and spend loads of time there. Since my family and friends showed up, I've started posting more personal content and less shop-talk, but, it's still great for work topics. I recommend Robert Green's "CAD Manager's Unite!" group for some good folks to converse with and learn from.

3. Consume data.
Find a few minutes here or there to see article titles. Most you'll give a pass to, others you'll read and learn something from.

4. Share data.
Occasionally share content you found interesting, or create your own. 

Just resharing an interesting article (or infographic or forum topic or photo of a local project, etc) can establish you as someone who understands the industry.

Have more time to share? 
Find a blogger who covers your industry and offer to do a guest post. Or, contact a content manager for AUGIWorld and see if you can offer something there. http://www.augi.com/augiworld/augiworld-content-managers Those articles can serve as pointers back to you.

5. Check in on a semi-regular basis. 
Sure, you could cycle through each site or app.
But, that single email address I recommended? Minimum, just run through there once a week, to see if you've got PM's, Facebook mentions, LinkedIn group notices, Twitter @ replies, G+ tags or whatever. 
Just be available and be responsive, you don't have to read it all or create it all, just touch base and be accessible.

I can scroll through the most recent 30 Google+ posts or 75 most recent Twitter posts in the time it will take me to reheat leftovers for dinner tonight.

6. Go Advanced.
There are websites and apps that will push updates to all of your social media accounts at once. 
I don't personally use them, but, those folks in our industry that are true social gurus do. Minimal effort for maximum exposure. No pressure either way, do what you feel comfortable with.

Why?

Networking. 
Professional connections are pretty invigorating to me (believe me, I'm a hardcore introvert who typically prefers the company of books to people, so, I'm as shocked by this as you are) and seeing other people excited about their projects opens my mind to the ways I could change or improve my own work and brings back some of that starry-eyed excitement and those dreams about the potential inherent in every problem we encounter in the workplace. 
We spend so much of our time working, we should find ways to make that as enjoyable and fulfilling and productive as possible.

Also? Work.
Money talks, right?
*I met local gurus and found a support network because of starting a LUG with someone I met on the AUGI forums. I was a know-nothing kid in a niche industry, but, I could still help bring people together, even though I lacked technical knowledge at that time. 
*I got my first two contract gigs (working on books) because of this blog and my profile in the Autodesk beta forums.
*I got another contract gig because of my MySpace profile (yeah, I'm serious).
*I landed a recurring gig with a publisher because I reached out to one of their authors via Twitter when he was at AU and tweeted that he didn't know anyone, he made introductions as a thank you.
*I have my current job because of LinkedIn (and I've also been headhunted there numerous times).

Basically, I had a contact who was working as a consultant, when he left that company, he was contractually forbidden from contacting me, as a client or as a potential employee (as I'd been in the process of interviewing with them). A couple years later, when I had questions about his specialty, I searched for him on LinkedIn and reached out to him there. I interviewed at his new company, but, it wasn't a good fit at the time. BUT, a couple years later, when one of his clients was looking to create a new position that was right up my alley, he made the appropriate introductions, and here I am!

If you want the chance at new experiences, you have to try something different. For me, social media has been a great tool to make friends, network, expand my skillset and grow my career.

Do you have a social media success story? Please share!


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