I want to note a few things in this post. It may be a little lengthy, but I have a lot to say, so please bear with me. First and foremost, I want to give a little back story for the title above ("Building my Following").
A week and a half ago, I went to Centre's GOLD Rush networking event, an event where current Centre students can engage in "speed networking" with Centre alums. There were 4 or 5 English major alums there, and while you'd think they would have given me the most valuable insight on what I can do when I graduate, the most encouraging alum I talked to was actually a Psychology and Drama major. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Well, I'm an English major, so there's not really a specific career related question I have for you, but I guess I could ask this -- did you know you wanted to have the job you now have while you were still at Centre?? Because I have no idea what I'm going to do.
Alum: Let me ask you this -- if money were no object, what would you like to do??
Me: If money were no object?? I'd be a professional blogger.
Alum: Really?? What do you blog about??
Me: I blog mostly about recovery-related issues. I'm in recovery from an eating disorder, and I like to write about it because I think there are a lot of people that can relate.
Alum: Wow, my sister is in recovery, too!!
Me: How cool!!
(I then go on to elaborate about my LONG TERM life goal of opening a residential treatment facility in my hometown)
Alum: What's stopping you??
Me: Well, I'm not sure exactly what the next step would be.
Alum: Have you ever had a contact who worked in one?? (not his exact words, but that was the gist of it)
Me: No, but I was a patient in one.
Alum: Which one, if you don't mind my asking??
Me: Remuda Ranch, out in Arizona.
Alum: No way -- That's where my sister went.
(The three minutes were up)
Alum: I definitely want to talk to you more when you've finished making your rounds....this is an awesome dream and I want to hear more!!
That was generally what out conversation was like, although I'm sure I'm not quoting it exactly. Point being, I had someone ENCOURAGE me about my dream for my life. We talked for like 15 minutes after the event was officially over, and then I was on such a high that I emailed my mentor, explaining how inspiring the event was.
Among the many things my mentor said, one of the things that really struck a chord to me is that perhaps the most immediately accessible place to start achieving my dream is to focus on the smaller-scale dream of professional blogging, which FINALLY brings me to the title of this post: I am doing everything I can to build my following.
It's common knowledge that in order to be respected in a field, you almost assuredly have to take a great amount of time and effort into making yourself known in that particular field. I have so many contacts in the eating disorders recovery world, and I want people to be able to hear my name and say, "Becca Jackson?? Yeah, I know her!! She (blogs/tweets/gives public speaking presentations/has authored a recovery book/mentors/any number of things). I love her work!!" I realize I have a LONG WAY to go before that can come to fruition, but hey, everybody has to start somewhere, right??
As far as steps I've already taken to try to get my name out there in the Ed recovery world, I have started this blog, I do public speaking presentations to raise awareness about eating disorders at local high schools, and just last night I started my "professional" Twitter account (@RecoveryColors , if you want to follow!! This username is actually based on what I want my treatment facility to be named -- "Shades of Life"). Also, I have an awesome friend, Marc Bentley, who just gave me an excellent PR blog post promoting this blog (Marc's blog is The Appalachian Scholar -- I recommend it to everyone, although this one sentence does not do his blog the justice it deserves....it really is great!!).
In any case, if any of you have a moment on here, or on Twitter, or on Facebook, or by word of mouth, to spread the word that this blog exists, and that the @RecoveryColors Twitter account exists (even though I've only posted a few tweets on there so far), that would be GREATLY appreciated!!
And as always, remember: RECOVERY ROCKS!!