March 28, 2009 By BJ Cook,
I realize that when you first view the title you might think, hmm ... vague much? Well that's a little on purpose and little experimental. Back in November of 2007, I posted a question to my LinkedIn network asking, "What is the best advice you can give a fresh, young marketer right out of school about how to get ahead quickly?" And I was presented with 22 responses, some public, some private, from folks I highly respected and was connected to for one reason or another. I want this post to be living, organic, self-sustaining and a resource for young people who are stuck in the poorly-structured programs around the country who want to get into digital marketing, interactive marketing, social media marketing, online marketing ... whatever buzzword you wanna add to the beginning. Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice for young marketers followed by some of my own. Rick Corteville, Head of Digital Media, EMEA at Universal McCann said ...
  1. Never call or consider yourself an expert in your field. There is always something more to learn.
  2. Don't get comfortable at your job. Keep your hunger to go the extra mile.
  3. Be a pioneer. It is better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission.
Amanda Wichard, Marketing Director at LJG Partners, Inc. said ... "My best advice is to network. It sounds cliche, but it really is all about who you know, not what you know. There are so many opportunities you don't even know about when you are fresh out of school. Meet and talk to as many people as possible." Craig Peters, Founder, CKPcreative said ... "Take the long view. Be ethical. Never burn a bridge. Network. Keep your word. Under promise and over deliver. Eschew arrogance. Know something about everything and everything about something. Keep an open mind. Now that you've learned the rules in school, realize that in the real world the rules often don't apply. Take your work seriously, but yourself less so. Keep your sense of humor. Remember that in the end it's only a job. Be the kind of person you'd want to work with. Always give it your best, no matter how small the task." Steve Yin, Internet Marketing Professional said ... "Be a vacuum cleaner of information and trends. Discuss issues and industry topics with coworkers. Be patient. Your career is a marathon. You'll be working for at least 30-40 years (or more). Even those rich enough to "retire" continue to work. So I wouldn't use "getting ahead quickly" as the ultimate goal. Create 1 year, 5 year, 10 year, and 20 year visions, and adjust them regularly." G√ľnther lie, director interactive marketing said ... "forget everything you learned in school. never stop learning - be a sponge for knowledge. get out and meet people in all areas of marketing. bone up on your analytics." Vipin Gulian, Business Head said ... "The best thing is to read, socialise, research, understand market, Find a good mentor and be on top of new things market pulse." Danny Hsia, Product Development, said ... "I'd tell that person to be open to taking on all sorts of responsibilities in the organization, even if it doesn't seem to fit w/in his/her job profile. Also, be as social as possible. Get to really know the folks you're working with - unless you're a big jerk, it's not going to hurt you and will likely help as you look to move up in your organization or elsewhere. From a marketing standpoint, I'd say the newbie could generate ideas by thinking about his/her own experiences as a consumer. Although the newbie won't have much actual marketing work experience, s/he has been a consumer for many years already - what better place to generate some ideas?" Tom Young, Vice President of Marketing at Entrepreneurs' Organization said ... "I would recommend looking for a position where you can get broad exposure to a variety of marketing challenges in different industries and speak/work directly with the individuals responsible for solving them. I know consulting can be a dirty word, but that's the way I started out and there was nothing like talking to a variety of executives up and down the food chain about challenges as varied as making a utility's rate hike palatable to inventing a new category in consumer appliances. I considered it to be an MBA-in-a-box type exposure, and it really reinforces the variety of ways that a marketer can approach a problem once you look to forge your career. Of course, there are other ways to gain this experience; there are companies that do a really good job with executive training, GE and P&G for example." Danny Flamberg, Managing Partner, Booster Rocket said ... "Take a job and dedicate yourself to learning it well. Invest your time and focus your talent in learning the tasks and watching the politics, the people and the internal plumbing of your organization. Keep your head down and your mouth shut. Watch closely and absorb what's going on around you. Don't expect to move up the ladder quickly but make yourself valuable by being there and knowing what you are doing. Ask often and assume nothing." This last one is from a good friend and was sent as a private answer, but I'm gonna help him get a little more social and share some of his great insights with you ... Ryan B, Entrepreneurial Business Development Executive said ... The education isn't over it's just beginning. Schools tend to be a few steps behind in marketing practices and trends. So, though it seems that you are coming out ready to take over the marketing quickly learn that you are far behind. School teaches you how to learn, so use that knowledge to constantly learn about the latest techniques, avenues, etc.... Secondarily, your first job should be considered based on:
  • The quality of leadership you will receive
  • The amount of learning and training you will have access to
  • The level of involvement you will have
If you think about it majority of these folks who have anywhere between 5-35 years of experience in marketing focus on being a sponge, leveraging your network, going out and being social, using what you learned as a framework and putting yourself in the consumer's shoes. So get involved within the community of people who have the role you want to grow into, read about their experiences, figure out where you're going by doing it. No matter how many books you read, you've got to do the work. For all you young marketers looking to get ahead listen to those around you who've been there, experiment and remember that your education is a core foundation; be social.

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