Hello, I’m the social media assistant/aspiring entrepreneur for Networlding you all have been waiting to meet. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger. Melissa has already introduced myself here where she mentions her Networlding initiative: Leadership 12-29, helping youngsters get better starts in life.
I’ll start simple. I’ll give you that much! I graduated in May 2011 with a degree in English with honors from the University of Illinois in Champaign, and I bleed Orange and Blue. And I like to think I am an epitome of succcessful communication. You can hear? Cool. You can write? Great, why don’t you comment below?! You speak English too? Sweet, who doesn’t anyway?
But, superb communication goes beyond knowing the English language (or any other language for that matter). And I’ve proven that. But first, how did I wind up blogging on one of the top 5% blogs? A young entrepreneur’s dream.
But truth? I hope this helps me figure out my next steps too. I don’t have a clear plan but rather as Seth Godin said in his recent post, I have a mission. To help facilitate communication to improve opportunities for differently abled people, expand networks for pleasure & business. I believe that’s what life is about: interacting with all sorts of human beings to improve opportunities, learn new things, improve business, and just simply enjoy what different minds and spirits surround us. Social Media is a powerful tool to use in marketing (I’m all for it), but also we can’t be with everyone everyday, and that’s the underappreciated beauty of social media.
I wanted a job or internship in PR, marketing, consulting or international affairs. I was confident after a remarkable undergraduate experience I would be able to land something. Even had some leads….but before I knew it, it was mid-September and I was sitting at a pub on State Street in Chicago with two of my friends on a Saturday night. I had enjoyed summer but I was getting impatient. I wanted to get to the root of this problem.
“Is it because I’m Deaf?” I asked my friend bluntly. (Yes, I’m Deaf!!)
A senior consultant in supply & chain (not my cup of tea or else I’d asked for help a long time ago!) cringed ever so modestly and said yes, it probably was a significant factor in my struggle. People nowadays are still ignorant of our abilities to function and communicate in the workforce with you “hearing people”. Communication was a so-called barrier for employers, I suspect. I actually felt a little relieved – as skewed that might sound- because I realized it had nothing to do with my intelligence or abilities. I wasn’t not good enough. I turned to Melissa through a connection of mine for her opinion on how to market myself soon after that night. I was determined to change something but I was at a fork in my path: to be more aggressive or just eliminate any evidence of my Deafness?
Instead of being at a fork, a new path was created. She decided to give me a run at social media for 10 hours and she’d
consider writing me a recommendation. After she saw me at work, she exclaimed I should stick with social media strategy & implementation…and here I am, still working for her! I like to say: You know man, Sign language is my native language. My degree in English, desire to interact and and social skills prove communication goes beyond being able to hear and speak English. I’m the first Deaf UIUC undergraduate to study abroad (and I didn’t just learn Italian- I learned Italian Sign Language too). I had a wonderful time because I found ways to get people to respond to me. Hence, here I am working in Social Media. Being Deaf is not detrimental in the wide world of web & work. I’m madly driven and focused despite noisy settings! Melissa is encouraging me to not hide my Deafness, but rather to use it as an edge in the industry, and foster to my entrepreneur side. I don’t know a thing about starting my own business but that’s why I’m guest blogging….
With that said, I cordially invite you to 100 Steps to Success (a future Networlding bestseller) and join me as I guest blog my feelings, frustrations, fear, excitement and questions that I hope you will be able to help me with. Connect w/ me at: @AnneReuss & LinkedIn