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The power of networking. That was the message social media expert and blogger Erik Deckers brought to a capacity crowd of USI students, faculty, and administrators. Deckers is the author of "Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself." He explained to students that as a new job seeker in the post-college job market, you can’t rely on job boards and online applications as your way in. You’re one of dozens or even hundreds of applicants, and the odds of reaching the hiring manager through traditional channels are fairly remote.

He encouraged students to blog – about classes, school projects, personal news, industry analysis, opinion pieces. Then, begin building your social media presence around the blog to gain followers and start building a reputation for yourself as an expert in the field in which you want to work. “Job seekers who successfully brand themselves are the ones who often succeed first. Use social media to grow your professional reputation, your personal brand and your professional network to find interviews, internships and even a new career.”

Deckers said about 70% of hires are made through networking – “somebody knows somebody else” – so that is where job seekers should focus most of their efforts. Invite people in the field you want to work in for coffee. Use the opportunity not as a job interview, but as an informational interview to find out about their career and the profession – and maybe that person can introduce you to more people.

Deckers, a professional blogger and ghostwriter, has co-authored several books including “Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself,” and “The Owned Media Doctrine.” He has been blogging since 1997 and a newspaper humor columnist since 1994. Deckers is a regular speaker and writer about personal branding, and is passionate about helping other people reach the next big step in their career.

Erik was the Spring writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida, and now serves on their board of directors. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in College Student Personnel Administration, both from Ball State University.

Deckers speaking to class

Deckers speaking to full room

Full classroom

Students talk to Deckers

Students talk to Deckers