Jeremy Schultz: Straddling the Firewall

How I ended up at the IABC world conference

Posted in Development by Jeremy Schultz on July 1, 2009

I wrote the following post on my intranet blog, where I titled it, “How social media can supercharge your professional development.” I got some really great feedback from colleagues, so I thought it would be worth sharing here:

So, everybody’s telling you that you need to get active on LinkedIn, jump into Twitter, and write a blog. Yeah right, when do I have time to do that?

I can’t answer that question, but I can illustrate what it can do for you.

Starting early this year, I decided that I wanted to get more serious about my personal development as a communications professional and I would start building out a more consistent presence online by:

  • Writing a personal blog about my work [you’re here!]
  • Consistently reading, commenting, and cross-linking my favorite intranet- and communications-related blogs
  • Beefing up my presence on LinkedIn by participating in groups
  • Continuing to build my mini-community on Twitter
  • Joining a professional association

So far, I’ve done 4 of 5 well; my blog has mostly languished.

Through this work, I’ve exploded my online network and I’ve created (and taken advantage of) opportunities that simply would not have otherwise happened.

A quick example: last week, I spoke on two panels at the world conference for International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Other speakers included the COO/soon-to-be-CEO of Best Buy, several well-known authors, and the VP of all things communication at Cisco. And me.

If it weren’t for my participation in those online forums, none of it would have happened. Here’s how things went:

  • March: I join IABC and the associated LinkedIn group
  • Late April: An IABC member, Debbie Moore, posts a question in LinkedIn asking, What are you doing with social media on the intranet for communications? “Ha, what are we not doing?” I answered.
  • Early May: Debbie asks if I want to be on a panel about social media for internal communications at the world conference in San Francisco in June. Sure, sounds like fun!
  • Friday, June 5: I arrive in San Francisco, and I get a tweet from Steve Crescenzo, an industry legend: Jeremy, do you want to be on my expert panel on employee communication? Sure, sounds like fun!
  • Sunday, Monday: Attend conference sessions, attend mixers, and meet dozens and dozens of brilliant folk, via Twitter and face-to-face.
  • Tuesday: Speak on the early panel with Steve, and then the main, big panel that I was originally invited for. 200 people show up! What a rush.
  • Wednesday: Finish up the conference, head home, and start saving all these new connections on LinkedIn and Twitter. What a flood!

I realize that this is a bit of an unusual case. But you can’t connect if you don’t show up.

At first, I took the opportunity to speak on the panel for granted. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I soon found out that it’s an honor and privilege to do so. I learned a ton during the conference, but better yet, I created an invaluable number of new connections. And it all started with just a little time online.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for me. I can say that my participation in blogs and forums internally got me my current job. But that’s another story.

Have you made similar, never-before-so-easy, life-changing connections via social media?

P.S. You can catch me, Chuck Gose, Paul Barton, and Dave Meyer on Steve’s employee communications panel on Paula Cassin’s Cut Through Communications blog. Thanks Paula!

UPDATE: I just realized I owe a HUGE thank you to Debbie Moore, who found me on LinkedIn and invited me onto the panel. What a priceless experience to participate with Debbie and Karen Horn in a great discussion.


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