Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hardest Job is a Job Hunt: the #HAPPO Anniversary

I've been mentoring college students for about eight years; it was never a planned thing, just my personality. I like to teach. I like to help. I like people - well, most of the time. And I like to give back as I was lucky to have great mentors throughout my career. I'm lucky to have the patience - for the most part - for that type of thing.

And that's part of why I prefer working with students and the newly graduated - often times, they aren't lucky to have a champion. It's also why when someone emails me with 5 or more years of PR/SM experience, I make a few recommendations but am not as giving with my time, because if you are at that point in your career you should have your own networks, own knowledge of recruiters, and have your own mentors.

Now, a handful of the women I've mentored through the years are amazing people. These are PR professionals with social media skills that I would hire in a minute. These are people that I think are the pinacle of the profession, at different levels in their careers, who will be running things in the industry. And I'll be proud of them as if they were my own family, as I do think of them as family.

Through that mentoring, I've become involved with #HAPPO. The concept, the idea of HAPPO is admirable: helping out other PR pros network and get a job. The economy is bad, and we've all been hurt by it. Some of the best PR people I know searched for jobs too long, while some of the worst PR and SM people I know are gainfully employed or have transitioned themselves into "thought leaders".

Unfortunately, at times, the reality of HAPPO is either a "look at how great I am because I'm helping others get jobs" or "K, I tweeted #HAPPO, where's my job?"

So what has happened is a bit of self-interest and a bit of self-entitlement. New graduates and others think that by merely posting #HAPPO!!! (or other hashtags) on a tweet, that the jobs will come to them and they should be hired, because dammit, they ARE social media geniuses because they're the digital generation!!!

That one is a good fallacy, though. The digital generation understands the tools - but that's it. In reality, many are dangerous as they do no get the big picture of how public relations and social media work together. Nor is there an understanding on how to push back on a client, how to protect them from doing something bad and destructive in social media, or a complex and advanced understandig and knowledge of a little something called strategy and tactics.

PR is not an easy profession. We are always top 5 for stressful professions. PR wears you down, as you're under attack from all sides: clients, agency, press/analysts/social media. But it's one of those things that people love: the ability and chance to tell a story, do some good.

But the missing the point of HAPPO - no one is entitled to anything. It's a hard job finding a job, harder than the job itself, so be thankful for those that help you along the way. And don't think that just because you send an email you're owed something. Respect the other person's time, energy. If that part of HAPPO continues to be ignored, the people that are giving of their time will reevaluate where they are putting their efforts. As they should.

HAPPO chat is tonight from 5.00 - 7.00 PM EST / 2.00 - 4.00 PM PST. Just follow the #HAPPO hashtag and start networking, making connections and being a valuable part of a community instead of just being a remora.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Personalization of Business, via Twitter

A few days ago, I came across an article about turning your Facebook profile into your resume. My emotions rarely changed from one: abhored.

Abhored because for the past few years, I mentored college students. I've seen some of the stuff that students post on their pages that didn't display the best professional thinking.

So I'd send them a quick note that they might want to untag a picture, or change the profile picture. Or to create separate profiles and limit people to certain photo albums, etc.

And then let them know that despite their desires (and mine), Facebook isn't personal. Although it should be.

My POV is that that is fine, though: there needs to be a separation of personal from professional. That's why you have LinkedIn (professional network) and Facebook (personal network) and Twitter (a smogasboard of everything at once). And it's why I have been actively editing both LinkedIn (people I know and would recommend) and Facebook (people I know IRL or well enough online that I feel safe around them - and why I have 300 people in FB limbo). Twitter is still whomever and whatever, and I follow back those in PR or those whose Tweets interest me.

That's the thing about Twitter - it is one of those platforms that's really neither business nor personal: it's both. People use Twitter for work, but they also use it to find trends, share information, be themselves. It's a new and different paradigm (ok, not a full paradigm but something pretty new and different in the media world) that blurs those lines. It's like the work day - when does it really end nowadays? When do you have your work/life balance? Since most of us like sharing information and enjoy it, is it still work? In PR, it is if it's billable, but shouldn't we be able to clock out at a certain time?

But that's an aside on the interesting aspect of Twitter: it's a new "paradigm" for the personal and professional. The line is blurred, and the tools you use for business are the same you use for personal, and the tools you used for personal are creeping into the professional. Plus each business account has a real person behind it, and the only way business accounts succeed is if there's a personality and real voice behind it.

That's the interesting thing that oneforty has tapped into: people use Twitter for personal and professional reasons, but it's more than just for fun for them. They built guides for other business users; so oneforty has transitioned into more than just a place to find free Twitter apps, but a place to find professional twitter applications, a social media/business expert, and reviews on the oneforty blog (another great outlet for those of us that have social media tools to pitch).

oneforty has taken the personal of Twitter and showcased the business side of it for its users, turning it into a social business hub to share ideas and best practices.

Is that the future of social media? Personal yet professional? The basics are pretty simple: it's made of people (just like Soylent Green). Will we see a blurring of the lines of professional and personal personas, a blurring of the life/work balance? The tools are so ubiquitous, it's likely - but then you just learn to shut down and go do some yoga.