You may have heard this phrase: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Of course, they’re talking about the job hunt. You know: That dreaded task of writing down all of your experiences and skills on a sheet of paper, sending it to a company and then ‘selling yourself’ to them in an interview. All of this is supposedly made easier by awkwardly walking up to strangers at industry events and introducing yourself, otherwise known as ‘networking.’
Scoring a sweet job doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, does it? Well, it still might pale in comparison to a sunny stroll, but there is good news: The internet has changed everything.
For those of us with limited tech savvy, basic social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can get the ball rolling on your industry ‘in.’ Twitter makes it easier than ever to follow your favourite scientists, marketing professionals or project managers, in the hopes that you can interact with them and get yourself noticed. It’s much less uncomfortable than fumbling for words at a crowded mixer.
LinkedIn is Facebook for professionals. You won’t find any keg stand photos here – or at least, you shouldn’t. Your LinkedIn profile doubles as your online resume, with as much or a little detail as you like. The handy People You May Know tool has connected me with most of my LinkedIn contacts, as it does a pretty good job of figuring out who you’ve worked or gone to school with. And for the ultra-savvy online network builder, there’s a plethora of groups you can join related to your career interests. If you participate in enough group discussions, or start a few yourself, folks in the field will quickly begin recognizing your name.
But for internet celebrities and up-and-comers, Twitter and LinkedIn are only the beginning. Savvy young social superstars have found ways to be themselves, turning it into a brand and turning the brand into a full-time job.
Think of an interest or hobby you have. It could be anything, from contouring makeup to fishing or yoga. Whatever it is, you can bet that there are hundreds of Youtube gurus in that field here to help you, and dozens of them are well on their way to internet fame and fortune.
Bloggers, vloggers and the Twitter famous dominate the internet. They start trends, create shareable content and develop engaged fan bases that follow them from humble beginnings. Other than pictures of cats, these writers, videographers and creative minds are one of the best reasons to go online.
If you’ve spent any time online, you’ve probably heard of Jenna Marbles. Her channel has the most subscribers of any woman on Youtube – currently over 14 million! Her story is well-known, too: She began vlogging when she was also working a series of odd jobs, including bartending and go-go dancing. After her video, ‘How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking,’ went viral, she continued vlogging weekly, and now has an attentive audience. Jenna isn’t necessarily an expert on anything, but she uses a dry sense of humour, relatable topics, some crass language and a bit of poking fun at celebrities to create engaging content. It’s difficult to pinpoint her income, but she was quoted as saying, “I make more money than I need, ever.” And that’s how her career in comedy was born, a far cry from her Masters in Sports Psychology.
Turning an online brand into a full-fledged career isn’t just for those with fans in the millions. Local fashion blogger Alyssa Lau started her blog called Ordinary People in June of 2011. At twenty-two-years old, she continues to run the popular blog and its social media counterparts. Her Instagram account alone has nearly 50K followers. But her latest venture is the most exciting of all: The launch of an online store for sustainable, eco-friendly fashion, called New Classics Studios.
Alyssa isn’t doing interviews with Time Magazine like Jenna. Instead, she’s been steadily building her own little fashion empire by doing a lot of hard work. Her outfits are always meticulously crafted, inspired by visits to New York Fashion Week. She’s gaining on-the-ground experience by working at a local boutique, and translating this into online expertise to prove herself as an online fashion guru. New Classics is an astonishing accomplishment that Alyssa says wouldn’t exist without her connection to the boutique, who originally asked her to model for them after discovering her blog.
Jenna and Alyssa have become successful entrepreneurs in comedy and fashion, respectively, through their online personalities. At first glance, their stories may not sound like they have much in commonwith the rest of the world’s jobseekers. Modeling contracts? Millions of followers? But both Jenna and Alyssa worked to get where they are. They hustled to build their brand, creating regular content and networking with the right people, both online and offline.
Alyssa admits that she didn’t begin her blog with the intention of turning it into something huge. But her success shows that passion and dedication to something can pay off, and may even surprise you.
So whether or not you’re planning to film the next viral makeup tutorial and use it as a launch pad for your own line of cosmetics, exposure gives you the opportunity to make connections, usually in a much less awkward way than the real world allows. With persistence, any lonely little Twitter account can do great things, especially for your career.
Published in FLURT’s Summer 2015 issue.