How to behave professionally on the internet. by Monika Kanokova

ProfessionalBranding

A case study

How does one use social media to brand oneself professionally? This doesn’t seem to be a question only companies ask to become more attractive to Millennials. Also, Millennials and generation Z wonder how to best utilise LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stand out and become more attractive as potential employees.

After I published This Year Will Be Different to shed some light on the challenges of freelancing, I got an email from Anika Mester, a representative of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. It was a request to give a lecture on the professional use of social media to their student fellows. Given social media has always been a way for me to attract people’s attention and also demonstrate my references, I figured I had a lot to share, so I took the chance. Frankly, I was curious to know how it feels to stand on the other side of the classroom, and I wanted to know what someone who just turned twenty thinks about the online bubble I’ve been living in for so long.

Before the workshop, I sent a questionnaire to the attendees to make sure I met the expectations and would deliver a lecture they’ll remember. I wanted to give some food for thought, so I asked what career or industry they were aiming at joining after their studies, what social platforms they used, how they felt about sharing content and what sort of content they shared. It was of little surprise that the attendees were mostly aiming at a career in the traditional industries such as business consulting, medicine or journalism. Having talked many times about my personal belief that we choose our careers based on what we know from our surroundings, what we feel familiar with and what we think we are able to access, the workshop suddenly became much more than just a superficial analysis of the diverse social media platforms and their advantages. Instead, it became a workshop that taught how to broaden professional horizons and access the people, industries and jobs the fellows wished for.

In the last eight years, I’ve come to understand the social web as a place where hierarchies have become outdated and where everyone can talk to whomever they want as long as they have something interesting to say. To me, the internet is not elitist and it’s the medium that has enabled social mobility like no other because everyone can reach what they want as long as they have the information they need. While the information is there of course, we need to teach our youth how to find it.

I, as a person, embrace the internet because it has enabled me to get to where I am now in life. Nevertheless, there are many people who fear the rapid change the internet has caused because of information exchange and the willingness to share insights with others. What I didn’t realise is that people that are younger than I am could potentially be afraid of the social web, but standing in a classroom for a day showed me that there are many insecurities in need of discussion. One of the students even said: “I am glad you came today because you’re the first person I’ve met who embraces the flexible job market and the insecure future.”

Now, it’s very unlikely the world will spin slower. It’s also very unlikely that work in ten years will be what it was 10 years ago or even what it is today. To me, it sounds like great news when I think of the number of people who hate their jobs. In my opinion, the social web as a tool for shared learning finally gives us the access to opportunities to evolve as people.

So, how do you use the internet to brand yourself professionally? In a nutshell, I’d say, “do stuff, tell people.” Document whatever you’re excited about and don’t hide it in the attic, but rather on an online blog or on Tumblr. The mediums will change and so will your interests, but when looking for work, all that matters is the now anyway. One can only go step by step, so documenting how you evolve in whatever interests you will benefit you in the long run. If I was hiring an online editor to fill the lifestyle pages of a magazine and one applicant has an amazing Instagram stream of places they could feature in the said magazine and a second candidate doesn’t have such proven track work, guess who I would invite to join my team? As Dan Harmon said, “Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.” You might think that your career choice is not suitable to be displayed online, but in the majority of cases, I would disagree. Instead, it’s not a question if you should be sharing your interests, but in what way because even a Twitter stream with tweets about a certain topic is a great way to make others know what you’re interested in. The internet is big enough for everyone to find their spot and to find the people who are willing to listen to them. The internet is also big enough so people who are not interested in your work have the choice to ignore you. The internet, let me tell you, is filled with your people and you can only catch their attention with the content they find appealing. If you’re worried that someone might not hire you because of your interests, then it might not be the right person for you to work with anyway.

So, what are some of the more practical things I’ve said during the lecture?

  • Don’t say things you don’t want your mother to hear you say; don’t be rude, offensive or mean.
  • If you think something’s great, tell the person. Tweet at them, send them an email.
  • Whenever you meet someone and like them, ask them for their contact details and follow up.
  • If you’re insecure about something, ask your friends for feedback. You’ll open the door for them to do so too and ask you for your opinion about their work.

I’m not saying social media branding will bring you the perfect job tomorrow. All I’m saying is that when you do things you want to get paid for eventually and you do so publicly, it will be easier for you to get there one day. Because it’s the people who open their mouths that get the jobs you dream of. Once you start applying for jobs, you can point to your blog, Twitter or Instagram stream and prove your excitement. If you now think you’re too busy to invest your time in the future you want, then think of all the other people who will invest the time and once you point at the ones who are doing the jobs you wanted to have yourself, remember that they’ve worked for it for free before someone offered to pay them to do so.


The day I spent in the classroom at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung went, of course, much deeper and was also much more practical. All I wanted to capture here was the initial thought behind professional branding. If you’d like to book a workshop or a lecture, please don’t hesitate and get in touch.

It's a wrap! June by Monika Kanokova

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June was the last month of the official launch period of Kickstarter’s arrival in Germany. I spent a lot of time traveling around the country and explaining how to run a Kickstarter campaign, which is why I decided to write a short blog post to help you set up a great campaign yourself. (I’ll publish it soon.) To me, Kickstarter is not just a great way to fund creative projects because it’s so much more than that. Doing my own Kickstarter project with the aim to publish This Year Will Be Different has brought so many great things to me! Apart from working with Kickstarter, I was also interviewed for John Lee Dumas’ podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. I was recommended to him as an interview partner by one of my amazing Kickstarter backers. I consider myself so exceptionally lucky for having such great people believe in my work. Also, something else happened because of the book. I was requested to teach a class at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The aim was to explain to their fellows how to utilise social media to (eventually) get better jobs.

This Year Will Be Different has received quite a lot of press this past month. For once, the book was featured on the Creative Boom as one of the must-read books for freelancers. There have also been features of the book in the Creative Mornings Vienna magazine and the local Wienerin magazine. Now that I’m back in Vienna, I feel very welcomed.

There is something else I’ve been experimenting with. In the last couple of months, I’ve been focusing on taking more pictures to sell them via Getty Images and the EyeEm Market. If you like taking pictures, then you should definitely look into it, and if you like writing, check out Contently. I’ve been linking my articles there since 2014 and finally I was picked as a freelance editor for human interest stories for Facebook Germany. Contently is the perfect resource when you want to make money as a freelance writer.

As I already mentioned, I’m back in Vienna and thus, I’ll reduce my hours with Kickstarter. I have capacities to take on long-term clients or short-term consulting work, so let me know if you’re working on a project that you need help with!

What a rich dad would have told you. by Monika Kanokova

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Here are parts of my weekly newsletter: you can subscribe to my newsletter to get the full articles to your mailbox. 

Do you remember my article about money? Recently I’ve come across two really interesting books I’d like to recommend to you. One, Financially Fearless, is a book that makes you feel as if someone would finally take your hand and walk you through budgeting, insurances and everything else you should be aware of, now that you’re an adult. The second book is what I would call an amazing discovery: "Rich dad, poor dad” by Robert Kiyosaki explains what he learned from his two “dads” about money. To give you a small insight, you should limit your expenses and invest time and money in the things that make you money in the long run. I’ve always had my issues with people who buy apartments that they cannot afford and finally I found someone who shares my opinion. Anyway, you should definitely put these two books to your reading list. 

I’ve also started mapping out the next books I want to publish; for the next one I want to focus on money and interview women who really know how to make the most out of theirs. If you know of someone who you admire for their budgeting/spending/investing skills, please be awesome and put me in touch with them. I figured that if I solve my own issues and answer my own questions, I can probably solve the issues of many others and help them too.

Ok, I can’t wait to hear from you!

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What is it you’re building? by Monika Kanokova

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Every time we’re busy with our every day life, there is the danger of losing the sight of what we’re really aiming for. Even when there are little plans and projects that keep one busy, the question might remain, what the bigger thing is one would like to do, achieve and realise? 

Our vision is one of the things that define who we are; it also defines the type of people we then surround ourselves with. It’s a vicious circle that either makes us reach for more or lose the self-confidence and the ability to see what we’re capable of.

In the last two months, I’ve spent all of my time and energy helping amazing people do great Kickstarter campaigns. Now that there is one more month left that I'll work on this great project (Kickstarter Outreach) I ponder about what it is I will do next; "How will I spend July, August, or even September?” is one of the questions occupying my mind. The much bigger question I keep asking myself is, “How do I want to spend July, August and September?"

All these thoughts made me realise, that when we work full-time, we don’t have much time to question what it is we’re really working towards. Being part of a team decreases the need of having to define who we are as individuals. In the last seven months since I went freelance, I’ve worked on a lot of incredible projects: every single one exciting and every single one utterly different. The variety of the projects I’ve accomplished in such short time makes it hard for me to decide on what should come next.

I strongly believe that we can only achieve something when we know what it is we want to achieve. I know that I would like to create something and also run another Kickstarter campaign (and be a bit more organised than with the last one.) I know that I want to make something great but I am not so sure what it should be just yet; what would you like to achieve, work on and realise? Maybe we can join forces! 

Please share your vision. I can’t wait to get inspired.

It’s a wrap! May by Monika Kanokova

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May was the second month I spent working with the great team at Kickstarter. On the 12th of May, Kickstarter launched in Germany, and with more than 100 projects going live on launch day and about € 500K pledged to German projects within the first 24 hours, Germany’s launch was the biggest international launch so far. I’m incredibly proud I could work on such a challenging assignment. 

I’ve spent the majority of the month going from one location to another and speaking about Kickstarter in front of artists, students (HS München, Muthesius, HfG Offenbach,..), and startup professionals. I would even dare to say that I’ve developed a routine in public speaking. Still, the most challenging (and most exciting) moment of the month was my talk at the re:publica.

May also marks the month where Diana and I have finally managed to bring This Year Will Be Different: The Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer out in print. You can now order the book via Amazon. I am even more excited that we’ve managed to secure some press and interviews about the book. I’ll share some links soon. Let’s make the next month as great as the last. Please let me know if you have a project I could get involved with. 

image: courtesy of Kickstarter.com

What "NO" really stands for. by Monika Kanokova

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A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a quote that said that “FAIL" stands for "first attempt in learning," that “END” means “effort never dies,” and that when we hear “NO,” we should understand those two simple letters as “next opportunity.”


Change often seems difficult, and jumping into the next opportunity comes with a lot of insecurities; insecurities that can be so simply avoided by sticking to the familiar. Often, when I am faced with clear signs of the need to change, I ask myself how much I will miss what I have now. Then I consider how high the chances are that the “new" will be more joyful, even if just for a very short period of time.


Sometimes accepting the need for a change takes longer. But then, once one is aware of a considerable issue, one should keep questioning the status quo regularly. Whenever the pain caused by closing an old door feels unmanageable, and the issue somehow still contributes to a personal evolution, change can wait. Then there is no need to say “no” just yet. The Zen saying is that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” 


I’ve come to understand that every step we take leads us to the next opportunity. As painful as change sometimes is, it’s simultaneously what keeps life exciting. And so, we should always walk forward and look for the ever-changing.

A bit of creative inspiration for you. by Monika Kanokova

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Today, Kickstarter launched in Germany and I feel incredibly fortunate I was part of the team that made it happen. If you’d like to read the full story of why and how I’m supporting Kickstarter during their German launch, you can find the story here.

What I would really like to do in this email is to introduce you to some of my favourite projects that have launched today:

If you’d like to save the world twice a day, you should consider getting sustainable toothbrushes from TIO. Designed by two great designers, TIO is a combination of everything Germany is known for: structure, efficiency, and great German engineering.

The wonderful blog, Notes of Berlin, is currently being turned into a movie. The storyline looks so incredibly promising, so don’t miss out on being one of the first people in the audience.

If you love tea AND design, you definitely want to take a look at Miito. Instead of restyling kettles, the designers have rethought the entire process of heating water.

If you have a hidden or not so hidden nerdy side, you want to take a closer look at The Future Chronicles, a great publication about the history of the Internet.

.. and if you’d like to try some vegan cheese, I’d love to recommend Happy Cheese to you. I’m very excited about getting this cashew-nuts-goodness straight into my belly.

If you are based in Germany and have an idea for a Kickstarter project, don’t hesitate and let me know. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge to help creatives build their project pages and also their communities.

Without excitement, you’re exchangeable. by Monika Kanokova

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A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend who was rejected after a job interview. I listened to her and the way she talked about the position and suddenly I realised why they didn’t consider her: she wasn't excited about the role. When looking for work, or even freelance jobs, there are three things that truly matter: skills, vision, and excitement. In addition, you need proof of all three.

It might take a lot of self-reflection to figure out what you're really excited about; to figure out what makes your heart sing and your eyes sparkle. But how do you expect to convince anyone that you’re the right person for a job if they don’t see that you’re head over heels? It's not enough to be excited; you have to be able to show that you are. 

The best way to convince someone you're a good fit for a job is to have proof of your excitement. Have you seen the movie The Rebound? (Probably not.) When the main actress wants to get a job in sports journalism, she shows the interviewer a (physical) map with sports result she's been tracking for years - results and statistics she's been writing down without anyone asking her to, let alone paying her to. She didn’t need formal education. She could prove she was the right candidate. 

This is why, in the age of the social web, it makes sense to share your excitement publicly. Once you do and keep doing it, people (and it’s very likely it’s going to be the right people) will notice and approach you. I got my first real job offer because I had a blog where I wrote about the things I found interesting. No one cared that I only had experience as a waitress. I was excited and I made people aware of that.

I don’t know what you’re excited about in particular, but whatever it is, start showing and sharing your excitement today. On Instagram, on Tumblr or on your personal blog. It’s about time!