Too often in our professional careers, we chose comfort over the daring. We choose the steady paycheck, the familiar environment and the ease of a routine, over pushing ourselves. We, out of fear, stay put and forget that fortune favors the bold.
As I mentioned several months ago when I trumpeted the death of the social media director, things in our business are changing rapidly. I see signs of this everywhere as more and more niche social media leaders expand their roles or find themselves on the street. Social marketing, communications and community are no longer the soup du jour as more and more businesses realize social has to be integrated into their overall business strategy.
Don’t mistake my obituary of the social media director as saying those of us who were early pioneers in the space are no longer needed. We’re needed more than ever but we’re needed in a different way. The rub is this: many of those folks who are in the space either didn’t come from a diversified background, or went so whole-hog into social they have learned nothing around the art of integrating social into their business strategy.
“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.” – Winston Churchill
Some of the best and brightest of us are now taking expanded roles – vice presidents of digital media, communications or customer service. These talented pros are pushing themselves upstream and finding their well-rounded experience – PR, online marketing, advertising, search – are all benefiting them well as their roles expand along with their influence.
Despite this palatable switch, there are many of you staying in your comfort zone. You like social in your title and you’re comfortable staying in your lane. Your niche-ness is like a warm blanket during this cold winter. It protects you, it keeps you cozy but it’s all a façade.
Comfort kills careers.
Despite our generations being criticized for “job hopping,” the marketing communications leader of today – especially those of us in social – know you follow opportunity and that a varied resume with experience in many areas make us more valuable. They also show we’re not trapped by comfort. I actively look for this when I recruit people. It tells me they’re eager to push the envelope and innovate and learn from a diversity of roles.
The next level of social business leader is one who understands and can work across online media and communications. They know public relations, they know relationship and influencer development, and they know how to integrate these elements across the business.
I am fearful for many of you who don’t have a background with deep experience in other areas. There is a sea-change coming and we have to be ready for it. You must push outside your bubble and challenge your comfort.
Comfort in the business environment of 2014 is an illusion. If you’re to reach greatness – because greatness is created, not destined – you must break free of the status quo and take the risk and make the jump.
If not, you’re dead.