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In 2009, I was working at a startup organization. I’d originally been hired as their corporate blogger. But, like so many other startup situations, that job turned into so many more things: advertising manager, PR representative, guerilla marketing manager, and yes, social media manager. I’d developed a voice and a strategy for social media and was responding to community discussions about the business (which was controversial) in community forums. I worked late at night and weekends. This job was all encompassing, until it wasn’t: it went belly up.

About this time, Roxanne Darling was taking the initiative as the founder of Social Media Club Hawaii (SMCHI). I didn’t have the energy or the time to physically make it to their meetings, so I would regularly lurk the live streaming sessions. The discussions were far ranging and far reaching. I’d often wish I had the chance to be at the sessions. Not long after that job officially ended, my colleague, Rob Bertholf asked me to join him at a SMCHI session, where I met the founder, Roxanne Darling. I was inspired by the energy and the inclusive, open philosophy behind SMCHI. At the time SMCHI was a very simple organization: Roxanne was pretty much doing everything. I volunteered to assist. At first, my assistance was simply helping coordinate the events. But soon after, my contacts at SMCHI became my colleagues and as importantly, friends. I found myself collaborating more and more with the group of trusted individuals I’d met at SMCHI. I knew that here was a group of people at least as dedicated as myself to upholding ethics, best practices and creating programs with real, measurable results. I grew too. Here I found professionals willing to challenge convention, create the unique and lead. The more I got involved, the more I admired many of the professionals at SMCHI.

Since then, SMCHI has been more than a volunteer role for me. It’s been a passion. As social media grew, so did SMCHI and its members. SMCHI elected their first Board of Directors in 2011, and it was my honor to serve as President of this Board of Directors. Our first Board was a small, but passionate group. In 2012, again, I have the honor of serving as President to a larger and increasingly passionate group of leaders in the social and digital space. With it, SMC’s national organization grew they hired a community manager, expanded education opportunities and officially became a national education-based nonprofit.

Through SMC and SMCHI I’ve had the opportunity to meet other professionals around the world and collaborate with them on projects as well as the direction of this growing industry. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with professionals whom I greatly admire such as Mari Smith, Brian Solis and Jeremiah Owyang and have fascinating conversations with them, under the umbrella of Social Media Club. As the industry grows, I feel it is more important than ever for professionals to come together as leaders in thought, ethics and education.

We are only now scratching the surface of what is possible for social media and being at the forefront of this exciting development means having the opportunity to be part of its ethical expansion. Something I personally feel passionate about. Social Media Club and my chapter, Social Media Club Hawaii (SMCHI) has impacted me in countless professional and personal ways. As social media tools, tactics and strategies continue to evolve, I’ll continue to seek out the other professionals in my field and I hope that Social Media Club is part of that for many years to come.

If you’d like to support your local club, please consider attending meetings and joining SMC as a paying member or sponsoring the national organization or your local chapter. So the organization can continue to provide the many great opportunities its provided to me and so many others in this exciting field of social media.
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