I look around in the social media space and it amazes me how far we’ve come. The pundits, thought leaders and leading practitioners today at brands, startups and at agencies were the geeks living in the space, blogging and testing every new product that came out just a few short years ago. We are the restless natives being employed to navigate businesses through this new world.
The inmates are running the asylum.
I often get asked by people looking to get into social media how to get the experience they need when they can’t get the job they need to get the experience. It’s a classic chicken and egg argument that everyone faces when they first start off or want to change careers.
I’ve written before about how to reinvent yourself. In that post my first suggestion was to “go native” and focus on learning the vocabulary. Vocabulary is 90% of any profession. But I failed to totally cover all that’s involved in “going native.” For that I’m going to look to the original Gonzo Journalist for help
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo journalism is a participatory approach to journalism. I like this example because it’s one everyone understands but it’s also exemplifies a type of anthropology called Phenomenology. If you know me, you know that I call myself a Social Media Phenomenologist.
So how do you get the experience you need when you can’t get the job? Be an Anthropologist or a Gonzo Journalist. Or a maybe Gonzo Phenomenologist.
Become what you want to be. Start blogging, use yourself as a test subject. Help some local non-profits or intern at a startup. You’re going to have to put some time in to prove you know what you’re doing but you’re not going to find someone willing to pay you to learn. That’s your job.
While running a blog doesn’t make you a social media expert it does help ground yourself in the phenomenon that is social media.
I don’t get paid to write and maintain this blog and while it does serve as a platform to market myself my main purpose is to use this blog as a platform to learn what works. You can call it continuing education. I call it being a phenomenologist.