Mandy Johnson, Director of Partnerships at Change.org
When I became a non-exec director at Change.org I was told that it was a vital part of my role to check Twitter every day and to follow the “right” people and organisations to ensure I didn’t miss out on key events within the sector. I think, in the back of my head, I knew this advice was right but I was angry because I had been hired without this skill. I had worked for some of the biggest companies and charities in the UK, broken records for the amount of money I’d helped to fundraise and been headhunted into my role. In short, I thought I could do my job without it.
I was intimidated at first
I was also intimidated. Posting good and engaging content on social media was always something that I wanted to be able to do well but, until a couple of years ago, I thought it was only possible to achieve this if you were famous, hilariously funny or someone who spent their life finding great videos to share from YouTube. I remember asking a colleague whether it was possible for me to get more than 100 followers on Twitter and not really believing him when he told me it was.
Would people forget me?
A couple of years later I had my first child and was worried that my peers, clients and colleagues would forget who I was, and what I was capable of, whilst I was on maternity leave. To overcome this I attended one of Zoe Amar’s courses entitled “How to improve your personal brand on social media”. At the time, social media felt like the one thing I could do whilst lying in bed breastfeeding a constantly hungry little boy.
Zoe’s course was wonderful. It made me realise that social media isn’t as scary as I’d thought. Even I, as a non-famous, not particularly funny, non-YouTube-obsessed person had something to say that was relevant on social media. Suddenly this scary form of communication was not so scary AND I was starting to achieve things I hadn’t expected.
I set myself the goal of being approached by someone I didn’t know because of my social media presence within three months…within three weeks I had been approached by a fundraiser from the NSPCC who wanted me to be their mentor and a few months later I was offered some freelance work by someone who found me through the same channel. I’m now used to interesting and valuable strangers wanting to connect with me because they’ve seen my presence on social media. It has led to so many interesting opportunities.
Social media opened doors for me
I have learnt that we all have something to say that someone else will be interested in…even me. Since Zoe’s course, I have acquired over 2,000 followers on Twitter, become the 7th most influential fundraiser in the UK (according to the readers of Fundraising Magazine) and now I’m working my way through a bucket list of people I wouldn’t previously have believed would meet me for coffee…one of whom is now my mentor!
Give it a go
I would encourage everyone to try out social media – try posting a blog on LinkedIn, or share an article you’ve found interesting on Twitter. It really is not as difficult or scary as you may think and I promise you, if you invest a few minutes every day or so, you will be paid back in bucket loads of new connections, opportunities and information that you would not have thought possible.
To get you started, why not say hello to me on Twitter – @MsMandyJ – I promise to say hi back!