26 September 2010

Social Networking: Connecting Students with Industry Professionals

Facebook page, check.  Twitter account, check.  LinkedIn profile, check.  I figure the next logical step would be to start a blog.  Here goes nothing…
As I enter my last two years at Drexel, I don’t have to go too far to hear the rumblings of other students who are wondering if they made the right choice by going into architecture and, after they graduate, if there is anything out there for them.   While I can almost see the light at the end of the educational tunnel, it seems like that light is sometimes dimmed by the possibility that nothing will be at the end of the tunnel when I get there.  However, that’s not going to stop me from charging forward!
Since, over the summer, I am only working a full time job, a part time job, volunteering for a non-profit organization and taking a summer course at Drexel, I have had a little more free time on my hands than I am used to.  And since I’m not wasting my time searching for jobs and work that just don’t exist right now, I decided to perform a little experiment and see what kinds of benefits (if any) social media marketing would have on the ability of an emerging professional to develop a network of contacts in preparation for the day I need to start working with a registered architect and logging hours for my IDP. 
The way I see it, there are two main reasons for utilizing social media; first, to keep in contact with friends and acquaintances and, second, to develop new contacts.  A year or so ago, I had no interest in joining any of the social media networks because I was only aware of the former of my above mentioned reasons.  My wife was a Facebook user and, while it was neat that she now had an easy way to look up old high school and college friends, I didn’t see the appeal of all those status updates and didn’t think it was really important to know when someone was “waking up and getting in the shower” or “bored at work.”  To be honest, it seemed like a waste of time. 
After a few months of my wife telling me how awesome it was, I broke down and joined the world of Facebook.  In the beginning it was cool to get back in touch with some old friends, but I quickly started to realize the power of this tool and the ability of social networking for developing contacts and trying to get my name and work out there in the cyber world.
From my relatively recent delve into the world of social media, I have found three immediate benefits:  First, as mentioned above, it has helped me develop a network of contacts in the industry that I would not have had the opportunity to otherwise.  This networking has already led to a couple interviews and a small design project.  Second, especially with Twitter, it has allowed me to keep up to date with new design concepts, see work done by others, and recognize industry trends.  When you filter out the junk and spend some time looking at the posts from those with a good track recorded, there really is a ton of good information and inspiration in those tweets.  The third one, which some may disagree with, is that social media networking has made me more confident in my networking and communicating skills when I meet someone in person.  While some may argue that social media really isn’t “social,” I have found that it gives me a platform to use when meeting people I have already been in touch with.
So while I see some of the personal benefits of social networking, it’s time to turn the dial up a notch and see if I can retain work and make some money for the coastal engineering firm that currently employs the author.  Over the next couple weeks I am going to see how easy (or difficult) it is to use the power of the social media market and the reputation of an established engineering firm to see if there are any tangible results of these efforts.  Wish me luck!
If you are interested in finding out more information, please check out my personal twitter account (@arkitecture) and Facebook page as well as my company’s twitter account (@occ_nj) and Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. Ed - check out Fred Wilson blogs about the VC industry. I find it interesting. You may or may not. Point is he's been doing it since 2002 or so. If you look back at his archives you can see that for years very few comments came in. Now it is not uncommon to see 150 or so on a single post. He is very connected in a world of people that care about what he does, and he is a bit of a phenom in it, but still. He blogs every single day all year about something. It takes time, but I do think it works. Good luck. Kevin @squallco

    Also -- I suggest you add a Disqus profile for commenting on this. It is good.