How to use and find your voice where it counts
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I’ve been spending more of my time and energy on LinkedIn lately. It’s more productive and less toxic than other platforms, and it often leads me to connect or reconnect with wonderful humans.
It’s not all perfect. When I shared a post saying how I was done with X, one Musk defender commented spouting a line right from the white nationalist playbook, and I responded publicly, vehemently combatting his laments that the white race was under attack. Then I got tired of arguing and blocked him.
As I was writing this, another (former) friend said “no one” actually thought Musk’s post was antisemitic. “No one.” I told him I was offended, because Musk saying it’s the “actual truth” that Jews foment “hatred against whites” sure sounded antisemitic to me, and I sent him a brief reading list, including Fox News describing Musk’s post as antisemitic. He then told me, “Your [sic] getting emotional and it’s clouding your communication.” He clearly isn’t ready for the “unclouded” version of what I wish I could tell him.
Beyond these exceptions, LinkedIn’s been a bright spot in my daily media usage. I learn a few things, stay in touch with people who don’t DM me with personal attacks, and often engage with others who help make the world a little smaller.
Here are a few ways that you may find it more useful too:
1) Reconnect, even when it feels awkward.
There are some great books and articles about how interacting with strangers (in a positive, welcome way) is almost always appreciated by the stranger, no matter how awkward and scary it tends to seem for the one initiating the exchange.
The same can be true when reconnecting with people who you haven’t connected with in ages, especially when you don’t have an immediate reason to connect with them.
I decided to try getting over this myself. I dug up a list that I had made of people who I had interacted with during a previous job search nearly a decade ago. I updated it and then had a list four pages long of people I hadn’t talked to in years. I didn’t have an ‘ask.’ I just wanted to refresh the connection and hear how they’re doing. That was the agenda.
It’s been wonderful so far. Sure, many haven’t responded at all yet, and I’m just getting started. But for those who have, I’m hearing some things that they’re up to, and there are a few follow-up conversations scheduled. If a few people think, “Why is this guy reaching out to me again?” then so be it. I need to get over that awkward feeling and that concern that they wouldn’t want to hear from me or that I didn’t have a good enough reason.
To paraphrase that renowned philosopher Stuart Smalley, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”
2) Your competition is your best source of info.
I can’t remember which Marc Goldberg post made me think about this, as he posts about jobs ALL THE TIME on LinkedIn (in a great way… follow him!), but one of his posts brought back memories of a previous job search.
Sure, you want to talk to as many people who could be helpful, and those usually seem like people who could hire you or who could introduce you to hiring leads. Do that all day long.
But don’t neglect your competition. You know who some of the best sources of info are? Fellow job seekers.
Such seekers are the ones you’re with on the Oregon Trail. You get to the trading post, and you’re trying to survive, even if gold is hard to come by and there are no bison to hunt.
Find out what job boards they’re looking at. What recruiters they’re working with. If any resume tips helped them. Who has been a good source of inspiration. Where there might be some leads for temporary gigs.
It’s fellow seekers who will have the most current info, even when you’re competing for similar roles. I once even sent a friend all my notes on a company, including my presentation to their management team, when I learned he was interviewing for the role that I was pretty sure I was no longer in the running for. Keep that competition close.
An aside: my job resources are https://bit.ly/marketerjobs, and I updated them recently if you haven’t checked there in a while.
3) Workshop your voice.
Have you tried this yet? For writers who love sounding off on any topic remotely in their ballpark (guilty), it can be addictive. I’ve started commenting on posts in topics like social media and AI, and once I see some people like my responses, I have to keep coming back for more.
You can see what I wrote here, for instance, in response to a thread about how Twitter can help you reach more readers. Ahem.
The biggest downside with the whole concept is that most people will probably use ChatGPT to generate their answers and spam the lists. Zack and I were applauding each other for NOT doing that, but we may already be in the minority.
The Collaborative feature offers a great low-stakes way to start crafting your voice and workshopping ideas. People will see it, but not as many people as who will see your regular posts. I’ll be curious how it works for building credibility and forging new, meaningful connections. But it’s worth trying so far, and with topics being formulated by AI, it’s a good example of AI-generated and human-generated content living side by side.
I’ve been more vocal in general on LinkedIn lately. Maybe it’s because I left X and need a new outlet, but largely it’s because the relevant engagement there keeps luring me in. You get some immediate feedback on whether your ideas are catching on too. If you don’t delete a dud of a post of yours once in a while, it’s probably because you’re not experimenting enough.
I had no clue if anyone would get a kick out of my custom GPT that spoofs Twitter’s CEO and her now-famous non-apologies, but even some experiments like that are finding an audience. And they allow me to get real-time feedback for some things I’m working on.
Having a voice means some people won’t like your voice. And that means you’ll have to choose some battles too. For me, I’m good with healthy disagreement but will call out racism and won’t take kindly to gaslighting. Those battles can come up even when you say something that isn’t all that controversial — like how no one should do business with someone who tells their most important customers to “GFY.”
As for my friend who thought I was too emotional, I wanted to tell him (SO badly), “GFY,” but the last words I wrote to him instead were, “Bless your heart.”
You get it, right? It means the same thing if you understand the context.
Context matters. Words matter. Using them wisely remains a challenge for the ages, and maybe we can collaborate on how to best do so.
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[Main Report] Navigating the Generative AI Marketing Revolution. Access valuable insights from contributions by marketing leaders and experts by immersing yourself in this main report from Generative AI Series. Unearth the strategies for adeptly navigating the landscape of generative AI-driven marketing.
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Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. Also, check out the AI Marketers Guild job board. For other job resources for marketing jobs, see a long and regularly updated list here.
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