Friday, December 28, 2012

Your Career and You: “On the Eve of the New Year…Reflections and a Fresh Outlook”

I was camped out in a local mall recently while my wife was at her acupuncturist’s getting treatment for a variety of aches and pains.

Although I had survived the holiday season with minor damage, I was in a spectacularly foul frame of mind...all prepared to grouse my way through the waiting period.

Then I stopped off in one of the department stores where (unknown to me) they were having a “door-buster sale” with amazing markdowns on stuff. Wound up getting an awesome deal on a shirt. Whee!

But it’s what happened while I was in the process of paying for the shirt that changed my mood.

The fellow ahead of me was chatting with the salesclerk…a genuine gentleman himself…and mentioned that he had just returned from Afghanistan…he’s a State Department veteran and has been embedded with the troops there for a while. Now he’s home and looking forward optimistically to the safe return of our other personnel.

The three of us talked for a few minutes as he was wrapping up his purchase; then he left and I, too, made my purchase.

Turns out the salesclerk had studied Communication in college (Radio major) and then had worked in the business for a number of years. His daughter is now also studying Communication…love it that some “traditions” run in families!

I, of course, got in my usual plugs for the Communication major at Curry College where I oversee the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses. And, since my unknown friend (I totally forgot to ask his name…uncharacteristically absent-minded of me) was a former radio guy, I also plugged Curry’s student-run radio station…WMLN-FM.

Hey! I’m a PR guy…what’d you expect?!?

Cutting to the inevitable “chase” here…my outlook on life in general changed dramatically, and I walked out…and started this post…in a splendid frame of mind.

What happened, you ask?

A simple interaction with other people whose life experiences I found fascinating and who reminded me that we all go through a series of changes/bumps in the road/challenges.

Some of us emerge from our challenges re-invigorated and ready to take on even more challenges. Others, sadly, don’t wind up this way…and there’s not a whole lot I, personally, can do for them other than listen, sympathize if possible, and empathize if appropriate.

The “secret,” if there be a secret, is find...
> satisfaction in what you’ve accomplished,
> encouragement in what you can do,
> comfort in knowing you’ve done your best, and
> confidence that you are ready and able to take on what lies ahead.

The New Year is on our doorstep, my friends. Let’s make it a great one!

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about

Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day

That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out

So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day

“Tomorrow” from the Broadway hit, “Annie”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Your Career and You: "I'm Positive You're Negative"

It’s the end of the semester. It’s the end of the year. Tensions are running high.

Work is piling up. Deadlines to meet. Expectations to satisfy. Which can mean only one thing.

Attitude assessment time!!

I simply canNOT allow myself to wallow miserably in a deep, dank dungeon of despair. I’m not wired that way.

So I get really uncomfortable when I encounter someone whose whole take on life is doom-and-gloom.

Even when I was a kid and was making one of many trips to the doctor’s office to get sewed up after yet another collision with a tree, the ground, or whatever the impact medium might have been, my thoughts weren’t on the pain du jour but, rather, on the “cool, the stitches will be out in a week or so and I’ll be back in action!”

A positive attitude gets you through the dark nights.

A negative outlook, on the other hand, just piles more darkness onto the heap.

This approach to life is something that I try to convey to my Communication students and advisees at Curry College, where I head the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, as well as at Regis College, where I teach in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area.

Not all of them listen to what I say, and I don’t expect them to.

I can’t possibly know what they’re dealing with either personally or professionally. What I can do is listen, sympathize if necessary, and empathize when appropriate.

But it’s the holiday season, and “stuff” always comes crowding in on our comfortable routines.

It takes some doing, but you have to do your best to find the good things that wander into your daily routine...
v  Maybe it’s the cute baby passing you in a stroller as you’re people-watching in the mall.
v  Or maybe it’s the glint of sunshine peeking through your dining room window at breakfast.
v  Or maybe it’s just a song you hear that brings back wonderful memories from long ago.

It can be anything that triggers a good feeling. Just sit back and allow yourself to enjoy it!

And…Happy New Year!

"Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.' But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed." - Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet: On Joy and Sorrow"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Your Career and You: “Three Wise Moves”

Okay…I’m reluctantly allowing myself to get into the holiday spirit and, since “bah…humbug” isn’t part of my vocabulary, I guess I’ll go with three tips on how to jump-start (or refresh) your job or internship search.

One of my recent posts talked about resumes and networking, and that chat still applies…and will continue to apply throughout your professional career.

Ø  Never stop networking. Just like houseplants and goldfish, your networking contacts have to be nurtured and nourished…keep them alive by keeping them fresh.
Ø  Update your resume…regularly. When you do something that you feel reinforces your case for being hired, add it to your resume…if necessary, remove something that’s older and possibly less relevant today.

And here’s more for your “to-do” list.

1.    Read!  I know some…not allsome of you are muttering eggnogedly, “I read enough for my classes including yours, Kirk. Why should I read more??”

I constantly remind my students both at Curry College, where I head the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, and at Regis College, where I teach in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area, that I’m always reading…both for pleasure and for work/pleasure.

I read and write reviews of new PR and marketing books for Emerald Publications’ Journal of Consumer Marketing and Journal of Product and Brand Management. This hobby/ habit keeps me up-to-date on current trends in the public relations field as well as connects me with thought leaders in PR, social media, and marketing.

You should do the same. You want to be regarded as an up-and-coming ”superstar,” don’t you? Expanding your knowledge through reading is a way to accomplish that.

2.    Write! 
Send handwritten (legibly written) notes to folks that you’ve met recently at the networking events you’ve attended (you have been networking, haven’t you?!?).

As I’ve said time and again, the holiday season is especially suited for note-writing. You find a nice holiday card, write your note, address the envelope, stick on a stamp, mail it...Done.

And start becoming more visible on social media and other opportunities for commenting. If you read and are interested in others’ thoughts online and elsewhere, take some time to comment…to express your own thoughts. Communication is just that…communicating!

3.    Research! 
I’m going out on a long, thin limb here, but I’m going to suggest that, in your reading (see # 1), you probably came across some companies that caught your attention because of the work they do or the people who work there…both legitimate reasons to look at a company for possible employment.

Use your computer for something besides posting snarky comments and suggestive photos on Facebook or tweeting profanities about your favorite sports team’s massive mistakes.

Do some research on the companies or the people that caught your interest. What’s their background? What do they do that you think is exciting or that you know something about?

Not only does this knowledge give you some talking points in an interview (informational or job). It’s a lot more fun working with someone whose products or services are something you’re interested in! I once did public relations for a cemetery…for a very short period of time. Nice people; obviously a needed and important service. It just didn’t work for me.

So do your research.

So there you have it…reading, writing, and research. It truly can be as simple as “one…two... three wise moves.”

Happy Holidays! Mele Kalikimaka! Maligayang Pasko! 聖誕快樂!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Your Career and You: "Professional Development: 'Periodic Maintenance for Smooth Performance'”

Moment of truth here. I’m sitting in my local tire dealership waiting for my chariot to get a new set of “shoes.” There’s a mind-numbing soap playing on the television in the lounge area, and the magazines on display would suck the intelligence from a rock.

So ample time for “thinking.” This exercise, for me, entails lots of soul-searching and angst…mostly angst.

For any of you who have read anything I’ve written, you know that I’m all about education, continuing education, and never-stop-learning education. I blog regularly about experiences both in my previous professional life as a public relations professional and in my current life as a public relations professor.

One thing that I hear time and again from my undergraduate PR students at Curry College is “I’ll be so glad when I graduate and won’t have to study all the time. I’m ready for ‘real’ life.” (I don’t hear this so much from my grad students at Regis College because most of these folks are working professionals who have figured out that ”getting ahead” entails much more than just doing what’s in the job description.)

My unchanging mantra is just this: “You have to conduct regular professional development checkups to make sure that your knowledge base is current and your skills are ‘cutting-edge.’”

What this means is that you have to read literature relating to the communication profession, including current discussion of public relations, marketing, social media…the list goes on and on. The message is…read.

It also means staying current by participating, either live or virtually, in professional development programs on topics that you are either unfamiliar with or feel that you could use a “tune-up” in.

This should be “no-brainer” advice, but we all can benefit from reminders once in a while.

I’m a pretty pragmatic guy…see an issue…examine it…deal with it. The “fluff and stuff” come as a part of the overall program planning. (And I’m pretty sure someone among you will yell at me for this wording. Sigh…)

So start local with your research. What does your local PRSA chapter have on tap for professional development? What about other communication organizations in the area?

Then, or simultaneously, look at what PRSA has to offer…both on-site and on-line. PRSA has a boatload of reasonably-priced as well as no-cost programming on a variety of topics.

Finally, look at your local colleges or universities. Do they offer programs or courses that you might be able to take advantage of? Check ‘em out. You might be surprised!

The bottom line is that professional development…your professional development…is critical to your continuing ability to provide the public relations services that your employer or your client wants and expects.

One of the "Provisions of Conduct" addressed in PRSA’s Code of Ethics is “enhancing the profession.”

This, to me, means that we…public relations professionals…have a responsibility to demonstrate our commitment to continuing education and learning in order to provide clients, employers...or students...with the most current advice and counsel possible…periodic maintenance for smooth performance.

To paraphrase my hero, South Park’s Eric Cartman, “What we should have learned here…”

See you in class!

“Properly speaking, for the public relations man, as for every other person whose life is more than unthinking routine, the process of education should never cease.” (Edward L. Bernays, “A Definitive Study of Your Future in Public Relations,” Chapter VI: Education and Public Relations)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Your Career and You: “’Tis the Season…for Action”

I’ve noticed a “trend” these past few years that I’ve been teaching…that of some…not all, mind you…some…of my students putting their brains on cruise-control in mid-November and not re-emerging into reality until mid-January.

Need a spring internship? “I’ll look during the holiday break and hopefully find ‘something.’”

Need a recommendation for an internship or job? “I’m sorry to bother you this (Sunday) evening, but could you write a letter of recommendation for me…oh, and they need it tomorrow morning.”

Sadly, these are all real-life examples not only that I have run into at Curry College, where I teach most of the Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration courses, but that my colleagues at other schools have experienced as well.

I realize that college is considered by many to be a “transitional period” between high school (youth) and working life (adulthood) and, therefore, deserving of good times.

Fortunately, though, there are enough others (hence the some up above) who recognize the seriousness of this time in life and dive headlong into the “maturing” process…and have fun along the way as well!

These are the ones who I champion and shepherd carefully along the way.

My belief is that these young men and women will go out, heads held proudly high, and get those entry-level positions that will put them solidly on the road to success.

The others? Well….

This time of season (mid-November until mid-January) is a great time to take stock of your assets - resume…work/internship experience…network of contacts - and start fine-tuning each.

Things change. Priorities shift. Does your resume reflect those changes?

Even at this point in my sketchy career, I re-visit my resume regularly to see if what it says about my previous life as a public relations professional and my current life as a public relations professor still “sounds” like me.

The same holds true for work and/or internship experience…does your resume show you at your best?

I always remember the young fellow who asked a human resources colleague and me if his summer job as a waiter in a restaurant back home should be listed on his resume.

We simultaneously asked him, “How long have you been doing this job?”

His response: “Five years.”

Us: “Yes! You’re demonstrating longevity. You’ve been developing customer service skills, relationship skills…all the things that go into the making of a public relations professional!”

Networking…I’m gearing up for the PRSA Boston/Publicity Club of New England “Holiday Party” in a couple of weeks. I always look forward to this event…no agenda…just an evening of camaraderie…and networking, and I’ll walk away with at least a half-dozen new contacts that I can turn to for possible internship opportunities…or jobs…for my students.

Start today…reach out to someone…a professional who you’ve met either as a speaker in one of your classes or at a professional meeting (or on the golf course, as did one of my students a few years back when he was working as a caddy)…and send him or her an email expressing your appreciation for the advice he or she shared.

It’s a small gesture that can pay big dividends by starting a relationship. There’s no guarantee that anything will come of your effort, but you never know until you try!

The main thing is to take positive steps so that you will be prepared for the inevitable event…graduation and…gasp!...”real” life! Take action…today!

"I will not steep my speech in lies; the test of any man lies in action."
Pindar, "Olympian Odes," IV, l. 27

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Career and You: "Social Media...Why Not?"

I presented a session recently at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate “Organizational and Professional Communication” area, on social media’s role in career progression.

We had a good turnout comprising, interestingly enough, mostly grad students and faculty from Regis’ nursing program.

Social media is an area I’ve gotten even more interested in after having noticed that my grad students at Regis, as well as my undergrad Communication students at Curry College, my full-time gig where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, are not as “fluent” in social media as I had expected.

This realization really hit home when I launched a “Social Media Communication” course at Curry and discovered, when I polled the class, that less than 10 percent were active on any social media platform other than Facebook.

Now I’m not advocating devoting your life to hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, and the other “usual suspects” all the time.

But I am suggesting that you acknowledge the realities of the 21st-century and accept that online communication…in addition to…not in place of…face-to-face dialogue…is here…and expected.

The gist of my Regis presentation was that human resources folks as well as hiring managers are turning more and more to social media as a means of identifying potential candidates for jobs they’re trying to fill…and to get a sense of who the person is that they’ve pinpointed (personality, interests, etc.).

How this relates to you, my loyal reader, is that, if you don’t have a presence on at least some of the major social media platforms, you may be missing out on opportunities to move up in your profession…to expand your career beginning or advancement possibilities.

My questions to you…
  • Does your Facebook page give an indication of your interests (outside of keg parties and other generally inane activities)? How about photos of interesting places you’ve visited? Or links to other websites with interesting information?
  • Are you on Twitter? If I looked at your recent Tweets, what would I see? Thoughtful comments or retweets of others’ equally thoughtful comments? Or profanity-laced diatribes directed at the football game du jour??
  • LinkedIn? This platform has taken firm hold as the de facto job and job candidate resource. Do you have a LinkedIn page and, if so, does it give a clear picture of your experience, your knowledge, and your professional capabilities?

These three represent just the tip of the iceberg, with many others also available.

The question for you is…if you’re on these social media platforms…are you maximizing their potential in helping you either find a job or move up in your profession?

And, if you’re not using social media as a means of “getting the word out”…why not?

"The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise."
Anonymous ~ "It Pays to Advertise"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Career and You: "PR 'Foreign Policy'"

I had a cup of coffee with a new friend the other day who wanted to try out some ideas on how, after completing her Master’s degree, she might further that education with “real-life” experience in the U.S. before returning to her home and family in Beijing.

We spent about an hour…first “session,” more to come…discussing her practical experience in China, which aspects of that experience she really enjoyed, and how she could build on the knowledge she has gained both from her previous worklife and from her graduate studies.

As might be expected, I was firing off ideas right and left, and she was taking everything in and processing it in terms of her own goals and objectives.

We parted with the agreement that I would introduce her to colleagues at upcoming PRSA Boston, Publicity Club of New England, Social Media Club of Boston and other events.

You’re probably sitting there thinking to yourself, “Okay, Kirk. This is ‘interesting’ but what’s the point?”

Good question. And one that we all, as professionals or soon-to-be professionals, should be prepared to ask and answer.

What’s the point?

Our world is shrinking at warp speed. At the recent Public Relations Society of America International Conference, I met and spoke with dozens of PR professionals from across the globe. They represented a host of practice areas as well as the gamut of public relations experience levels.

The one unifying theme in all the conversations was a desire on the part of each to practice public relations in a way that would make them…and their respective employers…proud…that would represent the public relations profession for what it is…an honorable, ethical field of endeavor.

No surprise here, but 21st century public relations has become a global concept.

What is tweeted in Boise is retweeted from Beijing to Bangladesh.

“Casual” statements in a CEO’s blog in Memphis are seen and responded to by readers in Moscow and Mozambique.

The challenge for us as professional communicators, then, becomes one of thinking “outside the box,” or, better yet, “outside the borders.”

I had a great chat with our Academic Dean at Curry College a few days ago during which he asked me a series of questions about my definition of the ideal learning environment for today’s (and tomorrow’s) students.

My response, in a nutshell, was that I wanted/expected students to be well-grounded in the liberal arts…to be familiar with history, literature, the sciences…and to be aware of events in the greater community outside their campus.

I always try to be crystal clear that the students I’m talking about are my Public Relations Concentration troops. Ideally this would encompass other disciplines as well, but I’m being the conservative here and am sticking with what I can (sort of) control.

Happily, the Dean shares my vision, so I see, as Rick said to Louis in “Casablanca,” the “beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

But that’s the reality, again. Our “world” no longer consists of friends and neighbors within driving distance of our hometown. And the impacts of our actions no longer affect merely those who are the immediate recipients of our message.

Ours is a world without borders which means that we must be aware of cultural and other differences and be prepared to communicate successfully with our various audiences.

It’s not a “new” world that we live and work in, but it is a different and rapidly-evolving world.

It’s a world in which, as communicators, our “foreign policy” will prepare us for events and opportunities that impact us and our clients.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Career and You: "What We've Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate"

I’m dealing with an internship situation right now that, hopefully, I can get straightened out soon before everyone gets discouraged and gives up.

The bottom line/root cause is, as goes that great line spoken by “the Captain” in “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

The irony of this particular situation is that it’s a public relations internship…and public relations (to me, at least) is about accurate, understood, and agreed-upon communication.

There are problems on all sides of this particular kerfluffle…expectations of the internship supervisor, expectations of the site supervisor, and expectations of the student intern.

Right now, the conversations are running on parallel tracks, all heading in the same general direction, but each just slightly away from the others.

And, unfortunately, that is how most misunderstandings are created…from general agreement but slightly divergent expectations of that agreement.

Will the world as we know it come to a screeching halt as a result of this? Doubtful.

Will some feelings be hurt? Probably.

Will important lessons be learned? Definitely.

Lesson 1: Be crystal clear on expectations of all parties involved. (Assumptions were made on all sides here.)

Lesson 2: Act quickly to clear up misunderstandings or miscommunications. (There was a delay, again on all sides, in acting on perceived problems.)

Lesson 3: Change procedures to ensure that, in future, the problem won’t bubble up again. (Done, with fingers crossed.)

In looking back at this situation, it’s pretty easy to see where the train jumped off the tracks.

Everybody was right.

And everybody was wrong.

It’s not the end of civilized life as we know it. But it is a good learning experience.

In the course of our careers, we (professionals, professors, clients, students, employers, employees…) sit in a room and talk at each other...a lot. And we assume that the other parties understand and agree with us.

Most of the time, things go as expected.

Sometimes, “we’ve got a failure to communicate.”

“Much learning does not teach understanding.”
– Heraclitus, “From Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Your Career and You: "Yearning for Learning"

I just spent a remarkable three days in San Francisco at the Public Relations Society of America’s annual International Conference.

As usual, I came back home with a headful of information gleaned from the breakout sessions I attended as well as the countless encounters I had with other PR professionals attending the conference.

My undergrad Communication students at Curry College have a little difficulty wrapping their sleepy heads around this thing that I do so regularly.

“You’re a teacher, Kirk. Why do you spend your money and your time traveling to these things and then ‘all’ you do is sit in rooms and listen to other teachers?”

Logical enough question with a (in my mind) logical enough answer.

I can’t not be learning. Nor, apparently, can thousands of other like-minded souls.

I wasn’t always consciously like this. Back in prehistoric times…right after graduating from the University of Georgia (planned) and joining the Air Force (unplanned)…I thought I had checked off the “learning box” on my life’s resume.

But I started traveling to other parts of the world (Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Virginia) and realized that I was pretty ignorant when it came to “worldly affairs.”

This epiphany actually occurred when I got married and brought my foreign-born wife, who had…and still has…a thirst for knowledge and curiosity about life in general, back to my country.

I gradually realized that, as I was introducing her to America and American ways, I, too, was learning new stuff…and I liked it!

And so it began and continues…my seemingly never-ending quest for knowledge. I collected a couple more degrees in the process and ultimately earned my “APR” (Accredited inPublic Relations) designation from PRSA.

What I realized in the process, though, was that I wasn’t alone.

The more I went to PRSA and other organizations’ programs, the more I saw and interacted with others just like me.

In some cases…PRSA, for example…I see hundreds of familiar faces year after year, as well as hundreds more new faces…new “students” in the learning game.

They’re seasoned professionals as well as soon-to-be new practitioners. They’re from all parts of the US and from all over the world.

But they…we…all share a common trait…a yearning for learning that keeps us motivated and energized…and coming back for more.

That’s the great think about our profession. We are expected by clients or employers to either have the answers or know where to find them.

Complacent mental inertia doesn’t play a part in this…curiosity (something I also write about frequently) and a thirst for knowledge do.

In my world, there’s always something new to be discovered just around the corner or a bright shiny new object to figure out how to use.

As I indulge my curiosity and thirst, I find that I am better able to address the challenges of the modern-day world of communication…especially public relations. And I do so with confidence born of learning.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Remarks prepared for delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas [November 22, 1963]

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Your Career and You: “Optimism and Opportunity”

I’m gearing up for the PRSA International Conference held this year in San Francisco. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to go to almost every conference since I joined in 1981, I’m still looking forward to attending.

You’d think this would be “old” by now…that I would be looking at this annual pilgrimage as a burden…“I have to do this as a public relations professional.” But that’s not the case.

Instead, I find myself getting increasingly excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
Ø  New things to learn
Ø  New people to meet
Ø  New cities to explore

This is something I try to hammer home to my undergraduate students at Curry College, especially those in my Public Relations Concentration who will (I hope) follow my footsteps and will make the PR profession their career “home.”

They soon will be venturing out into the professional world and need to understand the value of taking advantage of opportunities to learn, to meet, and to expand their horizons.

The optimism aspect is, or should be, obvious…a firm belief that learning new things and meeting new people is beneficial…that good things will come from these actions.

The opportunity part comes from the interactions that take place throughout the conference…in the breakout sessions when public relations professionals share their experiences and lessons learned as well as in the many relationships that are sparked among the conference attendees.

It’s a proactive endeavor, though. You can’t stand in a corner and wait for them to come to you…something that took me a couple of years to learn.

At first I just went to the conference and chatted (hesitantly) with folks at the dinner table or sitting beside me in sessions.

Then I figured out that, if I wanted to really get my money’s worth from attending, I would have to reach out and engage in conversation with people.

Now this is a “duh” moment for a lot of you, but, as many of you know…I rarely miss a chance to remind you!...I’m an introvert…not good in crowds of strangers. So imagine if you can me walking into a ballroom jammed to the rafters with unfamiliar faces! Not a pretty sight.

But I kept at it.

Why? Because along the way, others reached out to me and made me feel welcome which, in turn, encouraged me to reach out to others.

I’m not saying all’s wine and roses now, but I’ve gotten reasonably comfortable cruising the crowd to pick out familiar faces and, at the same time, walking up to total strangers, sticking out my hand, and introducing myself.

The outcome?
Ø  I’ve made awesome new friends from across the country, as well as from other countries.
Ø  I’ve met fascinating PR professionals from all walks of life.
Ø  I’ve established contacts in the areas of the PR profession that I’m interested in who I can turn to for advice and counsel.

In short, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth by attending both PRSA events and those put on by other organizations.

And I know that the same will hold true this year in San Francisco.

I’m optimistic that I will come away with a boatload of new acquaintances whose knowledge and expertise will broaden my own capabilities.

And I am determined to take advantage of every single opportunity that arises to do so.

"Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" [1786-1830], bk. VII, ch. 9

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your Career and You: "Don't Be Invisible"

I’ve noticed recently, especially since I launched a “Social Media Communication” course at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the undergrad PR courses, the incredibly low profile that a majority of my students have.

It’s not that they’re not aware of the need to “see and be seen.”

It’s just that they don’t seem to have grasped the true meaning of “social media presence” in today’s ultra-wired world…the need to “see and be seen” on at least the most popular platforms.

If they were studying science (I’m gonna hear from the Biology Department on this!), this might not be so much of an issue. But they’re Communication majors, and the very name implies a knowledge…and utilization…of current avenues for both getting the message out and being “seen” by others.

It’s not confined to my troops at Curry, however. I’ve been invited to present a seminar on social media’s role in career advancement and job search at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area. The objective is to present a clear explanation of why social media, in this case LinkedIn specifically but also other platforms, is a “must be there” reality today.

I “get” that not everyone is or is going to be social media savvy. But I’m not talking about “everyone.” I’m talking about college seniors and grad students who are feverishly combing online job sites and (or at least, I hope) career services job listings at their college or university.

Note the emphasis on “I hope.”

Colleges' career services offices, from what I saw in my peregrinations about the state a few years back as a part-time professor at several colleges in the Boston area, are a woefully underutilized resource. Granted not all are what I would classify as “with it,” but the majority have databases that can at least pry open the employment gates so that you can catch a glimpse of the wonders that await you.

At Curry, I'm happy to say, we offer a robust selection of services and resources for both current students as well as alums...and people find jobs or internships regularly by taking advantage of the advice, assistance, and guidance offered.

But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

The other is establishing yourself “out there”…creating an online “you” that I, as a potential employer, can access and learn more about you.

An obvious start would be LinkedIn…populated by employees, employers, would-be employees, employment specialists (recruiters), and others. To use my explanation (that those smarter than I absolutely hate), it’s the professional’s Facebook. Yes…before you start spamming me with your protestations…I know it’s much more than that. But let’s K.I.S.S…Keep It Simple, Savant.

And there are other “value-added” options such as Twitter (where you can post frequent and regular comments about events in the news, your own observations on life/business/college, etc.), Pinterest (where you can create boards to post articles, cartoons, and such that show your interest areas)…your blog (created with a clear vision of who you are or want to be and populated with regular posts showing the depth and breadth of your thoughts).

I’m not suggesting you have to be using all these, or even most of these.

What I am suggesting is that you have a presence on at least one so that, if I meet you at a professional event (PRSA, Social Media Club, IABC, or elsewhere) and you give me your card, I can do a quick Google search or visit the website that you indicate on your card to find out a little bit more about you…and…perhaps…pass on your name to someone who I know is looking to fill a vacant position.

But this isn’t going to happen unless I can find you online…so don’t be invisible!!

"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd stay away"
Hughes Mearns, "The Psychoed"