“Radio? Huh, alright.” This was what I heard all throughout college when people asked me what I was studying. I went to Hofstra University on Long Island and I majored in audio production. Determined to make my name in a dying industry, I interned and worked at radio stations as much as I could. The ending total was 5 internships and 3 part time jobs (all in radio) throughout my 4 years at Hofstra. I still don’t know how I managed to do all that and have an active social life.
I was very active at Hofstra’s radio station, WRHU. I was even Program Director for a year. I loved radio and I didn’t think it had to die, as everyone said it was going to. I thought I could help be the change in it. As soon as I got my first full time job in radio I realized that wasn’t the case. There was no interest in change or progress. I quickly realized this was not somewhere I could grow and that if I was going to make a big change in my life it had to be now.
I took a step back and reassessed myself, my interests and my skills. I’m the kind of person that interacts a lot with brands on the internet. When I love a brand or product, I almost always find them on Twitter. I always thought what a great job that would be. I had done some social media and community management at a previous job at Music Choice (and had a lot of fun doing it) so I decided I’d try to pursue it.
During my job hunt, I studied branded social media accounts very carefully. What were they doing? How were they doing it? More importantly, why were they doing it? I realized there were so many similarities from what I wanted to do in radio (programming) and being a community manager. As a radio programmer, you want to create content that draws in listeners and keeps them around (past the commercials) for as long as possible. Building an audience at a startup means the same thing except instead of audio, it’s web content.
I started applying for jobs and using my cover letter to explain why the hell a girl with a radio background is fit to be a community manager. I needed someone to put their faith in me and more importantly, be willing to take a chance on me. Thankfully, BestVendor did that. After a few rounds of interviews, I was hired as their community manager.
I dove into the job headfirst and I kind of crashed…hard. My problem was that I would start 15 things and never end up finishing them. I wasn’t organized enough! I had no excuse to be unorganized, especially when I had a database full of work apps at my disposal! I made a little “must-have” list for new CMs. Here’s a taste:
1) Anxiety – A simple task manager. No frills, just a basic list of things you need to get done.
2) Sprout Social – After trying a bunch of social media management/analytics tools, I decided Sprout social was the best fit for me. It works with bitly, generates attractive and informative reports and has Google Analytics integration.
3) Rapportive – This is probably my favorite gmail extension. Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. You have their full name, a photo, and their social media links. As a CM, you’re going to be emailing a lot of people. It’s nice to put a face to the email.
4) RescueTime – RescueTime is a very simple time tracking tool. It runs in the background while you work and it records how much time you spend in certain programs and websites. You will be shocked at how much time a day you spend IMing, browsing Tumblr (don’t lie, you know you do it) and other potentially unproductive things. Once you’re aware of where you’re wasting your time, it’s so much easier to minimize it!
The best part of all these apps is that they’re free! I’m all about sharing so if anyone has a great tool they use please share it.
I get to interact with so many different people. It’s so great to watch the community grow every day. Community is very important to us at BestVendor. It’s pretty much the whole point of the site. We want people to have a place where they can share and receive recommendations from people they trust. We get so excited when we see conversations on the site because that’s one of our biggest goals.We’re working hard to draw people into the site so they can see how great it is. We’re adding a ton of new features to make the BestVendor experience even better. Like any growing startup, there are bumps in the road.
One of the challenges I tend to face when interacting with our community is getting people to share. Some people are super cautious about what they share online, especially if it has to do with their business. I totally understand this concern so it sometimes makes for a hard sell. What I say is that I get it, and that they’re free to share as much or as little as they want. BestVendor isn’t about getting the secret Coke recipe of every business—it’s about people sharing tools and resources that make their work lives easier and their businesses less of a headache to run.
So I’m chuggin’ along at BestVendor. I’m getting a lot more done now that I’m more organized. No, my parents still have no idea what I do (and I think I’ve given up on explaining it to them) but the important thing is that I’m happy, right? The best part is that this job changes every day. It never gets old because there’s always something new to learn. The community will keep growing and I’ll keep learning new things every day. I’m so glad I made the big career change when I did.