How to Get Your Start in Social Media in 5 Steps

This post was originally published on my personal site. I’m re-posting it here because I want to stress how important it is for you take advantage of the fact that we grew up with social media; which is a highly valued skill…don’t take it for granted, own it!

Recently Simon Kirk of Techies Give Back asked me to speak with his friend, Robert Sullivan, about breaking into social media, particularly within the publishing world. The conversation spawned this blog entry.

1. Find a super small business that will let you create and run their social media

Think of a friend or family’s business that could use some social media outreach (friend’s band, Aunt’s daycare, family friend’s photography business, etc). Create goals and build pages. Then when you approach another company you can say…I did this, this is what I’d like to do for you. Most likely if the company is small they will be willing to let you help as long as you can show an example of something you’ve done and a nice resume (even if its unrelated work).

2. Go to networking events where the type of people you want to work for will be

While I was interning at I learned a lot about social media. Gawker was hosting the 2010 Webutante Ball and Techies Give Back was a sponsor that intrigued me. At the event I introduced myself to Adam Gillman, co-founder, because I loved the idea of TGB wanted to offer my services as a social media professional (hey, why not?).

He actually reached out to me before I was able to email him, and we’ve been working together ever since. This is just one story to demonstrate the importance of networking and being active. Get business cards with your social media links on them asap (why yes, I design business cards for a great price!). The most important thing you can do is build and maintain your network. Meeting people doesn’t do anything if you don’t follow up, reach out and keep it in touch.

3. Do a lot of research and talk about it

There are a million and one articles published on social media/new media. Read at least ten articles a day and subscribe to newsletters. Take notes and start a blog that records what you’ve been reading, showing you’re being proactive. This is especially important if you weren’t able to work on an actual campaign.

4. Start a website and/or blog

You have to have a visible presence online if you want to work in social media. There are no excuses for those who don’t know HTML. I use WordPress. Other choices? is a platform for creating flash websites with a drag and drop editor. (example) is a great choice for those in social media as it just brings together different social media profiles. As one of my media heroes Evan Roth says, “publish early and often.”

5. Forget about “privacy settings”

If you want to be in social media you have to realize that you no longer have privacy online. Oh well. So any single thing you post anywhere…think twice, is this something you wouldn’t mind a client seeing? You’ll use your twitter, tumblr, and yes, even facebook to promote your work so be prepared! Showing personality is fine, you are human, but just be aware, everything is linked.

Example goals:

  • Set up social media profile (facebook or twitter) for friend’s business with goals in mind and build a following
  • Get a website
  • Clean up your facebook
  • Start a twitter
  • Meet 5 new people a week (and send follow up emails!) at networking events

Have you done something else that helped you get your foot in the door in social media? Comment below, we want to hear about it!


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About the Author

Emily is Founder and CEO of FindSpark. Passionate about the power of social media and networking; Emily has spoken at numerous colleges, conferences, and events including The International Youth Leaders Assembly at The United Nations, SXSW Interactive, Internet Week, Mediabistro's Social Media Bootcamp, Time Inc, Columbia University, and New York University, among others. Emily is also an adjunct professor, teaching social media and career courses at multiple colleges. Learn more about having Emily speak at your next event and follow her on twitter @EmilyMiethner.

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