Introduction: My story (updated)
I’ll never forget walking out of that mall, proud of myself for nailing the job interview at a cell phone kiosk. What’s more embarrassing than not getting that job—I didn’t even get a call back, and it stung—is the fact that I was so close to settling for it.
It was early 2010, and I wanted to make the jump from salesperson to marketer. I had almost no on-paper experience in marketing, and my résumé was far from impressive. That cell phone kiosk job was the first interview I had, and I went to it because I had begun to doubt whether anyone would give me a chance in marketing. I was running out of money and confidence.
A few days later, still feeling pretty hopeless about my situation— why, I again wondered, did I major in political science?—I found a blog post about a young PR job seeker named Grant Turck. He had targeted the agencies he wanted to work for with Facebook ads, and he was getting some interest from them, as well as publicity from well-known bloggers. I decided to give Grant a call, and he was happy to walk me through his strategy.
Even before the first click, I felt a renewed optimism. I was doing something different, something only a handful of people had tried—ever. My Facebook ad targeted marketing managers and C-level executives in Austin, mentioned the fact that I was “looking for a job in new media,” and finished with, “Can you help? Click here.”
I put together a special Hire Me page on my blog, linked the ad to it, and waited.
It started with a few blog comments from well-wishers like this one:
I was totally impressed with your Facebook ad and I had to let you know. You have my respect and gung-ho wishes for great success with it.
Next I received four separate comments offering me freelance work, and I got a handful of e-mails promising to connect me to companies that were looking for talent. Within a week, I was talking to hiring managers, setting up interviews, and getting consulting inquiries. It was working. I promised myself I wouldn’t settle for the first offer on the table.
Three weeks and less than $200 in ad fees later, I had multiple offers to choose from, all of which were infinitely better than that damned cell phone kiosk job. Thanks to those unexpected free- lance inquiries, I had options—the most important of which was the option to hold out on accepting any offer short of exactly what I was looking for. While weighing which offer to accept, I got a call about a job I had previously applied for but for which I had been quickly screened out.
It was perfect for me: a social media manager position at Bazaarvoice, my top pick of employers. The company has always had a reputation both for being extremely picky about whom it inter- views and for being rigorous in its selection process—exactly the kind of earned exclusivity that attracts competitive top performers in the first place. In fact, when career site Glassdoor ranked the top 25 most difficult companies to interview, based on data from “80,000 interview reviews,” Bazaarvoice came in at #14, beating out legendarily tough gigs like Facebook (#24), Teach for America (#16), and Amazon (#25). Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when I initially heard no from the company. But I was surprised—and thrilled—to get called back in.
I had written about wanting to work for Bazaarvoice in a blog post about using social ads in my job hunt, and the CMO had seen it after my post had triggered a Google Alert for the company name and sent him an automated e-mail. Several interviews and a test presentation later, I had my dream job.
Writing about the experience brought me some attention and has also helped a lot of other dispirited job seekers. But I had stumbled onto something much bigger than a new job-hunting technique. I had found an entirely different way of doing things, an alternative path to achievement in almost any realm. Why stop there?
What I found was a social media side door, a way around the barriers that pose constant threats to our forward progress. I later realized that I had found these side doors before but hadn’t recognized them as such. In my previous sales work, I had been using my active social media presence to reach prospects that were otherwise unreachable. Before that, working in the soul-crushing field of collections, I had honed a detective-like knack for tracking down and reaching out to people who knew better than to pick up the phone or return my e-mails. And now, working in marketing, I’ve used these same principles to engage with C-level business decision makers who control billion-dollar marketing and advertising budgets. I’ve been able to interview some of the most sought-after business thinkers of our time. My ideas have been featured in Harvard Business Review, Ad Age, and many other gold-list outlets, and I’ve written for many of the top blogs in the world. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but it continues to happen because I keep discovering new social media side doors to explore.
Social media side doors have opened everywhere. Through them, we have the unique ability to earn the attention of people and organizations that are bombarded every day by countless requests for attention and consideration—résumés, e-mails, phone calls, invitations, meetings, and more. These messages fight it out just to fly coach on standby, and they rarely make it past security. Our messages board private jets and fly direct to their destinations, where they are escorted past customs and placed immediately into the hands of their intended recipients. Or something like that.
Through these side doors, a universe of opportunity exists that few people are even aware of. You don’t learn this stuff in business school or from career counselors. Spotting these doors has nothing to do with the skills you’ve inherited, your station in life, or the balance in your bank account.
The delta between our aspirations and reality might be wide, but social media offers us more ways than ever to navigate it—if we can find the side doors. It sure beats the hell out of pushing cell phones at the mall.
My job is to explain how these side doors are changing our world and to show you how to discover them for yourself.
Your job is to walk through them before they are overrun and boarded up and to use the skills you learn in this book to locate and build new side doors.
We’ll talk to some truly fascinating individuals on both sides of the door and learn how access and influence have changed forever. This book will leave you with a deeper understanding of three things:
- The ways in which social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence (and what’s next)
- The larger significance of these fundamental shifts
- The things you must do to identify and open social media side doors
While certain sections of this book will apply most intuitively to one audience or another, every chapter contains knowledge that is broadly applicable. Although I frequently draw on examples from my own experience, and I use specific contexts like job seeking and earning media coverage to illustrate key points, the majority of the techniques and strategies in The Social Media Side Door can be use- ful within many different contexts and in pursuit of a wide range of goals.
This book should spark discussions, questions, stories, and ideas. As you read it, please share your thoughts with other readers and me (@be3d) by using the hashtag #tsmsd on Twitter and Facebook (make sure the post is public). Think of it as a real-time book club. Let’s connect.