Want To Blog? Better? Thom Allen Shares 31 Excellent Tips!

October 31st, 2007

Thom Allen is Digital ThomMy buddy Thom Allen is doing a really cool month-long series on Build a Better Blog. His points are excellent, and applicable whether you are thinking about blogging for your personal brand, business marketing, SEO/SMO, etc. Check out what he has so far:

Day 1: Reduce, if not cut out, your blogroll

Day 2: Tell Me What You Are All About

Day 3: De-cluttering Your Blogs Sidebar

Day 4: Use An Easy To Navigate Blog Theme

Day 5: Linking Is The Name Of The Game

Day 6: Posting Comments On Other Blogs

Day 7: Thank Those Who Comment On Your Blog

Day 8: Creating Relevant Categories And Tags For Your Posts

Day 9: Be Courteous To Your Fellow Bloggers

Day 10: Make Sure Your Blog Is Mobile Compliant

Day 11: Linking To Your Archive Posts

Day 12: How Do I Subscribe To Your Blog?

Day 13: Announcing Your New Blog Post

Day 14: Create A Blog Posting Schedule

Day 15: Write A Series On Your Favorite Subject

Day 16: Give Your Blog Readers A Way To Contact You

Day 17: Use Social Networks To Build A Blog Brand

Day 18: Prevent Blogging Disaster, Back It Up

Day 19: Keep Your Blog Posts Unique

Day 20: Stay The Course, And Don’t Give Up

Day 21: Use Your Site Stats To Write A Better Blog

Day 22: Create Catchy Blog Titles That Beg To Be Read

Day 23: Get Your Blog Readers Involved, Hold A Contest

Day 24: Decide Your Blogs Domain Now Rather Than Later

Day 25: Sweat Your Blogs Details

Day 26: Blogging For Love Or Money

Day 27: Protect Your Blogs Content

Day 28: Thank A Blogger For Linking To You

Day 29: Create A Sticky 404 Page (I updated this Nov 2)

Day 30: Keep Comment Spam From Burdening Your Blog (I updated this Nov 2)

Day 31: (check back later for an update)


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Tanya Ferrell — YOU GET IT!!!

October 30th, 2007

Personal Branding award - You Get It Tanya FerrellI recently got an e-mail from Tanya Ferrell, sharing a Branding Periodic Table (if you are a branding geek you’ll really like it!). As usual, I Googled Tanya’s name and was more than pleasantly surprised at what I found. Here was someone that practically owned the first page of Google for her name. Here’s what I like:

  • Her Google results are pretty darn good – if I’m a hiring manager or recruiter I don’t have to go far. I can learn that she’s “a senior at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh majoring in Advertising” (as of Sept 2007).
  • There’s a Tanya Ferrell mentioned in a Milwaukee newspaper article from 2002… I’m not sure if this is her but it does reinforce her position as someone who is quite tech/internet savvy, and if it is her, I’m going to be impressed that she was mentioned in the article as an organizer of a leading edge website for the community. (a) – she’s been in this tech space for a while, and (b) I wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper when I was 15! If nothing else it gives me something to talk with her about… a starting point for our relationship (or something interesting to talk about in our interview).
  • She also has a profile on Digg and Mashable, which help her claim two spots on her first page of Google results. Shows she is active in the social space and contributes as a voter, etc. to these types of forums. I wouldn’t expect any less from someone from GenY but it’s nice to see it here.
  • Her blog. Of course.

Notice that only ONE person has won this award without having a blog? For me it’s huge, and Tanya’s blog is excellent. Here’s why:

  • She owns her nameTanyaFerrell.com. When you go there it goes straight to her blog, which means easy maintenance. Do you own your name? It’s easy and inexpensive!
  • Her title totally makes sense for her brand – “Common Sense: Internet Marketing Made Simple” considering she is at an art school, and she’s doing an internship in internet marketing, I think this is an excellent title/theme for her blog. She’s obviously passionate about the subject, can back it up with what she learns at work, and has a creative brain… three major positives, as far as I’m concerned.
  • Her “About” section is concise and complete, and has her e-mail address right there. Easy to figure out who she is and how to get in touch with her, without having to go to another page to read a novel about how great she is.
  • The topics she writes about solidifies what her passion and specialty are. She gives me a genY perspective on interstitial ads (I NEVER would have expected to read this from anyone, much less someone from GenY – I wonder if it’s just because she is in advertising?). She talks about the frustration of all the social sites, and how to manage all the login/account information (I am social networked out, it’s good to hear her perspective on this simple issue). Her post on Applicable Web Analytics shows me that she thinks outside the normal boundaries, I love the end where she says she’s going back to her professor to bring them relevant, current information for the course (as opposed to just accepting what they say as truth)!
  • There’s a lot more … similar to previous winners. I think her template is fine, she makes excellent use of images (graphs!) and video, her tone is very authentic and real – it’s simple yet authoritative and knowledgeable and comfortable.

I feel sorry for people that she is going to interview against, especially if the hiring managers do a Google search. Tanya has a big online footprint in a lot of places, her blog is relevant to her profession, and she is building a long history. This is a terrific complement to her statement “I love marketing in all its forms. I love it so much, I’m currently working at my 4th internship.” Hello… her fourth internship. She’s going to land an excellent gig after she graduates!

So, something new, here are my critiques:

  • I really like the custom picture instead of the standard heading, but I would make it smaller – I think it takes up too much vertical space. Choose something that moves the other content in the first column up higher, above “the fold.”
  • I would like to see a “recent comments” section in the first column… it shows me which posts are creating buzz, and I’m guessing it will help generate more comments/discussion.
  • I’m not really big on tag clouds, so if you want it, move it down. Just my opinion :)
  • The Me on the Internet section is actually pretty interesting. I definitely wouldn’t suggest it for everyone (for example, YGI winners Mike Schaffner and Kent Blumberg) … only for those that have an active presence out there. My only beef with this section is that it is BIG – it takes up a lot of space!
  • I previously said the template is “fine.” I think that Tanya should spend some time looking for a different template (understanding that this isn’t her first template – as a blogger we all go through this :) ). I do like the font, and colors of the links for each blog post, and the date format… stuff like that…
  • Here’s my biggest critique, non-blog related. This is a really controversial topic, so take it for what it’s worth. I do not like the image that she chose for her Digg and Mashable profiles. This is absolutely not a moral preaching, or anything like that. I’ve seen this fester up on various blogs, and my position is to have a cleaner image. Since this is something that she might change, I’m not even going to go there, you can click on her Digg and Mashable images to see what it is now (perhaps it will change), or you can read my abbreviated position on this Penelope Trunk post (in the comments), written by guest blogger (and now business partner) Jason Warner, aka the Google Guy.

Tanya Ferrell - You Get It winner for October 2007Congratulations Tanya! – 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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Depression Clouds Everything

October 29th, 2007
A bit of a ramble about a serious topic… something that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while… but not quite sure how to write about it.

I don’t consider myself emotionally unhealthy. In fact, with the exception of dealing with a big car accident when I was 17, I feel like I’ve either been in control of my life, or very comfortable with what has happening. I don’t think that I have suffered from anxiety or depression or similar things, although I’m close to people who have and know that it’s real and serious.

I have a high locus of control, which means I believe I have a significant impact on things that happen to me (career success, family success, etc.).

But, when I started my job search there were two major things going on.

First, I was managing and coordinating all of the logistics that go into a job search. There are a ton… from getting a resume together to getting it out, prepping for interviews, dressing right, networking, researching, etc. These are all mechanical things, things that you can get coached on from the “do these 10 things and you’ll land a job” lists.

In fact, they are so mechanical that you can easily define what needs to be done, how to do it, and figure out what tweaks are required because of your needs. You can come up with checklists and plans, and it’s all good… or it would seem to be all good.

This is all good news for someone with a high locus of control.

The second thing that was happening all of the emotional stuff happening. You see, I was on top of the world… I was the general manager of my company, on the board of directors, accomplished in school and feeling pretty good about myself.

And then I became a “job seeker.” This is the person that won’t get a call back, or an e-mail reply, from anyone. The job seeker is the person who tries to get interviews so that you can see just how great they are, and what value they’ll bring to your company… but they get nowhere. The job seeker is the guy who lost an income, but still has bills to pay.

When I first lost my job I remember reading an article on MSN – it was about a guy in Korea that lost his job, went to the zoo, entered an animal’s area, and climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down. Can you imagine what it takes for a professional to end up in a tree at the zoo, and then on international news? “At least,” I thought, “I’m not there.”

But day after day, the rejection, the self-doubt, all the bad stuff that happens when your world is turned upside down, the emotions where clouding things. Judgment was clouded, because I was desperate. Performance was clouded because I was scared. I certainly wasn’t used to dealing with these emotions, especially week after week.

It was also somewhat depressing to go to network meetings with professionals in transition who were going through similar things. I was pretty amazed that I met people who were in the same laid-off boat I was, who were much more accomplished than me. Would this never end?? I didn’t want to be in this situation regularly!

I dealt with it (by ignoring it). But I knew that others weren’t dealing with it there.

A few weeks ago I was at lunch with a good friend that I met during my job search. He had a very similar story to mine, a fast-paced career, good money, big titles and responsibility, and then he got cut out because of lame corporate politics. We got on the subject of emotions, and I said that this was the most surprising aspect of a job search for me, and I asked him if he dealt with negative emotions.

Since I had met him I knew him to be composed… I didn’t imagine that he dealt with them.

His reply was shocking: “Jason, it got to the point where I asked myself if it was the wrists or the neck.

For those of you who haven’t been jobless yet, thinking that you give 110% to your company and they’ll take care of you, mark my words, the emotional aspect of a job search, no matter what your locus of control is, may be the most surprising, derailing thing you have to deal with in your job search.

I’m not sure if I’ll get comments on this post or not… but it is a serious issue. If you have anything you feel comfortable sharing, leave a comment.

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Update On The Book (Because You Asked)

October 26th, 2007

LinkedIn Book Stats on AmazonI hate to blog about things that I think will turn you off, and I try not to blog too much about me, or the book, or my conferences, etc. But I am getting a lot of e-mails and chat messages asking me how the book is doing. So here’s a quick update.

Let me put this into the context of you can do this, and it will greatly help develop your personal brand. In other words, don’t take this as a brag or whatever, but think about how having your own book will help you professionally.

  • Last week I was in Austin, Texas, presenting to the Launch Pad Job Club – I wish there were more of these throughout the country, as they it is a stellar organization. I was introduced as “author of…” and the person introducing me said something like “it’s only 124 pages long and most of the front is page after page of endorsements about how great the book is!” I got a laugh out of that. Even my publisher told me that he’s never had as many endorsements as I have, and they are still rolling in.
  • Yesterday I was on a radio interview (recorded podcast) with Central Valley Business Times, in California. The interview is 11 minutes, and pretty interesting (if I do say so myself :) ). It’s on the front page right now but I’m sure that will change, so here’s the link to the story, with a link to the podcast at the very bottom. The only reason I got that interview was because my publisher put a press release out, and it got picked up by these guys. If you want to hear one of the most professional radio voices I’ve heard, go listen to it (not my voice, mind you :) ).
  • On Monday I got an e-mail from my publisher saying that I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? was in the 5,000′s on the Amazon ranking. I think this various by the hour, and I’ve seen it usually sit somewhere between 30,000 and 120,000 … so to be one of the top 5,000 books was pretty cool. But thanks to author Anita Bruzzese, and her advice, I will not be following the Amazon rankings :)
  • Someone who I think is a hero, a superstar, a rockstar, a legend, Robert Sutton, who authored (parents, cover your kids eyes) The No Asshole Rule, which has an awesome story behind it and has taken the world by storm, sent me an endorsement. A really nice endorsement. When I replied that it was very, very nice, he wrote me a personal, sincere compliment about my writing. Yes, it was quite flattering, and yes, he’s won me over and I’m one of his biggest fans.
  • I actually got a royalty check. No, I’m not rich, and it wasn’t a ton of money, but it was the first one. I’ve been conditioned to not expect any money so getting that royalty check was a nice surprise!
  • I am way behind on linking to the bloggers who have blogged about it. But I’ll share one with you that I just saw. This one comes with some history, too long to explain. Let’s just say that John was instrumental in evaluating JibberJobber when there were too many rough edges, and he found a number of … flaws. Well, go read the Reinke Faces Life blog post about this book. It’s really quite a complement, as he ends his post with “From the fellow who recommends very very few things a (job)seeker should pay for, this is one of them.” I’m still shocked.
  • When I hosted the Blogging for Business Conference on Monday I handed the speakers an “autographed” copy of my book. It was really cool to be able to give them something valuable (more than a Hallmark card, right?), and personal, as a thank you.
  • I was invited to speak at the Personal Branding Telesummit, which is going to be the biggest thing to hit personal branding… ever! The requirement to be a speaker is to be … an author!
  • I am in talks with a number of organizations that have reached out to me to speak to their groups… which is pretty cool considering I didn’t reach out to any of them.

Hopefully I’m working on you… convincing you to write your own book!

So, how is the book selling? I am not sure. I don’t ask Happy About for numbers. I have too many other things to work on, and watching this metric will only stress me out…. so to everyone who asks how it’s selling, my answer is “I don’t know.”

Still wondering what I’m talking about? You can get the book from Amazon, or Happy About (you can also get the ebook for around $12 from Happy About) to check it out.

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Personal Branding Telesummit – Mark Your Calendars!

October 25th, 2007

Personal Branding Telesummit - a Brand You WorldMy conference season is ended… kind of! There’s one event that I’m excited for, and want to share with you. Best of all, it’s free (thanks to Conference Calls Unlimited for the sponsorship!) and convenient (just a phone call away).

It’s called the Personal Branding Telesummit. On November 8th at 10am EST, lasting 12 hours, you’ll be able to tap into any of the following content streams (all with a flavor of personal branding):

Career Management

Talent Management

Entrepreneurship

Now, you may have noticed that … gulp, I’m speaking! That’s not really why I’m posting about this event, though! I have been involved in putting this telesummit together with dozens of personal branding experts from around the globe, looking for speakers, sponsors, etc. before I found out I would be a speaker! I’m not sure how that all came down, but I am quite honored to be on this list of amazing people. Here’s who you’ll hear from on any of the calls that you choose to be on:

Jason Alba – one of the most amazing… um… JUST KIDDING! It’s just me, silly!!

William Arruda – Author of Career Distinction, personal branding pioneer and founder of Reach CC

Dick Bolles – The legendary career expert who has sold gazillions of books helping you figure out what color your parachute is

Anita Bruzzese – Syndicated columnist for USA Today and dozens of papers, author of 45 Things, blogger, and really classy person. Did I mention friend?

Silvia Cambié – I don’t know her … yet!

Krishna De – blogger, podcaster, personal branding expert… very knowledgeable and a huge driving force behind this conference

Kirsten Dixson – Author of Career Distinction, and personal branding pioneer and of course, friend :)

Stewart Emery – I don’t know Stewart just yet…

Phil Gerbyshak – Spoke at SOBcon last year and was phenominal. Author, blogger, friend – this is one you won’t want to miss

T Scott Gross – motivational speaker and someone I’d like to get to know…

Neville Hobson – a UK blogger/podcaster that I don’t know… yet

Thebe Ikalafeng – one of South Africa’s top 10 thought leaders on marketing and branding … I need to get to know this guy also!

John Jantsch – from the famous Duct Tape Marketing… man, how I’d like to get to know him better!

Catherine Kaputa – founder of SelfBrand, I’ve been trying to get on her radar for a while…

Guy Kawasaki – the legend, who I’ll see in person next week as he presents in Salt Lake City for JUST $10! (thanks Jeremy!)

Andrea Kay – career and workplace expert and columnist

Liz Ryan – owner of AskLizRyan, with around 30,000 members on her e-mail forum

David Meerman Scott – another someone I need to get to know!

Andy Sernovitzhe unknowningly pushed me to get my book done and published – I’m indebted forever!

Debbie Weil – the corporate blogging expert who wrote… what else? The Corporate Blogging Book !

Susan Whitcomb – a JibberJobber partner and a leader in the career coaching space

Carol Wilson – the coach for the coach, I don’t know her… yet

Martin Yate – I met him last month in Savannah, Georgia, and we had about 30 minutes of private time where we shared some incredible wisdom with me. I’m a huge fan, and have about 5 of his books right by my desk!

What a great lineup – this is a live event, all you do is register here, and then call into the sessions that you are most interested in! More information at the website.

Seriously, this is one event that you should take advantage of… !

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Write An Article. Published Or Not, It’s Still Valuable!

October 24th, 2007

Last week I was in San Antonio with professional career experts, including resume writers, career coaches, career counselors and college career center staff. It was a fun four days and I took a number of pearls of wisdom away from the event. One really struck me and I knew it would be included in the first post that I would write about the Career Directors annual conference!

Heather Wieshlow, Turning Point CEO and AuthorHeather Wieshlow, owner of Turning Point Coaching and Consulting, was presenting on her very cool book (Heather’s Internet Career Resources Guide). She was going over 40 major resources that she coaches her clients through when she mentioned “articles.” Many of you know that I’ve blogged plenty of times about writing articles as part of your personal brand strategy… but Heather mentioned a tactic that I had not thought of before.

Us your article as a follow-up. So simple, yet brilliant! Here’s how Heather Wieshlow described it:

After you send your resume to someone, or have an interview (whether it’s an informational interview, or a first interview, or whatever), you want to follow-up, right? You want to be on the short list! We’ve been told to follow-up with a phone call, or a thank you letter, or something like that. In fact, a thank you letter could include something along the lines of “oh yeah, I also wanted to mention that…” so you can further show them how wonderful and great you are :)

Heather said to include an article you have written. It doesn’t matter if it has been published or not — when you write “when we were talking about Six Sigma we focused mainly on xyz. I am really passionate about Six Sigma and process improvement, and thought you might enjoy this article I wrote, Implementing Six Sigma From Scratch, which I’ve attached to this e-mail.”

Don’t you think that will make you stand out from the other candidates?

Let’s say you are no longer in transition, but still actively growing and nurturing your network. I can see this same technique used with network contacts. As you learn more about people’s interests (someone wants to break into the Six Sigma space), or needs (if they are preparing a presentation on Six Sigma), there will be opportunities to send them a follow-up with an article you have written. It doesn’t matter if it has been published or not!

Don’t you think that will make you stand out from other network contacts?

Can you think of any other reasons to have an extra article handy? I can think of at least one…

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Know Thy Resume (and how I biffed an interview)

October 23rd, 2007

Duh!  I should have known better!(for those that are wondering, I’m done with my conferences, everything was spectacular, and my Blogging for Business conference was well attended and, in my view, a great success – thanks for your support!)

Last year I had to put my resume together. After I had an acceptable draft, and had collected all the information that I hadn’t had to care about for a while (official job titles, the names of my degrees, etc.), I got an e-mail from my dad. He had hired a professional resume writer for his own resume, and sent me a copy so that I could take what was applicable.

So I super-charged my resume by borrowing some of the stuff on his resume. One thing I liked (not sure if resume writers would recommend this) was a section at the top with keywords… of course, writing a resume is a time for self-praise, and I liked all of the cool words that he had on his resume. I had to take a few out, but kept most of the flattering descriptions of him, er, me. You can see my “Expertise” section here (I didn’t highlight Change Management on the real resume, just for this post):

Resume - list of experiences

And then I sent that resume all over the place – to about 100 different postings. When I went in to a second interview with a really hot IT company, one of the interviewers asked “On your resume it says ‘change management,’ what exactly does that mean?

This is what went through my mind, at the time:

Hm, I have no idea where I put that on my resume, but of course I know what change management means. I’ve lived through change management and could write a (very) short book on it! Do you want to know about personal change management, or change management as it pertains to teams, projects, companies? Just tell me what you want to know and I’ll tell you why I’m an expert in it! Dang, I wish I could remember what job/position I listed change management under!

But, what I said was something like this:

That’s on my resume, huh? Where exactly is that?

Needless to say, they weren’t impressed as I fumbled my way through that one.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Oh well, that’s okay, a few months later the company went under.

But I learned to not just review the list of tough interview questions, and have my “tell me about yourself” elevator pitch honed, but to also know my own resume!

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Blogging for Business Conference on Monday!

October 19th, 2007

Blogging for Business - register here!So, it’s finally here! On Monday we are having the Blogging for Business conference at the Downtown Marriott in Salt Lake City. It has been amazing putting this event together and I’ll forever esteem others who have acted as “event planners” (specifically, Phil Burns, Steve Spencer, Wendy Enelow, Laura Decarlo, Jennifer Brown, Kelly King Anderson, and many others).

I have to mention the amazing work that my partner, Matthew Reinbold, has put forth. Matthew and met (over a year ago) as a result of blogging and had enough in common that we started having lunches about once a month. Somehow we ended up with this crazy idea that we, with no professional training in marketing or PR, could put on a conference for marketing and PR professionals (and business owners)! I knew Matthew was a dependable, hard worker, as he was a significant part of getting Seth Godin to Salt Lake City to present earlier this year. And throughout the last couple of months he has, once again, stepped up to the plate in a big way to make this happen.

Here are some thoughts about the conference:

The speakers are amazing. Wow… what can I say. Liz Strauss, the godmother of bloggers. Wendy Piersall, an inspiration to thousands of men and women (her presentation at SOBcon gave me lasting goosebumps). Edelman VP Gary Goldhammer, Businesswire‘s Malcom Atherton, patent attorney Rand Bateman, PR legend Cheryl Conner (and team), GenY expert Lindsey Pollak, Podcast expert Lee Gibbons, Blog network guru Tim Stay. I can’t believe that I’ll be spending a day and a half with these people! Not just to develop personal relationships, but also to learn from them!

The message is so relevant – to you. We planned this conference to be a learning experience to help people understand how to create buzz. We’re not going to teach you how to get a blog, and I’m not quite sure that you’ll walk out of the room convinced that you should have a blog. But we want you to understand how to leverage “blogs” and other social media to create buzz. How? Well, you’ll see on Monday.

Again, who is this for? We’re not necessarily marketing to bloggers, although I would think that bloggers would love to come to this. We want anyone involved in marketing or PR to come. Whether you work at a firm or are in-house. It definitely includes anyone that owns a business, or does marketing for a small business (even though that isn’t part of your job description). Finally, for anyone that understand that YOU are your own product, and you have a personal brand, and there’s such a thing as You, Inc., this conference will definitely help as you market yourself. Students? Of course. Consultants? Of course.

When/Where/How/etc. Come to the Downtown Marriott (Salt Lake City) on Monday, October 22nd at 8:00 or 8:30am. The cost is $299. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included. Bring business cards, bring a pen and paper, and be prepared to soak it in. If you want to register online you can do it at the Blogging for Business website (want a discount? Get it here).

Finally, thank you to all of those who have helped promote this event (I know I’m going to forget a few, so please forgive me: Kelly King Anderson, Janet Meiners, Chris Knudsen, Paul Allen the Lesser, Pat Vaughn, the Buzz Boosters, Utah First Friday, various chambers of commerce, various business and MBA schools, Thom Allen, Steve Spencer, Colin Kelley at Connect-Utah.org, Paul Beebe at the Salt Lake Tribune, Russ Page and many others. Matthew and I are absolutely amazed at the effectiveness of Businesswire for distributing press releases).

In Salt Lake we’re kind of jealous as we here about all kinds of cool social media conferences in San Francisco, Austin, Boston and other hip places. We’re working to set a precedence, and are really excited about this event!

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Need Help Saying Thank You?? Here’s The Guide!

October 18th, 2007

Ultimate Resumes - Liz HandlinYou know you should be writing Thank You notes, right? But when is the last time you did? I have a ton of people that I need to send thank you cards to… I even bought 50 cards and have them in my office… but for some reason I’m not doing it. Part of it is procrastination, but another part is that I don’t want to sound like a dork.

If you have that “sound like a dork” problem, I have just the answer for you. One of my partners, Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes), wrote an eBook just for you (it’s FREE!!)… with a bunch of examples on how to write Thank You notes. Almost word-for-word from her blog post, this includes:

Some of the sample notes in the book include:

Business/Professional Thank You Notes:

Thank you notes for a professional courtesy
Thank you notes for a job interview
Thank you notes for providing a lead, contact, or information
Thank you notes for doing great work (for a subordinate)
Thank you notes for your support
Thank you notes for dinner, lunch, or tickets
Thank you notes for your business

Personal Thank You Notes:

Thank you notes for a gift (wedding, shower, other)
Thank you notes for hosting a meeting or party
Thank you notes for an introduction
Thank you notes for a kindness
Thank you notes for your sympathy card or flowers
Thank you notes from a houseguest
Thank you notes to a vendor

Do yourself a favor, go download her free eBook and write a thank you note TODAY! I’m going to write a dozen or so when I get back home!

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Chris McConnehey’s Final, Biiiiiiiiig Question (“What would I really have said?”)

October 16th, 2007

what do MBA students look like?  Like they are going to conquer the world!I didn’t think I was going to make a series out of my presentation at Westminster, but it just kind of worked this way. Chris e-mailed me with this question:

The other question I really wanted to ask which I figured was totally inappropriate for class, was this: If you had been given a totally open forum what would you have discussed? No restrictions to online networking topics, no timelimit, no real restrictions. The only direction you would have been give is that you should share some of the things that you thought we be of most value to people in our situation, how would your presentation have differed?

He was referring to the fact that I had 20 minutes, and was to talk about online/social networking (mostly LinkedIn). I can’t really define “people in our situation,” except that this was a class full of MBA students that hopefully thinks they are about to be set free and conquer the world. Smart, ambitious, accomplished. Here’s what I would say:

  1. Build intimate relationships. Starting now, get to know others better. Work to become a power connector. This is really what networking should be – if you are not the most powerful networker you know then you need to go to the library and get Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and take two or three days to read it. This should set the foundation for your perception of relationship building that will help in many aspects of your next forty years.
  2. Be in the right place at the right time (and if that doesn’t exist, create it). I recommend you get Keith Ferrazzi’s book from the library. But here are two books that you should own: Some Assembly Required and The ABC’s of Networking. Both are by Thom Singer. I’ve read them both. Thom’s books are the perfect complement to Keith’s book. Keith talks about what and why, where Thom gives hundreds of real examples of how (I found Keith’s examples to be unreal). I know Thom Singer, and I know people that know him. He is the definition of business networking, and his books will serve as excellent resources for you as you figure out how to be in the right place at the right time, or how to create opportunities to develop intimate relationships.
  3. Make it easy for others to know who you are. This can also be called personal branding. If your resume comes across my desk, and I Google your name to see who you are, I should see at least two or three real results that YOU control on the first page of Google. The first thing to do is to get a LinkedIn account and flesh it out (that will usually end up on the first page). The second thing to do is to start a serious business blog. This is overwhelming for most people, but if you want to see some excellent, duplicatable (sp?) examples, check out my You Get It personal branding monthly winners.
  4. Start a “side business.” I don’t care if you sell batman capes on eBay, own part of a shoe store in a mall or sell grandma’s desserts from your kitchen. You should do this for two reason:
    1. It is an excellent way to learn… to really learn what business is about. Sales, customer service, accounting, strategy, competition, all the good stuff. You can read about it (I did), you can teach/consult others (I did), but until you do it yourself, with your own money and energy, you won’t really understand it (I found that to be true when I started JibberJobber).
    2. If done right, it can provide a stabilizing revenue stream to your main income. One reason I started JibberJobber is because I never, ever want to depend 100% on an employer for my income. Developing multiple streams of income is a simple concept, but powerful in this world of mergers, layoffs and change.
  5. Learn. You need to understand your competitive landscape better than anyone. I immersed myself in the career space, and set out to learn all I could that would help me get ahead. What I didn’t realize is that I would know more about different aspects of the career landscape that many others. I learned about coaches, resume writers, recruiters, outplacement, job boards and more. I thought all of the major players in these areas would know more than I did, but I found people from one group picking my brain about other groups… and I came to realize that my understand of this space was quite abnormal. Yet very, very valuable. Be curious, be inquisitive, and try to understand the competitive landscape as best you can (which includes strategies, models, and even individuals).
  6. Be prepared for change. It’s clear that we won’t have the cradle to grave, fat pension and sweet retirement jobs that our parents may have had. But there are still too many people that are floored by job changes imposed on them. There are still too many people that (like me, a year ago) think that if you can’t get or keep a job, it’s because you suck. Change happens for any of a million reasons. If you get laid off right now, what are you going to do? Do you have a plan? How will you pay your bills as you look for your next job? What will you do for health insurance? What if your wife is pregnant when you are unemployed (that happened to me :) )? How will you deal with it emotionally? Is your network going to be ready to help you (in other words, will you have been developing network capital, so they are anxious to repay you?)? Will you have developed a personal brand and others will be able to easily recognize you? This is the new world, folks. It’s not a scare tactic. I lived through it and was extremely unprepared. It’s my hope that someone, just one person that hears this message, can begin to prepare for that day.
  7. Keep your finances in order. This gets hammered all over the place, from Money magazine to various websites to your dad telling you to be careful about putting things on credit. But here’s the reality. If you have your finances in order, when you lose your paycheck, you have more options. One of my options was to start JibberJobber — because we didn’t have huge, horrible credit payments and contracts that we were locked into, we were able to move forward. Otherwise I would have been under a lot more financial pressure, and the options I really had would not have been options.

And that brings me to my final point. This is the point that I made, as I walked out the door, to a crowd that seemed to be somewhat captive (that is, not that excited to listen to me, but they had to be there): Remember me when you get laid off (probably wishing that you would have taken some parts of this advice and worked on it).

So now, if you’ve read this far, what would YOU tell a class full of MBA students, as they prepare to conquer the world?

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