Over the past few years I've been asked by many people on how to start a career in digital. So if you're looking to start or develop your career in digital marketing, e-commerce or social media I offer 3 useful suggestions:
1. Digital is about practice and "rolling your sleeves up", not about theory.
A marketing degree is important (it's the "door opener" that gets you a job interview) but ultimately its less important that hands-on work experience. I suggest that if you haven't done this already, immediately start on Twitter, Weibo, a Blog and using Social Media. It doesn't matter whether it's just personal or on a topic that you're passionate about or whether you talk about your favourite hobby. The important thing is that you can demonstrate to potential employers and hiring managers that you know what you're doing.
2. Can you refocus your current role around digital marketing initiatives?
This is important, particularly if you already have a sales & marketing role. I suggest you simply volunteer to be the digital person at your company. Manage their Facebook page or Twitter account. If they don't have them, set them up! Start directing some of the marketing budget into digital marketing (specifically search marketing or online ads). Start up an email newsletter for clients/customers. It all adds up (and validates point 1. above!).
3. Network like crazy!
Until you build up digital marketing competency, you're a risk to an employer. The best thing you can do is network with people in the digital industry to find out about new opportunties. Try going to professional events (such as ad:tech, SES, Social Media World Forum, SXSW, etc.) or country-specific industry network nights (such as Web Webnesday or Mobile Mondays), join groups on LinkedIn and get to know the "movers and shakers" in the local digital marketing scene. A lot of opportunities present themselves when people know who you are (or better yet, like you!).
I hope this advice helps. Best of luck with your digital career and I hope to see you on Twitter or LinkedIn or at an upcoming networking function.