My Summer at SAS: Social media essentials for students and new grads

I first wrote this post for the SAS blog Conversations and Connections. SAS has been awesome enough to let me repost it here.

Have you ever wondered how to use resources such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging or LinkedIn to further your career? Well this is the presentation for you! This lunch-n-learn will focus on how to utilize social media as a tool to promote yourself professionally.

This is what I, and several other SAS interns, did at lunch today. A learning session about “Professional Branding using Social Media.” The main focus was to impress upon us just how important social media is in the business world today, then tell us how to leverage its power for our success.

First speaker up was our very own David B. Thomas. He started out with a video highlighting four minutes of mind-blowing facts about social media. Facts like: “If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest.” (Just under China and India)

Then we went over the SAS Guidelines and Recommendations for using social media. Yes, SAS is one of the 46% of companies in the United States that don’t block their employees from using social media at work. Not only that, but we SAS employees have the added advantage of encouragement to use it. After all, “People are talking about SAS online whether we are there or not.” (Guiding Principle #1) As interns, we have the opportunity to get involved in social media under the guidance of people who really want us to learn and succeed. With places to practice—like the internal student blog. Because, even if we’re not going into careers with “Social Media” in the title, having experience with these platforms on our resumes is important for this new generation of business.

The second speaker, social media pro Wayne Sutton, set us all (or at least me) googly-eyed over the opportunities opened to him through his career in blogging. “Mr. Sutton, can you try out this car for us and blog about it?” “How would you like a free weekend getaway to an historic American destination? If you want to blog about it, that’s cool.” “You feel like going to the Oscars for free? Just take a picture of Steve Jobs and post it on Twitter.” If you’re wondering right now why you should care about social media, the answer is opportunity. Just ask Wayne.

But where do we start? The most important thing in social media is meeting people. Building relationships. People on the other end of these platforms want to connect with someone; hopefully you. And they want to know that they can trust you. That you’re going to give them something of value. That you’re accessible.

Creating your online presence, your brand, can be a daunting task when you’re starting out. So here are a few steps from Wayne to get you going:

• Set up accounts in the major platforms: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn (ask for recommendations), and Twitter.
• Purchase a domain name to be your “home base” where others can find all your social media endeavors in one stop.
• Start a blog there, or at and point your domain URL to it.
• Learn how to use video.
• Lock down your Facebook. (Decide if your profile is personal or business, and complete your privacy settings accordingly.)
• Guard your photos with your life. (Future—and current—employers have access to the Internet.)

Good luck!