I’ll Be In California Next Week – Meet Me?

February 9th, 2009

Here’s my itinerary for next week – the first part of the trip will be in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, then on Thursday and Friday I’ll be in San Diego.  Some of these are private events, one is a paid event, and I have some free time.  Drop me a line if you want to meet.  In two weeks (the week of Feb 23) I’ll be in Atlanta, and if you are there I’d love to meet (I’ll post that schedule soon).

Monday, Feb 16

Arrive at Oakland Airport (9am)

Lunch with LinkedIn Northern California (place TBD), 11:30ish

Private Dinner with job club leaders from various job clubs (5pm-9pm)

Tuesday, Feb 17

Experience Unlimited, Lafayette, 9:30am – 11:30

Right Mgt, San Francisco, 1:30 – 3:00

FREE/AVAILABLE

Private Dinner

Wednesday, Feb 18

Private meeting, 8:30 – 10:00

Lunch with Justine Lam, noonish

Right Management, Silicon Valley, 1:30 – 3:00

Meeting with Susan Ireland, 3:00 – 5:00

Silicon Valley Meetup, 5:30 – 8:30

Thursday, Feb 19

College Recruiter Webinar – 10:00 – 11:00 PST (all times are PST, but I note this for those outside of this timezone so they can adjust as appropriate :) )

Private Law Firm, San Fransisco, noon – 1:30

Fly to San Diego

Dinner in San Diego (or network meeting), 6:30 – 9:30

Friday, Feb 20

Right Management, San Diego, 8:30 – 10:30

Private Law Firm, San Diego, noon – 1:30

Fly home, 4:30 – 8:30

Then, a weekend at home and off to Atlanta for another week of presentations!

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JibberJobber User Upgrades Is My First Revenue Stream

February 6th, 2009
Every Friday I’m sharing each of the ten revenue streams that I finally put down on paper. With this post I only have 5 left (this is #5 out of 10).  I’m big on diversifying personal income, whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee.  My intention with this series is to inspire or encourage you with your own diverse revenue streams.  Below this post you’ll see links to the previous posts, or you can click on the Multiple Streams of Income category on the left.

Someone asked me what order I’m sharing my revenue streams.  Each Friday I’ve looked at the list of ten and thought, “I want to blog about this one today!”  There are a few that I’m not ready to blog about, so those are out for now, and others, like this one, that are quite easy.

Today let’s talk about the most obvious one… the revenue stream everyone could have guessed: getting people who use JibberJobber to upgrade.  Here are some thoughts on this:

This is a passive revenue stream, and I like that.

If I needed to, I could walk away right now and there would still be old revenue coming in, and new revenue coming in.  JibberJobber.com, the product, is established to the point where I don’t NEED to keep working on it.  However, we put a significant amount of money into it because we feel there is a ton of room for improvement… but my point is, the income is passive.  Lesson?  Passive is awesome.  Just realize that getting to the point where the money continues to come in, passively, takes a lot of work!

Managing this revenue stream takes resources.

I mentioned that I could walk away from this if needed (for example, let’s say I go get a job somewhere… that won’t affect JibberJobber, or the upgrades (=income)).  But I am still paying for a server, and my team who is doing development (programming), business analysis (reviewing competitors, best-in-class CRM tools, and suggestions from users), quality assurance (I’d rather we test the new development than our users ;) ), etc.  I’m sure there are other ways to create a passive income stream that have no overhead, but this is what I’ve chosen.  Lesson?  If you think you are going to create a passive income stream, think about what overhead it will require to keep up and running, producing, and competitive.

This revenue stream is Business to Consumer (B2C), which is QUITE different than Business to Business (B2B).

This is my first role where I’m directly responsible for B2C, and wow it’s different than what I’m used to.  I watched sites like MySpace and Facebook grow like weeds and was sure that within a few months I’d be buying all new servers, and a few months later I’d be rolling in the dough from all of the upgrade money.  What I learned was that getting just one more signup was a challenge… just because you build it they won’t come… there’s a lot more to getting that next signup than just having a cool product.  Lesson?  Product is one thing, but you better understand you are going to have to market it, creatively and effectively, to create revenue.

Getting “conversions” is equally as difficult as getting signups.

Convincing someone to become proactive about their network management is like getting someone to balance their checkbook… it’s not glamorous or fun, and the immediate benefits are not apparent.  There are benefits, but how many of YOU are doing it right/well?  See my point?  Of the total number of people who signup, I’ll only get a percentage of those who actually USE JibberJobber, and a smaller percentage who PAY to use the upgraded level.  I heard that a freemium model like this (freemium -> free with an optional upgrade to premium) is successful if you get 1/2 of one percent (that is: .5%) of total signups to upgrade.  That is, if I have 10,000 signups, I’m supposedly successful if I get 50 people to upgrade.  Isn’t that crazy?

Fortunately I’m beyond that, as more than .5% of my users have seen enough value in the upgrade. Lesson?  If though you set up something uber-cool, and everyone and their mom will need it, don’t call that realtor in the Carribean just yet… execute on your business plan and get those conversions before you spend all of the (anticipated) revenue. BONUS Lesson?  Getting conversions was a “hurry up and wait” proposition, leaving time to work on other revenue streams, building the brand, marketing, etc.  But it builds over time, which is pretty cool.

JibberJobber, signups, users and upgrades is my core business.  Not ad revenue.

Notice I don’t have any ads in JibberJobber?  We have Partner’s announcements and offerings, but no Google ads, banner ads, etc.  I know people can make tons of money with those, but we don’t for three main reasons:

  1. JibberJobber already has a very busy interface… for a few hundred dollars a day or a month, it’s simply not worth it to me to  add irrelevant clutter (especially with Google Ads, which has too many stipulations that are not user-friendly for my users).
  2. We got kicked out of Google ads for life… early on, back in 2006, I had ads in some places, but someone from Mexico clicked on my ads 1,000 times in one day.  I emailed Google to ask what I should do about it and a few days later they kicked me out of their ad program, took ALL the money away (they owed me money but credited it ALL back to their advertisers, even before that day of click fraud).  There is no recourse for this, and I’m banned from life. Nice policy Google.  Dorks.  But in the end this was good because… (see #3)
  3. I was getting sidetracked with advertising opportunities… I read a book on how to optimize Google ads, which took time away from core development.  I was having my dev team play with the ad placement, which was a distraction from our product.  When I got kicked out I realized I should have spent more time on my core, not on distraction worth pennies and costing a lot in missed opportunities.

Lesson?  When you start a revenue stream you’ll see shiny objects that seem cool.  Think about whether that helps you reach your revenue goals.  Google ads seemed to fit the bill, but they were simply a distraction.

Different upgrades make sense to different people.

I started with two levels – free and premium.  Based on feedback we added a mid-level, called Silver.  And we give various upgrade time frames, with price breaks based on how much you purchase.  And various ways to upgrade (PayPal vs. credit card).  Like this:

Lesson?  Cater.  Some want PayPal, some hate PayPal.  Some want monthly, some want Lifetime.  Some want $10, some want $5.  Think about creating your pricing model to cater WITHOUT confusing.  To many customizations would make it too hard for some people to actually buy your stuff.

I realize developing a site like JibberJobber is something most of you won’t do, but many of you have asked me about subscription models.  I hope this dialogue helps you think this idea through.

If you have a subscription model, or have participated in one, what do you think makes it successful?

Here is a breakdown of the revenue streams I’ve shared so far:

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Personal Branding Winner of the Month (January) – Rex Gradeless

February 5th, 2009

This might be one of the best-branded professionals I’ve found – and finding him was almost an accident.

Rex Gradeless “followed” me on Twitter a few days ago, and I checked out his Twitter profile.  He’s a 3rd year law student, looking for a litigation position… and has (get this) 10,687 followers (as of right now).

Most people on Twitter don’t have over 1k followers.  It takes a lot of work to get over 5k followers.  It is rare that I see someone with 10k+ followers… and this dude is a third year law student?!?!?!

My first thought was “when he tweets that he’s ready, and he’s available, and what city he wants to go to, I’m sure his network will help him in ways that I only dreamed of.”

But let’s go beyond Twitter – there’s more.

I should mention, the purpose of these personal branding awards is to help YOU know that YOU can do this to.  Rex is not a professional blogger, or twitterer, or social media junkie, he’s a professional almost-attorney.  He just uses available (free) tools to put his brand in front of an audience… just like you can should!

Rex owns the Social Media Law Student blog/site.  I’m no lawyer, and I don’t know all the resources they have, but I’m guessing this is the most comprehensive collection of current thoughts regarding the intersection of social media and law around.  From a third year law student.  I thought all third years were cramming for that big test they have to take?

Apparently not – Rex found time to brand himself in the legal community as an expert in his field with social media.

Think that will do good for him?  I bet it already has.

As I read the About page I kept thinking “this guy is going to do in this space what Michael Arrington did with TechCrunch.”   I’m amazed how Michael took a simple idea and created an empire out of it – this was an idea that hundreds or even thousands of real journalists could have run with, but Michael did it.  Just like Rex seems to be doing it.  Think about multiple streams of revenue… the opportunities here are rich.

the “law student contributors” page shows me that Rex is smart enough to recruit thought leaders into the mix, so this is manageable for him.  Understand that this all still falls under Rex’s brand, BUT/AND Josh Camson and Sharon Lovell, just because they are associated, will be recipients of any good and strong branding that happens.  They get strong branding by association with this site!  Smart for all three involved.

I am absolutely blown away by what Rex has done here.  He’s created a massive following, he’s created THE thought-leadership role in this space, he has strong content (thanks to his contributors, I’m sure), and I know this will serve him well for the rest of his career.

Don’t get overwhelmed by what he has done, as I’m sure it’s taken time and concerted effort to put together.  Go see what he has done that you might be able to emulate… the goal here is to learn from these winners, and Rex is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I’m awed.  Check out all of his online stuff here:

Congratulations Rex! 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! And, a new addition to the prize list is the two hour (!!) recording of Blog Marketing 201 – 501 (part of the CEO Training for Me, Inc. – listed at $49.95 (but much more valuable than that!).

You can see the other winners of this award, which has been going on for over two years, at the Monthly Winner category.

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10 Free Job Search Resources Online

February 4th, 2009

Here’s a list of 10 free job search resources that I frequently recommend:

  1. JibberJobber (free version): hey, it’s my list, I get to be on top, right?  We designed the free version of JibberJobber to be more powerful than an excel spreadsheet (with regard to features), and offer OPTIONAL upgrades (one for $5/month, and one for $9.95/month).  Whether you are in a job search now or not, you should be using something like JibberJobber to manage your professional relationships.
  2. Emurse.com: This is my favorite place to put a resume online, nothing more, nothing less.  Get your paper resume out and simply fill in the blanks.  Your online resume will be accessible from a URL like jasonalba.emurse.com (not a hyperlink – I don’t have my resume up there, since I’m not looking right now… but I should do this!).
  3. LinkedIn.com: I usually only recommend upgrading for people who will be searching a lot and need to reach out to the people they find.  This might describe you, but if not, just get the free version.  YOU HAVE TO BE ON LINKEDIN.  PERIOD. Oh yeah, and subscribe to my LinkedIn blog.
  4. Job-hunt.org: this site has a tone of stuff, and can be overwhelming to navigate, but let me share two gems that I frequently refer back to.  First, Deb Dib’s article on LinkedIn for the executive job seeker.  Great article, but I refer back to it a lot because there are 8 LinkedIn Profiles that she points to that are pristine… excellent examples to help you craft your LinkedIn Profile.  Second, when someone tells me they can’t find a local face-to-face network meeting, I go to Job-hunt.org and look to see what they have listed there (top left drop-down on main page).  I could go to Google but this already has what I’m looking for (I don’t always find the right answer, but it’s where I start).
  5. Twellow.com: I’m not going to try and convince you to get on Twitter, but do this: go to Twellow.com (which is like the “yellow pages of Twitter”) and search for people in your city, state, profession or industry.  You’ll find influencers who are probably well-networked – these are people who you want to develop relationships with.  No kidding – give it a shot and start networking with people who can help you get closer to your target companies.
  6. Indeed.com: Yup, a job board, but not for job board’s sake.  Use Indeed to do COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH.  Find out what companies are hiring, what your target companies competition is doing, what job titles look like (I had to get familiar with industry buzz words and titles I wasn’t familiar with during my job search, which led me down other paths), etc.  Ignore the idea of applying for jobs using job boards and think about this as a rich database research tool!
  7. The Career Hub Blog: You can read me babble on and on and on at this blog, but realize that (a) my job search was an utter failure, and (b) while I offer freaking awesome website to job seekers, I am not in the trenches with job seekers like professional job search coaches.  Want to hear from them?  The Career Hub Blog is THE PLACE to go!  Also, on the right of that blog you’ll see a download button for free job search ebooks – totally worth the time to download and read (they are short, packed with great stuff).
  8. Groups.Yahoo.com: Two big part of a professional’s job search are personal branding and networking (nurturing relationships).  There are not many places better to do this at a very focuses level than the right Yahoo Group.  The right one will depend on your profession, industry, etc.  I’ll give you ONE example… if you are in PR you MUST MUST MUST be on Young PR Pros.  I’m there because I want to learn how to do PR for my own company, and learn from these experts, but I see job leads, contracting leads, and other types of referrals continually passed along, and I know there is a lot more going on offlist – find the right Yahoo Group and actively participate!
  9. blogsearch.google.com: It would be too easy to just say “google.com,” which I could, but I want to narrow that down a bit – use Blog Search . Google to search for players in your space, just the same way you would use Twellow.  Same concept, although you’ll have to play around with the search terms more to really find the results you want to find.  But once you find a blogger in your space (industry, profession, etc.) you might hit a gold vein, … check out the blogroll, who comments etc. and you might just have a ton of awesome contacts to start developing relationships with!
  10. Google Alerts:  You should have target companies… why not keep up on them?  Go to Google Alerts and put in the company names, officer names, products, etc. to see what buzz they are getting online? You should also have your own name and perhaps professional friends as well as past companies in Alerts.  I have about 12 alerts set up including my name, names of my books, JibberJobber, and my competition… I want to know what’s being said, and when I can comment on blogs – Google Alerts is an excellent way to keep your ear to the ground on things you want to pay attention to.

What other resources do you recommend?  Free or not free… share it here!

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How To Help A Job Seeker

February 3rd, 2009

On my 10 hour job search post there is an interesting discussion about how to do a job search, and keeping your chin up, motivation, advice, etc.  Here’s a snippet from Doug, asking those who are not unemployed to have more consideration when trying to help a job seeker:

…  treat those that are out of work with care and as the intelligent, motivated and well-educated individuals we are. Do not insult our intelligence. Do not think we haven’t tried the standard options. We have. Unlike those in a payrolled position, those without jobs are focused on doing the best they can to stay positive, somehow survive and work to develop increased employable skills — all without compensation, leadership or external motivation.

This reminded me of a frustrating experience I had during my job search.  I was a few months into my job search.  At church, an older lady approached me in the hallway with a paper that had a bunch of job openings, all of which were about 33% less than I needed to make (not what I wanted to make – I was beyond that, but I would have to have two jobs in order to pay the bills if I took one of those jobs).

She seemed insistent that I simply take that list, apply to the jobs, and then accept the one that offered me a role.

This was months into my job search, and I had spent way too much time online looking at and applying to job postings.  I had realized by that time that job postings were something of a farce …. that is, they weren’t real. Perhaps they were already filled, or the process to hire could be months and month, or I was over- or under-qualified.  I had come to view job postings as unreal, even artificial.

Getting this list shoved in front of me by someone who hadn’t been in a job search for decades was *almost* comical.  It was offensive and hurtful.  Did she really think I couldn’t go to monster and find other outdated, artificial postings?

Did people really think I hadn’t tried the “standard options?”  When she put that list in front of me, one thought I had was “oh, these are all outdated – I’ve been scouring the job boards and I know these aren’t open anymore – I RECOGNIZE ALL OF THEM!!”

Doug says to remember that we are “intelligent, motivated and well-educated” people.  Indeed we are.  It was a huge realization for me when I figured out I not was inadequate to live in this world of working people, rather I just had a different status than my working peers.  I was still a professional, still knowledgeable, competent, capable, willing, etc.  Just like them. They were just more fortunate than I was at the time, with their regular paycheck and health insurance.

Let me share five things you can do, if you are employed (including self-employed), to help a job seeker.  All of these are tactical ideas, but keep in mind it’s essential that you treat us, the unemployed, with the respect we deserve.

Thing 1: Get to know me. I may not be good at communicating who I am and what I do (or want to do)… this is a hard time for me and I’ve never had to talk about myself in this way (elevator pitches and all that).  But try and get to know me on a deeper level, and as you get to know me you’ll see how you might be able to help me.  I remember having lunch with someone I thought I knew (we were both in the job search) and during lunch I learned so much more about him, I was blown away.  Once I got to know him at a deeper level I could (and did) go back to my network and make more proper, more meaningful connections.  This only happened because I took the time to get to know him better.

Thing 2: Offer to help me with something specific. I hated the “is there anything I could do?” or “if I can do anything, let me know.”  I would answer “not now,” but I really wanted to say “help me get a job!”  Look for opportunities to help me.  For example, ask me what companies I want to work at.  Hopefully I can give you a list of 3 – 5 target companies – when I can tell you, then dig into your network to try and help me network into that company.  Maybe you facilitate an introduction, or go to a lunch with me and a company insider… but this is something much more specific, and quite meaningful, in my job search.

Thing 3: Open your network. I don’t mean open your black book of contacts, and give them all to me. Perhaps you aren’t comfortable with that yet.  But could you at least introduce me to ONE person?  Just one person… and if I handle it well then perhaps you can introduce me to more.  Here’s a bonus idea: Read Never Eat Alone, and think about how YOU can play a significant role in your own career, as well as the lives/careers of those around you.

Thing 4: Inspire and motivate me. Don’t do it artificially, but if you have had an experience where you were out of work and lived to tell about it, perhaps share what you learned, or what strengthened you.  I don’t need your sympathy, but I can use your encouragement and help to see the big picture.  In my job search I was dumbfounded by the number of friends and neighbors who had been unemployed, some for longer than a year, who shared very personal experiences and feelings with us.  We could know, with their support, that indeed we could make it through.

Thing 5: Remember me after our first meeting. One thing we all hate about networking is how superficial it is.  Having an initial meeting and then not doing anything after that is part of this superficiality.  I know why it happens, but please consider the job seeker as someone who you need to follow up with regularly.  In my job search it was easy to be lonely, and people treated me with kid gloves because they didn’t know what to say… usually they didn’t say anything at all. Which meant I was left alone in my failed job search.  How powerful it is to get a constant reminder, whether it’s a phone call, an email, a regular lunch date, or something like that, where I can feel your encouragement and communicate my needs – not once, but regularly.

Bonus Thing 6: Give me money. Wow, that feels weird even writing it, and I’m not advocating on behalf of all unemployed people that we want your money.  We most certainly do not want your money. However, I will say that there were a few instances where anonymous friends, neighbors and probably family gave us money in different ways.  Some left fruits and vegetables on our porch. Someone left gift cards for the local grocery store in our mail box with a very kind and inspirational note.  Someone paid our water bill for a few months. I would have never asked for these things, but out of the kindness of their hearts, these good people helped us in a way that was more significant than the amount of money they gave.  Oh yeah, I should mention, for proud people like me, it’s better to do this anonymously than outright give it to me… ;)

As I write this I think about a related post, Religion’s Role in the Job Search… it might be applicable to you.

What do you think?  What has someone done for you that was significant?  If you have helped a job seeker, what have you done that has made a big impact?

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The DIY Resume Book I Recommend Most Often

February 2nd, 2009

If you are like me you would have thought you didn’t have enough money to write your own resume.  I should have engaged a professional resume writer, but I couldn’t figure out where the few hundred dollars would come from.  Plus, I thought I was smart enough to write my own resume – after all, isn’t it just a two page document?  How hard could that be?  (more on that later!!)

So for all of you Do It Yourself (DIY) I’m-going-to-write-my-own-resume people, let me share the book I most often recommend.  Understand that (a) I’m not a resume writer, (b) many (most) of my partners are resume writers, and many have books, (c) I recognize there are a gazillion resume books on the market, and (d) there are PROS and CONS to writing your own resume.  I’m not going to say what YOU should do, but if you are a DIY person here’s what I recommend: Happy About My Resume.

Why?  The tagline says it all: “50 tips for building a better document to secure a brighter future.”

In 63 pages, Barbara Safani shares the 50 resume tips with super-tangible examples.  I can get my resume out and compare how I’m doing against her 50 resume tips and examples (pictures of the tips) … this is exactly what I need.  I already felt I had a strong resume, but this resume book provides my final proofing checklist to see if I’m violating any resume rules.

The rest of the book (the book is about 155 pages long) is full of examples and other resources in the appendices.  I’m not inclined to check out those examples, except I would quickly scan to see if any of the examples had the same job title(s) I was looking for, and then dig a little deeper into those resumes.

Here is some of what you’ll see in this resume book:

The Introduction: Usually I skip over the introduction to a book, but in this one Barbara lists 10 common reasons most resumes suck.  And then she gives her thoughts on each of the 10.  This intro is required reading.

Chapter 1, Tip 3: Always include an address. Barbara says why leaving an address off can be a red flag, what to do if you are concerned about privacy, and what’s different on a job board.

Chapter 2, Tip 4: Create a headline. I didn’t have a headline on my resume – the closest I got was naming the resume file something specific (“project manager resume”).  This tip comes with over a page of examples, and leads directly into Tip 5: Add a tagline or branded statement (with another page+ of examples.  Remember, your resume is a marketing tool, and should not read like an obituary.

Chapter 3, Tip 12: Minimize job tasks. Barbara tells why (and how) to talk about the tasks, and why these should be minimized.  Why?  Hint: because your resume is a marketing tool, not a job description.  It’s on page 20.

Chapter 6, Tip 39: Don’t bullet more than five items in a row. Why?  Might as well write a paragraph (or perhaps a novel)… if you have more than five bullet points in a row she has a great solution.

Chapter 8 is like a bonus, with 11 Tips for Creating Value Added Cover Letters.

This is not the most in-depth resume book I’ve seen, but for me it would have been perfect.  I know resume writers have other resume books on their shelves that they use frequently… but the DIY resume writer will get  great ideas from Happy About My Resume.  You can get the paperback for $16.96, or the eBook for 11.95 from here.

(note: each of the links to the Happy About My Resume page are affiliate links, which means if you buy it I’ll get a few bucks. That’s my “full disclosure” statement :p)

If you think your resume is important, you should check out JibberJobber. Why? Because once you get your resume snazzy, you’ll start to send it out… applying here and there. You’ll need to track where you apply, what your target companies are (track that in JibberJobber), how you network your way into these target companies, etc. Oh yeah, once you finish your job search, continue to use JibberJobber to track all of this stuff for your next promotion (or job search).
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