Social Media As Self Actualization: How Has It Launched You?

I'll be speaking with creative entrepreneur Tara Agacayak on a panel about social media for the International Professional Women of Istanbul Network (IPWIN). The happy trends of Web 2.0 online networking, collaborating, and user-generated content seem tailor-made for pro women like us who often face a more difficult career path abroad. Whether "trailing spouses" lacking a local work permit like Jo Parfitt recounts here or in some other way being at a geographic or cultural disadvantage is a common expat woman experience.

IN AN ATTENTION ECONOMY WE'RE NO LONGER OUT OF SIGHT We're used to relying on technology to fill the gaps in our expat operations so social media has the potential to level the playing field for the most far-flung female professionals:

  • Social media works best the way women work best: it's about making and tending personal connections
  • Social media supports and consolidates the spread-out personal networks expats and global citizens have already initiated in their mobile lives
  • Social media provides access to state-of-the-industry practices, trending thought, and leading players in our professions

So, as social networking renders overseas women like us visible and relevant, it's a powerful tool of self-actualization. Our presence online becomes an advance calling card in life and work. We're driven to fine-tune who we say we are, and how we behave, and where we appear online and who we choose to interact with, who our target audience is and how we do business. If we commit to social media, we evolve.

How has social media launched you?

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On another network an expat woman writer asked me what the benefit of social media is besides meeting other writers. She also wondered why she might need it before she has a book to sell.

Social media networking is something you can do long before you have something 'to sell' -- in fact, 3 years in advance of a product is the period I hear from the kind of people whose book goes straight to the top of bestseller lists. It takes that long to get a meaningful network in place before you really 'need' it. Building trust, credibility, presenting yourself authentically, being generous and helpful. That takes time.

I agree meeting other writers is an important component of online networking for women like us scattered around the globe, living among people who may not speak, let alone read or write, in our language. However, there are so many more people you can meet. Taking the writing professional as an example: Potential readers, agents and editors and publishers -- and with the massive upheaval in publishing right now being able to follow developments is more important than ever-- people in related fields. Living abroad, we can attend conferences virtually, or take part in live chats on women's issues, cultural concerns, literature, branding, social media, bookselling, marketing, etc. I wrote about many of these issues last April in "How This Author Uses Twitter". Becoming visible to the people in your niche -- finding out who works in your niche, that's priceless legwork.

How it helps me now: Social media has helped bring me up to speed on the trending/cutting edge thought in a variety of areas that affect what I do, as well as put me in touch with people I want to work with. It's like continuing education, cultivating a professional peer group, professional development.

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Here's a slideshow based on our presentation, including links to scores of the below resources we discussed during the event:

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA?

TOP WOMEN IN SOCIAL MEDIA 2008 & 2009

TIPS & TOOLS TO GET STARTEDOPTIMIZE & IMPROVE YOUR PRACTICES

DOs AND DON’TS

BLOGS AND SITES OF PANELISTS ANASTASIA (microblogindividual bloggroup blogFacebook groupLinkedIn profile,Delicious bookmarksNing writers' network)

TARA (individual blogmicroblogLinkedIn profile, Facebook profileLadiesWhoLaunch profile, artisan training site-blog-microblog-Facebook page, bazaar tourssite-blog-microblog-Facebook page, web consulting site-microblog-Facebook page,women's microcredit site)