3 Free Easy Ways To Brave The Digital World

1939 ... 'King of the forest!'
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Are you brave enough to go digital? That's a question digital business advisor Mike Moran asks in a recent column on the Biznology blog. Moran's column is geared toward skittish marketing people, but has merit across all fields for today's unemployed and many of the currently employed who are shirking their own digital growth.

Today, there are many people employed hanging on to their jobs for their dear lives because they know jobs are becoming more technologically advanced and they don't have updated skills.

Similarly, an increasing portion of today's unemployed Boomers were laid off because they don't have the necessary digital or tech skills and are now also poorly positioned to land a new job in their field. Here's how to take some control over your own future by smartly going digital sooner rather than later.Moran, a digital marketing teacher, notes that even he doesn't know it all. No one can. He believes many of the digitally uninitiated don't attempt to learn new skills because they're afraid they won't be able to keep up.

His advice: You can't keep up with everything so just start to keep up with something –- anything.

My advice: You can teach an old dog new tricks. Pick a trick and learn it.

The July issue of Fortune, indisputably one of the most esteemed business magazines, features a story on Instagram, the photo sharing service purchased by Facebook for a mere $1 billion! The article is just one of many that shows how serious businesses are about digital services and not just in marketing.

Feel you can't learn Instagram, or are too old for new tricks? As the other popular saying goes: If you believe it, then it's true. But, if you believe you're still relevant and have bona fide services to offer, shed that digital doubting skin. Be inspired instead by the Oxford, Mississippi, mom mentioned in the Fortune article who went on Instagram to share photos with her sister and, according to Fortune,

"amassed an audience of 530,000. Her photos were so popular she set up a storefront and began selling prints – enough to quit her job."

Here's a secret about digital channels from Facebook to Pinterest -– they're generally easy to learn and use. Here's the problem with most digital platforms -– their tutorials are awful. The secret is to find tools from books at the library to YouTube training videos to actual courses on services such as Lynda.com and just start experimenting.

To get you started, here are 3 key social media platforms you should no longer ignore plus ideas for getting started in easy, non-threatening ways.

1. Pinterest

This service has a large female following and is a great tool to know if you're interviewing for a job that targets women aged 25-54. It's also very popular in wedding and event planning, and should be a "must have" for any would-be event planner, catering service, or hospitality facility.

How to Get Started on Pinterest:

Start a free account on Pinterest.com preferably with your own name so friends can easily find you. If you're a budding photographer or artist, you might want to name the account something like JohnSmith'sPhotography. For the average Joe, create a board of pet photos and learn to pin your own photos. Try another board of family favorite recipes.

Don't have a pet or like to cook? Try a board of inspiring quotes found on other internet sites. Finally create a board of wish-list purchases from items you find on Etsy.com or other shopping sites. This will get you used to re-pinning and get you to load the "pin it" icon on your browser toolbar. Lastly, find 2-3 people to follow on Pinterest. You can now add your Pinterest profile to your resume and have a sense of how Pinterest works and might be used.

Related Article: How to keep your resume relevant in today's hiring marketplace.

2. Twitter

This service teaches you how to be short and sweet by limiting all posts to 140 characters or less. It's used widely by reporters to get leads, book authors, politicians, and pundits, and is a great reference tool to learn from experts of all kinds. It's a must know for any public relations or communications professional, and can be the most amazing personal reference librarian for delivering latest news from top experts you follow in any field of interest from economics to landscaping.

How to Get Started on Twitter:

Create a free account on Twitter.com. Pick a name that is either your own, or one that demonstrates expertise. For instance, mine is @MarketingPlaza and was started to build my marketing communications business. I follow many experts in the marketing and social media space including Mike Moran, whose Twitter handle is @MikeMoran so people can easily find him. Make sure to upload a photo so you don't look like a rookie, and fill out your profile so Twitter can better understand your interests. It will immediately suggest people to follow. Start following them.

Look up the names of key experts or authors in your industry. You'll be surprised how many have Twitter accounts. Start following them as well. After you find a dozen or so people to follow, log into your Twitter account regularly to scan your news stream. Click on at least 3 -5 links daily or weekly and start learning from the experts. If you get a bit braver, start re-tweeting those expert links on your own Twitter feed. Don't worry about tweeting original content, or about having followers. This is about becoming familiar with the platform. After you've built some confidence, you can add Twitter to your resume.

3. Skype

Started in 2003, Skype is not new, but many still don't know how to use it, don't have web cams, or don't see a need for the service. It became an instant hit with those who have relatives overseas as it allowed for free or low-cost phone and video calls. It's also a boon to parents of college kids who want to see a face rather than just hear a voice.

Increasingly employers and recruiters use Skype as a phone screen to see a potential employee, test the employee's familiarity with the digital medium, and save the cost of flying employees in for face-to-face interviews for relocation jobs. I had several Skype interviews with a recruiter and was scheduled for follow-up Skype interviews with a potential employer when I landed my current job.

How to Get Started on Skype:

As with the other services, create a free account. Use an account name that is preferably your own name so a hiring manager can easily find you. Consider Skype as a new phone book. You don't want to be hard to find. Next, identify a sibling, friend, or child who is also willing to learn Skype, or play along for your sake. Once they also start a Skype account, test finding them and initiating a call. Then test getting a call.

Skype is easiest with the newer computers, laptops, or iPads that come with built in webcams, but if you don't have a new computer, get yourself to an electronics store to invest in a web cam. Now right under your email address, add your Skype name on your resume and you automatically look more hip and easier to interview by both recruiters and employers.

Related Article: What recruiters look for in potential candidates.

There are many more digital platforms to consider from LinkedIn and LinkedIn Events, to Google Plus, Google Hangouts, Facebook business pages, Facebook contests and, of course, Instagram. The key is not to get good at all of them, but to gain familiarity with some of them. This is important not only for Boomers, but Millennials as well.

Recently, I ran into two Millennials who didn't have personal Facebook sites. As a marketing professional, I immediately discounted their value as potential employees. Telling me they knew how to manage business Facebook pages held no water as they weren't currently managing personal pages and things change on Facebook almost weekly.

Second, the fact one of them had a previous Facebook site and took it down sends a red flag to me that the site likely had beer pong pictures and other inappropriate material. Even if not true, it raises questions that don't need to be raised, and he won't get a chance to answer.

Related Article: Five Lessons to Learn on Your First Job

Is digital media overwhelming or scary? Mike Moran says:

"Maybe. But it is less scary than failing. Because that's what happens when you are too petrified to go for it."

So next time you're wondering why the job market is so tough, or why it's taking you so long to land, consider whether you've availed yourself of digital options to differentiate yourself from the crowd. As Moran concludes:

"...the most important key to success is not knowledge. It's bravery."

Employers want people who can help move the company ahead by being growth-oriented and willing to use new technology, new techniques and attempt new ventures. Displaying digital capabilities on your resume and profiles is a great way of showing that you're not afraid to embrace the future and all its potential.

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