How To Get A Job In Social Media: A Definitive Guide

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Social Media JobsSo you want a job in social media huh? Well, if you’re reading this you’re already doing some things right.

Social media as an industry is still quite young, but some common job titles have started to emerge.

  • Community Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Strategist
  • Account Manager
  • Analyst
  • Social Media Monitoring Manager
  • Digital Communications
  • And many more…

So you want one of those titles? You are passionate about social media and want to call it your career? Follow these 5 steps and you will up your chances for finding your dream social media job.

1. Find Your Niche

Many of the above job titles, even if they seem specific, can be completely different jobs at different companies. So before you ever get started, make sure you understand what type of social media job you really want. Knows the job responsibilities, skill sets, hours, expectations etc.

Look at specific industries. Would you be comfortable and qualified in the financial industry? Software as a service? Consumer packaged goods? Talk to many people in the industry before hand to understand this better. Ask smart questions and narrow down your direction.

2. Establish An Online Presence

In today’s day and age, if you can’t be found online you just can’t be found. This is nowhere more true than in the industry of online marketing.

1. Own your .com. You want to own yourname.com if at all possible. If this is taken, look for something close that is professional. Including your first and last name helps you show up when potential employers search Google for you.
2. Own your search results. If someone goes to the search engine’s looking for you, make sure they can find information on you and [only] the information you want them to find. Dominate the search engine results pages (SERP’s) for your name(s) with your properties.
3. Use the customized url’s available from sites like About.me, Facebook, and Posterous as often as possible as these types of sites tend to rank fairly well – especially given that Google and Bing are both now using social data to inform their search algorithm’s.
4. Make sure your social networking presence looks professional. Control your privacy settings, remove things that are distractions. Think like a hiring manager. When you go to your Twitter page, Facebook page, etc, do you get the feeling that this person knows their stuff? Do they look professional?
5. Establish one website/webpage that is your hiring hub, yourname.com is best, and link to that page from ALL your social networks, blogs, etc. Remove most other links. Control where people wind up when they research you. Make that hiring hub as relevant and attractive as possible for potential employers to find what they are looking for.

3. Build Your Skills

Read about and learn social media. Easier said than done I know. Read blogs, go to events and conferences when you can, but be careful not to get caught up in the social media news cycle. Many social media blogs are more interested in letting you know about the latest viral video trend than they are in teaching you the basic skills needed to leverage social for business.

 

To learn that, you need to study the industry for actionable training and, more importantly, gain experience by getting your hands dirty any way possible. Yes, you have to work before you can work.

If you cannot get a paid internship, do an unpaid one. If you cannot get an internship then volunteer to help a group or organization you care about. Here are some ideas:

  • Your school
  • Your church
  • A local nonprofit
  • A local small business
  • Your neighborhood
  • Your local city or town
  • A local minor league sports team
  • A local business leader or politician
  • An unofficial fan club

That last one has a lot of opportunity. If you absolutely cannot find something you are passionate in those first 8 examples, the 9th one is for whatever you want. Love donuts? Love Justin Beiber? Love underwater putt putt? Great. Take whatever passion you want and build an unofficial social media presence that champions that passion.

4. Build Authority

One of the best, and also the worst things about the internet today is the ease of which we can publish content. Use this to your advantage! You’ve now got a presence established if you’ve been following along.

Install WordPress on yourname.com. This gets a little technical, but the benefits are worth you learning this skill. I do not recommend hosting ON WordPress.com (myexampleblog.wordpress.com) or on some other site like Blogspot. You are trying to establish yourself as an authority in social media so you need to walk the walk. Owning and maintaining your own website on your own domain will help show people you are serious.

Use this online platform as a place to share your ideas and establish your credibility as a social media professional. Blog on relevant and current topics to the industry you are focusing on. Avoid “me to” content. Say something new and unique, say something old in a new way, or build a resource that is bigger or better than other existing resources out there now.

Guest Blogging is also a GREAT way to not only help build your online presence and authority but also to gain extra exposure.

5. Network

If you’ve skipped ahead you’ll see that I’ve also got “Build Relationships” on this list. I believe there is a very important and fundamental difference between building relationships and networking thus – have treated them as such.

Also you’ll note of many of the tips listed below many of them involve meeting people IN PERSON. Yep – even those that live and breathe social media need to meet in real life once in awhile. Those in person meetings often start out stronger and more vibrant than an online one so they really are the best place to start.

Some key points:

1. Get Involved: Join local chapters of organizations like the American Marketing Association (AMA) or Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and get involved. These groups are always looking for new energetic members to get involved.

2. Non-Industry Events: This might seem odd but attending events for networking in industries that you are not in is a GREAT idea. I generally suggest this for people who have anxiety around meeting new people or those who are looking to brush up on their networking skills.

This is a great way to get some valuable practice networking with none of the pressures that generally create anxiety. What is to be nervous about if you’re a social media professional talking to a hot shot accountant?  A lot less than if you’re chatting up a Chris Brogan or the like. It’s a great way to work on your conversational skills…opening, closing, etc.

3. Industry Events: If you’re currently employed as a full time job seeker then I highly advise going to as many networking events as possible. Look for Social Media Club, Social Media Breakfast and AMA events to get started. You’ll likely find lots of others that may be more specific to your niche as well that are definitely worth checking out.

There are also tweetups and meetup.com groups in every city that are filled with social media professionals you should get to know. Get out there. Meet people.

4. Volunteer: All of these events you’re going to – guess what? They’d probably love some free help. Yep. Good old fashioned butt busting. Volunteer to man the check-in table. That’s the BEST spot – you get to meet everyone as soon as they come in.

5. Informational Interviews: Ask for them and be prepared. People love talking about themselves. Find some people with jobs you would love to have or aspire to and look them up and request informational interviews with them. Prepare some thoughtful questions but also be prepared to listen to their story.

At the end of the interview be sure to ask them for an introduction to someone they think you should talk to next. This gives you a qualified ‘in’ as well as another reason to follow up with them. Thanks to Joann Jen for the idea of the ‘ask’!!

6. Nail The Elevator Pitch: That 30-60 second intro to yourself and what you’re story is is key. Make it strong and make it count. People make up their opinion of you very quickly so be prepared and set yourself up for success.

7. Don’t Be Creepy: So you nailed your elevator pitch – now navigate the rest of the conversation like a pro. Pay attention to what they are saying so you can ask interesting and relevant questions. Keep the conversation lively and moving. Don’t linger too long and make everyone uncomfortable. You’ve got to nail the close just as well as the elevator pitch. Get used to watching for cues that the other person is still invested in the conversation or if they would like to move on.

8. Follow Up: This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people a) don’t follow up, and b) don’t follow up in an effective way. Follow up with a nice message and a connection request on LinkedIn. Don’t just send the standard template request either. Make it relevant to them and your conversation. Give them a reason to want to engage with you and keep the relationship moving forward. If this sounds a little like dating, you’re right on. Romance it a little.

6. Build Relationships

Take all of the networking you just did to the next level. Begin investing real time and energy in to those new contacts. Read, share and comment on their blog posts (re: show support), interact with them on non-industry related topics, reach out to show you care, etc…All of the stuff that goes in to building an actual relationship with someone. Do that. But be human. Be genuine. Don’t be “that guy” who’s just sucking up to get himself somewhere. Go in to every situation looking to make friends, strengthen existing relationships and add value. You will always win.

Identify those individuals you can learn from and those that you find to be influential in your indudstry or niche. Sure you’re looking for a job in social media, but perhaps you’re interested specifically in the healthcare industry – you’ll likely want to find people that are specific to that area.

7. Get Creative

When all else fails – use your creativity to your advantage. Remember the guy that bought Google adsense on the names of CEO’s at company’s he wanted to work for? Well – it worked because he knew they would be conducting vanity searches and see his ad. I’ve also seen individuals run targeted ads on Facebook aimed at HR professionals at companies they are looking to work at. I’m not suggesting that you necessarily use either of those tactics – but I am suggesting that you think out of the box. The Social Media world is FULL of people looking for work right now. Some more talented than other and some more willing to go above and beyond than others. Be the guy (or girl) who goes the extra mile to nab that dream job. It will pay dividends!!

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Build through these 7 steps. Find a clear direction, work towards it, build positive relationships and you will greatly increase your chances of finding that social media dream job.

What tips would you add?

PSSST…

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