Everyone knows that even in the entertainment industry, a career minded professional should clear her web profile of all fun and foolery, and focus on broadcasting her personal brand to all of her online followers, right?
This warning is the first piece of advice about social media you'll read in 21st century career books. And it's dead wrong. My own life and career proves it.
They tell you not to talk about your lunch on Twitter or post cat photos on Facebook. They tell you that as soon as you leave college you must scrub your web footprint clean of all personality, or else you'll be seen as unprofessional.
In a world where large companies and celebrities flock to Twitter to showcase a fake human side, they tell you, an actual human to box your unique voice and adopt a corporate communications strategy when connecting online.
That cynical advice ignores the most powerful aspect of social media for individuals - by being authentic you can win friends around the world.
If you care about your career, here's a quote you should tat on your arm:
"All things being equal, people will work with people they like. All things not being equal, they still will".
That principle is why I have my current job today.
OH, I THINK THEY LIKE ME
When BET offered me the position of Online Producer for 106 & Park I thought the gig would be exciting, but I hesitated leaving my cool job at About.com. I counter offered, asking for a tax bracket above my current salary, and made the jump when BET came close to the price.
My job qualifications didn't matter as much as the strong recommendation I received from BET.com's Executive Music Editor, Kim Osorio. She told the hiring manager that I would be perfect for the job, and I was on the fast track from there.
But how did that referral happen? I'd never met Kim O in person. We never worked together. We never partied together. We didn't have mutual close friends.
As a fan, I knew Kim as the former E.I.C. of The Source. And she knew me from my blog. That's why she liked me and my work.
At its peak, my blog attracted attention from music industry professionals because of the insidery topics I chose. And since I put my personality on full display in the blog, people went from following my words, to following my life.
Even today I still meet readers who talk to me like we're best friends even though its our first conversation. (If you ever experience this, it's a little more jarring than flattering).
BETTER THAN BETTER
I'm not always better than the candidates I go up against when job searching, but if someone on staff is a fan of my work online, I have a huge boost above anyone else.
Sometimes job interviewers are more fascinated with my side projects than my work history. And the ones who don't know me are treated to pages of search results, showing off almost a decade of my scribblings, when they Google my name. By the time they're finished fishing for dirt on me, they feel like they know me, they feel like they trust me, and because of that, they like me.
So yes, let your personality bloom on LinkedIn. And sure, show your face on Tumblr. Be the easiest person to like in every social media circle you run around, and your career will grow, no matter what the experts say.
Haven't you heard?
After a 3 year, Hova-style retirement, I brought back this blog for a week (or two). My agenda? To let you know how this this site and my other projects broke me into the entertainment industry and kept me there, paying a hefty amount of New York taxes each year.
If you work in the same business, come over to the my new spot, Career Green Light. I'm showing people how to do networking with being annoying, and how to do career development without having a ten point plan.
Thanks for being down. And see you there.