SBJ/April 18-24, 2011/Opinion

@TEOTD, honing social media skills nothing to LOL about

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Horine
One of the rewards of teaching graduate students is learning about social media through techno-savvy millennials. IMHO, this generation has much to offer us baby boomers. Recently, one of my students asked a question about how much more competitive the job marketplace is than, say, 25 years ago. Initially, I LOL’d, but upon further reflection I could see the basis for it.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, industry revenues grew from $213 billion in 1998 to more than $234 billion today. It’s safe to assume that industry jobs have increased dramatically during this time as well, but then again, so has competition for those jobs.

In the late 1980s, when sports marketing was just taking shape, there was no virtual networking capability. Job opportunities emerged through recruiters and an occasional print ad, but mostly through WOM.

Fast-forward to the recent Great Recession, when many corporations downsized their recruiting. Hiring managers now shoulder more of the recruiting burden, and rely on social media sites such as LinkedIn. So how should today’s job hunters leverage their respective communication skills and embrace the new age of networking in the 21st century?

Personal selling

Social Media Shorthand

IMHO: In my humble opinion

EMSG: Email

F2F: Face to face

G2G: Got to go

LOL: Laughing out loud

POV: Point of view

TY: Thank you

TXT: Text

VMSG: Voice mail

WOM: Word of mouth

@TEOTD: At the end of the day
The younger generation has adopted digital communication as the new personal communication. (Boomers still prefer F2F meetings, phone and/or EMSG, and regard LinkedIn as a Rolodex on steroids.) Many millennials find F2F situations awkward, especially when dealing with difficult subjects, preferring TXT or EMSG as their contact modes (deftly parodied in the recent Sprint TV spot in which two colleagues conduct a face-to-face meeting via TXT).

Digital meetings can create intrigue, but genuine F2F meetings sell. Decision-makers make final choices from personal contact.

A true benefit to digital networking is the relevance and value it brings to your personal brand when meshed with old-school selling. Here are a few thoughts on how to sharpen your personal selling efforts:

• Learn to be comfortable in social settings; seek out networking events and industry conferences.

• Invest in your speaking ability; join Toastmasters International, hire an acting coach, volunteer for community speaking roles, etc.

• Be an outstanding listener; successful salesmen understand buyers’ needs by asking informed questions and listening before responding.

• Develop a dynamic phone persona; record a trial VMSG message to a prospective employer and gauge how energetic, confident and concise you sound.

• Be consistent with your message; you’re selling your brand every day.

“A voice on the other end brings life to a conversation and a greater likelihood of opportunity.”
Glenn Adamo, NFL vice president of media operations

Personal marketing

Social media should not merely be a tactic but a personal marketing strategy. By sharing experiences, thoughts and knowledge, you stay relevant, no matter what your employment status. Use social media for introductions, information and brand messaging. Here are some applications that can enhance your marketability:

Professional social media sites


• LinkedIn is the preferred business networking site, with more than 100 million users. Your LinkedIn profile often pops up as the first reference point in searches. Remember, there’s only one version of your profile, so keep it current and public.
LinkedIn (top) is a business networking site with more than 100M users. Facebook’s BranchOut has about 250,000 registered users.

• Though Facebook has 650 million users, it has 250,000 registered for BranchOut, its version of LinkedIn. Most people associate any Facebook product as an access point to their social world. Recruiters canvass Facebook as a window of personal judgment.

• Check out Quora, a relatively new social resource for job search and career insights.

Social media enhancers

• Twitter is the ultimate in instantaneous individual marketing, with more than 50 million active users. This is a dynamic opportunity to augment professional and/or personal relevance. Reciprocity is the key to maximizing the benefits. It’s the giving and taking of ideas (e.g. articles, POVs, group discussions, etc.) that makes one relevant in this social media world.

• Explore Twellow (directory of public accounts) and TweetDeck (app to stay in touch with your social media contacts).

• Hashable is an app that interacts with people you meet every day and allows you to send contact info and build your network in a easy manner.

“Twitter is a huge cocktail party. You need to search around to find conversations relevant to your interests.”
Stan Phelps, Synergy Events chief solutions officer

Integrated career management strategy

Think about how you can merge digital and traditional networking into a powerful, integrated career management strategy.

Like anything else good in life, balance and moderation are guideposts to sustained success. Seek the best of both worlds to optimize your professional marketability. Here are some proven best practices:

For networking in general

• Be honest and forthcoming in your request for a connection; provide a frame of reference (such as a mutual colleague) and purpose.

• Consider your audience and the formality (use of acronyms or shorthand) of any communication before sending.

• Don’t let your personal brand be commoditized; differentiate yourself; have a unique value proposition.

• Email your connection both before and after a F2F meeting; after the meeting, you may even want to consider (OMG!) a hand-written note.

For digital networking

• Don’t let your social and professional spheres collide in cyberspace.

• Be judicious with connection and endorsement requests; seek quality over quantity.

• Don’t attach your résumé to a connection request; introduce yourself first and then seek permission.

• Be careful about underexposure to external recruiters as well as overexposure to internal sources such as your own human resources; provide just enough information for keyword searches.

• Be wise to social media “creepers,” those only interested in aggregating digital contacts as their badge of relevance.

“Digital and social media is written in pen, not pencil; be careful before you hit send.”
Chris Erb, EA Sports vice president of brand marketing

@TEOTD, don’t let the ease of digital technology take over as your primary communication vehicle. Continue to refine your communication skills and make meaningful F2F meetings and relationship building the goal of your digital networking efforts. G2G. TY.

Glenn Horine (ghorine@handhconsulting.net) is the executive director of Iona College’s Center for Sports and Entertainment Studies, business development consultant and industry career counselor/lecturer.

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