Grow Where You're Planted

My offline friends will tell you how much I hate where I live. I moved here to Baltimore as a preteen with my parents and aside from a 4 year stint galavanting around New York State, including 2 years in NYC, I’ve lived in the Baltimore area since. I graduated from high school here. I got married here. We had our son here. I’ve developed my career here.

For better or for worse, Baltimore is home. I can point out The Wire locations. I could give you a photo tour of Hamden, Federal Hill and Catonsville. I can introduce you to “the best crabcakes in Baltimore.”

Historically, though, I hate it here.

In recent years, I’ve considered relocating to Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Boston – anywhere would be better than good old Bmore.

The last move consideration was to Toronto where my employer, b5media is located. For whatever reason, I decided that wasn’t a great move for us. And so, we stayed in Baltimore. At that time, I decided that I was going to grow where I was planted. I’m in Baltimore, so I’m going to make the most of the opportunity to flourish here.

So, I began interacting with likeminded people here. (I did expand here to include Washington, D.C. since – it’s really the same place with only a 45 minute drive between us. I began attending as many social media events as I could. In Baltimore, I met , Greg Cangialosi, Steve Fisher, Greg Gershmann and more. (Some of these guys I’ve known for awhile). In D.C., I met Shashi and Shana, Rana and Eric, Jeff, Jonny, Jim and many many more.

Last night, at DC Media Makers I looked around the room (and the subsequent compulsory after-event at Capital City Brewing Company) at 30+ passionate people from very different background and very different lifestyles (Scott Stead comes from CNN, Stowe Boyd has a respectability aura all of his own, Chris Penn dropped in from Boston) and thought – how cool is this scene? Besides Boston, I don’t know of any single social media community that is well defined, interesting and really family-like as the Maryland-DC-Northern Virginia tech community. It’s actually sort of unreal, if I’m honest.

As I made the drive home from DC back to Baltimore, the phrase “Grow Where You’re Planted” kept turning over in my mind. You may not particularly like where you’re at, but you can make a difference in the community that you find yourself in. My take away for the weekend is that, as social media types, you should be doing everything in your power to get out of yourself and help the community grow.

I’m not sure that I have done anything particularly special for this community, but I know that I would rather invest myself in this community than in any other regional community anywhere else in the world.

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The Value of Personal Brand to a Business

So you just graduated from communications school. You have your business degree in public relations, or you might be a marketing major, etc. You hit the ground running with an offer from several companies looking for “young, eager professionals with a communications degree” to “engage customers with social media tools”.

Let’s cut to the chase. They want to hire a social media evangelist or a social media PR goon.

You start your job and begin to hit all the usual spots. You setup Facebook groups and fan clubs. You get a Twitter account going. You start adding bunches of people to your LinkedIn network. You make sure the company has a blog. You do all the standard things to get going.

Then something surprising happens. Nothing. Yeah, that’s right. Nothing. You end up following 1500 Twitter people and 30 of them follow you in return. This causes other people to look at friend/follower ratios and determine that you’re not “worth it” to follow.

Been there?

Your Facebook groups never get traction and the invitation to join them are ignored by people who get 30 or more invitations to something or other on Facebook and only have enough time to click “Ignore” on all of them.

Starting to sound familiar?

Your LinkedIn profile gets 300 connections – friends of friends, generally. When it comes down to hiring that marketing analyst, no one responds to your questions soliciting leads.

I know I’m talking to someone.

So what am I getting at? Networking and Personal Brand are the most important thing you can bring to a company. It’s more important than that communications degree. It’s more important than your years of experience, if that is the case. It’s more important than the company you work for.

Picture this. You’re at SXSW and you have not taken the time to cultivate your personal brand, it doesn’t matter if you are a CTO, CEO or a marketing intern – no one is coming up to you and talking to you. However, if you’ve taken the time to be a “known entity” – you blog and get a critical mass of readers, you are present and visible in the social media community or otherwise – your position, title, rank, and degree becomes irrelevant. You have a magnetism that attracts people to you. Magically.

Now, you are an asset to your company. You have people wanting to know about what your company is about? What do you do? Why do you do it? Can I get some advice?

On the flip side, companies have to understand this and not feel threatened. I’ve talked about my friend Shashi before and he is a great example of someone who has a tremendous personal brand that benefits his employer, Network Solutions. They had to give him the space to have a brand outside of his company, but the moment he became their Social Media Swami, they began seeing benefits – some more tangible than others.

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Spanish Content in English Feed

Apologies to my english speaking feed readers who have noticed that Spanish content has been leaking into the feed. I had it worked out that that would not happen but at some point, the content began leaking in. I’m on it like espresso beans on decaf (ok, really bad analogy there). Thanks for your patience as we might have a few posts leak in still while I work out why my rules aren’t working anymore.

Disculpas a mis lectores hispanoparlantes por el contenido en inglés que se ha estado colando dentro del feed. Lo tenía funcionando correctamente pero en algún momento los filtros dejaron de separar este contenido del feed en español. Tengan la certeza que estoy trabajando lo más rápido posible para corregirlo. Es posible que uno que otro artículo en inglés se cuele dentro del feed en español mientras averiguo por qué los filtros no están funcionando. Gracias por su paciencia.

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