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A Social Game Plan

In a new partnership, Erik Qualman helps Division II student-athletes put their best digital foot forward

Author Erik Qualman was named Michigan State alumnus of the year in 2011. FERNANDO LOZANO PHOTO

Rules from “What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube”:

Post it forward. Take three minutes a day to highlight other people on your social networking platforms. Tweet positively about them, endorse them on LinkedIn or like their posts on Facebook.

Network before you need your network. For students, now is the time to start making career connections. “Social media has diminished the gatekeeper to industry leaders,” he writes. “It’s now easier than ever to reach out to your role model and receive a response.”

Fail fast, fail forward, fail better. In this sense, the digital world is just like athletics. It’s nearly impossible to constantly succeed in the evolving digital world. The key: Keep trying new things and learning from mistakes.

A lot has changed since Erik Qualman was a college athlete at Michigan State University in the early 1990s. When he was working toward a degree in business and rising through the ranks of the Spartans basketball team – going from water boy his first year to a player on scholarship his last – Qualman didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or YouTube at his fingertips.

A decade later, Qualman is returning to his athletic roots through a whole new online world – one in which individual privacy seems like a notion of the past and a string of 140 characters holds surprising power. Qualman is a best-selling author and keynote speaker who teaches others how to build and protect their “digital reputation.” He recently adapted his popular book, “What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube,” to serve college athletes, with social media rules, case studies and resources catered to their unique campus environment.

Further, Qualman this year is conducting the Division II Digital Leadership Program, a partnership that will yield customized books, online training modules, video conferences and a year’s worth of newsletters. “It’s just kind of a logical fit,” Qualman says of the partnership. “We want to make sure the leaders on campus can take a digital megaphone and make their impact even greater than it ever has been.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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