At LinchPinSEO we value supporting fellow professionals in our industry and spreading the love. With that in mind, we have decided to start doing interviews with digital media professionals who are reshaping the lives of their clients in a positive and impactful way.
This week’s interview is the most active social networker I know, and his name is synonymous with, “How can I help you?” Silicon Valley’s Albert Qian is in love with social media and he wants to make sure others find their path in life easier than he did. Recently, Albert initiated a networking meeting called, “The Southern California Story” where professionals from California gathered to share their personal stories. Come get to know this rising star whose main focus – is everyone else.
1. Hi, Albert – tell us about yourself? Where are you from? Live? And how did you find social media?
I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I currently live in Santa Clara, California, about a mile from where I went to school at Santa Clara University.
I knew I liked social media when I first got on Facebook in October 2005. I really loved engaging socially with friends and seeing what they were up to. My interest in social as a full-time career didn’t occur until May of 2009. I was working at the Santa Clara University Office of Marketing and Communications as a web intern. One day the communications director asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to help with content for the University Facebook page. I volunteered and spent the next summer working on just that, and really fell in love.
2. Tell us what you do for Cisco..
I am a program manager at Cisco in San Jose on the Global Social Media Team. I work on Cisco Communities, a social platform for Cisco employees, partners, resellers and individuals interested in working for Cisco. You can check it out at: http://communities.cisco.com.
I manage the day-to-day activities of Cisco Communities on a very high level. I interface and help community managers learn the platform and also run metrics on how Cisco Communities is doing month after month with respect to visitors, views, content engagement and geographic engagement.
3. What are your favorite social media tools and why?
I’m a big fan of HootSuite. I first got into HootSuite back in April 2011. Originally, I thought having another webpage open was going to be a drag, but HootSuite has been great. I like using HootSuite because I can toggle between all of my social media presences and see statistics on how many people click through the content I post.
I also really enjoy using BundlePost and I’ve been a customer since March 2011. They offer great customer service and the tool makes me more efficient in pushing content through my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social properties, in addition to helping me gain more of a following.
4. Do you have a focused niche in social media?
I mainly focus on social media strategy, branding, and analytics. I have also done community management in the past. You could say that I am a jack of many social media trades.
5. You have always been someone who connects people. Why is it so important to you?
My social networking is one I consider a story of luck and a story of blessings.
I’ve always seen connecting with others as a form of public speaking. This story starts in 6th grade when I first took speech as a required course in middle school. I got a D+ because the second speaking assignment I completely failed.
In high school my mother enrolled me in speech and debate again, and the first few days were nerve-wracking. How would I speak in front of others? Where would I get the courage? But being afraid turned into something I’ve participated, volunteered and coached in the past 10 years. The impact of speech on my life is considered an instrumental part of what has contributed to my success.
Connecting with people was an experience that started from the end of college. My parents are engineers, and while they could refer me for positions, I had to largely get employment on my own. Starting out was a tough ride. I was very lost and wasn’t sure where to go, but eventually found employment and my way to Cisco.
The reason why I connect people is because I don’t wish for people to find themselves in the situation I did after graduation. No one is entitled to success – that is something people find with hard work and dedication. But no one should be faced with the obstacle of not being connected with the right people at the right time. I want people to connect, so they can focus on what their passion is and what they do well.
6. What inspired the California Story and how did it come about?
The Southern California Story was an idea that came from my brainstorm session with Helene Vo. She originally approached me because of social media, but our discussion turned into mutual interests, among which was networking. We both agreed networking was something college career centers emphasize their students take part in, but not enough emphasized the importance of relationship building through networking. Our original idea was to invite as many colleges as possible to our event, and have a celebrity speaker talk about their networking experience. While the end result wasn’t as extravagant, we were very glad the way our event went.
7. How did you plan the California Story? Did anyone help you?
Helene and I planned the entire event through social media, text messaging, phone calls and email. Our friends and colleagues did help, but we were on our own. And this was the first time either one of us planned an event.
8. When and where was the event? And what lessons did you learn during the process?
Our event was held at Senor Fish in downtown Los Angeles. We had two speakers, Mark E. Sackett and Luc Berlin, followed by several more hours of networking. We learned several lessons during the process of setting up the event:
- Start early – If you want to get press coverage, you need to get it out at least 3 weeks in advance.
- Do it with a great team – the more help, the better!
- Communicate – Helene and I did an exceptional job of communicating. Without this, the event would not have happened!
9. Do you plan to hold more networking events? And would you consider hosting them outside of California?
Yes! I am currently planning the Silicon Valley Story for January 2013. I am definitely interested in hosting events outside of California if there are collaborators interested in teaming up!
10. What plans do you have for yourself in the future?
I’m the entrepreneurial type, so I want to work for myself and develop social media products. And since I’ve lived in the Bay Area for many years, I’m considering relocation as an option.
11. Who are your social media mentors? And why?
Robert Caruso (@fondalo) is the first person who comes to mind. I first met him in February 2011. He taught me the importance of engagement and content in social media. He’s one of the most helpful people out there and is always willing to talk to me about how I can improve myself, my social media work, and my personal well being. He and Julia Hull (@PerfectJulia) are part of BundlePost (@BundlePost), and Julia and I chat about life and social media often as well!
Another mentor of mine is Ken Yap (@kenyapCNO). Over the past few years, he taught me the value of networking and meeting people with the intention of shared values and collaboration. He meets with me often to discuss how I can improve my interactions with others and how to network for my own benefit.
12. What advice do you have for newbies who want to begin a career in social media?
The best way to get into social media is to do social media. The social media space is currently filled with so many individuals who call themselves experts without ever having sent out a tweet or worked for a company. The best way to start is to lead by example – start a page, get out there and meet people, and turn online connections into offline connections!
For more information about The Southern California Story, check out this video from the event or contact Albert via Twitter at @AlbertQian.