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June You Get It Winner: Trent Hamm !!!

June 30th, 2007

Congrats Trent HammI came across Trent Hamm’s very popular blog a few weeks ago when Carolynn Duncan shot me a post he did about career management (15 More Things You Can Do Right Now To Help Your Career). I liked what I read so I subscribed, and have been extremely impressed since then. Let me pick apart a few things with regard to Trent’s blog and as it relates to his personal brand.

Trent Hamm - financial guru and The Simple Dollar mastermindTrent is just a normal person, like you and me. He found himself over his head with finances – he calls it his complete financial meltdown – and decided to pick the topic of finances apart (much like I tried to pick apart career management). Trent’s obvious goal is to share what he has learned, and what he continues to learn with anyone that cares about this stuff. He says he likes to write, so what a great medium a blog would be, right? I’ll tell you right now, Trent is, in my book, an A-List blogger.

Personal finances hits everyone, rich and poor and all of us in-between, every single day. Trent has a knack for picking up on various interesting issues and explaining them to his readers in a really, really simple writing style. Not to say his writing is for a sixth grader. But you don’t have to have a finance degree to understand what he’s talking about. Get it? The Simple Dollar? Here’s what I love about his blog:

The logo. There’s a lot of sexy logos out there, and everyone is trying to be really professional with this first-impression. I love how “simple” (the font) and “dollar” (can you see the letters have images from a dollar bill in them?) are a part of his logo. It looks cool, in my opinion, and it works for me.

The Simple Dollar Logo

The what the heck is The Simple Dollar paragraph in the top right. It quickly and simply puts forth who the blog is for, and makes him very relatable.

The Content. I talked about content vs. widgets in my series last week on my blogging secrets. I don’t know how Trent does it but he has more than one very meaty post each day (not sure about weekends and holidays). If I had to pick 10 of the richest content sites on the Internet I’m pretty sure he would be one of them.

The tone. Trent is authentic. Transparent. Likeable. This dude is my buddy… at least that’s what I think when I read his stuff. He lives out in the cornfields of Iowa and talks about getting over his ego to have expensive and cool stuff. He talks about crunching numbers to compare Costco vs. Amazon vs. the grocery store. He walks the walk, obviously, and shares how he does it. He inspires people – check out this post The Simple Dollar Convinces Someone To Quit Their Job. WOW!

No brand dilution. Check out the categories on the right side of his page. There are a TON! Out of curiosity I clicked on “computers” wondering if it was going to get really geeky and go off-brand. Guess what? It’s all on-brand! Go through the other categories and you’ll see that he stays on-brand for us.

over 13,000 readers!Seize the opportunity. Trent is doing all the right stuff. He has grown his readership to over 13,000 through feedburner, and I’m sure more through other mediums. He has over 1,500 blogs linking back to him which puts him in the top 1,000 blogs in the world (considering there are over 80 million blogs, this is pretty big imho). Alexa puts his traffic as… pretty darn good :) Guess what? This money guy is no dummy. There is opportunity to make money based on this popularity. He has the google ads various ways to monetize and I’m guessing he’s doing pretty good on this. Here’s the deal, though. Trent does not go off-brand, or lower the standard of content, to monetize. He puts ME before a monetization opportunity (at least, that’s how I see it). Great example of making some money off your blog without cheapening your brand!

Blogroll is not overwhelming. A temptation of bloggers to get others to link back to you is to have a HUGE blogroll. I’ve seen blogrolls that are so long that I can’t even get into them… it’s just too much. Trent only shows a handful of the blogroll links at one time, so it is quite digestible, and, respectful to the reader.

Trent is doing all the right stuff. The results show it. His brand is in his content, not a flashy logo. His power is in his authenticity, and the depth of his knowledge. I am learning a lot about personal branding as I watch how he manages his blog. I hope you can too.

Congratulations Trent! – You join a special group of professionals and have earned a coveted link from my monthly winner’s blogroll area (on the left), six months of premium JibberJobber (you can transfer/award this to someone else :) ), and a cyber-high five! Feel free to post the You Get It award on your blog!

Here are the past winners:

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Day 5: My Blogging Secrets

June 29th, 2007

please don't share this :)Wow – what a week! Here’s a wrap-up:

My secret for Day 5 is be wary of technology. Yep, you heard it right. I’m a programmer, I’ve been in IT for over 10 years, I’m a wildly successful internet entrepreneur (:)), and many think I’m on the bleeding edge of technology.

Notice that I don’t have a bunch of widgets on my blog? There are hundreds to choose from, and they are very popular. But I feel that my blog is already quite busy. Plus, I don’t want my readers to come and have problems with the page downloading. Here’s the real reason:

I’m slow to adopt new stuff! Might sound funny but it’s true.

You may think that blogging is “new stuff.” I see blogging as self-publishing. That’s it. The sites to create blogs (wordpress, typepad, blogger, etc.) are just tools to use, and make it about as easy as writing an e-mail. I don’t think of myself as a great technologist because I blog … just someone that is determined to write something good each day.

I think this might be one of the more controversial things amongst bloggers. Everyone wants to put their flickr feeds, twitter widgets, mybloglog gadgets and all kinds of neato things. I’d rather help my readers focus on my words. That’s what I’m hear for – to communicate a message, not bring you to a distracting environment. I’ll never pretend to be an artistic layout and design genius like David Armano. But at least I can keep most of the clutter and distraction out of your face.

On the other side of the “technology” consideration, think about how to promote your blog. I used to chase after digg votes. I don’t anymore – I found it to be a waste of time (mostly because I don’t have a tech blog). I know the emurse.com blog does well because of Netscape votes. But I don’t have many contacts that are Netscape junkies, so I get no traction there. I want to think del.icio.us would do the trick but for some reason most of my readers (and JibberJobber users) don’t bookmark JibberJobber or this blog. So using these social methods of getting more eyeballs has not really worked for me.

Over the last few months I’ve been messing around with MyBlogLog (even though I don’t have the widget, I do have a MyBlogLog strategy) and StumbleUpon. I can’t say that I have gotten many (any?) readers because of MyBlogLog, but StumbleUpon has had a significant (did I say hugely significant) impact on my traffic.

The hardest thing about the technology is figuring out what is noise (or, a fad) and going with the winners. I have no tech advice here because I’ve concentrated more on the message and the community than the widgets. I just go really slow with this stuff – how about you? Am I wrong? Should I incorporate other widgetry in my blog?  I’ll tell you right now, if I put more time into the widgetry I’ll have less time for the content.  I’ve made my decision, what’s yours?

There you go – I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of secrets. I have – it’s really made me think more about what I’m doing and my tactics and strategy. Huge thank you to all of you who have commented as I’ve learned a ton!

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Day 4: My Blogging Secrets

June 28th, 2007

Shhhh!  don't tell anyone!I’ve gotten a number of IM’s and e-mails about how cool this series is. Thank you, and huge thanks for the comments throughout the week. Unfortunately, it’s not very healthy for me…. check out this IM transcript from this morning:

Phil801 says: i feel guilty that i haven’t taken time to comment, but i consider just reading blogs to be a distraction right now, commenting is out of the question
Jason says: i understand. It is amazing how getting comments boosts a blogger’s ego though. It’s probably unhealthy for me to get the comments :)
Phil801 says: lol – that’s VERY true :)

(you can follow Phil801 at his blog (locally, Phil is kind of like Cher and Prince… he’s a one-namer. I always call him Phil801 and usually forget what his last name is :p)

Kidding aside, thank you very much for contributing. I’m not alone in thinking this way… Pete Johnson, HP.com architect and author of Nerd Guru pointed a group I’m on to Jeff Atwood’s post which had a really profound sentence:

It’s an open secret amongst bloggers that the blog comments are often better than the original blog post, and it’s because the community collectively knows far more than you or I will ever know.

That leads me to today’s secret: build a community. I’d like to say the secret is HOW to build a community, but I’m not sure I know. The secret is simply that you should build a community. End of post.

Bonus material – here’s how I think I’ve built a community. It involves a lot of risking. Reaching out to others. I’ve blogged about relationships, leaving comments, developing a brand and having an abundance mentallity. When you roll all of these up you are led to a simple yet time-consuming tactic – include others in your posts.

Including others is cool for two reasons. First, I can’t imagine what Jason Alba could write about for so long without including others. Honestly, more than once I’ve thought “I’ve just run out of ideas! There’s nothing more to say!” Second, blogging about others is a way of putting your virtual arm around them and walking them over to your community, with a warm-fuzzy feeling. How to do this?

  • I’ve had a few people write guest posts. I thought this would be easy but it was a little harder than I thought. When you have someone write a guest post you make them a community creator with you – they have some kind of vested interest.
  • I used to link out a lot! I wish I could say that I still do but I’ve been really busy with the book and other stuff lately that I have slacked off on this. Want to know a really easy way to link out? Here’s what I do if I have an extra twenty minutes: After I write my post I go to blogsearch.google.com and search on various keywords from my post. Remember, I care a lot more about linking to a blog post than anything else, that’s why I go to a blog search engine. Anyway, I check to see if any of the hits are on a clean (not dirty, or lame) blog, and the post is interesting and relevant, and then I link back to it. I’ve met a lot of people just reaching out to them in this way (because they usually get an e-mail notifying them that someone linked to them).
  • I call people out by name. Can you find examples in the posts this week? I’ll give you hints – Pete Johnson from today, and Andy Sernovitz from Monday. Come on guys, do you really think that guru and superstar Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing reads my blog daily? No, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. But he has commented on my blog every time I’ve linked to him, or mentioned his name. He either has google alerts set up on his name or he gets the e-mail from his blog saying I linked to him. And he responds because it’s good for his brand and his marketing (I do the same). Do you have google alerts set up on your name and other industry topics? You should!
    • caveat: this doesn’t always work! So if the person you are calling out doesn’t respond don’t worry about it. I’ve been tagged multiple times and only found out when the author simply e-mails me to tell me I have been tagged. So if there is no response, don’t fret.
  • I Take something from a comment and make it into a blog post. I sometimes feel sorry for my RSS readers because they’ll miss incredible discussions found only in the comments. Make sure to cite the commenter and link back to their blog or website, if you can. Never link to their e-mail address (if that’s all they left) – consider that private and confidential.
  • Similarly, I take a line or an entire post from someone else and create my own post based off of that. Wow, how flattering is it to find out that one of your brilliant thoughts spawned a post on someone else’s blog!! One of the best people I’ve seen do this is Bengt Wendel. He’s done this a few times from posts I’ve written, but what really impresses me is when he finds some of my profoundness (:)) and updates one of his old posts! It shows that he is connecting lots of dots and really cares about his content (whereas, if you ask me what I wrote two weeks ago, I can’t tell you… my brain just doesn’t work that way!). End result? I’m a huge fan of Bengt’s because he has flattered me time and again.
  • I Work on non-A-list relationships. All bloggers would love a mention in some A-list blogs, and drive tons of traffic. Kelly King Anderson, the Startup Princess, got a complete post out of Seth Godin once and got a ton of new traffic to her site (read her side of the story). TechCrunch, Boing-Boing, Guy Kawasaki and others can drive huge traffic to your site, even with a mere mention! But guess what … it’s really, really hard to get ink on their blogs. So my advice is, don’t try. It is not low-hanging fruit. And there are so many B+ bloggers out there that it’s easier to get their attention. Here’s the secret though… you should develop relationships with these B+ bloggers in your niche! I am always looking for bloggers in the employment space, which is quite broad. I want to know them, be familiar with them, and hope to get on their radar. All I want is a line in their blog like this “I love JibberJobber!” That’s it. But it will all start with building a relationship.
  • I Don’t neglect D-listers. These are the bloggers that … well, are just starting out. Shoot, I’ve seen a lot of sharp newbie bloggers with incredible blogs start up in the last year, and they are so passionate that I’ve been way more impressed with them than some A-listers. Guess what folks? A-listers of today were newbies at one time. If you develop a relationship with D-listers now who knows what that can turn into in a couple of years.
  • I had some blog buddies. These are people who I followed every single day, and who followed me (informally, of course). There was a lot of link love going around, and commenting on one-another’s blog. I know that it is lonely to not have any recognition on a post, and having a blog-buddy that was watching me each day was enough flattery and ego-building to keep me going. Who was my blog buddy? For many months (it’s no secret, just look at the early months) it was Carl Chapman, executive restaurant recruiter. We still chat on IM but we don’t follow each other’s blogs as much – that’s okay though – I think we really helped one another during that time (I know he helped me a ton).

Again, this is simple relationship building stuff. I really, really recommend you get a free account on JibberJobber.com. I use to it log when I communicate with bloggers, set follow-up dates with them, and a host of other things. If you are trying to develop a bunch of relationships without a CRM tool I feel sorry for you. Head on over and sign-up on JibberJobber for free now, won’t ya?

Finally, when I was with Liz Strauss and the SOB people in Chicago earlier this year I found that there are a ton of really cool, less-known bloggers out there that are doing this stuff every single day. When you have about an hour free, check out these blogs and bookmark your fav’s. There is a lot to learn from these folks (man, would I love to hear their secrets and tips about what I posted on this week!), who are very dedicated to blogging, relationships, etc.

SOBcon2007 Chicago Attendees:

Sandra Renshaw
Brad Shorr
Timothy Johnson
Tammy Lenski
Muhammad Saleem
Lorelle VanFossen
David Dalka – Mobile Search Marketing
Todd And
John Yedinak
Joe Hauckes
Tim Draayer
Jeremy Geelan
Carolyn Manning
Sheila Scarborough
Steve Farber
Dawud Miracle
Doug Mitchell
Jeff O’Hara
Dave Schoof
Jamy Shiels
Adam Steen
Hannah Steen
Chris Thilk
Barry Zweibel
Eric Bingen
Ellen Moore
Cord Silverstein
Jean-Patrick Smith
James Walton
Sharan Tash
Vernon Lun
Tony Lee
Scott Desgrosseilliers
Mark Murrell
Kammie Kobyleski
Easton Ellsworth
Mark Goodyear
Ann Michael
Kent Blumberg
Ashley Cecil
Robert Hruzek
Sabu N G
Mazur Krystyna
Lisa Gates
Franke James
Chris Brown
Troy Worman
Karen Putz
Jesse Petersen
Terry Mapes
Andy Brudtkuhl
Lucia Mancuso
Peter Flaschner
Derrick Sorles
Mike Rohde
Thomas Clifford
Rajesh Srivastava
Claire Celsi
Jason Alba
Cristiana Passinato
Sean R.
Alex Shalman
Cristiana Passinato
Brad Spirrison
Ari Garber
Dr. Rob Wolcott
Cheryll Cruz
Sharon Scherer
Jonathan Phillips
Jason Wade
Jill Pullen
Doug Bulleit
Wendy Kinney
Chelsea Vincent
Ayush Agarwal
Paul Mangalik
Premchand Kallan
Xochi Kaplan
Michael Snell
Ella Wilson
James Bergstrom
Raj Majumder
Keith Levenson

SOBcon2007 Chicago Speakers:
Andy Sernovitz
Phil Gerbyshak
Liz Strauss
David Armano
Mike Sansone
Drew McLellan
Mike Wagner
Terry Starbucker
Rodney Rumford
Ben Yoskovitz
Chris Cree
Robyn Tippins
Diego Orjuela
Vernon Lun
Wendy Piersall

Ok, one more day of secrets left (then, I’m out of secrets)!


Awesome San Francisco jobs await you at San Fran Jobs.com.

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Day 3: My Blogging Secrets

June 27th, 2007

shhh!  Don't tell anyone about this secret!For those of you that come to this blog to see career stuff, personal branding, networking, job search and all that, hang in there! This entire week I’m sharing some of my common-sense secrets that went into my blog marketing strategy for the last year, in celebration of finishing one year of blogging. Plus, I’m a big advocate of blogging to help quanitify a strong personal brand, and some of the information here might be helpful to you, as a professional, as you learn more about what goes into blogging :)

Day 1 was on relationships, Day 2 was on branding.

Today’s secret is to blog with an abundance mentality. This is pretty easy in the blogosphere as we commonly say things like link love (which means, I link out to your blog or website, sharing my viewers with you), transparency (where we put the interests of our readers before our own pride (hm, how’s that for a quick definition?)) and authenticity (where we are not fake, because our readers are too smart and will read right through any fakeness). So the environment is right, but how do we do it? I’ll share how I’ve done it in the last year.

The idea behind the abundance mentality is that you believe there is enough to go around, so don’t hoard. I found it’s critical for me to have an abundance mentality, and equally important, to think (hope) that other bloggers have an abundance mentality.

The very first big thing I did that really pushed my comfort level on the abundance mentality was the blog carnival from last year. I loved it – it was a great question, the responses where incredible, and instead of making it a flash-in-the-pan thing I extended it over five days, really highlighting the participants, sharing link love, introducing one to another, etc. I know that many of my participants (and readers) learned of other bloggers during that time and many developed their own relationships. I was very pleased to have been a part of all that relationship building. Here is day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5. If you do something like this, my only advice is to go over the top.

The next big thing that I did was to create my You Get It award. Honestly, it started out as an experiment, somewhat gimmicky. But I put my heart into it and it has grown over the last few months into something really, really cool. The proof of how cool it could be came in November when I awarded it to Heather Hendricks, the only non-blogging winner. My good friend Carl Chapman commented on how PETA should be taken of her resume and all hell broke loose. Actually, here’s the cool thing. There are over 40 comments on that post and (a) they are incredible, though provoking comments, and (b) they are by industry leaders. The debate is hot. This is when I realized I was onto something.

Quick sidenote here – how did those 40 comments get there? When things where heating up I encouraged people from both sides (recruiters (or, hiring managers) and personal branding experts) to get their colleagues involved. Some of them, like William Arruda, weren’t regular blog readers, but he came and commented (at someone’s request) and just having him comment there added credibility to my blog. Get people involved – like Guy Kawasaki is doing with his Truemors site. He is allowing people to have a voice and direct where this site goes, and relinquishing that power to the user is huge (and makes truemers more fun to read).

Another huge abunance mentality thing is to share lots of link love. I’ve talked about this before but here’s why it’s so interesting. When you link out to someone else’s site you are essentially endorsing them, and recommending that your readers go somewhere else! Ah, in the olden days of internet it was practically a sin to have your readers go somewhere else. In fact, I still read about sites that are very jealous of their links out, and only promote interal links. My position is this: if you are good enough, they will come back. Share your wealth of information with your readers. It’s all about providing value to your readers. You can’t be the smartest guy on the planet, and there are fountains of information that you go to… share this with your readership and they’ll come back to you because they know you are going to be an excellent source of information and knowledge leads.

crotchety old boss yellingSilly sites that don’t link out much are justified (I guess), but I don’t share their same philosophy. I picture a crotchety old manager yelling at writers saying something like “don’t let our readers know there are other things to read! Keep them here! HERE!

A really good example of an uber-successful blog that links out all the time, it’s what they are all about, is TechCrunch. According to Technorati, Michael Arrington runs the fourth most popular blog on the planet. What do they do that makes it so successful? Link out. 99% of the posts are about non-techcrunch things (the other 1% announces things like parties and get-togethers). So This powerful site is sharing lots of Google Juice (their PR is 8/10). Of course, there are lots of bloggers that do this, this is just one example of the abundance mentality + link love = success.

Note that I’m not saying to try and clone TechCrunch, because you can’t (and there are too many clones). Also, I firmly believe that you need to have your own opinions and value-add to a story, not just link out to other stuff all the time and have “me too” posts.

Okay, this is way longer than I like. One more point.

You have to believe that others have an abundance mentallity and are willing to share YOU with their readers. I’ve done this plenty of times, and have even allowed a few comments that I’ve thought “man, they are fishing for eyeballs!” But here’s what I mean.

When I did the blog carnival last year I made a list of “heavies” that I wanted to have as contributors. I e-mailed them and said “hey, I know that you don’t really blog on career stuff but all of your readers have careers, and think about issues like this. I think it would be great if you participated in the carnival.” I probably got about 20% of the people I hit up that absolutely don’t blog on career stuff to actually participate. One was Seth Godin. I still have people say “man, that was so cool that Seth wrote something for your blog!”

Seth is human. Seth is not a god. He is very approachable… but I had to make the first effort and communicate with him. I didn’t “meme tag” him (that is, link to him and say “I hope Seth participates”). I found his e-mail, shot him a note, and from that I got a response to post in the carnival.

I put together a list of folks and methodically worked on building relationships. Point is, you have to take the initiative. Figure out how to write a really good e-mail, similar to what a PR professional would write to an editor when pitching a story. And then send the e-mail! Start the relationship! All of these A-listers really are human – I know – I’ve had e-mail communication with a few of them. They are just normal (albeit probably richer than most of us) folks. Here’s a hint though, they really appreciate authentic, honest communication. Keep it real with them. But my point is, go into the relationship thinking that they have an abundance mentality also.

Finally, speaking of relationships, I could not manage all of these relationships without JibberJobber. I’ll shamelessly plug it here since, well, it is my blog :p Go get a free account, you can manage more than 250 network contacts with log entries (“I e-mailed Michael today about xyz”), action items (“need to follow up in three weeks”), and much more. If you need relationships to help move you forward, you need to get an account in JibberJobber. Yes, it’s even for people not looking for a job.

Does this surprise you? Do you have an abundance mentality on your blog? What can you do to show more of an abundance mentality?

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city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Day 2: My Blogging Secrets

June 26th, 2007

shh! don't share the secrets!Continuing the week-long series of my blogging secrets to celebrate my one year blog anniversary, today is about being “on-brand.” As I mentioned on Friday, one of the decisions I had to make was what my brand was going to be:

Was I going to be Jason the unemployed guy so I could relate with my audience (but then… what if I got a job???) or Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur (so you can feel safe about using JibberJobber because it isn’t going anywhere!)?

I chose to be Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur who feels the pain of being unemployed. And who hates the despair of the job search. And who wanted to help others through a sucky experience. And who was discovering career management, which including things that you do long-term (look at my categories on the left and you’ll see what those things are).

I also chose to not compete with any particular group out there. There are recruiters (I’m not one), career coaches (I’m not one), resume writers (I’m not one), career space watchers (I’m not really one, as they focus more on a career expert audience and are smarter than I am), career counselors (I don’t work for a gov’t institution anymore), etc. I positioned JibberJobber (the application) and the blog as central to any of these. Complementary.

It was a good place to be because it was really easy to get others to blog about me, link back to me, participate in the discussions and promote and endorse JibberJobber. No one could get offended at me, or what I wrote, because I was generally a nice guy.

And this, during a time when writing controversial stuff was a guarantee to get more readers! But my focus wasn’t on getting “more readers.” I didn’t want the fly-by-night readers. I wanted the intelligent readers – I wanted people that cared about this stuff, could appreciate it, and hopefully get value out of what I wrote, and what others left in the comments.

Last November I kind of went off-brand for a post where I felt very ranty. It was titled Does your parachute have HOLES and I kind of slammed a team member from Richard Nelson Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute team.

I also slammed Princeton University.

I also slammed the New York state labor department.

In a different post I slammed the state of California (without naming them, but I said “It rhymes with Malimornia”).

Was this really off-brand? Well, here’s the deal. I care about getting the best information out to my readers. And all the noise, trickery, and double-standards that I saw as a job seeker really got under my skin. As a blogger I thought I could call these people out, especially since I really trusted my state (Utah) to help me in my job search (they didn’t). As a side note, I’m still bitter about the whole crappy experience, which I know is giving me bad karma, but it fuels my passion for delivering better tools to professionals :) .

Being true to one of my main goals, which was to always provide the best information to my reader, it kind of was my place to do this. But then I got a two page e-mail from a mentor who basically said “don’t ever do a blog post like that again – it was off-brand.” At first I totally disagreed, but then I started to think about what my brand was. One of his points was “do you want people to associate all of this spite and bitterness with JibberJobber? Or do you want them to associate JibberJobber with positive/constructive things?”

I learned that it wasn’t that the message was necessarily off-brand, rather my tone and attitude were off-brand.

I can’t remember a rant since then (although I have used strong language, like “sucks” frequently ;) ) because I want to have a more pleasant, constructive, positive, you-can-do-it brand. Career management and job search can be hard enough, and there are enough negative feelings out there – I didn’t need to add to the negativity.

Aside from what I post on my own blog, another on-brand/off-brand consideration includes where I comment (and what I comment on). Here are some thoughts:

  • As mentioned yesterday, I tried to leave nice comments. Constructive, so that people saw me as a positive contact, not a jerk. My brand was not to be a jerk, right?
  • I did not leave comments on controversial websites in my space that seemed to be off my brand. These would be the bitter sites, or cheesy sites (no, I’m not talking about Cheezhead :p), or cliche sites that were obviously all about adsense revenue. I didn’t want to be associated with them.
  • Even when I was on a non-controversial site, but found a controversial post, I’d stay away from it.
  • When leaving a comment on a non-career site, like TechCrunch or Guy Kawasaki’s blog, I would only do so if I had something smart to say, and not slam anyone/anything. Again, it was off-brand for me to be a jerk.
  • All of this on-brand/off-brand stuff carried over to non-blog activities – participation in e-mail groups, face-to-face network meetings, one-on-one e-mails, chats, etc.

Perhaps this sounds like a whimpy strategy, or a slow-growth strategy. But remember, my main business is not this blog. This blog complements JibberJobber the application, and my main goal isn’t to get a certain number of readers, rather I want users (hint hint) ;) .

So there you go – Day 2 is about knowing what my brand was and trying to stay on-brand. Have you ever gone off-brand? Do you regret it?


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Day 1: My Blogging Secrets

June 25th, 2007

blogging secrets - don't tell anyone!I’ve fretted over doing this series all weekend. Not because I’m letting out my secret-sauce secrets, rather because I think that many of you will walk away and think … uh, ya, I knew that a long time ago. So, to quote Andy Sernovitz in one of my favorite presentation quotes, please, “lower your expectations:) :)

Those of you who are here for career-related information, and couldn’t care less about blogging, realize that I’m a huge fan of blogging for personal branding. I think that most people should have a blog and work hard to use the blog as a tool to quantify who we are – our breadth and depth. So hang in there this week as I share some things that have helped in the last year with JibberJobber, which can also help with your own personal brand!

Today’s secret is all about relationships. Sorry to go old-school on you, but there is no way around it. There is no voodoo, no Harry Potter magic, no wishful thinking. It’s old-fashioned relationship stuff.

I have a friend who said recently “why ask others to promote your blog, digg, stumble, blog about it, etc? If you focus on the content then the traffic you want will come!” I agree that content is huge, and key to building a community of readers and participants over time, but I do think that you need to market your blog. The low hanging fruit in blog marketing is registering in Technorati and other places like that. I paid $1.99 for a service that would register the JibberJobber blog to over 30 blog engine things. I say this is low-hanging fruit because it’s easy (you just fill out a form), it’s fast, and you only have to do it once. But the value is also low — everyone can do it, and I can’t think of any benefit that I got from it. Maybe you’ve had different experiences with this, but for me it was something to do once and then not revisit.

When I started last year I knew no one in the employment/career space. I actually didn’t know much about this space, thinking all coaches operated in the same way (no way), and all recruiters operated with the same MO (no way). I would look for bloggers in the employment space and try and get on their radar. I wanted them to know who I was!

You have to remember, I was a nobody. JibberJobber could have been a “fly-by-night” operation for all they knew, and most important, no one knew me! The only thing I could do is spend time trying to show that I was authentic, and here to stay. Here’s what what I did:

  1. Find a blog that is in my space.
  2. Find a recent post that I could contribute to… intelligently! If I can only say “Right On! Your blog rocks!” then I would NOT leave this comment and I would move on.
  3. Leave the comment, and check it for tone, message, etc. My signature back then was simply “Jason Alba.”

Some additional thoughts:

  • I would not leave controversial, contradictory or mean comments. I respected the fact that this was their blog, they had their own readership, and I wanted to help them look good. Seems like common sense but I’ve seen others try this tactic and counter every single post they leave comments on. Sure you can be controversial but I think it’s far more effective to be controversial in your blog rather than in a comment on someone else’s blog.
  • I would bookmark the blog in a special bookmark folder. Firefox allows me to open all my bookmarked sites in separate folders, so when I start out my day I could just open all the blogs I’m following in their own tabs. I tried to use RSS readers but I was more interested in the comments/discussion than just the first paragraph of the post (or even the entire post). So I had to see the original blog post, not a feed.
  • I would follow-up every single day to see if the conversation moved forward. I didn’t want someone to follow-up on my comment, especially with a question to me, and miss the opportunity to respond.
  • I would regularly explore peripheral networks where I could identify blogs I liked and did the same thing on these. Some primary networks that I identified include recruiting, resume writers, and career coaches. Peripheral networks included associations, leadership and management, branding and marketing experts,

I figured that each blog had between 10 to 100 readers (obviously some have much more), so each comment I left would put my site in front of another 10 to 100 people. This was a really interesting exercise for me as it really helped me understand the landscape of the employment space, understand what thought-leaders where thinking and reading, and helped me get “one more subscriber” to JibberJobber. While we have thousands and thousands of people who have subscribed over the last year, I still consider each and every subscriber as a victory, a hard-won customer. You can learn more about this tactic from Paul Allen’s post The long term cumulative impact of guerrilla marketing.

In addition to leaving comments on people’s blogs, I would:

  • Link back to blog posts as much as I could. I don’t do it as much now just because it takes a lot of time, but linking back to another blog post (it is best to do it in this order: If possible, a specific blog post. If that doesn’t work out then a blog. If that doesn’t work out then a website, but this is more for Google page rank than getting on someone’s radar) is key. And, in the spirit of relationship building, it’s a great way to give (bloggers love it when you link back to them).
  • Join various e-mail groups. I blogged about this here, and still regularly contribute. You should know what lists you should be on (there’s got to be at least one that is right for you!)

watch how I manage relationships with JibberJobberAll of these activities helped me start a relationship with someone. The key, and perhaps the hard part, is to continue and nurture the relationship. The reason this is key is because getting on their radar doesn’t do much for your blog or business or brand. But once they blog about you, link back to you, etc. then they endorse who you are to their readers, and you expand your audience. Endorsing you once is cool. Doing it regularly, over time, is the bomb. It’s not easy, and many times you have to take the initiative and nurture a lot. But it is worth it, big time.

Go to JibberJobberI use JibberJobber to manage blogger relationships. I tag the person as blogger which allows me to pull out my blogger contacts and see when I last communicated with them, what action items I have pending, or send out an e-mail announcing something to all these special contacts. You can see a 1 minute 33 second video on tagging here (this is a free feature), and a 2 minute video on how to get the best of tagging here (this is a premium feature).

Do you proactively manage relationships like this? How?


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Yeah! I Did It! I’ve Been Blogging For A Year…

June 22nd, 2007

Time Magazine Likes Me!My first post was on June 22, 2006, so that makes today my blog birthday!

Please note that I recently celebrated a birthday, and got lot’s of well-wishes. About half of those people said “happy blog birthday.” Let me clarify lest you think I’m trying to double-dip :) – May 15th, 2006 was the day that I launched JibberJobber the career toolbox website. It is the place you go to manage your job search, personal network, sales prospects, etc. On June 22, 2006 I launched this blog. So today is my blog birthday. Last month was my web application birthday.

I started blogging a few weeks after I went to a Utah Bloggers Conference. I had just started JibberJobber and was really excited about the future, and “wondered what could blogging do for me?” I was very skeptical and concerned that (a) I didn’t have anything to say and (b) didn’t have the time.

I was sure I would be one of six people at the conference and was shocked to walk into a room of almost 200 people, some driving a few hours to get there. There was a panel discussion and then they opened it up for questions. I guess everyone else already knew everything, or perhaps they were too shy to ask questions, so I took the first question:

Why should I blog? I just started this business and don’t feel like I have time, or anything to say!

I don’t remember their answer but I do remember that night I resolved to blog, and to “do it right.” I took a few weeks to figure out my strategy, including:

  • How often do I post? I knew it had to be at least three times a week.
  • How long will I blog? They said that most blogs fail after 90 days. I didn’t want to start this just to fail (or quit).
  • Who am I? Was I going to be Jason the unemployed guy so I could relate with my audience (but then… what if I got a job???) or Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur (so you can feel safe about using JibberJobber because it isn’t going anywhere!)?

I have blogged every single workday since then. I remember I missed ONE day, when I was out of town, and I set my blog software to post a pre-written post and it didn’t. I saw the day after and was bummed because my goal was to do it every single day! Oh well, as far as I’m concerned I hit the goal.

So here’s the deal. Instead of sending me presents for what I consider a huge accomplishment, I’m going to give YOU presents. Each day next week I will (drum roll) share my blogging secrets. These are things that I’ve done or seen in the last year that I didn’t want my competition to know about. These are things that I haven’t really shared with other people. I’m not promising that anyone will be wowed but I will share some of the secret sauce. Brace yourselves for what I think will be a very, very exciting week of blogging next week!

Here is the way it rolls out (I just updated the topics and links in):

Have an excellent weekend!

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JibberJobber the Job Board? Not. More On Getting Started…

June 21st, 2007

confused about JibberJobber?Last week I had a new user sign up and somehow we got into an e-mail exchange. I asked him how it was going, getting up and running with JibberJobber and his reply was:

I set up an account on JibberJobber and went through the slide show, searched for some jobs in my specialty (Dallas Sales) and read your blog. So far so good.

I had to reply because I’ve done a horrible job making sure that people understand what JibberJobber is. Here is my reply:

Ok, here’s the deal. This is not a job search engine (although you can search for jobs). It’s like a personal CRM – like Salesforce for career. I would recommend:

Putting key contacts in (they won’t get invites unless you specify it, and it is all private data) and begin to manage the relationships that might be key in this job search, including create log entries and action items.

Also, go into interview prep and fill in some of those 30 seconds and such.

Definitely put in some target companies and use the add a company and add a job to track leads you are pursuing.

That’s where I would start. Make sense? If this isn’t for you that’s fine, I found I needed something to keep track of all of this since I was kind of like in networking overdrive and was gathering a lot of data that was easy to get mixed up.

Another thing that I’ll commonly recommend is to check out the two-minute videos. This is the fastest way to learn about some of the features of JibberJobber.

For now, I hope this helps people understand a little better what JibberJobber actually is! What would help you get up and running on JibberJobber?


Find information on Diversity recruiting at DiversityJobs.com.

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JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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I’m Distressed Because “You” Don’t Get It !!

June 20th, 2007

I'm distressed!Well, maybe you get it… but man, there are lots of people that just don’t get it.

I’m on enough e-mail lists and blogs where I *kind of* communicate with about 40,000+ people a day. And I see a common theme that just gets under my skin:

“I’m back in the job market. Does anyone know…”

Who’s back in the job market? How did you get out of the job market? Are you going to get out again? Are we freaking job market yo-yos??

Can I just submit that we are all in the job market, every day? Every single day, and we never leave it. That is our new world. If you are on the bottom rung, or the top rung, or somewhere comfortable in-between, please realize that you are in the job market. Yep, even if you own your own business.

And once we realize that, can we please do something about it? I’m not talking about lobbying to politicians, or trying to make the flat world round again. I’m talking about taking charge of your career and doing things NOW, little things every day (just a few minutes a day) to really take charge.

I know what I think these little daily things should be but I want you to chip in. Instead of leaving an “amen!” “hallelujah” or “you da man” comment, please help me answer Fred’s question, left in a comment a couple of days ago:

Great advice but where do you start each day? I have had two major companies close on me and then I was laid off from my “dream job” after 6 years. Now I have a great job again but have learned to not rely on security. I got this job from networking which is a great story on its own. What advice do you have for me to keep my network active. I don’t want to seem like I don’t like my current job. How do you get the word out and become “famous?”

That’s it – what do you do (or should you do) every single day? What did you do today?


Learn about Hispanic Recruiting at LatPro.com.

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JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Review: Kinetic Resume (software)

June 19th, 2007

Kinetic Resume - the secret to creating a high-impact, professional resumeEarlier this year I met Brian Briggs, founder of Kinetic Resume. One thing I love about meeting entrepreneurs who have invented their own product is that they are very, very passionate about what they’ve come up with (and with good reason)! Brian is no exception.

Brian is the brains behind Kinetic Resume. We’ve had a chance to talk in-depth about where he is coming from and where he is headed, and spent some time going over the product, Kinetic Resume. Here’s my very brief run-down of what it is (or, what I like):

  1. Kinetic Resume is software to download and put on your PC
  2. It presents a hand-holding process that helps you understand what should be on your resume
  3. It’s almost therapeutic in that it walks you through a number of questions, beyond just the fill-in-the-blank stuff, to help you figure out more who you are and what you want
  4. It has all the little cheats, tips and helps such as action words, etc. to help put the shine on your resume
  5. It has some kind of logical validation that checks for too many uses of a certain phrase and other irregularities
  6. It takes your data and allows you to spit it out into various formats (word, rich text, etc.) – this is a life-saver for anyone that knows how easy it is to mess up a regular word document
  7. It has some nice features such as drag-and-drop and video tutorials (to help understand the “why’s” of the process, not just how to use the software)

A lot of thought has gone into this product. It’s not for the faint of heart as you’ll really need to buckle down and go through the exercises. Introspection is never easy and don’t expect this process to be a cake walk.

Is this a replacement for resume writers? Not at all. Brian saysWe’d also agree with you that no software product will ever replace a good professional resume writer.” This is for Do It Yourself (DIY) folks that want to try and figure out all this stuff on their own, and think that going through the process on your own adds tremendous value. I agree with this – you SHOULD understand all the stuff you’ll realize once you are done with Kinetic Resume process (or else you didn’t do it right).Check out the KineticResume website.

You’ll want to take the two-minute video introduction and then download the free trial. If you choose to upgrade it’s pretty inexpensive (right now it’s $29.95), in my opinion. Also, the folks behind Kinetic Resume are offering a special discount to one of the big layoffs that was announced recently. If you worked at Motorola and got the boot you’ll be interested in this press release.

If you don’t get what you think you should, or you aren’t getting results when you are done, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.

Have you used resume software to put your resumes together? The only other one that I’m familiar with is Emurse.com, but these two are dramatically different products. Tell me your experiences (here are CM Russell’s thoughts).


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