August 24, 2012

Being Digital - completed 1 year with TCS - 5 tips for youngsters!

Source: Virtual Classroom
"Zindagi mein do raaste hote hain, ek aaghe jaane ke liye aur ek usse bhi aaghe jaane ke liye." (English: There are two paths in life, one to go ahead and the other to go even further ahead). Today, I complete 1 year with TCS in a field of my choice, my passion - Digital Marketing. You may ask - did all this happen overnight? Nope. It was back in 1992 at Bangor, UK, when my Father introduced me to the computer and the programs he used to work on. My first 'web' experience was to create my very own hotmail account (gmail didn't exist before 2003) and find new things on I used to do a lot of things on google, like finding my answers, searching for projects, debate points, etc. The web became my friend and today is a trusted resource and plays an important role in my professional career.

As I look around, interact with many students and youngsters, I see a lot of enthusiasm among them towards making a career in Digital Marketing. While there is no single way of making a career in this line, I intend to write a series on posts on 'Being Digital' to educate students and youngsters on how to prepare for a career in Digital Marketing along with regular inputs on best practices and latest trends from the digital landscape. Through this post I will share five pearls of wisdom (read: my learning) which I practiced as a student to build myself for where I am today. In future, I will write more posts on this topic but for now if you follow these basic steps, then you will be able to build a strong foundation for yourself.

Five Tips for Being Digital:

1. Be crazy about the web, deep dive whenever you can.
If you intend to make a long lasting career in Digital Marketing, then you just got to love the web and be absolutely crazy about it. And by crazy, I don't mean spending endless hours commenting on facebook or Gtalking with friends. No, not that way. There has to be a mix of your own online social networking,  reading stuff from diverse fields, visiting some creative websites (you are free to define what's creative for you), following experts on their views, interacting with the right people, etc. And when you like something, some website then deep dive in it to read and see more stuff. All this is like taking a walk around what I call the 'digital garden'. The more you see, the more ideas will come in your mind. Make it a habit and spend some time on the web looking at quality stuff, observe well, ask yourself - why did they make this website like this? What's the use? Does it allow me to read something, see something more effectively? Once you start thinking like this, you know you're going right. It should come naturally after a period of time. Remember the though - 'practice makes a man perfect'.

2. Be yourself on social networks - stay honest.
Source: Shift Digital
Like in real life, people on the web too like others who are honest and add value to their feeds, timeline, etc. Always be your real self and have an appetite to learn new things. When you come across as someone who's genuine, wants to learn, understand, has a viewpoint, then others start recognizing you and interact on a regular basis. But, on the other hand if you use the web only to create noise, i.e. post a facebook status every 30 minutes, instagram your pic in different poses, check in to a foursquare every 10 minutes (and tweet it too!), tweet every single action in your life (no one's interested, really), blindly hitting Like button on LinkedIn so that someone will note you - all these are signs of attentive disorder. Stop doing this. Instead focus on 2 or 3 social networks and create your presence there. Use Facebook / Google+ (or both) for personal stuff, twitter for learning and LinkedIn for a professional presence. You should identify subject experts and engage with them so that you can learn new things, ask your questions to. How you spend your time totally depends on you, if you're not spending it wisely then at the end no one will be left to 'like' your status. Everyone would've moved on.

3. Build your presence on the web - start blogging!
These days companies have started evaluating a candidate's social profile to cross-check his views, behavior, etc which is nothing but 'screening'. Apart from maintaining a healthy social profile, you should also make an effort to build yourself on the good side of the web. You can start of by putting your thoughts together at one place - you can blog! It's very easy to set up a blog and you can do it on BloggerWordpressTumblr, etc. I use Google's Blogger as it's easy to set up and works very well for me. Irrespective of the platform, you can spend time customizing the look and feel of your blog and then start off writing posts at a regular frequency. There's just unlimited creativity you can do on your blog. I love my blog and always try to improve it, whether it's the look and feel, the browsing, the content, the social spread, etc. During the early days it's tough to get readers but believe me, once your blog kicks off and people start recognizing you, then your reader base will increase, comments will increase, the posts will be shared. It's a good feeling and for all this you have to be extremely patient. The sooner you start, the better for your career.

4.  Be analytical, spot patterns.
Source: Google Analytics
You don't have to love Maths, but you shouldn't hate numbers too. Numbers or data - you should be able to analyze them on your fingertips. Do you know? When you set up your blog, you can see how many visitors are coming to your website, from which sources (, facebook, some other website), from which country, how many minutes are they spending on your website, etc if you track your blog through Google Analytics (short name GA). All it requires is a little bit of set-up and putting the tracking code on your blog and then you're ready to see interactive charts, in-site analytics, etc. No one told me all this and I learnt everything on my own out of sheer passion and today I can answer almost anything about GA within on time. When I look at websites, or tweet I look out for patterns so that I can connect them to make sense. Not many folks are comfortable with data but if you can pick this up now, then you'll be a very good asset to any digital team in future. Remember, no learning is ever a waste.

5. Learn a bit of HTML, coding. 
It's not a mandatory requirement but if you know how to code, then you can troubleshoot any difficult that comes while you are doing some online activity, customizing your blog, etc. There are a lot of websites which can teach you how to code but I would recommend you try out Codeacamedy which has well-structured lessons to learn code. It's fun and interactive too. Being a non-Engineer, I spent a long nights during my MBA days figuring out HTML and coding to customize my website, blog, etc. Basically, it's a program which follows logic and if you can pick it up well, then it'll build to your organized way of thinking. You won't believe - the trimester in which I scored the maximum was the same in which I spent 50% of time understanding codes, website customization, design, etc during exam time. It was crazy but I just loved it. You should always do what you love.

I leave you with a tweet from Jack Dorsey, whom I look up to for inspiration. It neatly sums up the underlying message of this post. If you get it, you'll on way ahead in life.

Always remember:

If you learnt something from these 5 tips, then do leave a comment below. I routinely take up questions from students, so if you like you can tweet to me @arifkhan7.

Till next time,
Be digital,


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