I’ve never considered myself to be an especially lucky person. I’m not unlucky, either; I simply get by with doing what feels right in the moment. This is precisely why I didn’t think twice about my actions when I sat down at my rickety dorm room desk and joined my first social network in the fall of 2000.
This decision seemed completely obvious. I was new to town and interested in independent music, so I naturally gravitated toward a site that existed to unite people within that particular subculture. I began meeting awesome people with whom I’m still great friends today, and the site played a substantial role in my everyday life. I was stoked to find my niche. My parents, and some peers, did not share my enthusiasm.
You see, social networking in the year 2000 was not looked upon like it is today. The closest thing to social networking prior to that time was online dating, and that carried a definite stigma. Most people thought I was crazy for putting my photo and personal information on display for the world to see. “You’re going to get a stalker,” they warned. A cynical few chided, “You’ll never have a legitimate connection with the friends you make.” I laughed because I knew they didn’t get it.
Two years later, a little site called Friendster started causing some buzz in the internet world. The next year, people abandoned Friendster for a more innovative and user-friendly site known as MySpace. Before I knew it, the connotation of social networking had totally changed. Facebook’s rise to prominence after 2006 sealed the deal. By 2010, everyone and their mom (seriously) was using a social network.
During the positive shift in the social landscape, I found my way to a career in this space. Just as I had to defend my decision to join my first social network back in 2000, I had to convince businesses that they had a lot to gain by establishing a presence on contemporary social networking sites. After years of being met with cynicism, something finally clicked. Businesses finally saw the value of social.
Today, I know I am lucky to be surrounded by a group of brilliant colleagues who understand—and innovate on—every facet of the social business. I am also lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Just as my parents eventually realized I wasn’t wasting time on my first social network, companies are overcoming their fear of social and are ready to take their relationships with customers to a new level. This shift can’t be attributed to luck. Luck is too dismissive. This is the natural progression of the business world, and we knew it would come sometime.
Now is our time. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this. My roots run deep in social; my online activities have defined nearly all of my adult life. Every day, I get excited about going to work and making an impact on this space that I know so well.
My mother used to always tell me, “Chase what you love and everything will fall into place.” People participate in social media driven by personal interests; this characteristic is implicit to the success of social in recent years. All too often, people wind up in careers that have no alignment with their personal interests. But every once in a while, passions and professions perfectly align, and that is what I get to walk in to every morning. It’s enough to make me think I am a lucky person after all.