Ten years ago, I was working at a commercial real estate firm in Charlotte. At the time, Facebook was transitioning from a social network for college kids to a full-fledged marketing tool for businesses with the introduction of company pages.

Back then, the most thought I’d given to social media was who to rank in my top eight friends on Myspace. People lost sleep over this.

I was watching a new professional industry unfold right in front of me — social media management — and I wanted in. I read blogs and taught myself from all the resources I could find online. I struggled though, because there wasn’t much in the form of formal training available and I didn’t know anyone locally who was doing social media professionally.

I decided that this needed to change immediately. I had to surround myself with people with this same interest or I wasn’t going to be able to advance any further or meet my ultimate goal of having “social media” in my job title.

Enter Social Media Charlotte (SMCLT). I came across this local networking group online and saw how robust and active they were. I had found my people!

I started going to every meeting that I could, learning from the group, and developing relationships with other pros who quickly became my friends.

It didn’t come naturally at first, though. I was so scared of being the newbie in the room at the first meeting that after finally mustering up the courage to walk in, I immediately turned around and left.

I learned to love SMCLT so much that I wanted to hold a leadership position and asked how I could sit on the board. I was co-chair from 2012-2013.

I was also staying busy volunteering and doing social media for various organizations around town including TEDxCharlotte, Hands On Charlotte, and Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. This kept my skills current and gave me invaluable experience.

Individuals and companies started hiring me as a contractor and the opportunities continued to come.

Some time passed, I had changed jobs, started my own social media management firm, had a baby, but still kept the dream of being a social media manager of a big company.

I caught wind of a social media job opening at WBTV from an acquaintance I knew on Twitter. He was pivotal in helping me get the job yet we had never even met.

I heard about my next position as social media manager at Carolinas HealthCare System from a person I’d met through SMCLT. This was another instance of someone I barely knew helping me get a dream job.

If social is your thing, SMCLT just had their 2017 kickoff event with more gatherings to come. Attend, get involved and meet some great people.

In a nutshell, based on my experience, here’s how to make dream jobs happen for yourself:

(1) Educate yourself. Teach yourself new tricks, take classes, learn from others.

(2) Befriend people passionate about your interests and strive to be the dumbest person in the room.

(3) Do it for free, volunteer your services.

(4) Position yourself as an expert in your field.

(5) Set a goal.

(6) Stay patient and positive. Good things will happen.

Photo: Social Media Charlotte

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