Earlier this week we shared Joyce Sullivan’s story as a career reinventor. After hearing her story, I asked some questions about reinvention and her work with others seeking a new career beginning. Not only did she answer them, she explained in detail how social media propels these efforts and how you can leverage social to move forward, even if you’re not seeking reinvention.

Q & A with Joyce Sullivan, Part 2

Q: What role does social play in second careers, or even in retirement?

A: Social media is the natural door to reinvent yourself and begin your next career. These days, no one truly retires. Instead, they get to rechannel their energies into interests and causes. Connecting with those who are likeminded and passionate about what is thrilling can be easy today.

Can introverts excel online?

In the quiet world of reflection and online listening, those who can keenly absorb the online world around them have, in my opinion, an advantage to genuinely engage and connect. I’m such a big fan of Susan Cain and her book “Quiet.” The subtitle says it all: “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Sometimes the quiet ones in the room have become the most powerful voices as they listen, absorb, process and share. The world of talkers has taken notice and is turning into better listeners.

What are your tips for professionals looking to engage on social when they’re in highly structured environments or regulated industries?

I have what I call “The Five Questions” followed by “7 Tips” that I encourage all to answer before they enter the world of social media, especially if they are in a highly structured environment or regulated industry.

THE FIVE QUESTIONS:
  1. Who are you?

Being clear on ‘who you are’ is first to determining where you go next. And when you’re in an industry that has rules of engagement for social media, it’s important to know and understand the guidelines you need to follow. There is so much opportunity for you and your firm to begin to engage on how social can provide a competitive edge.

  1. What do you have to say?

Know your message and be clear on what it is you want to say while keeping in mind your firm’s policies on sharing. Keep your message clear and to the point.

  1. Who are you trying to reach?

Knowing who you are trying to reach with your message is key. Are you looking to reach new customers with your specialized product or service? Perhaps networking with others who can broaden your range of connections is most important.

  1. How do THEY want to be reached?

Now you can focus on how you are likely to find your audience by investigating different types of social media tools. There used to be only a handful of ways to connect, but now there are so many: email, texting, Twitter direct messaging, LinkedIn InMail, Instagram posts. You want to be where you will most meaningfully connect.

  1. Once you connect, what’s your plan?

Congratulations! You’ve connected with your ideal audience. How do you now put together a plan that works for you to begin to use social media to engage and further development these connections? Here are a few tips on how to go about this:

7 TIPS for GETTING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GOING
  1. Find hashtags most aligned with your organization, product and service. Hashtags are key words that are associated with your online areas of interest. Each hashtag is a unique search engine tool for finding specialized content and its creators. Hashtags work in Google search and can be an excellent way to find where the conversation is happening online.
  1. Listen to Learn: start listening to the conversation that is happening online with the key words (or hashtags) that are of most interest to you. There is so much to be learned by listening to where the conversations are happening.
  1. Keep a notebook: Write down when and where the social media conversation is happening around the topics you are following to begin to know where your audience is connecting.
  1. Schedule ‘Social Media Appointments”: Just as you schedule time for an event, make a regular appointment with yourself in your calendar for social media listening and learning.
  1. Test the waters: Now that you’ve searched hashtags, have kept a notebook and listened to online conversations, you’re ready to start sharing. What should you share? Go back to the Five Questions and remember to be genuine in what you share – while keeping in mind your firm’s social media policies. Social media is all about authenticity.
  1. Learn and adapt: By dipping your toe into the social media waters, with practice you’ll begin to be part of the conversation. Let this online community learn about you and what you do best. Listen and adapt as you learn more about what works for you and your audience. You have already done the first step of “Reaching people the way they want to be reached.”
  1. Have Fun: People want to connect with people who are genuine and let their personalities shine through. Few things to keep in mind: Keep your content clean and avoid touchy subjects while keeping the focus on common topics of interest to your online community. Let your audience find you being genuine, fun and helpful.

You’re active in the New York tech and startup community. What are your recommendations (meetups, events, groups, conferences) for someone new to Silicon Alley?

I’m a huge fan of Meetup.com for bringing online groups together in person. My hands-down favorite is NY Tech Meetup. This is the first meetup I attended that opened my world to meeting others like myself who flourished in the online world and who are interested in emerging technology. I’ve also attended South by Southwest for a few years, including being a featured speaker. This annual March event in Austin, Texas, is overwhelming though it can work for you if you have a specific plan with a bit of wiggle room for allowing the serendipitous to happen. I attend and support many events and organizations that feature strong role models for young professionals including Levo League, Girls Who Code, Step-Up, YWCA NYC, and New York Women in Communication.

As an early-adopter, and active beta-tester, what are your go-to business apps / tech tools right now?

My tried and true business apps are LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. These are, in my view, mainstream applications and the foundation of professional online connecting with the widest audience. For business apps and tech tools, LinkedIn is key for professional connecting. Along with LinkedIn, I’m a huge Slideshare fan, which is part of LinkedIn, for sharing my presentations. Someone once asked me when I said I freely share my content on Slideshare: “Aren’t you afraid that someone may steal your stuff?” My reply: “Not at all. I’m more concerned that they won’t share it and fewer people will learn about my expertise.” I’ve increased my meaningful connections through both my LinkedIn connections and my Slideshare account.

Evernote is now my instant way of capturing a business card that will automatically upload to LinkedIn and send an invite. Though I prefer sending a personal LinkedIn connection note, I’m finding this Evernote feature to be wonderfully seamless and workable. Also, I learn best by listening so I’m using the Audible app for audio books. And when traveling, Google Maps along with the Waze app for checking out what traffic lies ahead have become essential traveling tools. Though I love holding an actual book, when traveling, the Kindle app is my virtual bookshelf. Having my favorite airline mobile apps on my phone are my other essential business tech tools. And how about those online banking apps! Except for needing to hit the ATM for cash, I can transfer funds and even take a photo of a check for a virtual deposit. The online world has come to embrace us all.