We all have a story that led us to our careers – the careers where we feel are our calling.
For me, my calling was journalism – after finding public radio in the middle of the night as a result of insomnia during a major health issue. Yet, changes were unfolding as I graduated. As people consume news in the digital space, revenue has been impacted and jobs are hard to find. The additional competition for jobs made me wonder continuously if I made the right choice to pursue work in this field. I found myself not only uncertain, but seriously discouraged, and frightened.
In the attempt to make sense of events, I went on social media. Along the way, I was able to connect with friends and colleagues in the industry, and meet new people and get their views on how they see journalism, the media and their work – and see what inspires them. As uncertainty became a constant, so did the search for that perspective and inspiration.
There is no doubt that social media has impacted facets of every industry, including my own. Yet, while the rise of social media has disrupted some industries, it has also given opportunities for everyone, especially in the nonprofit sector, to get insight and to gain perspective.
In this time of unease, gaining perspective and inspiration from others is necessary, in fact quintessential, whether we’re fresh faced university graduates or we’re trying to take the next steps in our career.
Obtaining perspective via social media has never been easier, and here’s a few tips to best approach it.
Engage with people who inspire you: Be it on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, engage with those people who inspire you and what you want to do.
Ask for a conversation: It starts by sending an email or a message on LinkedIn. If you’re on Twitter, tweet the person and approach your request simply. “Could you follow me so I can DM (direct message) you about something?” Then, take it offline and arrange a time to connect.
Ask a friend or colleague: Whether it’s a friend or colleague at your organization or within a professional organization like YNPN-TC or the Society of Professional Journalists (of which I am an active member), crowdsourcing advice within your own network can also help. Just find time to get a cup of coffee and have a chat. You could also reciprocate and help the person you’re talking to if they need it.
Write a LinkedIn email: Your network on LinkedIn can also be helpful as you try to figure out your next steps. LinkedIn has a feature where you can export your connections onto an Excel spreadsheet or as vCards. Take those and ask for advice – but don’t bombard the group and express in the beginning that this is a one-time thing. The replies will help broaden your horizons.
Stay in touch: The initial conversation may have ended, but stay in touch with the person you talked to and don’t be afraid to ask more questions. It will not only benefit you, but also expand your network.
You may feel uneasy at first, but the time you invest in getting this perspective will help you do what you set out to do, whether it’s in a journalism role, a communications role, an advocacy and policy role, an advancement role, or any role – to help serve the people.
Though the questions about your prospects may still be there tomorrow, you’ll feel better for reaching out, as you try to answer the million dollar question that we all ask ourselves: “How can I best make a difference?”
The views expressed unless otherwise specified are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Directors of YNPN-TC or its members.