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Don’t Let Be Scared!

What scares you?

Is it not getting any “likes” on a post? Setting up an event page and seeing zero RSVPs? Pressing send on an email?

OOOooo—that IS scary!

As social media managers and marketers, we’re constantly putting ourselves out there.

The internet is like a haunted house. Behind every link and app, there are unexpected tricks and treats. As a result, we may be delighted or we may be disappointed.

But isn’t that outlook a bit bleak? Sure, there’s always a bit of stage fright associated with performing for a crowd—online and in real life.

When we plan ahead and strategize, taking risks becomes a lot less scary.

If you’re worried about being haunted by a mistake, the best solution is to take action. You can connect with fellow marketers and communicators whose work you admire. Ask their advice. Remember, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter aren’t just for your business. They can also help you build personal connections.

We’ve all been nervous at one point or another. That’s a good thing.

It means we’re stretching ourselves. Having an online presence is a powerful thing. We should take our roles and the opportunity to connect with others seriously.

Keeping up with news and events takes the mystery out of a frequently changing industry. When we follow new marketing developments and learn about different strategies, we arm ourselves with the information that can help us succeed. Consider signing up for an industry newsletter, setting a Google alert, or following a trusted industry news site on Twitter.

Perhaps you like the thrills of working in communications and marketing. A lot of us do! If you encounter an obstacle, don’t run away at the first sign of trouble.

When we plan ahead, work together, and take time to be creative, we can tackle any fear.

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Make Time to Relax

Illustration of yellow snail crawling on the top of a green leaf

Slowing down is just as important as speeding up.

With so much on our to-do lists, taking a quiet moment to yourself can feel counterintuitive. Sitting still—away from your devices and the endless scroll—may at first encourage your mind to wander and count down the minutes until you can get back to work.

But think about this: According to the nonprofit group Mindful, meditation can help us lower stress, improve focus, and connect with others.

When we decide to hit pause, we give our brains a needed vacation. As marketers and social people, the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves is very much needed. Being so busy communicating can wear down some of our most valuable skills.

In an industry where it’s important to build relationships, shouldn’t you watch out for your own relationships and health? When we’re healthy, we’re part of a healthy community—both online and in the real world.

If you need further convincing, check out these three TED Talks for thoughts on the benefits of taking a breath, and what you can do to live a more mindful life.

All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes with Andy Puddicombe

“We live in an incredibly busy world. The pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we’re always doing something,” says mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe in this TED Talk on refreshing your mind. “So with that in mind, I’d like you just to take a moment to think, when did you last take any time to do nothing?”

The Art of Stillness with Pico Iyer

“Some people I know, just before they go to sleep, instead of scrolling through their messages or checking out YouTube, just turn out the lights and listen to some music, and notice that they sleep much better and wake up much refreshed,” says travel writer Pico Iyer in this TED Talk that encourages people to take is slow.

How to Make Stress Your Friend with Kelly McGonigal

“Now I wouldn’t necessarily ask for more stressful experiences in my life, but this science has given me a whole new appreciation for stress,” says psychologist Kelly McGonigal in this TED Talk that turns the concept of stress on its head. “Stress gives us access to our hearts. The compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and yes, your pounding physical heart, working so hard to give you strength and energy.”

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Write a Killer Social Bio

Nice to e-meet you!

There’s no second chance at a first impression, but on the Internet we do seem to meet each other again and again. We’re on multiple platforms and in various channels. We develop deep connections to others without every seeing them in person.

Your social bios represent a moment of truth: What do you do?

It’s time to pitch yourself clearly and quickly. If you’re at a loss, you’re not alone. Our messages don’t always get across. We use jargon. We fill our sentences with extra words. And then we’ve lost our audience.

Instead of writing a traditional bio, think about storytelling.

People are storytelling creatures. Crafting a story to explain who you are—or leading with an example—can help people remember us. You want to stand out. Be clear and constant. This is your story, and you’re sticking to it. If your story is not interesting or new, you will disappear in the noise of others.

Rely on others for introductions.

Do you have a best friend who knows you better than you know yourself? If you’re searching for the right words, it’s time to phone a friend. Ask others, “What do you think I do?” It’s a learning opportunity. You can find out what about your job isn’t getting across and gain a better idea of what to say next time.

Know and embrace your specialities.

Maybe you’ve worked hard to become known for a certain speciality. Maybe you have an array of interests. Find the theme that runs throughout what you do. What is the thing that makes you special? Build your message around that.

Include the little details.

The more specific you can be about who you are and what you do, the easier it will be for the right people to find you. Think about everything. Where are you located? How big is your company? What clients do you already support? What are your accomplishments and awards? It’s OK to brag a little. It will help others place you.

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Generalists Can Excel Too

Single arrow with "specialist" written on it and arrow with multiple heads with "generalist" written on it

As we join different platforms and are tasked with filling in more and more bios (and using fewer and fewer words for each one) it can be difficult to define ourselves. How do we whittle down what we do into a few crisp keywords?

Your social media bios can open doors for you.

They are your virtual handshake, a wave to the world, and your online “hello.” This is your chance at a first impression, and you don’t want to mess it up. If you do, it could mean a missed connection.

The pressure to present yourself in a clear and concise way can be overwhelming. Generalist or specialist? It can be hard to present yourself quickly online if you excel in many fields. But your diverse experience is a strength.

It can feel like a specialist’s world on social media, especially when we see others who so easily and powerfully identify themselves in a handful of characters and handles.

If you’re someone with a range of experience, take comfort in the lessons of David Epstein’s book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.”

You may be familiar with that old adage: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is how generalists can excel over their specialized peers, even while worried they aren’t perfecting a certain skill set or becoming well-known experts in one major field, Epstein argues. That they have different experiences means they can approach problems creatively and seek more opportunities.

As Epstein explains in the book, often through real world examples, we benefit and can ultimately succeed in our careers if we draw on a variety of experiences.

In the first pages of the book, Epstein notes both Tiger Woods and Roger Federer took different paths. Whereas Woods focused on golf from a young age, Federer explored many sports, eventually landing on tennis.

Similarly, Epstein points to Duke Ellington, who took drawing lessons and played baseball as a kid, and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who wanted to become a writer, as examples of people who didn’t necessarily take the path of a specialist to success. We think things worked out anyway!

So, who are you, really? If you’re someone taking the scenic route, don’t fret. Epstein reminds us both generalists and specialists can excel:

“While it is undoubtedly true that there are areas that require individuals with Tiger’s precocity and clarity of purpose…we also need more Rogers: people who start broad and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives while they progress. People with range.”

Embrace all that you do and don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the unexpected yet intriguing opportunities. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Who knows where you will end up if you aren’t afraid to embrace all of who you are.

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3 TEDTalks to Pique Your Social Media Curiosity

As marketers, we love to think about why and how. How can we connect with this group? Why is this connection special? It’s important to stay sharp and remain open so we can absorb all the information and data. At the same time, that overload of content can be a lot to sort through.

When this happens, sometimes it’s important to take a break for yourself. Find an outlet that will excite and motivate you. Checking in with a TEDTalk, especially one that’s only about 10 minutes long, can be a powerful way to recharge without losing focus on your tasks at hand.

The three below caught our attention for the creative ways they delve into social media needs and interests. Sure, you can learn a thing or two while watching, but they’re also simply fun.

What makes something go viral? with Dao Nguyen

From baby goats in the office to exploding watermelons, Buzzfeed publisher Dao Nguyen explores viral videos, which, Nguyen says, is really about understanding what videos do for viewers. Do they want to laugh? Are they looking for affirmation?

“The question I get most frequently is: How do you make something go viral? The question itself is misplaced; it’s not about the something. It’s about what the people doing the something, reading or watching—what are they thinking?” Nguyen shares.

A funny look at the unintended consequences of technology with Chuck Nice

“So are we more connected, or are we just more connected to our devices?” asks comedian Chuck Nice in this TEDTalk. If you’ve ever scratched your head at the thought of designer babies, driverless cars and trolls, Nice has a lighthearted look at how we can navigate the future and remember to laugh at the technology that scares us.

3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand with Tim Leberecht

As more and more companies push to empower their employees through social media and turn their clients and staff into their biggest brand advocates, author and marketer Tim Leberecht’s TEDTalk can only become more applicable.

“I’m a marketer, and as a marketer, I know that I’ve never really been in control,” Leberecht shares. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room, the saying goes. Hyperconnectivity and transparency allow companies to be in that room now, 24/7. They can listen and join the conversation. In fact, they have more control over the loss of control than ever before. They can design for it. But how?”

Surprise campaigns, humble companies and free publicity all come up in this talk.

Remember, TEDTalks are also searchable by topic and length, so you can explore 3,000-plus videos and transcripts for the motivation you need. And, since the talks already happened but remain part of the community online, you can comment and continue the conversation no matter when you watch.

Stay curious, friends!

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