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The Power of a Power Connector (and which power connectors are right for you)

April 30th, 2008

lonny_guldenI remember reading about power connectors in Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone a couple of years ago. Last January I blogged about it, stating that I wanted to become a power connector. You can read my thoughts (and Ferrazzi’s ideas on which professions are naturally inclined to be power connectors) here.

This week, as I’ve given nine presentations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, I’ve talked about connecting with people on LinkedIn…. who should you connect with? Are you a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), connecting with anyone who invites you?

Or are you more conservative, and try and keep a tight network, connecting only with people you “know and trust?”

Even though Keith Ferrazzi wasn’t talking about LinkedIn, I found the power of being connected to a power connector this week. Here’s what happened.

A few weeks ago I announced to the My LinkedIn Power Forum that I was coming to Minneapolis, and wondered if anyone knew of any career transition networks I could speak at.

It just so happens that Lonny Gulden is in the Minneapolis area… and Lonny is a power connect. He is a recruiter, goes to a lot of networking events, and has over 5,000 connections. And he set me up with most of my presentations.

These presentations were sometimes standing-room-only. I pretty much sold all the books I brought for my conference (which starts tomorrow!), and introduced JibberJobber to over 200 people. This trip has been very successful for me.

How was it that Lonny could get me into the right places?

Because he has a lot of connections, both online and offline.

He has a strong brand as a power networking, living giver’s gain, and has built a lot of relationship capital with people. Everyone knows that if Lonny can help you, or make an introduction for you, he will.

He is very networked (online and offline) in this area.

He also networks, as a recruiter, with the groups that I want to get in front of.

He has focused on expanding his network with an geographic emphasis, as well as an interest (career/transition).

And this was very beneficial to me, since I’m connected to him.

Even if you are a conservative connector on LinkedIn, I suggest you look for some power connectors who may bring you great value because of who they focus on… which might be geographic-, profession-, or industry-based.

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Naymz Cofounder Responds

April 28th, 2008

Tom Drugan, cofounder of naymz.com, submitted a comment on the post a few days ago that was eaten by the comment eater (dang that comment eater!). He rewrote it, and I wanted to share it with you here. From Tom Drugan:

The transparency, and lack-there-of, of the social web is growing in importance. More and more people are turning to Google and social networks to do background checks on others. Anybody can claim anything they want about themselves or others.

I can create a profile on LinkedIn (or Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and claim whatever I want about myself. I can say I have a PHD in molecular engineering from MIT, am the love child of Stephen Hawking, and batted .302 for the Cubs last year. Believe it or not, none of this is true. What we are trying to do at Naymz is create a layer of trust and validation to one’s online professional persona. We do this primarily through social authentication by those who know you in the real world. The more contacts you have who are willing to vouch for your reputation (through a short questionnaire and endorsements), the better your online rep becomes. We use public written endorsements and a scoring mechanism called RepScore for this. We also have an identity verification partner in Trufina that factors in to RepScore.

We equate RepScore to Google’s PageRank algorithm. Your score is not only determined by the amount of people vouching for your good name, but also the RepScores of those references. A reference with a RepScore of 10 holds much more weight then a reference with a RepScore of 2.

Although it’s a pretty minimal part of the overall scoring mechanism, we do give RepScore points for adding certain content to your profile and keeping it updated (per your second point above). We also give “perks” away to those members who achieve a RepScore of 9 or higher. More details of RepScore can be found here: http://www.naymz.com/about.action?section=repscore

We actually started out as a tool to help our members aggregate their online identities and then promote them, particularly in the search engines. We typically rank very high in Google’s natural results for our member’s names and have a premium service which will acquire sponsored results for one’s name on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, provide a customized domain name (i.e. http://jason.alba.name), provide detailed profile visitor reports, and some other bells and whistles.

Here is an overview of the features that makes us unique from LinkedIn… http://www.naymz.com/micro/compare

Just like most other social networking sites, including LinkedIn, we give our members the ability to invite contacts via email either through importing them or inviting them one at a time. Many people seem to forget this is exactly how Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn built their businesses. They have all been called “spammers”, particularly when they were new to the scene. It’s obvious some people are facing social network invitation overload, so backlash is to be expected for newbies on the “Soc Net” scene like us. Inviting contacts is completely optional and there are a lot of other benefits to Naymz that can be enjoyed with inviting others to join one’s network.

We are flattered to be compared to the likes of LinkedIn. To put things in context, we are a small team of three people with no VC/corporate backing attempting to make a unique and useful product. LinkedIn has 200+ employees and potentially over a $1 billion valuation behind them. We do realize that there are a lot of improvements to be made on Naymz if we ever plan on seriously competing with them on any level. The good news is we are growing quickly and have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. We do hope to convert the naysayers at some point.

Tom, thanks for the comment and thoughts – it’s good to see companies managing their brand online and participating in the conversation!

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Snickering and Tweeting in Santa Rosa With Chuck Hester, LION

April 25th, 2008

This week was very special for me – I spent Tuesday through this morning in Santa Rosa, California at the SNCR (pronounced “snicker”) conference. I co-presented to about 30-35 people on personal and professional branding using social tools. The audience was very, very savvy with social communication (and traditional communication), and I hoped that our presentation helped them to think about their own personal brands, and how the tools they use for their clients could/should be used for their own careers!

While fun, this week was special for another reason. I actually lived in Santa Rosa from the time I was five until I was eleven. Very, very fond memories growing up there, chasing snakes, catching newts, wading through creeks, and doing all the cool things little boys want to do. If it crawled I caught it. If it was slimy I wanted it. If a snake could eat it, I needed it.

I haven’t been to Santa Rosa for about eight years. I spent a couple hours walking around my old neighborhood, got pictures of my old house (which seems to have shrunk significantly), elementary school, the creek I would play in (which is a mess now :( ), and more. My grandpa left a legacy in old town Santa Rosa, and I actually had dinner right next door to the place he owned, where he had Keith’s Foto Shop.

I also spent time with my aunt and uncle, and three of their kids. I grew up with these kids, but hardly see them anymore. Overall, the trip has been amazing – I’ll cherish memories of this trip for a long time.

Here’s the other side of the trip. I was invited to co-present with Chuck Hester, Mr. Pay It Forward, and PR Director for iContact. I’ve spent a lot of time with Chuck on this trip and have renewed (and immense) respect for him.

Chuck is a LinkedIn powerhouse. He has a large network and advocates the values of LinkedIn all the time.

Chuck is also an amazing networker. It was really cool to watch him create and nurture relationships the entire week. From coordinating dinner parties to making introductions, he does it all right. And he really gets one very key aspect of social networking: make sure you are connected to people in your profession. Chuck says about 10 percent of his LinkedIn connections are PR professionals (editors, writers, publishers, etc.). This is over 500 experts that he’s connected to that make his job easier, and more effective.

Finally, I’ve known Twitter was powerful. But this was the first conference I’ve been to where I really saw the power of Twitter. There was tweeting during the conference presentations, allowing the audience to hear the presenter and participate in a back-of-the-room discussion. It was really profound. You can see the thread of tweets for SNCR 2008 here.

Have an excellent weekend – I’m flying back to Salt Lake tomorrow and fly to Minneapolis early Sunday morning…. I’ll be there through next Saturday! My schedule is here (btw, Monday night is already booked solid!).

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Where Is Your Headshot?

April 24th, 2008

Today I’m in Santa Rosa, California. A photographer for US News & World Report is coming up to meet me just a few hours before a presentation on personal branding to the SNCR (pronounced “snicker”) group.

He’s coming up because my old picture (to the right, on the bottom) just doesn’t work, and the new one (to the right, on the top, and on the US News article, here), isn’t the right one for the magazine (how freaking cool is that? The article is apparently going to print!)… and I’m pretty excited. Although I admit I’ve thought a lot about Penelope Trunk’s posts about looking/feeling inadequate, and glad that the photographer can use Photoshop to whiten my teeth instead of me having to get them bleached :p Ah, the silly things we think about when the opportunity arises.

So, let’s assume your opportunity has arisen… where is your headshot? Trust me, it’s a whole lot better (easier, cheaper, quicker, less stressful) if you are proactive about this part of your personal brand. You, every professional, should have a professional headshot.

What for? I don’t know - your blog. Or your website. Or a newspaper article, or …. who knows?? I scrambled to get my first professional headshot when Peter Clayton did a podcast interview with me almost two years ago (!!) and he required a headshot.

So let me point you to the best advice I’ve seen on your headshot: Sue Brettell’s article titled Online Identity: Headshots That Make A Compelling First Impression.

Sue Brettell’s article is a soup-to-nuts resource for ensuring you do it right. What to wear, how to find a professional who fits your budget, why to avoid alcohol and smoking before your photo shoot, stuff to take with you to the studio, and more, this is an excellent read to help you prepare and get what you need!

Go check out Sue Brettell’s Online Identity: Headshots That Make A Compelling First Impression, and then shoot me an e-mail (or put a link in the comments) with your headshot!

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I Don’t Get Naymz

April 23rd, 2008

Last night I got the umteenth e-mail asking me what I think about Naymz.

Naymz is a site that I have recommended, based on a friend’s recommendation, as a tool to help you claim more of your online profile.

Theoretically it is a site that helps your name come up on a Google search … at least, that’s the way I understood it.

I finally signed up for Naymz to check it out. I was discouraged by two things:

  1. Of course, like social networking sites, they wanted me to invite all of my contacts to the network. The problem with this, in my opinion, is that if I do this, I’m strongly endorsing Naymz to my contacts, which I’m not in a position to do yet. Plus, I might recommend it to a few people, but I don’t want to do a blanket endorsement to all of my contacts (some of whom I have a strong (or weak) relationship with).
  2. Just by filling out my profile I get points. Want another five points? Put what country you are in (but don’t put USA – they don’t like abbreviations)! Want another five points? Put what city you are in! Hold on… I want privacy (well, you know what I mean :p)… this idea of getting points is a yellow flag for my skeptical side.

My understanding is you get more points, which makes you more credible (ie, the more points you have, the more real/genuine/trustworthy/??? you are… ??).

Instead of discouraging anyone from using this, I’ll throw it right back at you – what do you know about Naymz? Is this something that has helped you, or that you recommend? How or why?

If you are interested in reading more about Naymz, here’s some buzz in the blogosphere:

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Finally! Job Search With Salary Info!

April 22nd, 2008

One of my major frustrations with job searching online was not seeing any salary information on job listings.

Was I looking at a job posting that paid $40,000, or a job posting that paid $80,000???

It was extremely frustrating to try and guess whether I was wasting my time or not.

Indeed just announced a new addition to their job search page which I’m really pleased with:

Indeed has some algorithm where they do the “estimate” (read their blog post to see how they do it) Here’s what you see in the search results:

I would really like to see other job boards do this.

Now, if HR and recruiters would just put real numbers in the job posting, instead of “depends on experience” or some other vague information. Maybe Indeed’s actions will force these folks to put it in, to prevent bad estimates from showing up?

Seriously, this was one of my top three frustrations with the job search process, with regard to job boards and online technology.  Kudos to Indeed – this is actually the most impressive thing I’ve seen from a job board in a long, long time!

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Personal Branding Magazine Issue 4 Available Today

April 21st, 2008

Dan Schawbel is the kid who took personal branding and Gen Y by storm not too long ago. He came into the blogging space with an ability to comment on just about every career blog in a way that made me tired just watching!

He’s done a lot since then, but today I want to highlight his Personal Branding Magazine. This is the fourth issue he has released. In the full magazine there are 25 articles, but you can get a sample with 5 articles by clicking over to the the Personal Branding Magazine Sample page. From that page:

This Sample Issue Includes

Cover Story: Job Hunting in a Brand YOU World

An exclusive interview with Robert McGovern

Articles:

  • 3 Tips for Visibility, Memorability and Credibility in Your Job Search
  • How Can We Use Technology to Recruit Others?

Interviews With:

I haven’t read my copy yet but these are some pretty big names in the career space… I would say that I’m impressed but this is on par for what Dan Schawbel puts together. If the sample isn’t enough for you, you can get the full version (issue 4 is released on May 1) at the Personal Branding Magazine homepage, and subscribe to one year of personal branding magazines (4 issues) for just $12.95.

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Hear Me Today on Federal News Radio with Mark Amtower

April 18th, 2008

Today at noon MST (2pm EST) you’ll be able to hear me on an hour-long radio show where Mark Amtower interviews me about I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???

Mark is no networking novice, nor is he new to LinkedIn. In fact, as I’ve gotten to know him I’m really impressed with what he has accomplished – he’s a master of publicity, and accomplished author, a speaker, consultant, etc.

And I networked my way into this relationship (maybe networking does work?)!

You can listen live today, just go to this page and you’ll find a button to “listen live.” If you miss it, on Monday it will be in the audio archive area….

Jason Alba and Mark Amtower on the LinkedIn book - I\'m on LinkedIn -- Now What???

This was another fun interview – thanks for the opportunity Mark!

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Networking Doesn’t Work

April 17th, 2008

Mark Hovind - owner of JobBait.com - helping 100,000+ job seekers land their next gigOr, maybe it only works for three out of ten people.

Which means out of a hundred people, it won’t work for seventy of them.

Clarification (posted at 7:35pm MST on 4/18/08): Mark makes it clear on his website and in his comment that these stats are in a 90 day period… so sure, maybe more people will be more successful in more than a 90 day period, but his point is that if you are going from zero-to-job in 90 days, the numbers apply.

That’s pretty darn frustrating. Especially since I’ve come to believe that two of the most important things I could do for my job search and/or career management include (1) network, and (2) develop my personal brand.

And now I learn that networking doesn’t work. It’s not the silver bullet. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many job blogs. There wouldn’t be so many books on job search. We would all be networking maniacs, living giver’s gain, and oh what a different world we would live in!

Where do I get this notion that networking doesn’t work? Mark Hovind, who owns JobBait.com (and sponsored my rebranding contest – thanks Mark!), has it all over his website. Here’s how he breaks it down (you can see this on his left menu):

I’m not sure how he came up with these numbers, but I’ve been chewing on this concept (specifically, networking to a job) since I first talked to him months ago.

You know what? I think I agree. Here’s why:

Most people do not have a real network. I didn’t, when I got laid off. I had not nurtured relationships, and was not prepared to approach hardly anyone for my new job search. My network contacts were all company and vendor and customer contacts, and I didn’t realize that when you get let go it’s almost as if you have leprosy and people aren’t supposed to talk with (or help) you. So I was basically starting over.

Most people don’t know how to network. Pass business cards. Give your thirty second pitch. Shake hands, give a job lead, introduce me to someone you just met…. these are all good things, but they can (and usually are) superficial. I cringed at thinking of networking with the unemployed person… until I read Never Eat Alone. That book was my #1 must read to get my head straight with regard to “networking.” Most important paradigm shift for me? The concept of an “intimate relationship.”

Most people don’t follow up. Getting beyond that superficial stuff… beyond that first point of contact, or the second point of contact, and work on a strategy that includes following up. Did you know that if you send an interviewer a thank you card you will stand out? You may be the only one who sends a business card. Guess what – in a networking environment, if you actually follow up with someone you meet, you’ll stand out! Because most people don’t!

Most people think growing their network list is networking. Get more business cards. Or collect more LinkedIn contacts, Facebook Friends, Plaxo contacts… all the data. “My network is big!” “I have 500 first degree contacts!” “Connect with me and I’ll give you access to my 8 million connections!” Those 8 million connections are worthless, as far as relationships go. It’s not just about how wide your network is, or how deep your network is, but also how strong each relationship is.

So what do you think? Is Mark Hovind right? Are only three out of ten people going to find their next job through networking?

Are we so unsuccessful at finding jobs this way because (a) networking doesn’t work, or (b) we are doing it wrong?

I find this concept amazing and would love to hear what you think.

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Want To Hook Up In Minneapolis?

April 15th, 2008

I’m headed to Minneapolis in two weeks and decided to go a few days early to do “some” presentations.

Turns out, I’m booked from Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon. I’d love to see/meet you, if you are in the area. Here’s a quick run-down of my schedule (can you come to any of these?). Oh, I should mention, I have my hotel, car rental, and GPS (aka “the lady,” or “Sparky”) all lined up!

Monday (April 28)

7:30ish (I present around 10am) Wooddale Church Job Transition

1:30 – 2:30 Minnesota WorkForce Center – Hennepin South and 2:30 – 3:30 – LinkedIn as a business networking career tool

2:30 – 3:30 Minnesota WorkForce Center – Hennepin South LinkedIn as a business networking career tool

for Minnesota Recruiters, hosted by JobDig – 5pm – 6:30 – Social Tools and Technologies for Recruiters – as of right now there are 25 tickets left. This is the first time I do this presentation, but have been planning it for at least six months!

Tuesday (April 29)

10:00 – 11:30 – Minnesota Job Partners (Plymouth, MN) – JibberJobber for your Job Search and Career Management

1pm – 6pm – pending (it’s Ben and Jerry’s free ice cream day across the U.S.!)

6:30 Minneapolis Job Support Workshop

Wednesday (April 30)

7:30 St. Paul Chamber of Commerce – Are You LinkedIn?

9:30 Starbucks Network (sales and marketing job club)

1:15 SAMS Sales and Marketing Job Club

… then I’m off to my conference, to see my friends and partners at the Career Management Alliance annual conference!

Huge thanks to Lonny Gulden for setting up most of these, and to Paul DeBettignies for setting up the Monday night presentation!

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