Startup of Me 2: Key Skills for the Mobile/Social Media Era

If I was going back to school/starting college for the first time around today and I wanted to develop expertise that would be portable, flexible, and applicable to a variety of interesting work spaces, I would probably pursue a combination of the following three (3) things:

1) computer sciences, specializing in web design/development, especially mobile optimization;

2) business anthropology, specializing not in consumer relations but investor relations for for-profit companies and donor relations for nonprofit organizations;

3) marketing & PR, specializing in interactive/social media marketing.

Most businesses already get it, even if they’re slow adopters, but many NPOs are still way behind the times.

Everyone needs to at least try to join the mobile age! Yes, it’s true that many of your major donors are mid-aged adults and older, but “brand loyalty” and belief in the work of organizations isn’t something that just ‘happens’ when people hit a certain age and get a brochure in the mail. Many people give to organizations they either have 1st or 2nd degree contact with or have heard a lot about through media outlets and word of mouth (i.e. word of internet, really, these days).

If your website is a mess, it’s as hard for my generation to take you seriously as it is for your generation to take someone seriously who shows up to an interview with their band t-shirt askew and hair not even ‘intentionally’ uncombed. They may be brilliant, but you have to work hard to look past the initial seeming lack of professionalism. When I can’t read your website on my phone or tablet, when I can only view it in browser XYZ because you didn’t ensure it would work with various programs, when I can’t “share” something easily from your site … you put barriers between me and learning about what you do and why it matters, and you make it a challenge for me to pass that info to others and get your name out there. Press is crucial and in this day and age, press can happen in an instant, a tweet retweeted by the right people or a great review on a blog with significant traffic or … so many things.

Not bringing on someone – even just a volunteer – to help get your organization up to speed is costing you more than the effort to design and circulate an appropriate ad. There are probably lots of people out there who are willing to help, even more who’d love to do it for pay, if you can spare it. But seriously … this is not something to put off to do *later*. No one’s asking you to wear a tux to the interview, but maybe some khakis would be nice.

~A23

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