entry level of success kenny soto

The Cost Of Entry For Any Level Of Success (2 Min. Read)

It Takes Time To Build Your Reputation

No matter what list of accomplishments you have, no one will care when you’re starting something new. When you are used to having a reputation, it can be very jarring when you enter a new team or new endeavor and the attention you once had, has evaporated completely.

This can be especially irritating for anyone who has high expectations of themselves. You want to make an impact immediately but, you will quickly realize that unless you can prove that you can be useful, no one will bother to give you the responsibility and recognition that you crave. Being useful to people you’ve worked with in the past has little meaning to those you’re currently working with. That reputation and list of accomplishments can only get your foot in the door, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Being confident in your skills is good, but it is also important to understand that each new person that meets you can’t possibly know the value of those skills right away. Even if they have some prior knowledge of your past work, it still won’t be 100% clear how you provide value — until you’ve actually proven it through your actions.

These things take time and commitment. Sometimes more time than you might immediately expect.

“Freshman Angst” Never Ends

The analogy I’ve used to be able to keep moving forward with this realization in my own professional career is by understanding that no matter what the circumstance, you will always be a freshman.

In each stage of your career, there will always be new challenges to face, new people you will meet, and new environments where you will have to prove yourself on a consistent basis. Having the understanding that this is ok and that these phases are a part of the process, is vital to staying humble and allowing for the opportunities you want to present themselves—when well deserved.

It is better to be in a room where no one knows what you can do, and you have to prove yourself, than to not be in that room at all.

Sometimes the best recognition comes from just taking the time for self-reflection on the work you’ve done. Only you will know how many things you’ve done and learned to get to where you are today. And that is ok. Give people time to discover who you are and what makes you unique. Would you want to be expected to know all of the things that makes someone else special when you first start working with them?

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter to get more articles like this one: SUBSCRIBE

Marketing Yourself

Marketing Yourself to Your Coworkers On LinkedIn

One of the best ways to leverage LinkedIn

I have been asked by my friends numerous times, “What’s the point of using LinkedIn?” Most of my contemporaries have just recently graduated from college or are now seniors.  And we haven’t been taught how to leverage LinkedIn effectively. When we are introduced to the social network at career development seminars, most of the time we are given surface-level advice:

  1. Add the information on your resume to your profile.
  2. Connect with people you know.
  3. Have a professional headshot.

The issue with this advice is that it doesn’t help you to understand how LinkedIn can be used to propel your career forward. Over the past year, I’ve certainly seen the benefits of using LinkedIn. However, I’ve noticed the only reason I’m starting to see the benefits is that I’m actively contributing content on a consistent basis.

 

The main reason I use the platform is that, through the act of distributing my content, I’m not only promoting myself to future employers — I’m also building my reputation as a useful asset to my team.

 

Having a focus on promoting yourself to the right people

As someone who has officially gained employment through LinkedIn, I can say that this platform is very instrumental in my daily life. But the power of the platform doesn’t only reside in helping one land a job. It can also help when trying to propose new initiatives to your team; this is immediately apparent if you’re a new employee. Generally it would take months to get your at bat, but with this strategy, it took me weeks.

I’ve discovered that the quickest way to establish your unique value as a team member is to showcase your talents to your team both in and out of the office. That’s why LinkedIn is so useful.

The origin of this idea came from a book I read called Experiences: 7th Era of Marketing by, Robert Rose & Carla Johnson. The authors discuss the importance of creating an internal content marketing strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to build a narrative out of the company’s mission so that employees stay connected with the brand. I found that another way of interpreting this is to leverage this strategy to create a narrative of, “Maybe this new kid knows what he’s talking about.” Creating a narrative out of your mission to help the company succeed (and how you can do it).

 

Ways to begin your self-promotion

The content you create should not be focused on what makes you special. If you have to tell your teammates that they should pay attention to you — they won’t take you seriously nor, will they take your ideas into consideration. What you have to do is put a focus on the ideas you want to propose. At the very least, you can highlight the things you are currently learning within your industry.

You can do this by creating written articles via LinkedIn Pulse, or you can create a video/audio content and host it on your personal website. Regardless of what format you use, keep in mind that you also don’t need it to be long form. Most the articles I write tend to be around 400-600 words. Ideally, if you’re creating content in video or audio formats, they should range from 2-5 minutes. The goal is to make the content you’re promoting to your team to be digestible. This works across all fields and industries under the condition that your coworkers are on LinkedIn. If they aren’t, then you can always use the alternative method of creating content and deploying paid advertising through Facebook (but, that may be more intrusive since the platform isn’t used by your team for business purposes).

 

The added benefits of having your team consume your content

The end goal in all of this is to create a conversation. Through consistent distribution of your ideas, your mission should be to have your team become curious about what you bring to the table. Although there is no I in team, finding ways to promote yourself in an altruistic way can help further your career in a faster way. And quite frankly, I find this method to be more palatable than having to compete for attention in person.

This process shows its effects over time. It took me three months to start getting noticed by my team members (as of writing this article) but, the reason I continued despite not seeing any immediate effects is that content strategies always take time to work. At the very least, when you share your original content on LinkedIn, you not only are promoting yourself to your team — you’re also sharing that content with other members of your network. This can lead to conversations that can provide new additional insights into what’s going on in your field. I have seen for myself that when new people see my content, the conversations created help me to find new topics to write about (and it helps me find new ideas I can share with my team).

LinkedIn is not only a platform for showcasing your resume. It’s one of the best tools to help you showcase your ideas to the people who can help propel you forward in your career. Start thinking of ways to express what you know and what you’re currently learning. If you can create new conversations with your team, you’ll be in a much better position to start new initiatives and grow faster in your career.

 

I’m always looking to learn more about how others are using LinkedIn to grow in their professional lives. How are you leveraging the network? Do you think this strategy applies in all scenarios? Leave a comment below so that we can start a conversation. And feel free to share this with a friend!

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter to get more articles like this one: SUBSCRIBE

surviving life after college kenny soto

5 Tips To Use When Surviving Life After College

Surviving Life After College Isn’t Easy

I recently started the journey of living life as a college graduate and one day something dawned on me. As I was in my room thinking about all of the hard lessons I had recently experienced I got the inspiration to create a series of articles logging the insights I’m getting to make life easier for anyone who is a recent college graduate or just someone starting their 20s. As time goes on, I’ll be creating separate articles on each of the subjects discussed below. I’d love your feedback in the comments section after reading this (or you can reach out to me on social media as well). The more feedback I get from you, my audience, the more useful these articles become!

Getting A Job: Using LinkedIn & Networking Events

  • LinkedIn

It’s the best platform to apply for jobs. With a click of a button, you can send over your profile and resume to countless organizations who are hiring. When I got my job at ThomasNet, I submitted 162 applications in a day to get the opportunity for an interview — all through LinkedIn. And that took me only an hour and a half to do.

  • Networking

Networking is essential to getting a job. While you’re prospecting online, don’t forget also to put yourself out there in the real world. Opportunities come from your network, and if you’re not growing it — you won’t have any opportunities presented to you. I still get freelance gigs offered to me on a monthly basis because when people think of someone who can help them with their social media marketing, I’m one of the first names that come to mind. Below is a list of tips you can use when you begin networking.

  • MeetUp & Eventbrite are your best friends. Use these platforms to make your event search easy and manageable.
  • When going to networking events, have a clear objective. Who is that you want to meet? People have the issue of wanting to speak to every single person in the room, and that’s not the approach that leads to results. Having 1-2 meaningful conversations with people that you’ve done research on is what you should be aiming for. Look for group organizers and search for them on LinkedIn to find out more about what companies they are associated with. If you can’t connect with them at the event, thank them on LinkedIn after, letting them know you enjoyed the event and that you’d love to follow up and speak to them personally.
  • Have a clear way to follow up. No connection works, regardless of who exchanges their business card with you, if you don’t have a clear “to-do” so that both of you follow up with each other. Grab a cup a coffee or grab lunch with them.
  • Connect online, either on LinkedIn (preferably) or on another social media platform.
  • Networking doesn’t work if you only meet with them once or twice. You want to see and connect with them at multiple events.
  • DON’T ASK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Seek to learn from your connections, the opportunities come from the growth of the relationship you create with your new connections.

Budgeting: The Best Way to Keep Your Sanity

Don’t learn this the hard way. 40% of every paycheck you get should be allocated to your savings and assets. I won’t go into too many details as far as which savings account would be right for you, but I would recommend using Acorns and Robinhood for your assets. Acorns allows you to save money based off of cents you allocate from purchases that get rounded up to the nearest dollar and Robinhood allows you to invest in the stock market by giving you specific companies to choose from. I always follow the rule of — only investing in companies that I am a customer of.

As far as creating a budget that works for you, I suggest just having money set aside for these essential categories (ordered in priority):

  • Rent
  • Savings
  • Food
  • Personal Care
  • Phone Bill
  • House cleaning products
  • Wifi
  • Gym or Yoga Membership
  • Student Loans
  • Credit Card
  • Misc Expenses – Books, Movies, Bars, etc.

The online tool I use to track all of my expenses is Mint. They have a mobile app that can help me not only see if I’m spending too much money on one particular category, but it also gives me reminders of when my bills are due so I can plan ahead.

Food Shopping & Cooking: Do It The Right Way

Never go food shopping if you can’t get at least one item on sale, coupons are everything when it comes to saving money. Another great tip that is often overlooked is NEVER GO FOOD SHOPPING IF YOU’RE HUNGRY. You end up shopping with your eyes and ignoring the essentials on your list. I usually only purchase groceries to last me two weeks. Often, if you buy too much food, you can let things go to waste.

For cooking, regardless of what you’re making for dinner, one money saving tip I use is setting aside a portion of what I make in a Tupperware for lunch the following day. This is a habit I picked up from my Mother, and I don’t regret doing so. It’s helped me save 15% of my total food budget, which I’ve now allocated to my emergency fund.

Finding A Place To Live

I have come to the conclusion that there are only two rules you need to remember. The context for finding a room or apartment is different for everyone, but I find these two tips to be extremely applicable, regardless of the situation:

  1. See the apartment in person before discussing the logistics of payment.
  2. Move in with people you know or that a friend/family member can vouch for (saves you the stress of worrying whether or not your roommate is a crazy person).

Living With Roommates

As far as living with roommates goes, I suggest three things.

  1. Have a rotating chore list so everyone does their fair share of the housework.
  2. Always let each other know when you’re having guests over so there are no unpleasant surprises.
  3. Have a shared budget for groceries, it decreases the burden of having to worry about food.

The reason I haven’t put any advice in regards to living on your own in this article is simply because I don’t have that experience yet to give anything of value. Once I cross that bridge, I’ll create some content around that.

Recommended articles:

  1. Time Management: A 6-Step Guide For Millennials
  2. Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method
  3. The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Kenny Soto When Is It Okay To Post A Comment?

When Is It Okay To Post A Comment On A Social Post?

Interruption marketing still happens — here’s how to avoid it!

This is an Instagram post I made for the #DubChallenge (one of the many challenges that have gone viral in the past year), with a comment by a brand at the bottom of the conversation who intrudes and doesn’t build a relationship beforehand. The perfect example of bad marketing.

How often does this scenario happen: you post a meme, inspirational quote, amusing family video, etc. and some random brand likes the post? Does that annoy you? For some of us, it doesn’t. How about when that profile follows you? I personally pay no mind to it. But, what does bother me is when a brand comments on a post without taking the context of both the post and our relationship into account.

The challenge marketers have today, in regards to marketing on social media, is figuring out when is the right time to start or join a conversation with a lead. If you’re in B2B or B2C marketing, it still stands, if you can’t provide a meaningful way to connect online — don’t engage with the user. Commenting is all about timing.

How to build a relationship, the right way.

The issue that has to be discussed is, “when is it ok to post a comment?” The timing is specific to your audience. Aiming to be as granular as possible is ideal, but not always feasible. If you don’t have a team of people helping you promote your products and services online, you can’t necessarily track all of the interactions you have with your potential customers and current ones. There are many tools out there, such as CrowdFire & Buffer, that can help with this but — you always risk being inauthentic when using one of these automation tools.

One example of how tools can cause a risk for your brand not really connecting with your audience when you schedule your social media posts. Not all posts are created equally, and not all of them should be scheduled without getting a feel for what’s currently circulating on social feeds for the specific day you plan to schedule your post. Taking the time to consider what is relevant to your audience at any given moment pays dividends over time, as far as attention and engagement go. That same consideration should be taken into account when commenting on any posts your leads and customers are creating and sharing.

Push notifications are a double-edged sword.

The ability to have one-to-one relationships with our leads and customers is both a blessing and a curse. We take for granted our audience’s ability to ignore us if we try to communicate with them in a way that clearly shows you didn’t put too much thought into the conversation. What’s even worse is if they block your account or share your mishaps with their friends (ruining your reputation with other potential customers). The easiest way for a brand to leverage the use of comments is to first consider the timing of it, “is it an appropriate time for the user to get a push notification right now?”

Not all users have notifications turned on for all the comments they get, but for those who do, making sure you have conversations that are both timely and interesting is what should be the core focus of your social media marketing strategy. The example shown earlier in this article is one of many instances in which I have been rudely interrupted by a brand I knew nothing about. Instead of taking the time to look at all of my posts and finding some point of relevance to start a conversation (before even selling me something), they decided to give a quick one-line pitch, with the hopes of me visiting their site. That isn’t how you get my attention.

That comment shows that they didn’t take me into consideration, they are playing a numbers game. The number of comments you deploy to engage with your audience isn’t what matters, it is the quality. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth.

Questions to think about before starting or joining conversations.

Think about how you approach sharing content with your friends and family and how you take into account what to comment on. That same approach should be used when you are engaging with your audience through your brand. Below are some questions to consider before engaging with your audience:

  • What time of day is my audience most active and is it appropriate to comment on their posts at that time?
  • What are the parts of my audience’s daily routines that my brand actually has relevance to?
  • Am I selling them my services/products with the comment or should I be selling content first in order to engage them?
  • How long have I been following this audience member (and vice versa)?
  • What action do I want to take after this conversation? Is one conversation enough to have them take that action?

If you have fallen victim to brands commenting on your posts with nothing of value or substance I’d love for you to share your story in the comments section below. Also, if you feel like there should be other questions that need to be taken into consideration, please share them with me.

Recommended articles:

  1. Clicks vs. Comments: An Easier Way For Lead Generation on LinkedIn (4 min. read)
  2. Emoji Marketing: Why you should take it seriously
  3. The Internet Is High School: Personal Branding & Influencer Marketing

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

The internet is high school

The Internet Is High School: Personal Branding & Influencer Marketing

Where do I sit?

With sweaty hands I walk, thinking about how I make a good impression. Who do I sit next to? What will they say when they see me? Will they like me enough to sit next to me tomorrow? All of these thoughts spun around my head as I entered my high school’s cafeteria for the very first time. Ah, the woes of a freshman — trying to make a mark in a war of popularity, gossip, and food fights. Not much has changed in the last decade.

Social Media will always remind me of high school. 

I find myself today, like many people within my age group, trying to make something of myself as I enter my professional career. I still have that sense of yearning, of wanting people to acknowledge me. Except now, the environment in which I deploy my tactics of grabbing people’s attention have nothing to do with finding my table amongst a sea of acne-filled teens (the cause of many existential crises back then).

Today, I try to grab the attention of my peers and professionals within my field on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn (Twitter as a platform has died for me already, I’m not too confident in its survival as a company).

These social channels we use are the new tables in the cafeteria. Each has its own group of people, speaking in a different context from the rest. These social channels — much like the social environments we found ourselves in during our high school years — are full of gossip, misinformation, great stories, and the occasional fanfare of congratulating your friends on their accomplishments. And the popular kids of today (social media influencers), instead of getting all the superficial attention that goes away right after graduation, get paid over $200k just to make a 6-second video.

How is this relevant to you?

Whether you’re like me, just starting your career trying your best to stand out from the crowd, or a seasoned veteran in your field — attention is vital to your professional growth. I’ve used personal branding to constantly grow my clout in my “tables.” The practice of promoting what makes me unique as a potential team member online, has paid off for me and continues to do so to this day.

Your goal doesn’t need to be becoming the next YouTube sensation or billionaire entrepreneur to consider personal branding as an important part of your life. If you are just looking to get a new job or a new promotion, producing content on a consistent basis can help you tremendously in the long run. Personal branding, if taken seriously, can lead to opportunities of becoming a social media influencer. Using influencer marketing can give you other chances to grow your brand into an asset that pays itself over time.

Consider personal branding and influencer marketing as ideas that can be applied to all professionals within any industry. Anyone who can grab the attention of their peers has a strategic advantage over those who don’t.

Want more? Subscribe to my newsletter: eepurl.com/by4v59

What can we learn from social media influencers?

Influencer marketing and cultivating your personal brand go hand in hand. Think of influencer marketing as one form of how to use personal branding in your career. Your brand can align with other companies marketing campaigns because of the communities you engage with and that can lead to an alternative means of income. But as mentioned previously, even if these are things you don’t want, influencer marketing tactics can help you in your career.

One other example is using your personal brand to market your ideas to your coworkers outside of team meetings. Producing content and sharing it with them on LinkedIn can give you other opportunities to engage with them in meaningful ways. It certainly puts the conversations you have to offer in a less competitive atmosphere, fostering a higher quality of collaboration amongst you and your team.

How did I use personal branding & influencer marketing tactics?

I’m a firm believer that there are no longer any barriers between you and the celebrities and inspirational figures that you follow. If you want to talk to your favorite football player, a local politician, or celebrity — you can through the computer in your pocket. Keeping this in mind, the way I’ve personally used influencer marketing by experimenting with one tactic that influencers use to grow their audiences in a meaningful way — starting conversations.

We often forget that the foundation of social media is all about being social. What I’ve been doing currently, is reaching out to ad agencies I consider to be leaders in the marketing industry, not to get a job or to pitch them a partnership, but simply to learn from them. I’m not asking them to consume my content; I’m asking them questions relevant to their work. These questions lead to meaningful exchanges that have allowed me to grow my following, specifically on LinkedIn, by over 100 people in just seven days.

I’m personally still learning how to use my personal brand to propel myself forward into a meaningful career. As I continue to discover different ways to incorporate influencer marketing tactics (and other marketing strategies) to help me gain new opportunities — I invite you to consider the idea that popularity contests aren’t always bad. Especially because if you win, there a lot of great things that come from it.

Author’s note: I purposefully decided to avoid giving a list of influencer marketing tactics so that I can create a separate article about it in the future. Stay tuned.

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended Articles:

How to Get a Job at Google: Answers From an Ex-Googler.

How to Use LinkedIn to Get Interviews

The Beginner’s Guide To Influencer Marketing on Instagram

College

A lesson I learned in college: civics should be a core subject.

College is filled with life lessons. 

You learn about yourself about other people and ideas, discover who you are going to be in society, and find out more about what interests you in an intellectual and professional capacity. Of the many lessons that I was able to learn, there is one that stands out the most, after recently graduating earlier this year.

“Ignorance of the law is dangerous for both those who govern and those who are governed.” 

The most important lesson I learned in college, was learned during my involvement in student government. Students didn’t know their bylaws—they had no knowledge of their rights and what they were paying for with their tuition. Students were unfamiliar with the laws that their student government, faculty, and administration were operating under. They didn’t know:

  • How their tuition was distributed and used.
  • What their rights were.
  • What resources they had access to.
  • How student government’s actions affected them.
  • How faculty made decisions regarding their curriculums.

And this is just 10% of the information that students should have known, but only a select few paid attention to. Only those who governed had access to this information. Information about what was going on at a macro level.

The challenges students faced could have been avoided.

I often think about the ideal scenarios that could have been designed if I were to go back and work with my team again. What problems could have been solved or avoided altogether? How could we have served our student body in a more efficient way? What steps could we have taken to affect the student body for the next 5, 10, 15 years?

The one thing I believe we could have done differently, the only thing I regret from my experience in student government, was setting up education the student body could have access to, about their bylaws. Whether it would have been easier using content marketing: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, even 15-minute videos about the operations of the college.

How do I operate after college with this information in mind?

I’ve taken these lessons as an indication that my responsibility as a citizen should be to know both federal and local laws that affect me. I should rely solely on my representatives to interpret and administer laws on my behalf and take matters into my hands in understanding them myself.

How I take these lessons and incorporate them into my life after college.

  • I made myself familiar with the constitution of our nation as well as, New York State’s constitution.
  • Civics have become a serious subject for me. As a direct result of this, I now conduct research on who represents me locally and what they stand for on a regular basis (monthly).
  • Even if it ‘s hard to keep up with current affairs, I try my best to at least know how those affairs are affected by current rules and regulations.

Law = code

I’ve come to associate laws to code that one would find in any app or website. If you don’t know how your ecosystem works (how it affects you as a user), how can you expect to improve it and adapt to its changes over time? I’ve come to understand a lot more about the way I interact and how I’m affected by the apps and websites that I use because I’ve learned more about how and why they were built.

Just as it’s important to know the basics of coding and how apps that you use are made, it’s just as—if not more—important to understand the laws that govern and affect you. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s a disadvantage we as individuals can’t afford <italics>. The price of not knowing how you’re affected by the actions of those who govern us is too steep, and it’s too expensive for my tastes.

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Two documents I recommend reading:

  1. Constitution of the United States of America.
  2. Constitution of the State of New York (for my friends who live here).
doing spec work kenny soto

Getting a Job After College, Spec Work is The Best Method

What is Spec Work?

I’d like to preface this article with where this idea came from—Gary Vaynerchuk. I have been following Gary for exactly over a year now, and one of the very first doubts about him came when he talked about doing spec work (free services) for people. This work is supposed to be for the purpose of business development and expanding your network.

Spec work is any kind of creative work, either partial or completed, submitted by designers to prospective clients before designers secure both their work and equitable fees. Under these conditions, designers will often be asked to submit work in the guise of a contest or an entry exam on existing jobs as a “test” of their skill.”

I decided that instead of just taking what he said and accepting it, that I would test it for myself (which in retrospect, is what he wanted his viewers to do when he talked about the subject in the 1st place). The story below is how it all happened and how it can help you if you’re still in college or just graduated, and you’re looking to grow in your industry.

Finding a need and getting the client.

Now, this article focuses on the context of my particular skills—skills in digital marketing (SEO, web development, and Social Media Marketing) that I used to get spec work. Although this may not apply to all industries, if your skills map to working on being creative and providing services for a client that don’t require a license or specific certifications, this can work for you. The first step I had in this process was to find a customer that needed my help. I knew from the start that I’d be doing this work for an exchange outside of financial compensation, perhaps a referral to a job after college or something else.

While I was at my college’s local bar, Grill On The Hill, I felt the need to have more of my college friends become more aware of what the bar offered. It was an excellent place that was just starting out, and whenever I went, there were a lot of locals but, not enough college students. One evening, while hanging out with my fraternity brothers, I saw one of the bar’s owners outside. I walked to him, introduced myself and what I do, and told him that I would market his bar online—for free.
Obviously, there was a catch. I was still figuring out what that would be myself—when I was pitching to the owner. Several days later I was hired as the bars digital marketing consultant with a small monthly budget to do Facebook marketing and to create their website with the help of one of the bartenders there. It was my second time creating a website and creating any paid media on Facebook.

What did I get in return from the experience?

Besides gaining valuable experience in doing Facebook ads (the bar was my second client at my time), I was able to learn more about my craft holistically. I began to understand that marketing doesn’t work without tying your campaign goals to actual business goals that drive revenue—it’s not enough to promote a bar’s event to everyone then, making sure you promote it to the ideal customers (people who spend money and drive revenue). In return, besides getting experience, the bar gave me a free beer (and occasionally a free meal) once to twice a week for eight months. This showed me that even if you aren’t making an income for the work you do for someone, there can always be an exchange of equal value for said work. That’s the main message I want to drive home, especially for college students, doing work someone doesn’t necessarily need to equate to you making money.

The hidden value in working for free

It is often taught that the work we do has to produce an income, but it doesn’t. Work can help you build your network. Work can help you expose yourself to new ideas and possibilities. Instead of focusing on monetary gain, focus your job for skills-based learning. It’s because of my experience working at Grill on the Hill that, it gave me the opportunity to see what marketing services I could pitch to my college and try my hand at making them my first paid client (you can find out more about that story here).

I’d love to know your thoughts on this article. Do you think work should only be done for monetary gain/income? Have you done similar work in exchange for services, experience, etc.? Let’s chat in the comments section down below!

If you found this article useful, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended articles:

  1. 6 Reasons An Unpaid Internship Is Absolutely Worth Your Time
  2. How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College.
  3. How can college students leverage social media to get interviews at startups?
No degrees of seperation Kenny Soto

There Are No Longer Six Degrees of Separation

What introduced me to this concept.

The idea of the Six Degrees of Separation was first introduced to me in a book by Malcolm Gladwell called, The Tipping Point. In it, Malcolm talks about three types of early adopters one must build relationships with to bring a product or service to the mass markets (the mainstream). Of the three types, one of them has the particular ability to leverage their networks to spread general news via word of mouth called connectors. I was then reintroduced to the idea of connectors in Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow when he mentions super-connectors in the film industry and how they leverage their networks not only for themselves but, for other people as well. Being altruistic with your network helps build it faster. The more you help others below you grow to be even better than you, the more attention you gain during longer periods of time (this is how I interpreted Shane’s chapter on the subject).

The six degrees of separation as I see it.

The six degrees of separation is a concept closely related to connectors and super connectors, the idea that you can know and potentially be introduced to anyone in the world by the maximum separation of 6 people within your network (everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world). For example, someone I know on my Dad’s side of my family possibly has 3-4 friends that they know from their friends, who just so happens to know President Barack Obama. At max, it would only take six introductions for me to have an encounter (however small) with President Obama. But, after careful thought and thinking about how this idea can be challenged, a couple of months ago (around early 2016), I had a conversation with my mentor in which I mentioned that I don’t believe these degrees of separation exist anymore, and here’s why.

The Internet is an environment with 0 degrees of separation.

I’m currently reading The The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge by Doc Searls, which is about how customer relationship management systems (search Hubspot or Salesforce for examples) don’t truly help businesses have relationships with customers/users. For this to occur, customers need their own Vendor Relationship Management systems. In a chapter titled, “Net Pains,” Doc Searls quotes Craig Burton, a Senior Analyst with Kuppinger Cole, who describes the Internet as:

“…[A] world we might see as a bubble. A sphere…The distance between any two points [within said sphere] is functionally zero, and not just because they can see each other, but because nothing interferes with [the] operation between any two points (page 102, Searls).”

Sphere diagram

Because of the Internet, if I want to contact Obama, I can now just go on Twitter and tweet at him directly. Now, the chances of me getting an actual response from him are dismal, but, if I wanted to contact any other person in the world—I still have the ability to do so if they have access to the Internet.

Why I think this change is important and must be discussed further.

The majority of us now rely to some degree, on the Internet and its protocols for our work. The ubiquity that the Internet provides for us to communicate conveniently with anyone, about anything, regardless of geography is astounding. It’s what allows us to do business across the globe and spread ideas and content like wildfire. But, I still believe that we have continued to hold onto old self-imposed limitations (that’s what they are at this point) regarding who we think we can and cannot contact. We can speak to anyone we want today; that’s the main point here.

Keeping this in mind, I believe we should begin thinking about all the new opportunities we are not currently exploring—regarding meeting new people and exposing ourselves to new ideas. Let this article serve as a short rant that should compel you to create a list of five people you’d love to talk to about anything—and then, contact them! You’ll be amazed at what might happen.

If you found this article useful or interesting, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

How Landed My First Paid Account as a Consultant at 22 Kenny Soto

My 1st Client as a Digital Marketing Consultant at 22

Believe it or not, I was able to convince my college to hire me. I’m not talking about work study, being a bookstore stockboy, or being a research assistant for a professor. I’m talking about closing a deal for thousands of dollars. In this post, I’ll provide some back story as to how I was able to have the opportunity to even come up with the pitch, the pitch itself, and the lessons learned from the work. As a small disclaimer, as a student I respect my university tremendously—as a consultant, I learned from them what it means when people say large organizations are “slow.”

It all starts with finding a need.

How did I come up with the idea of even pursuing this pitch? It all started with accessing the problem my college had—we had severe budget cuts during the fiscal year. The only reason I was privy to this information was due to my role as student body president. During the first few meetings with school administration during my last academic year in college, I learned that our college, along with other CUNYs, hadn’t met their goal that the Board of Trustees set for getting more students.

The lack of increase in tuition was one of four factors that contributed to the millions in budget cuts that we’re going to occur. After sitting down and actually contemplating on why this particular problem was occurring, it dawned on me that I should check out the college’s social media & paid search marketing efforts. Low and behold, they weren’t launching any paid ads or producing content of any value to potential students or the parents of those students. This was my in, the opportunity I was looking for.

Devising the pitch.

Coming up with something of real worth to present to school administration wasn’t easy. It took me two weeks just to have the stones even to share this idea with my Fraternity brothers for feedback. After carefully thinking about what I learned from both my internship and doing pro bono digital marketing for a bar near campus (I still got something out of it, free food and free beer which wasn’t a bad deal if I do say so myself) I came up with a 43-slide deck for my presentation.

The reason why this deck was so long, and by all means I don’t recommend doing something this long for any presentation, was because I knew I wouldn’t have been taken seriously (at the end of the day, I’m too young to be taken seriously for anything right now). If I didn’t make sure I showed both school admin and the marketing department that not only I knew what I was talking about—but, that I also put it into the context of their specific needs, none of this would have worked. Also, I had already assembled a small team of two other student government members that would help me in my efforts; this increased their confidence in my ability to not only create a sound project but, also execute on it.

Negotiating the price.

The two most important lessons I gained from the overall experience was:

  1. Always write the service contract yourself.
  2. Bid high for a high price.

If it weren’t for a close friend of mine, I would have left a considerable amount of money on the table. I believe the main reason why the college administration agreed to pay my team and me as much as they did, was because the labor was relatively cheap in terms of industry standards and we wrote the whole contract ourselves. It also helps that they didn’t go through the hassle of signing it but, that’s beside the point. If a client is willing to pay you without signing a contract for whatever reason you still want them to do so, it puts both of you in a position where each party is fully committed to each other’s success. I believe this was the first sign that there was only going to be so much we could have done for them.

The challenge I’m glad I faced early on.

The biggest challenge with working for any big client as a digital markeitng consultant is this—the internal communications process is slow as hell, meaning that you’re going to have to plan at least two weeks ahead to get anything approved for launch. I lacked experience in this one aspect of doing digital marketing consulting; I didn’t anticipate that the one deterrent to my success would be not preparing for slow communication in between tasks. Although, I wasn’t successful in fully executing on the marketing plan I was at the very least, able to show the importance of why their efforts should be focused primarily on social and search advertising and not on subway or television ads.

Other lessons I learned were:

Your client, regardless of their size, will want all reports on a consistent basis. It’s important to let them know early on that marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. Metrics don’t improve overnight. You want to at least report on new ideas you’re working on so they can add their insight into the mix.
Have a dedicated team member to set up phone calls for Q & A whenever needed. If you’re this person, you have the hardest job. Client retention is key to recurring income. My biggest regret is not giving enough attention to thinking about building a long term relationship with my college so I could have had them as a client after I graduated.* Your team’s size should reflect the size of the account.

This is something I’ve debated with my colleagues for quite some time now. I still believe that we could have done a better job if we had at least three to four more students on our team. A team of three college students wasn’t enough to solve the problems a big institution like my college had.

Moving forward.

In the end, although I wasn’t successful in the execution of my first account, I at least learned how to get one. That experience has proved invaluable as I continue getting new clients and building my team at digiquation.com, the startup I work at now. Whether it’s in digital marketing or any other consulting practice, it never hurts to start early. Regardless of your age, there is something that you know; that is intrinsic in the experiences you’ve had that can be of value to a client. You just have to figure out how to successfully communicate that—and then have the team and knowledge to execute the plan you’re being paid to do.

*The experience gained from this one part of my collegiate career was the most valuable by far, and I am forever indebted to the City College of New York for giving me a chance to help them. If you check their Facebook page now, you can see the ads they are launching to get more attention. A special thanks to Tammie and Safiyyah, without your help, none of this would have been accomplished.


If you found this article useful or interesting, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended articles:

    1. How I Got Employed After Two Weeks Of Graduating College.
    2. Emoji As a Professional Language
    3. A Digital Marketer’s Most Important Asset: Their Curiosity
The internet so far kenny soto

My Thoughts on The Internet So Far

A quick comparison between the Internet and the WWW.

There is a difference between the internet and the world wide web. The internet connects hardware with other hardware, and the WWW is a system that allows us to share content and information to be distributed in that connection.  I did not know the difference, nor did I care, before realizing how important understanding the difference was. I always used to interact with the world wide web without much thought about what I was doing or how it affected me.

The first social media I was on: Sconex.

Sconex

First, there was Sconex*, a way for my cousins and me to check out older high school girls and try to speak to them. We didn’t have a specific goal in mind; we just loved the idea that we could talk to these hot girls and not have to be honest about our ages (yes, I am guilty of being a catfish in my early days). We were just ten-year-old boys experiencing puberty and the internet all in one jumbled mess. Then MySpace came along and even more of my time was consumed by connecting with friends from school at home and talking to random strangers (and I’m sure at least three of them were thirty-year-old dudes in basement). It never occurred to me that my generation was the first to experience human interactions on a screen, daily. The first generation to have our attention become a commodity (no one was walking with televisions in their pockets).

From the age of three years old, I had a huge beige Dell desktop computer, not realizing how lucky I was to grow up with the technology that to this day, people who are in their seventies are still trying to adapt to.


*If you want to see old websites that are no longer online, check out Archive.org. It’s the Wayback Machine…


Becoming aware.

I first started to observe my ignorance about what a computer could do when I entered college. I studied computer literacy in high school but, it was mostly just learning how to type with two hands and how to use Microsoft Office programs. What I was really ignorant about was the culture of entrepreneurs and technologists who were (and still are) making millions and billions of dollars off of our use of the internet and the web. I always wanted to discover what their secret sauce was and how could someone like me could have a similar impact on society.

It wasn’t the money that intrigued me; it was the mere fact that someone from Boston could make an app that connects over one billion users in today’s age and no one even bats an eye. There are only two things besides that app that have over one billion users, water, and air (I’m talking about Facebook just in case you didn’t get the reference). I decided to take it upon myself to find a class or a mentor that could teach me—the basics of the digital world and how it affects our society. Cue the internship I took last year in digital marketing.

“We pay with our information and most importantly, our attention.”

I learned some of the most alarming and exciting things last year. Things such as our information is being collected—think Pokemon Go and how Google Maps now knows the inside of almost every building now or how Snapchat and Facebook now have the largest collections of facial data from all of us. We are being sold to on a consistent basis, and we are no longer just consumers of content, we are, “…hamsters on a wheel,” as Seth Godin would put it. We willingly input data and information into websites and apps and have the faintest clue as to how they are using our information. There is a reason we use most of these apps for free. We pay with our information and most importantly, our attention. Same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any email newsletter you’ve had to subscribe to and input information into a form. There’s also pixels and cookies that allow these companies to track you online… However, even if we are becoming more aware of this fact, that people sell our privacy and attention now, no one is bothered it. No one bats an eye.

How do “they” make their money from our mass consumption?

We have become the products. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a billionaire just because you use his platform to check out cat videos. He makes his cash by selling your information to advertisers like Taco Bell, who want to sell things to you. The same goes for Jack Dorsey who owns Twitter or Evan Spiegel if Snapchat, who has every fourteen to twenty-eight-year-old in the palm of his hand. With the information I’ve obtained over the past year, it has occurred to me that we interact with these tools but, don’t know how they work, why they exist, and how they affect our daily lives.

I couldn’t imagine a day in my life where I could not search for something whenever I wanted to. It’s a scary thought but, I rely on Google and so many other platforms for my daily activities. What would happen to me if I didn’t have access to them anymore? Questions such as these have led me to believe that these tech giants control our lives. Not in a dystopian or morbid way, more like, “This is super cool, and I aspire to be like them.” Even though I make sure my phone is on airplane mode whenever I am asleep—I’m pretty sure data is collected if it isn’t.

What can we expect moving forward?

The impact these platforms have on us is tremendous. However, they have also have given many of us opportunities we (my generation) couldn’t even dream of in the early nineties. We now have micro-celebrities on Vine and Instagram, who make around ten grand a month by just posting ten to fifteen-second skits and having sponsors paying for ad space. We have Youtube stars such as PewDiePie, NigaHiga, and Smosh, who make millions each year by creating quality content for their fan bases. Just by connecting with their own communities they are able to obtain a ton of cash from advertising revenue alone (imagine the contracts they get for corporate sponsorships). Then there are the video game enthusiasts on Twitch that make roughly five to nine thousand dollars a month by having other people just watch them play. The entrepreneurs who have created these online platforms have not only made money for themselves but, have helped others to do the same and also to have an impact on the world. That is what makes me passionate about the web and makes me want to learn more about how we interact and use it. I can only imagine what will happen once we start to interact with virtual and augmented reality. I wonder how that will affect our lives on a daily basis.

The entrepreneurs who have created these online platforms have not only made money for themselves but, have helped others do the same and have their own impact on the world. That is what makes me passionate about the web and what makes me want to learn more about how we interact and use it. I can only imagine what will happen once we start to interact with virtual and augmented reality (Pokemon Go is just a preview). I really wonder how that will affect our lives on a daily basis.


If you found this article useful or interesting, click here to subscribe to my newsletter: SUBSCRIBE

Recommended articles:

  1. The World Wide Web Is An Extension Of Our Minds.
  2. Why Computers Are Desperate for a Redesign
  3. WHY MILLIONS OF TWEENS ARE USING MUSICAL.LY… AND WHY IT MATTERS

Also, if you want to see the first website ever made check out this link. It really shows how much progress we’ve made over the past two decades.

Page 2 of 612345...Last »