So where do social media professionals come from? Where does any real professional that really knows there stuff come from? Is there some school that generates these professional people that have experience in so many things, been challenged in multiple ways allowing them to really get the big picture and think about things that most won’t consider? What creates a professional in any industry? How does this come about?

Well to be sure, folks who you find in social media are coming from all sorts of backgrounds. While “traditionally” you’ll find folks from marketing as the most prevalent practitioners. However, I’ve found that folks from any profession are surfacing as real social media professionals. Many never thought about a career transition from what they were doing into marketing, PR, or communications. Many never thought of themselves as writers, broadcasters, teachers, or leaders.

This is what happens in the early phases of any new field. Where did the early “computer geeks” that built out the early I.T. departments made up of micro-computers? They came from accounting, shipping, or it may have even been the boss’s secretary.

The reality is that as many disciplines developed, they were started by folks who really were professionals in another field, but had an interest or passion in something new. Perhaps it was the “new” factor, to be challenged in a new and unexpected direction, learning things that they never thought they’d need to know. To be out on the leading edge and be looked up to because of solving a problem, that could be it too. Sometimes it’s the least expected things that attract people to a job.

Another interesting thing about social media pros is that they have an extensive background. That is, they have multiple skills, developed over time from this job or that opportunity that they’ve followed up on. Whether these skills were intentionally pursued, or unintentionally picked up in some maintenance job, all these skills are what you’re going to look for in a social media professional.

These folks will come with communications skills, writing skills, technical skills, project management skills, and more. They work well under stress, they understand the concerns of the c-suite and legal, yet are able to demonstrate the opportunities for an organization as well as the challenges. They can walk from a technical project status meeting in IT to a creative marketing meeting, and be able to understand and participate with both on equal footing.

Finding these people is a challenge in itself, and you may have to look long and hard to find the right mix of skills for your business. The important part is to not be afraid to look inside, as many hidden gems are laying, waiting to be discovered in your backyard. For social media practitioners are in all corners of every business. Sometimes it’s just being able to recognize raw talent, providing time and experimentation, and letting them lead the way.

Photo Credit: photoholic1

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