Today in my networking challenge I am interviewing Ashley Ranger. Ashley is the President of Excelamktg. She was at the forefront of social media since the beginning and was the youngest person to lead the Social Media Division at Universal Music Group. Ashley, thank you so much for sharing your advice with us!
In case you can’t watch the video, read all of the great social media advice below instead!
1) What is your best social media advice for young professionals who want to succeed in their professional lives?
What is great about social media is that you have the ability to use it for personal use and learn the ins and outs of how the platforms work. This is going to put you at a really great advantage in the workplace. If you really know things like the Facebook algorithm, how to use hashtags, etc, you are going to know a lot more than the average person.
I tell people to start building your own personal brand online in social media so you will learn some principles that you can apply towards business social media and also use it as a great networking tool when you establish yourself. It will help you find jobs and help show that you an authority in the social media sphere.
2) How do you recommend learning about social media so that we can become experts?
Books and literature are great. Online surfing is also great like reading sites like Mashable. Also, set up profiles on different platforms like Pinterest. Sign up and play around, add all your friends, start following businesses and see what they are doing there.
Just get acclimated to how these platforms work and what they are used for which will be invaluable knowledge for you to use in the future.
3) You have worked for amazing like Universal Music Group, Globe Shoes and Lucky Strike Entertainment. How did you get these jobs?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in marketing. I started doing internships when I was 16 so I got a really early start in the career world. I did 5 or 6 different internships because I really wanted to build a solid resume before I stepped into the next level. I wanted to get a better job than just an entry level job and it ended up working out very well.
During my internships, I was actually able to get a lot of hands-on experience with some of the new social media tools that were coming up at that time. Myspace was getting bigger and bigger so I learned how to use Myspace. When I went to Universal, I started off in a different kind of position. I was helping them do production but they found out that I had the expertise to do their Myspace instead. They let me take that over because none of the Executives at Universal knew how to use it. It was kind of through serendipity but also through a lot of hard work.
4) Did you do a lot of networking within the company once you got there?
Networking is something that I didn’t really learn and appreciate until more recently especially in the last couple of years since owning my own business. When I was younger I was trying to find work-life balance that everyone tries to get.
I wasn’t necessarily going out of my way after work to go to networking events since it wasn’t a huge priority for me even though I loved my career and I wanted to further myself. But, once I did figure out that it can be a huge element and can open up so many doors to you, I really liked networking.
5) How did you make the decision to start your own company?
It was kind of my chance but I have had entrepreneurial spirits for a long time. I have always wanted to have some kind of business of my own. For awhile I thought I would actually have some kind of etsy store. I use to do a lot of handmade items on the side just as my passion project. I always thought I would do something like that and just market myself.
But, I met my business partner a couple of years ago and he owned Excelamktg which had a creative department and my experience was very synergetic with what they were doing – websites, branding and print materials and they were looking for someone who had marketing expertise. So it naturally evolved from there and we started working together. We started to see that the clients they had were really interested in what I had to offer.
We started hiring some people to do in house social media and then split it off into its own company and the rest is history. Now we have 30 employees so it has grown really fast and it has been really good.
6) What is your advice to a young professional who has an idea for a business but doesn’t know where to start?
There are so many tools out there for your disposal with the internet age that we are living in. It depends on what kind of business that you want to open. It’s always a really good idea to start small and make it manageable to begin with.
If you have an idea, think about the most basic elements that you can start doing to get that idea to grow. Look at resources online like LegalZoom is a really good resource to just learn about certain legal aspects of actually having a business. If you have a product that you make and created, Etsy is a great resource to just put up a shop and start doing your own social networking and social media marketing to bring attention to that shop.
Kickstarter is a great way for people to raise funds if you need capital for a project. There are so many things out there that are built to help you be able to take your idea into reality. Do the research necessary to know what those tools are and take that step to get the ball in motion. Actually move towards your goals rather than just having it be a dream.
7) What do you wish you would have known when you were a young professional woman just starting out in her career?
Networking. I couldn’t be more of a proponent of networking now. I have met so many amazing people over the last couple of years and even just out at a restaurant having dinner and randomly meeting someone at the table next to me has turned into a client that we work with in such a large capacity, It just shows that being open all the time to learn what other people do and how it might interact with what you do and keeping those relationships up is vital.
You want to build that support network around you for your customer base and to find quality employees to work for you. All of that can be accomplished with networking. Just get out of your comfort zone and look into what networking events are around you and just dive in. Things will come out of it that are very beneficial.
[Related Post: 3 Reasons Why IRL (In Real Life) Networking Still Kicks Butt]