Meet Rebecca Denison. She’s one of the brightest young social networkers I’ve met on Twitter. Social media has made a huge impact on her recent professional transition from college and, so to provide a non-old view of the world, I asked her to write about her experiences for {grow} readers. Keep an eye on her … a rising star!
On May 10, 2009, I sat among 3,000 of my closest friends in Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With the economy falling down around me, I was graduating from college. It was time to leave the friendly confines of my university home and grow up.

My personal journey to the professional world is still a work in progress, but one thing that has had the most profound impact on me has been my transition to “professional social media.”

In college, Facebook and Twitter were fabulous tools for keeping up with friends and family, romances, life changes, and weekend plans. But one month after graduating, I started a new Twitter profile. It’s my “professional” Twitter account. Because my passion and career goals lie with PR measurement, I immediately began to follow the leaders that I knew. Not the leaders I knew of, but only the ones I knew personally. New profile, same mind-set — I was still on the friends and family plan!

Soon enough I realized that in this new wide professional Twitter world, you don’t have to know everyone you follow! My goals and mind-set shifted. I began to search for anyone who seemed to be adding value to the discussion about PR measurement or social media in general.

Before I knew it, I was Tweeting with the best of ‘em! I was reading the same articles and blogs, and I was expressing my opinion just like the pros. More than that, though, I began to engage with the pros. And even after a couple months, the giddiness from getting a reply from one of the best hasn’t faded.

“Professional social media” still provides a centralized meeting space, but these spaces are not based upon common relationships in the same way. Each space is defined by professional interests and information. Twitter is still used to set up fun outings (i.e. a Twarbeque), but social media used in a professional context is far more focused on value.

It’s not about me and my friends. It’s about what I can bring to the table, how I can contribute to the conversation and what I can learn.

Lessons learned from college social media use can still be applied in grown-up virtual liaisons. There is always such a thing as too much information. My friends don’t need to know everything I’ve had to eat today, and my professional followers don’t need to know everything I’m doing at work.

Another college lesson applicable to the professional world is that it’s essential to engage, to give back more than you get. No one would ever respond to “that guy” who always promoted his fraternity’s events and nothing else, and no one will respond to you if all you care about is self-promotion.

As I’ve transitioned to my professional Twitter account, I have gained a very different kind of value from social media. I have earned interviews and invitations to professional events. Most importantly, though, I have learned that there are people out there that are willing to help me so long as I’m adding value, too.

A successful transition from college to the professional world is never handed to you, but learning and networking through social media has made it a lot easier!

Rebecca is looking for a job in her field of interest, public relations measurement. Her professional experience includes working for Katie Paine and setting up a Corporate Reputation Observatory studying North Carolina companies. You can reach her through Twitter: @rebeccadenison.
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