This is why you network

As you may know, I spent the last 2.5 years as an account manager at an advertising and marketing agency in St. Cloud, MN. Flint Group was my home, and I loved nearly every moment there. But unfortunately, as life in the agency world so often goes, my position was recently eliminated in some agency restructuring, and  I found myself thrust into the world of job hunting.

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From hourly refreshes of Indeed.com to numerous LinkedIn messages and dozens of resume and cover letter tweaks, I felt like a college senior again. After scheduling many interviews, I started to notice a common theme. Each interviewer I met with told me that they really want me to be interviewing them and their company as well… and I knew my pause was palpable. I tried to swallow this pit as I smiled and nodded, praising the companies and expressing my extreme interest with as much enthusiasm as I could, but my lack of excitement lingered.

Then one night, my phone beeped with a Facebook message, and when I opened it up and saw a name I recognized only professionally, I froze. It was the Executive Director of the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She had an opening for a marketing position, and had gotten my name through a mutual contact who knew I was facing the end of my time at Flint Group. Would I be interested in learning more?

I almost fainted with excitement.

Later that week, I scheduled an afternoon meeting with her, Julie, from the CVB, and it took me approximately 2.38 seconds to realize that my dreams were about to come true. 2 weeks later, I received a phone call. The job – Social Media & Marketing Specialist position at the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – was mine if I wanted it. And I never even had to apply for it.

Horiz Logo Clipped

Needless to say, I accepted the position immediately, and I’m currently in my fifth week of employment. The job is more than I could have ever hoped for, and while I’m qualified because of my skills, I really got the position because of who I know. So now, time for a shout-out to…

NET-FREAKIN’-WORKING

Through my time at Flint Group, I was fortunate to have the flexibility to go to numerous networking groups, stay very actively involved in the community, and meet a number of influential people in the St. Cloud business community. I built relationships with business owners, young professionals and everyone in between.

In my 2 weeks of “unemployment,” I received at least 4 other calls from people who I knew through networking groups who wanted to see if they could help. I was offered short-term positions, side jobs, references and more. And in the end, I technically didn’t even have to apply for my new position at the CVB – my name was referred by a mutual contact through a networking group. I would never have gotten this job without her referral.

The point I’m really trying to make here, is to never give up on your networking, because you never know how it will help you. Sure, I was always representing Flint Group at my networking events, hoping to drive sales, awareness, etc. But really, I was representing myself even more than I knew. Was I attending meetings to find a new job? No, not even a little. But because I’ve taken the time & effort to build relationships with other business professionals, I now have a network that I can rely on for more than just sales calls. And honestly, that feels pretty good.

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To sum it up, I’d like to thank all those in the St. Cloud Area who put their names on the line for me in the name of helping me find my next (absolutely amazing, dream) opportunity. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for believing in me, supporting me, and proving to me that networking really does work.

And to the new group of amazing ladies I now get to call my coworkers, thank you for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel like one of the gang from day one. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for me at the St. Cloud Area CVB!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

 

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Women of Influence Summit: A can’t-miss event

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When was the last time you spent an entire day focusing on the most important thing in your life: YOURSELF? … Stumped? Probably. Luckily, Next Monday seeks to fix that. Enter, the:

2016 Women of Influence Summit

As women, we have a lot of influence. Women hold over 80% of the buying power in the U.S. and own over 40% of the private businesses in the U.S. To quote one of my favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding:

“The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.”

So when Next Monday, a personal and professional leadership coaching group, set out to reach women, they knew there was no better topic than that of our influence. Our influence on other people, on the economy, on our surroundings, and most importantly, ourselves.

So if you’re not already convinced that you should attend the 2016 Woment of Influence Summit, let me give you some more temptation…

SUMMIT

  1. Prizes!Okay so let’s be honest with ourselves for a second ladies: it feels good to win stuff. Admit it! You love the potential to get prizes. And let me tell you, the giveaways at the Women of Influence Summit will be WELL worth your time. Remember, they have ladies in mind. So be prepared to be wow’d and you just might win!
  2. Learn about your own influence. Like I said before, you as a woman have a whole lot of influence on your surroundings and on yourself. Attend the summit to learn more about how to harness that influence, whether through learning to handle stress, how to connect with others in a meaningful way, or by learning when (and how) to say no.
  3. Rub elbows with other amazing women. If you’re lucky, you might already have some great connections with remarkable, influential women in your life. I know for me, I have a few family members and friends who I am honored to say that i know, and who have taught me so much about my own influence already. If you attend the summit, you will have the chance to grow your own network of amazing women and make lifelong connections. That alone is priceless!
  4. Socialize with like-minded people! As I was chatting with Kelly from Next Monday, she said “Women don’t have a golf.” At first confused, she explained how many connections she sees (and that I now see) that men are able to form on the golf course. Friendships, business deals, and fun all blossom from the game that unfortunately women are not often a part of. So think of this summit as the women’s equivalent to golf. Get social, connect professionally, and have some dang fun while doing it!
  5. Treat yo’self. As I asked you in the beginning, when was the last time you really did something for yourself? The Women of Influence Summit gives you the chance to not only have a fun day with other ladies, but to really learn how to treat yourself more in the future as well. You deserve a break sometimes. Everyone gets stressed out sometimes. We all have trouble connecting with others sometimes. The summit is here to tell you that it’s okay, and to give you tip to help you in the future. We, as women, deserve to take a break here and there, and sometimes we need to be reminded how special we really are.

At the end of the day, you should choose to attend the summit based on your own intentions. There are going to be so many amazing speakers and topics that are relevant, relatable, and really interesting, and I hope you don’t miss this opportunity! Really, this is not an event, it’s a movement. As Next Monday so eloquently puts it:

“WE WANT TO CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE THE DAY’S MOTIVATION, INSPIRATION, AND INFLUENCE WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE. FORTIFY YOUR LIFE. MAKE AN IMPACT ON OTHERS. LIVE YOUR OWN INFLUENCE.”

Are you up to the challenge?

The 2016 Women of Influence Summit is taking place at the Gorecki Center at the College of St. Benedict’s in St. Joseph, MN Thursday, September 22, 2016. General admission tickets and VIP tickets are available for purchase.  For more information about the schedule, speakers, topics, and sponsors or to purchase ticketsclick here. 

Networking vs. Connecting (there’s a difference)

Those who know me in a professional sense know that I love to network. I love going to happy hours, morning get-togethers, lunch and learns, socials – pretty much any opportunity to meet new people. But recently, I attended three events with a week of each other that really started to change the way I think about networking.

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Event #1: NEXT MONDAY LADIES LUNCH, LEARN & NETWORK

This event is put on by a company called Next Monday that specializes in “supporting women with leadership training and executive coaching to hone in on their why – which is their passion and intent and what drives the majority of their decisions.” And they act as a catalyst for bringing smart, talented, driven women together. A friend of mine (who I met through a networking group, go figure) Kelly, has recently started working at Next Monday. She introduced me to their quarterly LLN events. The most recent one was called Connecting with Intention. Tara, the speaker, talked to a group of about 100 women about going beyond the basics in networking. Like how to really connect with others, placing more value on relationship building than network-growing. It was a really inspirational speech (aided by Tara’s sense of humor) that got me thinking about how I can be better at connecting with intention. How can I take it to the next level with my connections? How can I really start to form relationships? One exercise that Tara had us do was to write down 5 people we’d like to have lunch/coffee/drinks with in the next month. So I wrote down my (ambitious) 5, left the meeting feeling inspired, but didn’t actually take any action.

Event #2: NEXT MONDAY HAPPY HOUR

Hosted by the same great company, Kelly invited me to a ladies happy hour at a nice bar in town on the following Monday. For women only, this was just a low-key opportunity to get out of the house one night of the week, meet other women in a relaxed, comfortable setting, and not have to commit to anything (other than a glass of wine, probably). Upon arriving, I saw two women who I knew from other networking groups, so I began to chat with them. One of them, Sarah, introduced me to two of her coworkers. After chatting for a while, I realized that one of them had graduated from the same college, the same year, with the same degree as me. And, we now live within 5 minutes of each other in a small suburb of St. Cloud. We exchanged numbers and promises to meet up at the local watering hole sometime, and I left feeling wholly fulfilled. Not because I had exchanged business cards with every woman in attendance, but because I had made one, real, genuine connection. It felt amazing.

Event #3: WOMEN IN BUSINESS MENTOR MORNING

The following morning, I woke up early to get ready to attend another event I had registered for the previous week. Mentor Morning was another women’s networking-ish event put on by a local media company. I had discovered it the previous Friday, and signed up immediately. Essentially, it was speed-dating for mentors. The event brought around 20 local woman who have excelled in their professional lives, from COO’s to college presidents, to CFO’s to business owners. Mentees could choose 5 women to spend 10 minutes with each to learn a little more about what they do, how they got there, how they overcome professional struggles, etc. As it turns out, two of the women I had on my list from Tara’s event the previous week were mentors – lucky me! I was able to spend time with each of these woman and three others, and it was inspirational, educational, and an absolute blast. Taking notes from Tara’s session again, I followed up afterwards with thank-you’s and we-should-meet-up-sometime requests, and now I am having coffee with one of the women in two days.

Whew 🙂

Let me first say that  I don’t usually attend quite that many events in that time span, but it just worked out that way this time. I will also say that there is something so… satisfying about attending women-only events. We all have something in common. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take advice from or do business with successful gentlemen, but the ability to be real with other women is what makes it so much fun.

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My top pieces of advice that I gathered from all three events?

  • Listen, listen, listen. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and if you listen well enough to be able to follow-up on certain things – personal or professional – the next time you meet, that’s how relationships grow.
  • Ask questions. Go deeper. Someone mentions they have a son? Don’t just say “that’s great” and move on. Ask his name. Ask how old he is. Ask what he likes to do. Show genuine interest. And remember the answers.
  • Follow up. Send a text, make a phone call, write a note, or even deliver a small, relevant gift – do something after the fact to say “Thank you for meeting with me, I enjoyed it, good luck with XYZ life-event, keep in touch” – simple as that.
  • Don’t blow a connection. At the LLN event, I sat next to a woman I’d never met before, and we had great conversations throughout – laughing, sharing advice, etc. However, when the event was over, I stupidly didn’t ask for her card. I may never talk to her again. I can’t remember her name. I blew that connection. Don’t do that.
  • Be helpful. Find out what that other person needs help with. Whether it’s a referral to a business you’re familiar with, some advice on a resume, or a recipe you talked about, be helpful with your knowledge and abilities – it will be reciprocated.
  • Enjoy yourself. This is probably number one. If I didn’t enjoy meeting people, getting to know their stories, taking the time to develop relationships etc., I wouldn’t be very good at it. Find out who you enjoy connecting with – it will be mutually beneficial.

So there you go. Next time you meet someone that you’d like to get to know better, think about how you can make a geniune connection. Don’t be afraid to take them to coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they’re not interested, you will know it, and then you can move on. Now go forth and let your relationships blossom 🙂

#EmilyFayeSays

Cliché end-of-the-year blog post

It was during an #AdweekChat today that I realized something about New Year Resolutions: they’re not relevant. Okay, so resolving to “be a better person,” “spend less,” or “lose weight,” etc. are not bad things, but I feel like resolutions are more attainable when they’re tied to a concrete goal. And what is the Golden Rule of setting goals?

WRITE THEM DOWN. 

[[[If you’re not sure how to get started with that, this Elite Daily article does a good job of explaning why you should write your goals down, and how to go about doing it.]]]

Yes, I’ve decided to not only write my goals down, but to post them on my blog to hold myself accountable for achieving (or trying to achieve) them. Both personally and professionally relevant, here are my goals for 2016:

Gplanner

Start keeping and maintain a structured planner that outlines my daily duties (professional and personal) to help me stay organized and motivated.

I have a lot of specific work-related things in mind that I’d like to accomplish in 2016 (increasing my social media marketing knowledge, growing my clients revenues, increasing my community involvement, etc.) and this goal helps me work towards achieving all of them. My plan of attack:

  1. Buy a (super-cute) planner
  2. Start with 2 weeks of pre-planning as a test run, updating as I go
  3. Maintain daily planning for one month (February, 2016)
  4. Become a planning guru and be crowned the Queen of Organization (haha) (no) (maybe)

Gexercise

Work harder to live a healthy lifestyle (not just counting calories and running).

Counting calories has lead me to eating 100 calories of chocolate instead of 100 calories of fruit (same thing, right?), so I’d like to learn more about what I’m putting in my body. I’d also like to explore more exercises other than just cardio (running, biking, eliptical, etc.) I want to work my body in other ways, and see if maybe there’s a physical activity that I can sweat while doing and still actually not want to die (I’m looking at you, treadmill). I want to be just generally healthy.

  1. Sign up for a more all-inclusive diet plan (Weight Watchers, perhaps)
  2. Research and cook 1 week of really healthy, really delicious, really different food (not just steamed broccoli and chicken every night, always, forever and ever).
  3. Use my FitBit, actually.
  4. Document my successes and failures, good recipies and bad, fun exercies and not on a weekly basis.
  5. Try a fitness class or two, like yoga, pilates, BodyPump or Crossfit (hahahahaha jk)

Gwork

Work really hard to succeed at something that I really love. 

I want to work really hard. I really admire boss-ass women, and I want to be one someday.  I’ve had some opportunities come up at work lately that I’m really excited about, doing something I’m really passionate about, but I need to prove that I want it. Prove that I’m willing to learn, put in the hours, and go above and beyond.

  1. Exceed expectation (vague to you, maybe, but I’ve got this one).
  2. Stay on track (ex. get off of personal social media accounts between 8 and 5, plz & thx)
  3. Use that damn planner.
  4. Shock & awe & conquer the world. Srsly.

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Put myself first, for now.

As I enter my later-twenties, married for over 2 years now, I can’t help but start thinking about family. I do want to start a family someday, and I know my husband does as well, but I need to remind myself to not be in such a hurry. Those things will come in due time, and they’ll be there FORr-EV-VERR (cue Sandlot kid’s voice). I need to be selfish right now, and put my needs first. I need to do things that I won’t be able to do later in life. Because I don’t want to have any regrets.

  1. Travel to NYC, take a roadtrip West, and plan 7 different/exciting/new local outings throughout the year.
  2. Don’t be a grandma. Go out with friends. Have one too many drinks. Just not 5 too many.
  3. Join a summer volleyball league – even if it’s with strangers.
  4. Take way too many selfies, appologize for none of them.
  5. In fact, appologize for nothing. (except if you spill red wine on a stranger or accidentally break a friend’s antique vase, then grovel).
  6. Blog more. Oh, hey 🙂

Are you still awake? Did you make it this far? Bravo! Now you know EXACTLY what I’ll be doing for the next 12 months, right?

Haha.

That’s one more thing I want to mention about goals, especially to other millennials out there who think they need to get their shit together, like, yesterday. It’s obviously a good, positive thing to set goals for yourself, and you should push yourself to achieve them. But, if in between crossing off items from  your to-do list, life happens – don’t stress. Goals are meant to help you aspire to something greater, not to determine if you’re a failure. Just keep that in mind as you go in to the new year 🙂

And I just want to say a HUGE thank you to any of you who read this or any other of my #EmilyFayeSays blog posts. It means a lot to me to see that people actually check me out (heyyy), and I hope I’ve been able to help you learn, grow, laugh or smile in some way this year. Best wishes for you and yours in 2016 – See you next year!

Gny

T-Swift is at it again

Whoda thunk. The same sappy, love-sick, boy crazy young girl who brought tweens lyrics like “It’s a love story baby just say yes” and “He’s the reason for the tear drops on my guitar” would turn into an bad***, strong, professional, & independent ultra-mega-super-star.

Taylor Swift.

I must admit, my affection for her has traveled like a roller coaster. As an emotional, small-town teenager myself, I loved her. As a young adult, towards the end of Taylor’s country career, I found her extremely annoying. But as an adult who appreciate strong, positive female role models and savvy business-women, I adore, envy, and respect her.

The woman’s a straight-up marketing genius. She’s authentic, engaging, and relatable. She goes above and beyond to show her customers (fans) that she appreciates their business (obsessions). She’s got the hyped-up release thing down pat. Plus I just feel like I could chill with her, in my sweats, at her NYC apartment, drinking Diet Coke, eating pastries & being totally cool with each other’s love of cats. Tay, if you’re out there, hit me up.

But seriously, can we talk about her 1989 album release tactics? Specifically on Instagram, T-Swiz had fans SHAKING (get it?) (if not just shake it off…) in anticipation of her album’s release with her gradual postings of song lyrics. Some examples:

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You get the “picture.” (Ha, I kill me.) Not only was she super engaging with fans online, but offline she literally invited fans to her house(s). Yes, into her home. She had her team scout out the true, die-hard Swifties via different social channels, and then invited them to “Secret Sessions” at her home where they could meet Swift & her kitties (!!!) and listen to the 1989 album before anyone else. This “Swiftie hunting” continued past album release, and Tay would follow up on certain fans’ questions or concerns with things like money, hand-written letters and/or thoughtful gifts. She was (& still is) truly engaged and so so so down to earth.

The real question, though: did all of these tactics actually work?

During the first week that 1989 was released, Taylor had $1.287 million in album sales. That’s the highest-grossing week for an album since the release of Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” in 2002. I think it worked. And I must admit, I helped out those numbers! I think that was the first physical CD I purchased since “From Under the Cork Tree” by Fall Out Boy in 2005. Yikes.

Now, Swizzle is at it again with the launch of her “Bad Blood” music video. Have you seen these insane images with mega-stars she’s been sharing? So far, the lineup consists of some major names along with some bad*** images:

  • Taylor: Catastrophe
  • Lily Aldridge: Frostbyte
  • Zendaya: Cut-Throat
  • Haley Williams: The Crimson Curse
  • Gigi Hadid: Slay-Z
  • Ellie Goulding: Destructa X
  • Haliee Steinfeld: The Trinity
  • Lena Dunham: Lucky Fiori
  • Kendrick Lamar: Welvin Da Great
  • Karlie Kloss: Knockout
  • Serayah: Dilemma
  • Jessica Alba: Domino
  • Martha Hunt: Homeslice
  • Ellen Pompeo: Luna
  • Mariska Hargitay: Justice
  • Cara Delevingne: Mother Chucker
  • Cindy Crawford: Headmistress
  • Selena Gomez: Arsyn

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BB2

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The music video will air May 17th during the Billboard Music Awards, and you bet your Swiftie butt I will be waiting & watching (and posting an update!) And it’s not like I’m this major, crazy, Taylor-obsessed fan. I just am truly intrigued, and all of the exciting lead-up is definitely to blame. I fell for it – hook, line and singer (that’s how it goes, right?) (can’t stop won’t stop) and I’m not ashamed.

T-Swift, you keep doing you, and keep showing the world that even if you started out as a boy-crazy, hormonal, crazy teenager (like we all did), you will get past that and blossom into a smart, talented, professional & inspirational woman if you try.

UPDATE

Here’s the video with some Buzzfeed commentary. Guys, I’ve gotta girl crush. So many powerful women in one place. Can’t. Stop. Watching. That is all.

#EmilyFayeSays

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in College

College is the time for knowledge (rhyme unintended) (or was it?). It’s a time to immerse yourself in your studies, find your passions, uncover your skill set and blaze your personal trail. At least that’s what your high school guidance teacher tells you when you’re a senior and about to graduate.

But for a lot of kids, when you get there it takes a different path. It’s more about independence, no rules or curfews, freedom, making friends, trying new things, and probably spending too much money. Often times, that means that studies fall to the wayside. And don’t get me wrong, that’s okay to a point, but like Joni Mitchell warned, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” (definitely had to Google who sang the original – millennial problems…)

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As a graduate now and someone fortunate enough to have happened upon my desired career path fairly early in life, I find myself looking back at what I wish I’d done differently in my college experience. And while, like many college kids, I wish I’d taken less student loans and studied more, this list gets into it a bit more than that. So, here you go…

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in COLLEGE

 1. College professors are actually really awesome. They’re not your high school teachers. They aren’t there to make sure you behave, hold your hand, keep an eye on you etc. They’re there because they are passionate about what they’re teaching, and they want to share that knowledge with their students. Don’t waste the chance to develop relationships with these folks. They can write you recommendations, give you career guidance, and maybe even become your mentor one day.

2. You will regret a bad grade more than missing out on a night of partying. AKA: get your priorities in order. If you have a sociology exam Friday morning, then maybe (just maybe) your time would be better spent in a cramming session vs drinking from a flat keg at a frat house until 3AM. I get it, FOMO is real, but so is having to retake a class after you fail it, or missing graduation honors by decimal points of your GPA. Be smart.

3. Get real-world experience within your major. Some majors, like nursing and education, already have requirements in place that you actually experience the jobs before you can graduate. However others (ahem, marketing) don’t. But it is so important to have some kind of relevant experience within your major when you graduate, because it will give you a definite leg-up on the competition. For example, finance major? Get a teller job. Management major? Work your way up in retail. Communications major? Good luck. Just kidding, you could check out administrative positions. You get the picture. Or maybe if you can’t find anything or nothing seems to fit, do your own thing! Which leads to my next point…

4. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. What are you passionate about? Animals? Social media? Children? The environment? Now think about this: how can you use that passion to differentiate yourself? Maybe it’s volunteering at a shelter, becoming a big brother/sister to someone, offering to do a company’s social media for free, or getting involved with environmental legislation. Whatever it is, getting involved and following your passion will not only differentiate you, but will help you get a career that you want, rather than a job you have to have.

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5. Really f***ing try in class. I made the mistake of saying “I’m so over this” about 498 times during my college career. I got good grades still, blessed with good guessing skills & my natural ability to BS my way through anything , but what benefit was it to me? After all I was PAYING TO LEARN. The point of college is not simply to just make it to graduation. And while there are things I learned that I still carry with me today, there is so much more I wish I could go back and really absorb. Read textbook. Ask professors hard questions. Stay after class if I didn’t understand. Really…. try.

6. You don’t need those $78 jeans. You will never in your life need $78 jeans. You will learn this about 6 months after graduation, when your first student loan payment is due. You will never pay more than $25 for a pair of jeans again. And a $30 t-shirt. Fahgettaboutet. Thrift stores, clearance racks, using what  you have… stop buying expensive clothes. Save. Your. Money.

7. Spaghetti-o’s and Dr. Pepper do not a meal make. You know, the dining hall does have a salad bar with low-fat dressing. Also, you can buy frozen vegetables for about the same price as those canned monstrosities with the “noodles” and the “meatballs.” Oh, and wheat bread tastes the same as white bread. I know, right? Take care of your body. Just because mom’s not around to cook for you, doesn’t mean you can go gain 20 pounds. Also: stay active. Your school’s gym is cheaper and nicer than anything in the real world, so don’t waste the chance to use it.

SCSU

8. Show your school spirit, damnit. At St. Cloud State University, we had a saying we’d use sarcastically: “St. Cloud Proud…”. We’d say it whenever something bad/embarrassing would happen at our school. Not exactly bubbling over with school spirit. But I have friends who went to other schools who are the opposite. They go to alumni events, they cheer on their sports teams, they are involved and they’re really passionate fans. I find myself jealous of them. I wish I’d been a better fan, because then I could be part of the Husky community with more pride.

9. Use social media wisely. I’m not going to preach the whole “no beer bongs on Facebook” thing because you’ve heard that 15 times over. However, I do feel that college students can use social media wisely and strategically. Connect with your professors. Reach out to businesses you’re interested in. Stay active on LinkedIn. Use Twitter less for retweeting @CommonFemale or @GuyCodes and more for retweeting at @Forbes or @Kiplinger. Use your social presence wisely. (For more tips, check out my slideshow here.)

10. Cherish. Every. Second. You’ve heard this before, but take it from a once-jaded college grad who couldn’t wait to throw up deuces to my university and start pounding pavement: you will miss it. I miss the simple things. Learning. Flexible schedules. Meeting new people. Writing essays (for real). I wish I could go back sometimes. So cherish every second of it. Because it’s going to go fast, it’s going to be crazy, and you are going to miss it.

#EmilyFayeSays

Staying productive during downtime

We all have it every once in a while (that includes you, busy-braggers) (you know who  you are): downtime. And while we may not admit it, we’ve all passed that time with mindless activities, be it chatting with coworkers about nonsense, perusing Facebook until our eyes burn, or scoring some sweet (unnecessary) deals from our favorite online retailer.

stop wasting

But as a young professional – especially one looking to stand out in their career field – how can we better-fill that downtime? How can you see it less as a detriment and more as a chance to grow? Here are some ideas that have worked for me.

Read industry news/blogs. 

Pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to find that good content. Often times, your employer will already have online subscriptions to industry-related news sources that you didn’t even know about. Or, if you’re familiar with influential individuals in your industry, see if they have a blog or something like it that you can check out regularly. Being in the marketing industry with a passion for social media, here are a few sites/blogs that I frequent:

Convince & Convert

Adweek

TechCrunch

Social Media Examiner

Pro Tip: Subscribe to your favorite new sites’ email newsletters! Then you don’t have to hunt.

Jack up your LinkedIn. 

Notice I didn’t just say “LinkedIn Profile.” While I’ll never bash perfecting your profile, LinkedIn has even more than that to offer. Check out Pulse (under Interests) for articles related to your interests and industry. Follow companies you care about to stay up to date on their posts. Engage with clients, colleagues, and others in your network to grow your presence. Follow industry influencers to stay knowledgeable.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously, and then view with purpose. LinkedIn notifies users when someone views their profile, so if you’re looking to show up in someone influential’s notifications, it’s a good, non-invasive way.

Grow as a social media professional. 

When I first started in the world of marketing, all of my social media accounts were for personal use only. And that’s not to say I was posting inappropriate pictures or vulgar statuses all over, but I simply wasn’t using social for a professional purpose.

my twitter

Fast-forward 2 months, and I really started to gain an understanding for how I could use social media, specifically Twitter, in a professional sense. So, I decided to create a “professional-only” Twitter account, and I also took the privacy settings off of my Instagram account. Not only do I now use them for connecting with colleagues & clients, but they are now my “window to the world” in the marketing industry. I use them to connect with industry professionals to gain knowledge on industry trends. I use them to connect with others at industry-related events I attend. Plus, I love using my Twitter account for industry “chats” (specifically #AdweekChat). While I don’t devote every waking second to them, I do take advantage of downtime to update my profiles, find interesting things to share, discover new people to follow – you get the picture.

Pro Tip: While you should always keep a professional tone on your professional social media accounts, it’s okay to be silly/fun. Don’t sound like a robot – make jokes, comment genuinely, and, well, be a human!

Go above and beyond for your client/company. 

This might already be expected, but often times we’re too busy to devote time to it and then forget when we actually have time. Think about it: how can you go above and beyond to either wow the client or improve things within your company (or department)? Devote 20 minutes or so during downtime to thinking up “free ideas” for clients. Or spend 10 minutes chatting with coworkers about a certain work process to see how others feel it could be improved. Who knows, you might just come up with a big solution!

Pro Tip: Regularly block out time on your calendar for brainstorming. Good ideas often come from a flowing thought process, so avoiding interruptions can make for the best results.

& when all else fails… take a break.

I used to work for a company that allowed 15 minute breaks ever morning and afternoon to go for a group walk around the development. It might seem like a waste of time, but so often I came back more awake and energized and ready to start pumping out some great work. Removing your brain from the task at hand can recharge your system and get you re-inspired. Just make sure to check with your employer first 🙂

Pro Tip: If a walk isn’t your thing, offer to make a coffee run to a local Caribou or Starbucks. Ask your coworkers if they want anything. Not only will it get you out of the office for 15 minutes or so, but you’ll be delivering smiles (& caffeine) to your coworkers – win/win!

starbucks

What do you do with your downtime? How do you stay busy? Share your tips in the comments! & as always, thanks for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!