March 8, 2012, Ian Greenleigh
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 salesman to marketer. I had almost no on-paper experience in marketing, and my resume was far from impressive. That cell phone kiosk 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.
A few days later, still feeling pretty hopeless about my situation—why did I major in Political Science again?—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, 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 executives in Austin, mentioned the fact that I was looking for a job in social 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. Then I got a handful of emails offering 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, and 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. While weighing which offer to accept, I got a call about a job I had previously been screened out for. It was perfect for me: a social media manager position at Bazaarvoice, my top pick for employers. I had written about wanting to work for them in a blog post about my job hunt, and the CMO had found it after my post had triggered a Google Alert for the company name and sent him an automated email. Several interviews and a test presentation later, I had my dream job.
Writing about the experience brought me some attention, and has 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 alternate path to achievement in almost any realm. Why stop there?
What I found was a social side door, a way around the barriers that pose constant threats to our forward progress. I later realized that I had found social side doors before, but hadn’t known them as such. In my sales work, I had been using my active social media presence to reach prospects that were otherwise unreachable. Before that, working in collections, I had honed a detective-like knack for tracking down and reaching out to people that had learned not to pick up the phone or return email. And now, working in marketing, I’ve developed ways of engaging with C-level business decision makers and earning more of their budget for my company. I’ve been able to interview my heroes, people like Seth Godin. My words have been printed in Harvard Business Review, 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 for those of us that have the discovered social side doors in our lives and careers.
Social side doors have opened everywhere. Through them, we can engage with billionaire business leaders, famous authors and heads of state. We can shift massive amounts of spending in our company’s direction. We have the unique ability to earn the attention of people and organizations that are bombarded every day by countless competing traditional requests for attention and consideration—resumes, emails, phone calls, invitations, meetings and more.
Through these side doors, a universe of opportunity exists that few people are even aware of. 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, inevitably, locked. We’ll talk to some truly fascinating individuals on both sides of the side door, and learn how access has changed, and will continue to change.
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 social side door.
It sure beats the hell out of pushing cell phones at the mall.