So You’re Graduating from College – Now What? Part 3
Joining the Conversation and Getting Direction
If you’ve read parts 1 and 2 of this series, hopefully you’ve been cleaning house and building a solid social-media foundation. You may not have a website yet, but that will come. However, for the sake of this article, let’s assume you have your website and blog ready, and that you’ve been sharing third-party content you’ve received from your Google Alerts and StumbleUpon, and adding your own comments. It’s now time to join the conversation.
Join the Conversation
You see, joining the conversation is not sharing third-party posts and occasionally liking something someone else posted. Joining the conversation is adding VALUE to the conversation. What do I mean by that? If you see a post that is regarding your expertise or area of study, you want to add your unique perspective to the conversation. If all you add is flattery (a like with a “right on!”), you will be perceived as an empty suit. However, if you add insight that feeds the conversation with valid points, you will be seen as a thinker. If you do this all the time, a miraculous thing occurs—your readers will start to come to depend on your input and look for it. This is crucial to the success of your blog and driving traffic to your website, which we will discuss shortly.
Join Groups that are about Your Area of Study and Passion
In Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, you will find the same structure; each one offers groups you can join by categories. In Google+ they are called “communities.” So you want to select the groups that:
- Are of your chosen industry
- Are of your passions
- That show good activity (not all groups are equal)
You want to choose well, as you cannot effectively join 50 conversations and expect to have a life. Moreover, you cannot have a Wal-Mart mentality. Your perspective and whatever you’re promoting is not for everyone—regardless of how we’d like to think so. Therefore, 10 well-chosen, active groups, where you are contributing steadily and people are engaging you back is better than 50 groups with sporadic activity.
Create Your Own Group
For some of you, this may be premature; for others, you are ready. Creating your own group makes you a leader in the online community and gives you some very powerful tools. There are Pros and Cons to this though:
- You are seen as a doer and a leader.
- It allows you to build an online database you can market directly to (especially in LinkedIn).
- You can control the message of the group.
- You have to manage it and that takes time.
- You have to create content for your blog steadily, as you will be sharing it in your group.
- You have to provide other content, sporadically, for it as well (until it takes off at least, then it will generate plenty of content).
- You must police it from time to time. People will try to monopolize with their own self-serving content.
While this may sound overwhelming, it’s only so in the beginning, as you figure it all out. However, once you get your groove down, learn a system that works for you and the tools that sustain it, you will see it’s very manageable. Just remember, this is NOT waste-of-time work; this IS an investment in you and your future!
I started marketing myself this way in July of 2000. Now, granted, there were no blogs; there were only e-mail newsletters. Websites were still figuring out the rules, so PowerPoint was a HUGE tool. My point is that I continued through good and bad times. Sometimes, I’ve had to take a temporary job, because the market was weak and business was sparse, continuing my business part-time. Then suddenly, BOOM! Exponential Growth! My advice was being requested. I was being referred and I had to schedule clients out as much as two months at a time. Today, I have what I sought and it’s a wonderful way to live. Why? Because I knew if I worked hard on myself, I was investing in me, adding value to my product and it would pay off. Today, I am able to give solid advice and consulting, my designing is 10-times better than years ago and it’s ALL because those nuggets of experience compacted into the person I am today professionally and personally. This will happen to you too! For some, it will be faster; for others, it will happen more slowly. But it WILL happen if you are determined to succeed and DO NOT QUIT!
Okay, enough of my personal story.
Get Your Fellow Students to Join Your Group
While I know I said your fellow students are competition, there’s no reason why you could not help each other reach a mutual goal. Therefore, invite your fellow students to join your group and contribute. Have the conversation be lively and productive (do not make it a buddy fest!). Then, join their group in return. This way:
- You will create activity, which is attractive to anyone looking for a group to join; hence it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- You get to practice in a comfortable environment.
I would try and choose students who have groups with different core topics, this way you are helping each other and not competing for the same audience.
Blog, blog, blog…
Now you are ready to promote yourself with your blog. Until now, there wasn’t an audience and you lacked the storefront (your website). However, with a great website in place ready to receive your visitors, a social-media footprint that is growing, with engagement that has gotten the attention of others with your value-added conversation; they are now open to read what you have to say.
Understand that the aforementioned social-media activity was like public relations for you. People were getting to you know you, read what you know and believe, see the kinds of things you share and made a decision whether you are worth their attention. Now that you have some people willing to give you their attention, it’s time to share your blog articles. Remember that when sharing value you were priming the pump so that your audience would look for your input on any given post. So when they see you post a thought-provoking article, they will think, “Hmm…, let me see what (fill your name in here) is sharing. He or she usually has something good to share.”
Your blog will also become:
- Your traffic generator
- Credibility builder
- Trust builder
- Be your mobile delivery system
- And become a referral mechanism
So make sure that you take the time to write high-quality articles. Do not share articles that are full of fluff and/or just patting yourself on the back. Let it be good:
- Tips, tricks and how-to’s
- Keen analysis from your point of view
- Case studies
And if you do these things, you will attract a reading audience that will eventually become customers or an employer—depending on your goal.
Become a Reader
Just because you graduated college doesn’t mean school is out! You must become an avid reader. You need to do professional reading on:
- Leading blogs in your chosen industry.
- News about your chosen industry (you must be up on current events)
- Other professional blogs and news that deal with business, marketing, law, economics, politics, etc.
This will not only serve you in knowing what you don’t know and should outsource, but what you should know so you make better decisions. However, it will ALSO serve you in giving you a knowledge and vocabulary necessary for your blog. As you write, you will find yourself dipping into other nuggets of wisdom gleaned from this reading that you will also be able to cite for credibility.
Get a Mentor or Two
Experience is golden! I remember the movie by Rodney Dangerfield, Back to School. In one great scene, he’s in a business class and gets up and tells the professor he’s missing a whole lot. When asked what he was missing, he went on to talk about paying for protection to the local mafia family, ensuring the police Christmas contribution was not forgotten, bribing the local union boss and so on. The point is that a mentor will be able to give you professional direction that is laced with experience and wisdom. It’s not book stuff.
Finally, begin Your Journey into Refinement
If you listened to my recommendation in article #1 and invested in Jim Rohn’s Challenge to Succeed audio seminar (if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?), then you will know that he says there are three kinds of philosophies:
1. Basic – what a child learns.
2. Personal – what you learn from parents, preachers, school and peers.
3. Refined – The extra reading, pondering, debating and experiences that change your perspective on life.
Most people stop at two. Don’t be that person! Go far beyond; don’t settle for what you learned in school. Enjoy life, learn it all, never stop expanding your mind and never stop adding value to your product. Below, enjoy a snippet of Jim Rohn’s Challenge to Succeed seminar.
So that’s it… for now. You have what it takes to lay the foundation and start moving up on your ladder in life. As you will learn, we live in the land of opportunity, America. And America is a ladder to climb; not a bed to lie down on. So I invite you to start climbing.
Stay tuned for more resources to help you on your climb!