What I Learned Sitting Next to a Marketing Expert for Six Months

In my six months working for MakerBot I have moved desks no less than four times. Throughout all of the moves, I always happened to sit next to the company’s Social Media Manager, a comical, gregarious, easy-going, expert networker. Late last week I learned that this coworker, Jon, was preparing to depart the company, which has led me to reflect on what I’ve learned from sitting next to quite possibly the best networker and social media expert that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. There are many things I’ve learned about proving one’s worth from watching the way this coworker conducted business. I wanted to take this time to share a few of these lessons:

1. Be an expert.

There is a reason the Social Media Manager was one of the longest-serving employees continuously working at the company: no one could do the job he did. He occupied a niche, and did it incredibly well. There were others who could do his job; however, Jon did not just complete the task, he constantly found new and creative ways to do the work. In this way, I learned that there is a difference between working in a certain position, and leading in a certain position. The goal should be to become a leader in that position, and that occurs through introducing new methods to complete a task. It also stems from being willing to share those methods and ideas so that the collective group can grow and learn. Like this, one can be seen as not just any average employee, but as an asset who is needed for the job to function.

2. Iterate.

This ability to make himself valuable stemmed from his ability to constantly grow and change. He never stayed stagnant in his position, and frequently took classes to learn more. More importantly, he always inquired as to how other peoples’ jobs functioned. This is an important trait in order to build not only new skills, but strong connections with your coworkers. For instance, as someone on the PR team, Jon would inquire how I generated my weekly metric reports. This proved useful for when I was absent and unable to complete the report, Jon was able to quickly step in and do it on my behalf. One must constantly grow in your own position, and learn new skills in order to prove one’s worth in the long-run.

3. Treat everything as an opportunity.

This was perhaps the most important lesson Jon showed me. There was a reason our Social Media Manager was in almost every meeting that occurred at the company: he made every business opportunity work for him. He saw a new product release or a media story as a way to integrate social media into the fray. Start a challenge here. Create a hashtag there. I learned that people appreciate others joining in on their idea because it adds weight to the project. Furthermore, it made his own job more valuable, as it was viewed as a flexible asset that could apply anywhere. People would come to him to see if they could integrate their work with his. A corporation appreciates an efficient use of time and money. When you can make your work apply anywhere and to any task, efficiency is achieved.

There are many more things I learned from this coworker, of course. However, these were the most important steps in order to assess and understand my own value in the workforce. Having left that company myself, and now onto a position with more responsibilities, I have taken the time to show my value in different areas that I am experience in. For example, at my new company, I have already taken the lead on introducing more metrics and data into our client reports. This is a skill I developed at my previous job, and was seen as valuable to the new company. Furthermore, I have requested to sit on on business development meetings in order to learn more about the process of acquiring clients. While this is not 100% in my scope of work, I feel it is valuable to learn this in order to best use my own network. With this, I hope to personally become the “expert networker” for another employee.