Archive for October, 2010

LinkedIn Tips from Guy Kawasaki – Part 3

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, Job Search, Motivation, social media marketing on October 22nd, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

This is the final installment recapping some tips from Web guru Guy Kawasaki about how to get the most out of LinkedIn. The original info is a few years old, but the tips are still valid. Let’s wrap up the last four (or five).

• Make your interview go more smoothly.

You went to MU, too? Great! You’re about to interview for a job or project. You don’t know the person you’re going to see, but your prep work should include a LinkedIn search for that person. You’re looking for ways to establish some kind of tie with him or her. Whoa! Look at this: the person graduated from the same university you did! And they know several people you know, too. Right off the bat, you have something to say besides, “Hello, nice to meet you.” Relationships begin with common threads.

• Gauge the health of a company.

By visiting a company’s website, you can see what they want the world to see. But you need inside information. By performing an advanced search for the company’s name, you can find out how much turnover they have, and whether some key people have recently left. To get a good idea about how the company is doing, talk to former employees. They’ll usually give it to you straight. You don’t want to work for a company that’s on the skids.

• Gauge the health of an industry.

What if you’re thinking of investing in, pitching or working for a company in an industry you don’t know very well? You can use LinkedIn to find people who worked for competitors—or even better, companies who went out of business. For example, suppose you wanted to build a new concept brick-and-mortar electronics store. You could learn a lot from speaking with former Circuit City employees.

• Track startups.

I’m not looking to invest in startup companies, especially in this economy (though a down period might be the best time to do it, anticipating a surge when business suddenly takes off). But if you are a venture capitalist like Guy, you may want to find out who in your LinkedIn network is starting a company. All it takes is an advanced search for a range of keywords such as “stealth” or “new startup.” To see the people closest to you in the network first, apply the “Sort By” filter to “Degrees away from you.”

• Ask for advice.

Here’s a LinkedIn function I just started using. LinkedIn Answers lets you send your business-oriented questions to your network and the greater LinkedIn network. Many heads are often better than one. You’ll have a better chance of making a good decision with lots of ideas on the table. You can also offer advice and get ranked as a subject expert.

Wheee!

If you have used LinkedIn to help you get business or find the answers to questions or in some other unique way, please post a comment here. I’d love to hear about your LinkedIn tricks. Or dog tricks.

Be a mensch.

Posted in Helpful Hints, Motivation, Other Stuff on October 20th, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

No one needs to tell you that these days, a lot of people are having a hard time. At least one person you know has lost their job, another has had their salary or hours cut. Someone else has lost their company insurance, and still another has had their home foreclosed on. Those of us still hanging onto jobs, insurance, homes and friends (Yes, sometimes you lose those, too.) are feeling pretty darned lucky.

Case in point: a couple of days ago, I had to send a “Late Payment” notice to the tenant in a house my uncle left me a couple of years ago. I’ll call him “John.” He was two months behind in his rent.

John has been in the house ever since it was built, 12 years ago. He has had a steady job with one company for 34 years and always has paid his rent — sometimes a little late, but always eventually.

A few months ago, I was concerned when he told me the company he worked for (a newspaper) had been acquired by another company. Worries started rumbling in the back of my head. Doesn’t a company’s acquisition by another company usually mean people will lose their jobs?

So I was not very surprised when John went a couple of months late on rent. He called to explain that the new company’s accounting department was having a hard time getting on-track with the payroll, and they would be paying him later in the month than the previous company had. He promised that by October 15, he would pay the last two months’ rent he owed. But October 15 came and went, and still, I had no rent payment. John’s home phone number was not in service, and his cell phone number now belonged to someone else. I was more than a little concerned.

Today, I suppose after receiving my “Late Payment” notice, John phoned me to say that the new company he was working for had gone bankrupt. He’d noticed their stock slipping, but he’d hoped against all odds that things would be okay. But they were very much not okay, and now he was out of a job and didn’t know what to do. He was an independent contractor who had paid his sub-contractors out of his own pocket, and now he was out more than $12,000. The new company was not going to repay him, and he wasn’t even eligible for unemployment. His voice trembled. He sounded on the verge of tears.

So what was I going to do? Throw him out of the house? No, I thought, “If I can lighten his burden, I will.” The mortgage is paid off, so I’m not on the hook for a big monthly payment. So I offered him a deal whereby both of us would be okay until he found another job. If he could just pay my tax and insurance expenses each month ’til he found a job, he could remain in his home sweet home.

When John heard my offer, he broke down in tears. He called me a “saint.” I assured him I was no saint, just someone who cared what happened to him. I told him that on top of the worry of finding another job, he didn’t need the stress of finding a new home, too. He thanked me again and again, through tears.

I’m so glad I am able to help John. I’m not doing it for thanks or praise, but because, as someone who once did me a huge favor said, “Sometimes, you’ve gotta be a mensch.” Roughly translated from the Yiddish, “mensch” means, “a good, decent person.” According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, a mensch is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous”. [Source: Wikipedia]

I consider the opportunity to do good an honor and a gift.

John had said, “I thought everyone would turn against me.” What an awful thought. Imagine being in the world without friends, people hounding you for money you don’t have, and your family looking to you for answers you don’t have. That’s what John thought he would be facing. One small act of kindness is all I could do, but it was a kind of life-saver thrown to someone who had felt he was drowning. The future may not be rosy for John and his family, but at least they’ll have a roof over their heads as he looks for new employment.

We all need a little help now and then. Today, look around and see if there’s anyone who needs you to be their mensch, in whatever big or small way. Call it doing good, helping your fellow man or woman, “paying it forward,” or whatever you choose. But do it. The person you help will feel better, and you will, too.

LinkedIn Tips from Guy Kawasaki – Part 2

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, Job Search, social media marketing on October 19th, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

If you are simply “on LinkedIn,” is that enough? Well, no.

There’s a lot more functionality to LinkedIn than you may be using, and there are a few LinkedIn tricks that could help you get a job or a project or make an important connection. Here are three more.

• Enhance your search engine results.

Did you know your LinkedIn profile lets you publicize websites? You have “My Website” and My Company,” and if you chose “Other,” you can change the name of the link. To publicize your personal blog, search-engine-optimize the link by putting your name or keywords into the link. Be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View.”

• Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.

You know, of course, that companies check your references and any other info they can find on you before hiring you. How about using LinkedIn to check the info of the person who might become your boss?

Also, wouldn’t you like to know why the person who previously held the position you’re interviewing for left the company? You can use LinkedIn to find that out, too. Search for the job title and company. Be sure “Current titles only” is unchecked. You can contact people who used to hold the position and find out about the job, manager and growth potential, sez Guy. You might avoid a sweatshop, a crazy boss, or a company on the skids by doing a little checking.

• Increase the relevancy of your job search.

With LinkedIn’s advanced search, you can find out where people with your education and work experience work. Use search keywords that pertain to your skills. For example, if I’m a Web content creator, I would search that term and variations of it, plus “writer,” Web writer,” “copywriter,” and so on, to find out which companies employ people with my skills. Then I can check their websites for “Careers” or contact their HR person to inquire about openings.

Part 3, the final four tips, will be here tomorrow. Tune in.

LinkedIn Tips From Guy Kawasaki

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, Job Search, social media marketing on October 18th, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

Guy Kawasaki in the flesh is somewhat smaller than his reputation.

Although he was a main brain at Apple in the early days and today is not only a venture capitalist but a Web guru, he looks like anybody you might see anywhere. Well, any Hawaiian guy you might see. I guess I thought he would radiate visible genius rays. So it surprised me how human and casual he was when I saw him speak at a MAMTC (Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center) conference last spring. He’s funny, full of vital info delivered in an off-the-cuff, irreverent and always entertaining manner. Not that he’s a showman, he just has a quirky personality he’s not afraid to share with you.

It’s hard to follow Guy on Twitter, ’cause he tweets incessantly. Maybe he’s ADHD. But also, he is one guy who knows whereof he speaks in regard to Web 2.0. So it’s in total humility that I offer a couple of his tips on productive ways you can use LinkedIn here.

1. Increase your visibility

Makes perfect sense. The more connections you have, the more likely people searching for someone to hire or do business with will see your name at the top of their search results. Guy says there are 67,000 product managers on Linkedin, so if you can connect with some of them, and you need a job they might hire or recommend you for (“Recommend” is another great feature of LinkedIn.), that’s good.

2. Increase your connectability.

If you put only your current employer in your LinkedIn profile, you limit your ability to connect with more people. Guy recommends filling out your profile “like it’s an executive bio… include past companies, education, affiliations, and activities.”

Connect!

Think of each place you worked and each activity you’ve done or club you’ve joined as a storehouse full of connections, each of whom is connected to at least 10 other people you’d like to know. Look up your connections’ connections. If you find someone you want to link with, ask your connection for an introduction to that person. Maybe the new person you link with will go wild over your new idea, hire you for a project or job, or introduce you to someone else who needs what you have to offer. You never know.

3. Improve your Google PageRank.

Getting to the top of a Google search page isn’t everything, but it sure gives you a leg up on the competition. How many pages do you search looking for an answer or a professional to handle a job? Bet you only look at the first one, and maybe only the top half of the first one. So Google PageRank is quite important in getting you seen.

LinkedIn makes your profile info available for search engines to index. LinkedIn profiles receive a pretty high PageRank in Google, especially if you select “Full View” as the option for your public profile. Guy also recommends customizing your public profile URL by making it your actual name. And to get more attention from search engines, use your customized URL in various places on the Web. Finally, he recommends that when you comment in a blog, you include a link to your profile in your signature.

Right now, I’m going to make sure I’m doing these three things myself. More later. And if you have a LinkedIn tip that’s worked for you, please comment below.

Stupid New Products

Posted in Advertising Related on October 14th, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

Did I rant about this before? If so, I’m still fuming, and still incredulous that this product made it to a store shelf near you.

In my salad days, I worked for a company that developed new product concepts that led to the manufacture of useful products. Well, except for new RJR cigarette brands, but back then, everybody smoked, so it was just a matter of whose cancer stick they smoked. But I digress.

There is a product on the market now that has such a brain-dead premise I can’t believe a bunch of focus group participants gave it the green light without being heavily drugged. Its appeal is based on the now-universal fear of GERMS.

People used to think a few germs couldn’t do you much harm. Now, we don’t want those tiny biological terrorists near us or our kids, no way, no how. If we could seal ourselves inside plastic bubbles as we went about our lives, we’d be oh so happy and feel oh so secure.

I must say germs have gotten a bad rap lately, and perhaps undeservedly. Remember when kids used to play in plain old DIRT? They used to ingest some of it, either intentionally (those mud pies looked so good!) or accidentally. And guess what? Those kids hardly ever got sick. But today, parents are so obsessed with protecting their little ones against GERMS that they’ve made their spawn increasingly susceptible to the very nasties they fear.

Y’see, the way we build up immunities to things is by being exposed to them. That’s the theory behind flu shots, and the DPT shots little kids get. Give ‘em a tad of the nasty infectious stuff, and their little bodies learn to fend it off, should they ever encounter it again.

So a completely germ-free world, though impossible to achieve, is what most people want, and thus we now have the ultimate stupid product.

[FANFARE]

PRESENTING … The hand sanitizer dispenser with a disinfectant right ON THE PUMP, so your hands never have to touch a GERMY PUMP!

[ANOTHER, DIFFERENT FANFARE]

Now, I’ve mentioned this to some people, and they say, “Yeah, that makes sense.” I submit these people haven’t really weren’t listening, but were thinking about whether they should choose a Zagnut bar or a bag of peanut M&Ms from the snack machine.

But you are a thoughtful person aren’t you? So I ask you, HOW does it make any SENSE to have a germ-free pump that you are touching IMMEDIATELY with your hand before dispensing hand sanitizer into the other hand, which you are then going to rub with the other hand?

The point is that any germs hanging around on top of the pump would be dead meat as soon as you applied the sanitizer, wouldn’t they?

SEE WHAT I MEAN? It makes no sense. Except to a marketer who wants to find some way to charge more for a widely used product whose price has been plunging due to store brands’ incursion into the market. In the new product biz, it’s called “brand exploitation.” I call it “dumb consumer exploitation.”

Please don’t encourage this sort of flimflam by buying one of the danged things, okay?

LinkedIn Job Tips

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, Job Search, Motivation, social media marketing on October 11th, 2010 by liz – Be the first to comment

Thanks to Doug Richards, Social Business Evangelist, for these ideas.

Here’s a conundrum for job-seekers: Employers are looking for employees who stand out from the crowd, yet also fit in to their crowd very nicely. So how do you stand out AND fit in? Your LInkedIn profile can help. Because LinkedIn is where employers, HR people and recruiters look for new employees.

Are you just one of thousands of faceless souls tramping the well-worn paths to certain companies in search of a job? You need to stand out to get employers’ and recruiters’ attention. And you need to have the skills most employers are looking for these days.

Pick me! Pick me!

So what skills are those employers looking for? Yes, some technical proficiency may be on the list, such as familiarity with Excel, Word and other programs. But the skills most sought-after don’t have to do with hardware, they’re “you-ware” skills. In your LinkedIn profile, highlight experiences that illustrate these:

Tech trainability – Ability to learn new things. You may have to learn a new database management system or company routine. Are you flexible and teachable?

Ability to multitask – Just common sense. When companies downsize, one person may have to juggle two or three different jobs. Are you the kind of person who can keep all of those balls in the air?

Lifelong learner - Once you’re out of college for a few years, the type of degree you have doesn’t matter much, unless it’s specifically aimed toward the job you’re seeking. But professional certifications in a relevant field can separate you from the herd. Like Microsoft certification, for instance, for an IT job.

Low maintenance – No manager wants to babysit employees. In your LinkedIn profile, indicate that you do your job without excessive hand-holding. Demonstrate how you figured out how to solve problems on your own and were able to implement the solution.

Are you a good fit?

Cultural fit – Know what’s more important than knowing how to do the specific job you’re looking for? Cultural fit. The ability to play and work nicely with other employees in the company. Do you share their values, speak their language, match their energy level? If you do, employers will train you. Address your values and style of interaction in your profile to let recruiters and HR people know who you are, so they can imagine how you would fit.

More info for job-seekers to come. Stay tuned.