(Note: This post was originally published by me on my company Standing Partnership’s website) Recently, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was featured in a Forbes article, “The Case for Hiring ‘Under Qualified’ Employees: The 5 Best Reasons to Hire for Aptitude, Not Skills.”
As an intern, it’s been incredible exposure, and I’m more grateful than I could ever properly express to the author and contributors David K Williams, Cheryl Snapp-Conner and Mary Scott. In between the amazing support from my co-workers (my article is hanging on the breakroom fridge!) and friends, I’ve been asked many times how this opportunity happened. While the truth may not be as glamorous as you might think (I’m not nearly important enough to be hunted down by such successful people), I think it does provide a good lesson in how to utilize social media to develop your own brand. Last summer I was feeling deflated. I had graduated with my bachelors in corporate communications a few months prior, and was having a hard time finding a job in an appropriate field. I was working a great job at a local optometrist, doing in-house marketing and some public relations work on the side, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. As I started job hunting, I noticed that every application either required more experience than I had, or required me to pack up and move across the country to intern for a few months. I felt downtrodden, frustrated and dispirited when I came across a Forbes column by David K. Williams, “The Case for Hiring ‘Under-Qualified’ Employees”. The article resonated with me on so many levels, and it gave me hope. I realized that important business professionals like David recognized and valued attitude and a willingness to work over previous experience, and that things weren’t as dire as they felt. I created a Forbes account just so I could thank David for his article. Inspired by David’s article, I applied for Standing Partnership’s internship program (you can read a more detailed story of how I did this in his article), and landed the position. A few weeks ago, I randomly searched for myself on Google (something that I suggest everyone should do) and I saw the Forbes column that I commented on. As I re-read the article, I noticed that David wrote back to my reply. I knew it was a long shot that he would see it, and wasn’t even sure if he would remember me or care, but I decided to reply again. Sure enough, within a short time, David wrote back again. Needless to say, I was stunned. The CEO of a successful company, and a contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, wanted to know how I was doing? The rest was a whirlwind. Within days, David’s ally Cheryl contacted me through e-mail, and asked if we could set up a phone interview. The day that I had to tell Nick, my intern coordinator, that I needed to take a phone call so I can be interviewed for Forbes was priceless (and I’m not entirely sure he believed me until he saw it). As of this writing, the article has been viewed 6,472 times, and has 47 comments from (mostly) strangers, wishing me well and offering encouragement. I never expected this wonderful opportunity when I first replied to David’s article, but I’m glad I did it. I would advise any professional or brand to utilize social media and the internet to communicate with their peers and customers in similar fashion. David, Cheryl, and Mary have no idea how much they’ve helped me with this opportunity and how much it made my day. By reaching out, you can have the same impact on your customers and business contacts. Who knows? Similar to how this article has changed my career trajectory (and thus, my life), your actions could have the same impact on your clients. And a life-changed customer is a life-long customer.