Christina’s Coffee Talk: Sasha Muradali

sasha_twitter2c-tnThis week I had the pleasure of chatting with Sasha H. Muradali. She is a lover of all things social media, runs ‘Little Pink Book’ (now on Amazon’s Kindle.) and is always sparking conversation on Twitter. When Sasha isn’t blogging about the next “it” topic you could find her enjoying musical theatre, going to the opera, and enjoying a good book. This Harry Potter fan is also a self-taught Photoshop addict and loves trying to see what new things she can come up with. You may also find her singing to herself, her guilty pleasure, in her car to Miley Cyrus’s new song, “Party in the USA” and relaxing on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy…. But I’ll let you take that up with her. Without further adieu – here is Sasha discussing her blog, personal branding, and its impact on her job search.

Little Pink Book (LPB) is a must-read for PR pros – tell me how it all got started.

Well, back in March of this year, I was talking to my roommate/sorority sister from the University of Florida, Keira, telling her that I wanted to start a blog. I just didn’t know what to write about. Keira, runs a romance novel review blog, and suggested PR because, and I quote, “it’s what you know, it’s what you’re good at…and you HAVE an opinion.” So, I did a little research and like magic, it just all came together. I love doing it and am so glad that Keira gave me the push I needed to start it.

Do you have guest posts on LPB?

Yes, I have a great network of friends and new friends who have been so kind as to “guest blog” on the LBP. Keira has  guest blogged for me, and a friend from UF, Jennifer blogs {iStyle} every Friday. I welcome anyone who has something to say, to guest blog. That’s the great thing about social media, it’s about engagement and interaction. You can build communities and find people who are like minded.

Ever have anyone guest post with differing viewpoints?

Yes and no. I’ve invited people with opposite points of views to my own to blog, but no one has really taken me up on it. But yes, I do get people who have differing opinions and they leave it in the comments of any particular post they disagree with. Fortunately, the people who read my blog and choose to comment can agree, or agree to disagree, respectfully. Too often on the internet people are disrespectful and hide behind their computers and feel that they can say whatever they want however they want to say it. Sure everyone has their own choice on how they want to behave, but I’m lucky that those who communicate with me and my online ‘community’ are just not one of them.

I know you are currently job hunting and I wanted to know if having a blog has helped or hurt your search?

I think the LPB has done both. It’s certainly has helped in personal branding, and has opened a lot of doors that weren’t there before. I was featured in BusinessWeek not to long ago. Also, because of my blog I’ve met some amazing people along the way, not just in PR. But I’ve learned having an opinion can hurt you sometimes, even if you have a disclaimer up. I don’t blog with the intention of being malicious but I try to say things for what they are, backed by the values instilled into me by my parents. However, if I see something in the media or politics that I think is wrong or I have something to say about I will. To some companies, as I’ve been told, that’s a liability. It’s very subjective though, and that’s something to remember.

On interviews do they ask you about LPB or know about it?

Yes and no. In some interviews they brought up my blog before I said anything and that was flattering because in those cases they’ve said how much they love it. It’s very easy to find LPB because on my “me/resume” website, sashahalima.com, I link out to it. So even if you aren’t looking for it or if you are curious you will find it. In interviews I’ve never had anyone tell me that anything was wrong with my blog, or that they didn’t like it. Instead, I’ve been told, by some of these same people, that some people believe having an opinion can hinder you in the job hunt. Here’s an example that someone gave me and it made a lot of sense: it’s like interviewing at a PR company where their top client is a big time polluter and you’re passionate about “going green”. It’s a catch-22. All you can do is keep trying, be yourself, and when it’s your turn, it will happen. But you can’t expect positive things in your direction if you don’t try.

What are two advantages and disadvantages to having a personal blog and building an online community?

Two advantages:

1.  When people know what to expect from you, they know what they want from you and, in terms of jobs, for example, they know if you are right for them. It’s your “face value.” Very much, what you see is what you get.

2.  Personal branding is a form of expression. You can show who you are, what you do and what you’re good at on your own terms. It’s about putting the best “you” forward.

Two Disadvantages:

1.  For starters, your brand can become your niche, which could back you up into a wall. Some people will only ever be able to see you as “that” person. They don’t think you can be good at or capable or other things because you are so well-known for one or a few specific things.

2.  Also, think about the way that people are, this goes back to having an opinion. I mean what I could think is fantastic and what you could think is fantastic could be two very different things. So if I’m known for one thing, that to me, is an example of something great, to you, it may not be the same way. So that’s something to remember when you are looking to brand yourself a certain way. Think about it from all angles, sometimes, even if it’s “about you” — well, it really isn’t.

What advice would you give to someone searching for a job? How do you stay optimistic?

Staying positive isn’t easy. It takes as much work to stay positive as it does looking for a job. The thing is, and this is how I look at it, you won’t be any use to yourself if you are negative. You won’t feel motivated — and if you aren’t motivated you won’t get anywhere. Staying positive is about believing in yourself, and saying to yourself, that “I can and I will.” Sure it’s not all daisies and roses, or sunny days either. I think it’s important to have an outlet for your stress. I love my blog, it’s my outlet. I love to dance ballet, that’s an outlet. I love to read, that’s an outlet. Being motivated and staying positive means also doing things that make you happy, sometimes it’s the little things that yield the biggest impacts on us. You never know what doors there are out there, so stay alert, open to possibilities and be careful. It’s like dating – give it a try, keeping your eyes and ears open for “The One.”  🙂

I hope my interview with Sasha sparks a discussion about personal branding and blogging and how it can impact the job search.  I would love for others to give their experiences/advice in the comments below.  Of course, if you have any additional questions/comments for Sasha post them below and we’ll see if she can spare a few more minutes for some answers.

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  • Thanks for doing this Christina! I had a great time talking with you! 🙂

  • jeffshuey

    great post. Thanks for the tips and ideas. I agree with your Pros and Cons for a personal blog. No one wants to be in a niche – yet at the same time the niches are where those unique opportunities can often be found. A dichotomy indeed.

  • Exactly! I mean I love my blog, I would never change it…but at the same time I understand how I am “branded.”

    For some people that may or may not be “okay” with them. I don't mind my brand; I think it's highly reflective of who I am.

    🙂

  • I remember when you first thought blogging was weird. I'm so glad you are doing it now and your pros and cons about having a blog are very insightful and universal. They count for any type of blog and blogger. 🙂

  • Aww, thanks Keira 🙂

  • I remember when you first thought blogging was weird. I'm so glad you are doing it now and your pros and cons about having a blog are very insightful and universal. They count for any type of blog and blogger. 🙂

  • Aww, thanks Keira 🙂