Get Me Off That Ledge!

Alan BelniakGeneral, Social Media3 Comments

These shoes could use a good polish...

How did I get here?

This week, I close one chapter of my life and open another.  On Monday (June 22 2009, in case I ever look back on this fondly), I finished my role as a Product Manager and started it as the Director of Social Media Marketing.  This is pretty exciting for me.  I live and breathe the social media, social networking, web 2.0, make-up-a-label-of-your-own space.  I spent the better part of my school projects on this (one example).  I consumed media on this in my spare time (whatever that is these days), and even skipped sleep to learn more about it.  I helped other people understand it, and became an enthusiast and evangelist.  I’m telling you, dear reader, about it, which is indicative of my love for it.

So when my company said that they were looking to hire a Director of Social Media, I keenly followed the process.  It’s a new role at my company, so finding the ‘right’ candidate was a tough selection.  I competed against other well-qualified candidates.  I knew I had to step it up a bit, since I was coming from a background of product management, and not an agency, a consultancy, or other ‘traditional’ social media houses (if there is such a thing).  I demonstrated that I knew the space, knew the industry, and most of all – had the passion.  I won’t drag you through the details, but I earned the position.  Needless to say, I was and am pretty excited.  I really have the coolest job I can think of.

I was sharing my good news with a friend and colleague of mine who also recently changed jobs and industries.  I’m fortunate enough to do so at the same company, which makes that transition a bit easier than hers.  She, however, changed industries and companies all together.  I went through this a few years ago when I, too, changed industries and companies.  We were talking about those critical first few weeks, when you kind of have that fish-out-of-water feeling.  Yet, you’re not truly a fish out of water…  the company hired you, they see value in you and your work.  So why do we get that feeling?  I told her that my mind was a sponge when I first started, and I just soaked up as much as I could as fast as I could.  But the nerves were still there.  She said, “Oh, I see a blog post coming from all of this discussion!  ‘Get me off that ledge!’, she joked”  So, I give her the credit for the title.

It’s a challenge to start a new position and admit that you don’t know 100 percent of what your supervisor might want you to know.  Can you imagine sitting in your office, essentially being the answer-man (woman)?  Someone asks, you answer.  Repeat.  Just churnin’ it out.   Sure, if you knew everything, you could do that.  But that’s not reality.  In my interview, I even said that the social media space is moving so fast underfoot, it’s near foolish to claim to be an expert, rockstar, guru, or whatever (my thoughts on that here, at the end).  The right person in this role will know a lot about the space, know where to search to find more information on it, and have the capacity to parse information from disparate sources to make an intelligent decision and form an opinion.

So yeah – sometimes I feel like I’m on the ledge.  On the one hand, I want to know everything about my job and the space and all that stuff, and not make my bosses second-guess their decision to hire me.  On the other hand, I’ll never know everything – and I need to come to grips with that and show that I have the capacity to learn quickly.  The first step to doing that is stepping off that ledge, and back into the office.

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