Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful Career Management tools business professionals can tap into to maximize the achievement of their objectives. LinkedIn has recently rolled out a new feature that is a great way to facilitate this and to enhance your online brand. Like all Social media, LinkedIn requires two key philosophies. First is Pay-It-Forward, and the second is “Think It Through”. A little bit of thought, and the desire to pay it forward will take you a long way. Keeping this in mind will help you use the brand new Skills & Endorsements tool to take your LinkedIn engagement to the next level. In order to help you do this, I have developed the following EZ steps.

  1. Add Skills to your profile: Click “More” on the top of the LinkedIn menu than select Skill & Expertise. Add the skills that relate to your profession that you are recognized for and that you use regularly on the job. LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50. Choose as many as apply.
  2. If you already have some skills listed, go to the edit profile mode and click to add more skills
  3. After you add skills, you can click the skill to specify your level of proficiency as well as the number of years you have been utilizing the skill.
  4. Endorse Others: Now pay it forward. Go to the profile of contacts you want to endorse. A box opens up with some suggested skills to endorse. Eliminate skills you are not able to endorse, and add skills you want to endorse. Then click the endorse button
  5. Take an additional couple of minutes to scroll down to their skills section and review their skills. Click all the skills that make sense for you to endorse based on your knowledge of the individual.

Don’t just select the skills suggested by LinkedIn, endorse and move on. Unfortunately, even if you are trying to help the person out, the message that you are giving is that you are not putting thought into what you are doing. This will hurt your reputation, and people will assume if you are “lazy” on LinkedIn, you will be lazy in other parts of your profession. Take some time to do it right, the ROI on the time spent will come back much higher.

This blog is by Greg Johnson

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Last week I discussed the best way to get around the salary question for online applications is to stop relying on online applications and pursue the hidden job market. This makes sense not only to get around the salary question, and the general road block of HR, but also because 80% of the truly open jobs are in the hidden job market. Before we go any further, what is the hidden job market? It is not that the jobs are buried somewhere hidden. It is any opportunity that is not currently posted on the job boards. This can consist of jobs that are in the still in the internal candidate search process, jobs that are in the process of being defined, or opportunities to solve problems that have yet to be identified in a job description. Your success in this depends on a purposeful strategy with a clearly defined goal of where you want to go. In the words of Yogi Berra:

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

Start off creating a list of Target Companies based, not on jobs posted, but on your passions and interests. While not all companies have job openings, all companies have problems. In order to differentiate yourself from the masses of job seekers, you need to position yourself as a solution, not a job seeker. In order to position yourself as a solution you need to know the problems and headaches of your target companies. In order to understand the problems, you need to research your target companies. Finally in order to research your target companies, you need to have target companies.

Once you have your list of target companies, begin your research, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can find a few resources here.

From here you are in a position to produce industry wide special reports which are great keys to get you in the door for information meetings. Use these as a launch-pad for a social media campaign to establish your reputation as a thought leader and subject matter expert in your particular niche. Simultaneously, you need to network network network. This doesn’t mean just attend a ton of networking event collecting business cards to put on your desk. Strategically and purposefully engage in professional organizations taking positions on committees and boards, so that you can work on a professional level with influential people in your target industry. For your success in the hidden job market, it is not necessarily what you know, or even what you know, but who knows you, and what their perception is of you that will maximize your career opportunities.

How are you strategically researching your target companies and spreading your reputation as a subject matter expert or thought leader in your particular niche?

 

Anyone who has participated in my workshops knows that one of my core foundations of successful career management is “It is not what you know, not even who you know, but who knows you that will impact your career”. In the course of a career, most professionals develop their reputation among a small circle of colleagues, and possibly some vendors and customers. What can you do to spread your reputation (which is essentially your personal brand identity) beyond your normal circle? There are three primary ways you can achieve this:

  1. Involvement in Professional, Industry and Alumni Associations
  2. Social Media
  3. Community Volunteering

Today, I am going to focus on community volunteering. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dan Stone posted a great opportunity to volunteer at a bike camp for special needs children. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our daily grind; we forget what living is about. When we take the time to stop, interact with and help others, something else happens. We leave a positive imprint on their lives. By helping others even in so simple a way as helping them learn to ride a bike, we are giving them success. Anytime we help someone through a challenging time, or achieve even a small amount of success, an amazing thing happens. A special need in ourselves to serve others is filled. I have never met anyone volunteering at such a community event feel that they didn’t receive significantly more than they gave. In this, a very valuable lesson is learned. Our personal brand is not just defined by our professional skills and accomplishments; it is differentiated by our impact on others. How have we positively interacted with and impacted those around us. How have we helped those in circles and in our community live a richer and more fulfilled life? A side benefit? You never know who you will meet at such a volunteering opportunity that will see you giving of yourself to others. You never know what professional connections they may have that will lead to your next career position.

Finding opportunities is easy. For those living in Orange County, a few you can check out are : Ryan’s Reach, South Orange County Community Outreach and Children’s Hospital of Orange County. These are just a few. If you have favorite suggestions in your area, please let us know.

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a BBQ networking event hosted by my friend Wayne Yoshida. The idea is simple. You are always attending various types of networking events where you have a short time to connect with a large number of new people. Wayne’s inspiration, which was from reading the book Never Eat Alone, is rather simple. Invite people you meet at some of these events, along with some people you regularly network with, and get together over a BBQ and pot luck. You have a few hours to talk in an informal and relaxed environment and an opportunity to get to know others in ways you do not at other networking events. So not only did we have killer ribs along with some other very good food, but I also learned quite a bit more about some people in my network, and got a better idea of how we can help each other. Maybe the next idea is Sushi Making Networking? What is your idea for fun networking?

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage in your career management, but most professionals use it for nothing more than an online resume. When I teach LinkedIn, people are amazed that there is so much more to LinkedIn. A repeated theme of my workshops and blogs is that job security in corporate America is a thing of the past. As a result, the most important thing a professional can understand is this: It is not what you know, or even who you know, but who knows you that will land you your next position or help you promote in your career. LinkedIn leveraged properly will allow you to spread your reputation as a subject matter expert and successful professional. So in considering what to blog about this week, I decided to write a blog on how to better leverage LinkedIn as a personal branding tool. Just as I was starting to write, I saw a posting from my good friend Neal Schaffer, spelling out exactly what I wanted to say. So rather than try to write the same thing, I would share Neal’s post. Click the link below and Enjoy! 4 Ways Of Obtaining Thought Leadership on LinkedIn.

The other day, I had the opportunity to speak to the Future Business Leaders of America at Cal-State Fullerton. During the question and answer session, one of the members asked, given the current lack of job security in corporate American, what can they do to create their own career security? As you have read in previous posts, I strongly believe that your success is not always determined by what you know, or even who you know, but who knows you. In other words, in the typical course of a career, you develop a reputation as a professional and subject matter expert among a small number of colleagues at the companies you work for, as well as possibly a few customers or vendors that you work with. However the circle that your reputation spreads to is very limited. One of the most effective ways to increase the reach of your professional reputation across an industry or function is via professional associations. However, I am not talking about just being a member and going to some networking events. I am talking about getting on committees, boards or working on projects for the association and even speaking at meetings on particular subjects of which you have expertise. This will allow others outside your normal circle of influence to get to know your professional thought process as well as how well you work with others. Active involvement in these capacities gives you opportunities to achieve accomplishments for the organization and also will provide you a platform of visibility. Then as you strategically plan your career advancement, you will have more advocates and a stronger network to help you reach your goals.

In a recent blog, I wrote about business cards and how they impact your brand. Today, I would like to talk about the etiquette of business cards, and how this can positively impact your effectiveness in networking and ultimately your career management or career search. I was lucky enough to begin my career in Japan, and this has significantly impacted my perspective on this. In Japan, the business card is an extension of the person. Exchanging business cards is a ritual in Japan. The way you give and receive a card demonstrates your respect of the other person. The information on the card lets each party know the hierarchy, and how they should behave towards the other party. What I learned is the importance of acknowledging information on the card, and using that to demonstrate my interest in the other person. Now, whenever I exchange cards, I always look at the name and title of the person giving me their card. Unfortunately, I do not have the best memory, so I say the name and title for the person out loud, and this helps me to remember the person. It also lets the other person know that I am paying attention to them. How many times have you been at a networking event, where the noise level is so high, it was difficult to hear what the other person does? How many times have you met a person, and by the time you finish talking with them, you have forgotten the name and title of the person you are talking to? By looking at and repeating out loud the information on the card, you are providing an additional method of inputting the information into your head, and remembering the person. How many times have you given a card to someone and they immediately put the card in their pocket without even looking at it? How much were they listening to you? By implementing this into your networking practice, you will not only demonstrate greater respect to the individual you are meeting, but when you look at the card to follow-up with the individual, you will have much greater recollection of the person you met and the conversation that took place, allowing for a much more effective follow-up.

Are you in transition? Do you have a business card? What does it say about you? Why do you need a business card, what should you put on it, and what should it look like?

With over 80% of jobs being landed through networking, business cards are often your first exchange of information when you meet someone in your job hunt. But what message are you giving people when you give them your business card? Does it say you are a value added solution or just a commodity on the job market? If you are at a networking event, how many other people there have the same design card?

At the most fundamental level, a business card allows you to exchange contact information, so that in networking, you can continue to communicate, develop a relationship and leverage each other’s connections. At a higher level, the business card will inform your network of your target position and industry as well as your skills and experiences that qualify you for the position. Finally, the card reflects your professionalism, and the standard with which you view yourself. With this in mind, what components go into a well developed business card that represents your brand and value?

  • Name
  • Target Title and industry if applicable – not necessarily your most recent title, but where are you headed?
  • Tag line/ Career Theme – What do you do for companies? What is your impact on the companies? Why do you do what you do? What are you known for?
  • Cell Phone
  • Professional e-mail address – it is easiest to base it on your name
  • Social Media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and WordPress
  • Core competencies on the back

Remember, that since the card represents you as a professional, you want your card to stand out. Yes there is a site that prints “free” cards, you just need to pay for shipping. But all that says is that your brand is not worth distinguishing. You are branding yourself as a commodity. If you are worth a company investing in you, than invest at least a little bit in how you present yourself. Print your cards on heavy stock. This shows pride in who you are, and confidence in your value. Have color! Work with a graphic designer to come up with a design and layout that represents you and your quality. After all, your business card is your first impression.

 

This post is by Greg Johnson of Above The Rim Executive Coaching

What do you do? How do you answer this question? Most people I talk to respond by giving their title. When giving an elevator pitch, most people name tasks that they perform on the job, often giving a laundry list. When I ask an IT manager what they do, they might talk about implementing and or maintaining systems for a company. They may talk about particular architectures or programs that they have expertise in, but all this does is brand people as a commodity. It does nothing to demonstrate their value. What is the value of implementing a new system? What does that system do for the company? How are employees able to improve performance with the new system? Does the system actually achieve the goals that were envisioned? Was the system implemented on time and under budget? What were the skills (hard and soft) that you used to achieve your results? What were the actions that you took leading to the results? These are the types of questions that need to be answered so that you can articulate your value. Any work an employee does needs to do one of three things for the company. It needs to help the company generate revenue, help the company save costs, or help the company mitigate risks. If your work is not doing any of these, there is no reason for a company to pay your salary. By understanding the value your work or projects bring to a company, you have an ability to start articulating what value you can bring to a prospective employer. You are no longer a commodity, but you are a value added solution.

In my last two blogs I discussed steps that, as part of your career management strategies, will help you maximize and realize your potential. Since implementation and follow-thru are key ingredients to the success of these steps, I was asked by several readers about my thoughts on accountability. What is accountability, and why do we need it. Accountability, in its simplest terms is the owning of the responsibility of our actions or lack thereof, as well as the resulting outcomes. In today’s society, accountability usually revolves around changing life behaviors such as going on a diet, or in the achievement of goals and completion of projects. In fact, project management is a great way of looking at accountability. So, what are the aspects of accountability, and how can we maximize our success in achieving our goals or desired results.

  • Desire for Accountability
    • Determine: is it more painful to stay where you are now, or do the work necessary to achieve your mission? If the pain of doing the work is greater than the pain of staying where you are, and you do not want to do what it takes, you will not be accountable.
  • Get into or form an accountability group. In the workplace this can be in the shape of department or committee meetings. For individuals in career transition, or maximizing their career opportunities, this would be in the form of groups that meet on a regularly scheduled basis. What are characteristics and components of a good accountability group?
    • Confidentiality – what is discussed in the accountability group must stay in the group, in order to create a safe environment.
    • Willingness to share and be open within the group
    • Comprised of individuals committed to achieving success
    • Comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and with diverse strengths to complement each other.
    • Willingness to be tough and demanding in the completion of commitments and achievement of goals.
    • Desire to share and celebrate the successes of milestones and realization of achievements.
  • Establish an accountability partner. While many of the components of an accountability group and accountability partner over lap, they are slightly different, and utilizing both will enhance your prospects. An accountability group offers a greater breadth of expertise and resources, an accountability partner allows for deeper support and commitment to success.
  • Determine your goals.
    • Establish your major goal, for example landing your next career position
    • Ascertain a desired timeline that is realistic to achieve success.
    • Break up the goal into different components that will help you achieve you’re your end game.
    • Break up the components into bite size milestones and tasks
  • Write down your goals with timeline – a goal in the head is unlikely to be achieved, while putting it down on paper impacts our commitment to achieving the goal and makes the realization much more likely.
  • Schedule your activity to achieve your milestones and goals. Put it in your calendar! If you are doing company research, put in your calendar when you will be doing your research. Be Specific! So often I hear people say they don’t have time to put everything into their calendar, or that they don’t want to “pin themselves down and lose their flexibility”. To put a different spin on one of John Wooden‘s quotes, failing to schedule your milestones is scheduling to fail your milestones.
  • Share the goals and milestones with the accountability group and partner. While writing down the goal greatly increases success, committing in front of others brings it to a different level all together.
  • Celebrate all your achievements big and small!

Here’s to your success in 2012! Share your thoughts on accountability, and where you have had success. I am looking forward to hearing your comments.