Did I think that is how I would be called by the end of the decade? Back in 2009, just around the time, when I was getting my life in order, a new role at work, my girl having “graduated” from Kindergarten to Primary school, settling in a new schedule at home that of course revolved around my girl, I had repeated requests from one of my dear school friends to sign up on Facebook. She said she had pictures of her family on FB and it would be great to be connected on this platform. Did I take the bait? I resisted for a long time, maybe I was anti social(media). One fine day, I decided to give in and created the user profile. What I saw on that platform was interesting and intriguing. The fact that I gave in to create a user profile on FB because I wanted to see my friend’s family pictures was not strange. In 2010, Facebook was seeing more than 100 million photo uploads every day. And I was also contributing to that number. I went back to check my updates on Facebook in 2009 and there had been a flurry of activity. I had to actually catchup and showcase my life to all my friends who were now on Facebook and I had done it in style! I also saw that I used to put out short status updates. “Busy studying.. with Sneha for the 1st std exams:-)”; “So, D and S – are we meeting up for lunch on 1st May?”. Really, did I put that question out on a public platform? Well, I am glad Mr. Zuckerberg went ahead and launched Messenger for people to share such questions in private and not have them up for the public to watch, like and comment! The next 5 years, I continued to add to my personal albums which also helped Facebook reach 350 million photo uploads every day in 2019!
Life, for me, changed in 2016! My girl had started writing. Of course the school curriculum mandates them to write short essays, but she had taken writing to heart and was attempting to write short stories. I didn’t have to worry any more about engaging her during her summer vacations. She found different writing contests to participate in and we had our moment of realisation that she does write well when her short story won a prize that year! I think that was the moment when I started looking around for writing resources, writing competitions, writing workshops and everything else about writing. Which mother would not want to see her daughter do well in a hobby which seemed to be turning into a passion(and could be a career for her later)? While I did all the research on writing for my girl, it seemed to ignite some passion in me for writing! My Facebook posts became more “reader” friendly! I also decided to become more friendly with social media by signing up on Linkedin. I chose my Linkedin network very carefully; only people who had worked with me earlier got an entry into my network. Not even my friends or family, they had to be people who had worked with me! Well, after the initial few days when I searched for such people and Linkedin recommended such people, life on Linkedin became quite boring! As one can imagine, I had built a network of people who had worked in one of the four technology organisations that I had worked in, and most of them would have been from that one company where I worked for 16 years! Hence, the daily feed from Linkedin also turned out to be very boring!
2016 was also special because I became a mentor on a few online platforms to help women focus on their careers and reach their full potential. This also led me to attend many meetups and conferences; hearing from the diverse set of speakers opened up my mind to what the world of today has to offer in terms of opportunities. That’s how I also opened up to connecting with people outside of my immediate network(which up till then was only friends, family and colleagues) on the social media. When I look at my Facebook posts of 2016, there were some photo albums that got updated, but there were many posts about the different kinds of events, meetups, workshops and conferences that were happening around us! My intention was simple – I wanted the information to be spread to a wider community. I had arrived! As Facebook transformed from being a platform to connect people with their friends, to being a marketing platform, I had also unintentionally started using this platform to build awareness and communities. 2016 was also the year when I visited the city of Indore where I spent my early childhood years. It was the year when I realised that life was about living, enjoying, creating an impact and trying new things. It was the year when I decided that one needs to create opportunities for themselves rather than wait for opportunities to come by.
In the next 3 years of the decade gone by, I had moved out of the corporate job market where I spent 25 long years to head a Not for profit foundation and later, became a freelance consultant. I met and connected with people from diverse educational, financial, social and professional backgrounds and built lasting relationships. I decided to help other women build confidence in themselves, seek and create opportunities for career growth and reach their potential. I got more serious with my writing as I realised that the stories that I narrated helped scores of readers across the globe. I built online networks using Facebook and Linkedin to reach larger audiences. Now I understand why Linkedin calls me “Neeraja, you are a power searcher”:) Yes, I learnt to tweet too! I created a personal brand that now helps me introduce myself beyond an identity that otherwise would have been restricted with the designation that I carried in the company that I worked for. I volunteered my time to help people and organisations reach their goals and in turn, it helped me learn and experience what I could never have learnt and experienced in a paid job! As someone said, Networking is defined as “I help because I can and when I need help, the community / universe will act in kind”. And yes, I had plenty of reciprocals. I was invited as a speaker for many events, on video interviews and podcasts. I won multiple awards for the work that I was doing and the impact that I was creating. I found different and interesting projects to work on. Life has been extremely satisfying and fulfilling.
As we step into the next decade, “Learning to relearn” is an imperative for everyone. I am glad that I have opened up my mind to be curious, creative and built a knack for story-telling. Coordination and Collaboration are key to getting the desired outcomes in the digital world. I look forward to building larger networks and communities in the coming years! I look forward to working with the youth of our country, especially girls, to help them build problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, and creativity skills. I look forward to writing more(might even be a book)! I of course look forward to sharing more photos on Facebook(and learn to use Instagram too)! And do you want to know what my girl is doing now? She has fervently continued pursuing her passion for writing and has now started writing blogs on her own blog site. Yes, this blog has been posted on her blog site!!
This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The Box, Wedding Clap, The Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee
-Written by Neeraja Ganesh, M/O Sneha Ganesh