Guest post by Karen Altes, manager of outreach programs for the Institute of Real Estate Management.

A few years ago, as manager of the student outreach program for a trade association, I suggested that if we really wanted to reach college students we needed to be on Facebook. I now run the association’s Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and LinkedIn group, and I have learned the reality of the adage “be careful what you wish for.”

The Ascent

Getting the go-ahead on a new initiative is exciting! You start out with lots of energy and great ideas, and it will shine through to your colleagues and customers. I harness my enthusiasm to ensure I provide our members, clients, and industry with frequent and relevant updates via our social media outposts. I also get to teach our members how they can use social media tools for themselves and their businesses. Earning a reputation as the resident expert makes you the go-to person when your coworkers need training or advice.

The Drop

Unfortunately, there are a lot of challenges when you voluntarily take on a new role, even if it’s something that you find fun. The biggest is that your “real” job doesn’t go away. So when things get busy, what gets dropped or postponed? Sometimes it’s disheartening to have to prioritize the less-fun projects over the cool new ones. Also, it’s difficult to integrate a new process into the entire organization’s day-to-day operations – your colleagues may see it as your “thing” and not give it much attention or thought.

Navigating the Twists and Turns

Here are a few ways that I’ve found useful to manage the challenges of an ever-changing job description:

  1. Clarify priorities. Talk with your boss/company leaders so when things get hectic, you know what is OK to postpone and what is mission-critical. Check back and reconfirm these priorities regularly; you may find they change as your new role expands and the value it brings becomes evident.
  2. Create and lead internal teams. Recruit staff to help develop the overall policy/strategy. Getting people involved across the organization from the beginning is a classic tool for achieving buy-in.
  3. Use your tools. One of my favorites for managing social media is Hootsuite. Being able to schedule tweets and Facebook updates well in advance means I always know something is going out, even on days when I’m swamped with other work.
  4. Create good work and organizational habits. I use to-do lists and calendar reminders like my job depends on it – because it does.
  5. Establish routines. I get to work early each morning and scan my RSS reader for industry news that I schedule to go out throughout the day. I hold a weekly internal “what’s up?” meeting to make sure I’m not missing anything.

It can be difficult to manage added workload, and you may find yourself wondering, “What did I get myself into?” But the rewards – learning new skills, building your reputation, and creating new professional opportunities – are worth it.

Karen Altes is manager of outreach programs for the Institute of Real Estate Management. Her social media street cred dates back to 2003, when she first met her husband on Friendster.