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How To Introduce Yourself To Someone Two Degrees Away

January 16th, 2008

Kevin Donlin - The Simple Job Search and resume writerYesterday I got an e-mail from Kevin Donlin, asking for my input for an article. I misunderstood the question, so I get to use my original response for this blog post :) The question that I answered was:

What is the BEST thing someone could write in an email to convince someone not in their immediate network to make a connection with them (that could lead to a job)?

Here was my reply:

Kevin, (1) Dave Perry recommended that I get in touch with you. (2) I am an in the IT space, with an emphasis on web technology, and Dave mentioned that you have a lot of experience in web technologies. He also mentioned that (3) you are very well connected, and have a good understanding of the best network opportunities that I should know about. (4) Do you have time this week or next week for a lunch?

Components:

  1. Drop a name (first and last name), but it has to be real. If Kevin contacts Dave to verify the story, or learn more about me, the last thing you want is for Dave to deny what I wrote.
  2. Who am I? Put in a few words (not a novel) about who I am… let Kevin know something about me.
  3. Common ground. I describe what I’m interested in, and state that Dave is basically recommending Kevin as the expert that I need to learn from, and someone who can point me in the right direction.
  4. Invite to lunch. I find the best relationship building I do is face-to-face, over lunch. It’s more likely that I’ll have undivided attention, as well as a lot of time. Compare that to a superficial string of e-mails where it’s really hard to get the information and relationship that I need. Just remember, you invited so you pay! (obviously you could change this to “a phone call”)

That has worked for me. Notice how short it is? The relationship building does not happen on the first e-mail! Think of this as your thirty second pitch.

What has worked for you?

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How To Write An Excellent LinkedIn Recommendation

January 15th, 2008

LinkedIn Recommendations - giving a professional endorsement, or thumbs up!Recommendations is a pretty powerful thing within LinkedIn. You can’t write your own, and you can’t edit what someone has submitted for you. You can just decided whether you want to show a recommendation or not. Because of this, each recommendation carries some weight.

Issues surrounding Recommendations are too complex for one blog post, so in this post I’ll just focus on writing an excellent recommendation. I’m not covering who to write one for, what to do if you don’t like the recommendation someone submits for you, how to solicit recommendation, etc. Just what makes an excellent one.

Two things come to mind:

First, make sure your recommendation is going to add business or professional value to the recipient. This is not the Facebook Wall, or the MySpace comment area. Recommendations are not “atta boys,” kudos or “happy birthdays.” They are meant to show a professional endorsement for that person.

Second, make sure your recommendation has specific information (and, is not too vague). You can say “Jason is an excellent project manager,” or you can say “Jason showed excellent project management skills by (example a, example b, example c).” The first one is just too vague… becoming cliche. The second one is more credible.

Now, I’ll probably be accused of wanting to flatter myself for posting this, but I just received it and I think it’s an excellent example of how to do a strong recommendation. This is from Patreece Thompson, who participated in a LinkedIn webinar that I did this morning:

“Jason conducted a webinar on LinkedIn that I found extremely valuable. He demonstrated a high degree of expertise and his presentation was clear and immediately actionable. He was sensitive to others that did not have the on-line visual. In addition, his style was open and inviting to questions (and expressed appreciation for them) and willingly gave his time to responding to questions thoroughly. Jason is extremely enthusiastic about his work which is infectious. I certainly would recommend him for any training on this topic.

Notice how powerful this recommendation is… it is much more specific than something like this:

Jason is a great presenter, I really enjoyed what he talked about. I would recommend Jason anytime.

Of course, my example is still positive and flattering, but Patreece’s recommendation has teeth… it has the kind of information and authority that means something.

I expect to see positive things about you in recommendations. Any specific stuff just seals the deal.

Be specific!

Want more info on optimizing LinkedIn? Check out the blog behind the book, I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???

Most LinkedIn Profiles suck. There. I said it. This is why I spent over 20 minutes critiquing five different Profiles on my LinkedIn DVD. If you have any questions you can hire me on an hourly rate, or for a fraction of that cost you can get the DVD. Details here.

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Book Review: GUST – The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics

January 14th, 2008

Gust - office politics handbookHere’s a slight detour from the job search, career management or networking books that I usually review. I got a copy of GUST at last year’s Successful and Outstanding Bloggers conference and have had a number of communications with the author, Timothy L. Johnson.

I’ve only read one other business book like GUST, which is written like a novel, complete with characters and drama. Have you ever read The Goal? I think every business student in my era had to read it in their senior year. It was a cool book, and I was impressed to see a VP or HR at a $3B company with The Goal on his bookshelf. Anyway, back to GUST.

My first impression as I’m reading this book is “man, this office setting is so draining that there is no way I would work here!” But then I remembered how long I stayed at my draining job. No matter how bad things got (and they got bad), I always thought they would get better.
I think a lot of people put up with bad jobs for a variety of reasons – fear of the job search, is the grass really greener on the other side (pretty sad thought, if all jobs suck as bad as “this one”), worried about tarnishing resume, worried about not returning any loyalty that you felt from your company (training, transfer, etc.), worried about letting your boss or coworkers down (either because you respect them or because of peer pressure), concern about a bad employment market (will I be able to land again), etc.

And so we stay in poor work conditions.

GUST is about office politics, not any of these other things that make a job miserable. The main character is a consultant brought in to manage a project to completion while unraveling the political problems, and help the CEO understand what needs to change. And the company is a mess.

The consultant walks her team through various aspects of identifying politics, the reasons behind political behavior, and tactics to work around this behavior (to keep your sanity and keep the project moving forward).

Timothy L. Johnson does a great job of making my stomach churn, while giving me tool after tool, technique after technique, and arming me to prepare with office politics.

If you are currently living with office politics, and want to figure out how to weather them, pick up a copy of GUST. Check out Scot Herrick’s review here.

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A Little Bit Of Kudos

January 11th, 2008

thank_you.pngBear with me as I write one of my less-favorite posts, which shares some kudos I’ve received in the last few months. It’s not that I don’t like kudos (I love it!) but I feel a little weird putting it here.

If I don’t put it, however, I have friends and partners who get after me. And I guess it’s good form to show that YOU need to figure out how to brag about yourself! I guess I should go back and reread Brag!

Anyway, here are some recent recognitions that I’ve become aware of:

I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? has been chosen as a Top 10 Career Books by Joyce Lain Kennedy – she sent me the press release, you can see it in this newspaper article.

I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? is my publisher‘s fastest selling title, and we’re probably going to be their top selling book (at least, that’s what I’m working towards :))

The JibberJobber blog has been nominated as a top recruiter blog in two different categories (Best Job Hunting Blog, Best Recruiting Blogosphere Personality). Pretty funny since I don’t consider this a recruiter blog (that is, I don’t intend to teach recruiters anything). These winners won by virtue of votes, which I didn’t post about here during the voting season (I’d be a bad politician :p): Six Degrees From Dave, Recruiting Animal, Hiring Revolution, I, Donato , Wired & Hired, WirelessJobs.com, CyberSleuthing, Xtra Cheezhead, Gautam Ghosh

This blog is listed as a top career blog (#23) by Risesmart in their Career100 list. Yes, I do consider this a career blog 😉 I’m not going to list all the other career blogs, but here are the first 22: Brazen Careerist, tompeters!, One Louder, Business Pundit, Chief Happiness Officer, Career and Job Hunting Blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, BostonWorks Job Blog, Cheezhead, Work in Progress, Marketing Headhunter.com, David Maister, Bob Sutton Work Matters, …from the trenches, Slacker Manager, Gautam Ghosh on Management, How To Find The Perfect Job, About.com: Job Searching, Cultivate GREATNESS, George’s Employment Blawg, Deb’s Career Corner, Void for Vagueness

The JibberJobber blog is listed as a top 25 HR blog by HR World. Pretty funny since I don’t consider this an HR blog (that is, I don’t intend to teach HR anything). Here are the other top 25 HR blogs (in order – want to see the best HR blog? It’s in bold!): Career Hub, Cheezhead, SixDegrees from Dave, Gautam Ghosh, Insourced’s Employment and Jobs Blog, Evil HR Lady, good to know, GoodRecruits, HR Tests, HR Thoughts, Beyond HR, Dr. John Sullivan & Associates, HR and Strategies, HR Daily Advisor, HRMetrics.org, HR Web Café, Breaking Human Resource News, CharlotteRecruiting, Chief Happiness Officer, Generations@Work, Human Resources 101, Employment Law Blog, Inside Human Resources Blog, The Human Capitalist.

I was quoted in Money magazine in the January edition. I saw this first on Money/CNN and then got an e-mail from Deb Dib saying her husband saw it in print – yeah!

I recorded a show for NPR in Connecticut, and will be on NPR live in San Fransisco in February. More details when I have them!

(added at 4:30pm MST) Doh!  I knew I was forgetting something!   I’m thrilled that Alison Doyle, Job Search expert at About.com, included JibberJobber.com as one of her favorite job search sites for 2007.  It’s quite an honor to have her recognize JibberJobber, and even put it in with the other amazing favorites!

Thanks to everyone who has helped make these things possible, especially YOU! YOU have helped make this a top blog because of your comments, and the great discussion we have here!

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Two Years Ago Today: “We’re Going To Let You Go…”

January 9th, 2008

I was actually not fired, just laid offJanuary 9th, 2006, I go into work knowing it was a special day. We had a board meeting early in the day, I think around 11am. The main topic at work had been finances, as the previous CEO (and 40% owner) had been spending more time with me. He had left the company a while back but I knew by his recent involvement, and trips to our parent company’s office about 3 hours away, that something was going on.

That morning he came into my office and shared with me that he was pretty sure I would be let go on the board call.

There was writing on the wall for a long time. Relationships had soured, which was probably the most painful thing of all. The owners wanted immediate changes, changes that I felt were not sustainable. Previous to the call I had been told I didn’t have enough gray hair (meaning, I wasn’t experienced enough), that all I did was think like an MBA (sorry for getting an MBA, at least you didn’t pay for it and I did it after work hours), and that I was not an entrepreneur (if I was, why did I have a job??).

Two of my key employees had recently resigned, which was really weird as I felt things were really turning around. But they knew better, and they both moved on to much better opportunities. I keep in touch with them regularly and am very happy to know where they ended up, and how happy they are.

It’s funny how myopic we can be about our current employer, thinking that we are safe and protected, and not realize how much greener the grass really is in other pastures.

It’s funny how we think we are being loyal to our employer, and that this is building up in some loyalty bank, and our loyalty investment will save our hide when others get the axe.

It’s funny how we can give 100% to our JOB, thinking that they will give 100% back to us, as employees. All the while we are neglecting our CAREER MANAGEMENT.

I realize what happened was a business decision. Sure, it was riddled with politics, stupid decisions, short-sightedness, etc. But I walked away from that job knowing that in the end, the numbers on the left side of the ledger had to match the numbers on the right side of the ledger, and senior management wanted that to have happened a year ago, and all of the problems from before I was general manager seemed to become my fault the day I became general manager.

For over a year I felt I had been given a big cow paddie and I was waiting for that special flower to pop up through the middle.

But my time ran out.

And I got the boot.

And I should be grateful – afterall, look at all the incredible stuff that has happened to me in the last two years! Look at all the amazing people I have met and touched! You can’t even imagine how you have impacted my life, and my family’s life.

But it still hurt, back then. And for some weird reason, as I write this, it still hurts now. Years and years of awesome relationships with coworkers – practically severed the day I was let go.

I didn’t do the infamous “walk of shame,” but I definitely felt like a leper. Eyes followed me as I tried to be in good spirits. Eyes that once were quick to look for me for lunch, or to talk about something important, now watched me in shame. And our relationships changed.

And that is probably what hurt the most.

Ultimately, I should be thankful that I was pushed out of that company, and that job. I had known for over a year it was time to look elsewhere, but I was too loyal to my team, and my company, and my customers, and the vision.

Look where it got me.

A couple of ending thoughts:

– I was not fired, just laid off. Although a 11 year old girl in church said “you were fired!” just a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t even know she knew my situation, obviously her parents did :)

– the level of stress I have now, as a business owner, is probably the same. But I consider it happy, or positive, stress. The stress when I was GM was the kind that put me in urgent care, wondering if I was having a heart attack (nope, it was just a pre-ulcer).

– my wife tells me I really need to get over this, and I know I do. But I don’t want to lose my passion for the message, the one about YOU caring more about your CAREER MANAGEMENT than you did yesterday. So I’ll hold on to a little bitterness, just to help me blog with passion – I hope you understand 😉 The truth is, I may “get over this” but I’ll never, ever forget what I went through.

Happy two year anniversary!

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The Other Hardest Question: How Can I Help You?

January 8th, 2008

I don't know how to answer your question!When I started networking the right way I really understood the importance and impact of a well-crafted elevator pitch (aka, me in 30 seconds, etc.). The question this answers is “what do you do,” or “tell me about yourself,” or something like that.

It was really hard for me to answer with something really concise, targeted, full of information, and leaving you with a desire to learn more about me :)

I eventually got comfortable with my response… but there was “that other” hard question… “How can I help you?”

Vincent Wright is the Wright Hand bloggerLast week I was asked, in an e-mail, from one of the most connected people on the planet “how can I help you?”

I had to swallow my pride, which usually wants me to say “oh, I’m ok, but thanks for offering!”

You see, in the real spirit of networking, Vincent wants to help. And he usually can. So here was my response (in e-mail):

How you can help me… always a funny question. Let me lay out what my goals are for this year:

1. Get 73 more coach/resume writer partners.

2. Get more associations using JJ like IEEE-USA is (recognize this cool stuff: http://careers.ieeeusa.org/ ?)

3. Get some partnerships with outplacement firms nailed down.

4. Get more users on JibberJobber.

5. Get more PR. I just interviewed with NPR today (Vincent, this was a CT station: http://www.cpbn.org/wnpr-programming-schedule (some Sunday (I’m not sure which one) at 3pm)), which was awesome. I’ll be on NPR in SF in February… and would love to get more radio interviews. Also, newspaper coverage, especially the kind that would make people turn their heads (WSJ, NYT, etc.).

Of course, this is all pie in the sky (know that I’ll work my tail off to achieve it this year), so if nothing else, just getting Mr. T to do a 3 minute video where he says JibberJobber instead of JibberJabber would be great :) :)

It wasn’t easy to lay all of these out (and less easy to put it here, as now I’m making my path public), but I’ve come to realize that people want to help, and they can help, but they need to know what we need. Check out Vincent’s response, which blew me away:

I’m actually on the phone with someone who knows Mr. T. She says she’ll call him tomorrow.

There’s more to the story, as this e-mail went to two people (it was a virtual introduction). The other person, Bill Sobel, probably knows half of the who’s-who in NYC, and he replied back with a virtual introduction to a vice president of one of the three largest outplacement firms in the world.

Just knowing how to answer, with SPECIFICS, was the key.

So let’s assume you know how to respond to the question “tell me about yourself,” how exactly would you respond to the question “what can I/we do for you?” Put it in the comment box below!

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Nerd Guru Hits One Year Birthday

January 7th, 2008

Last year a new blogger popped up… only to become one of my favorite reads. We “met” when he read a blog post I wrote on CollegeRecruiter.com and have had a number of conversations since. He is one of the few blogs that I follow via e-mail.

This week, Nerd Guru, aka Pete Johnson, turns one. Not only has he made my blog reading richer, he wants to make one of us richer – he’s giving away a $50 gift certificate at Amazon.com. Details?

On Monday (1/7/2008) I’ll announce the details of the Nerd Guru First Blogoversary Scavenger Crossword Contest Spectacular and on Thursday it’ll go live. As mentioned before the holiday break, the winner will get a $50 Amazon gift certificate!

The post isn’t there yet… I’ll check back later. Here’s one of my favorite things on the Nerd Guru site:

Nerd Guru - what a nerd!

Pete, it’s been fun, you have an excellent voice and message, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your first year!

Update! Pete posted the details here. I don’t know if this is good news for my resume and wordsmith readers, or for my techie/search readers! It will be fun, all the same!

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Update On The Facebook Book

January 4th, 2008

my book-writing tool :)Progress on I’m on Facebook — Now What??? has been humming along. Jesse and I have sent the pre-edited book to over 80 bloggers and journalists, and the feedback we have received is very helpful. Most of it has been extremely positive, and a few people have replied with some major changes but very helpful all the same. I am nervous to dive in and change a bunch of stuff this late in the game, but will make some changes for sure.

We almost have a cover designed, which should be pretty cool. It’s really interesting how many details and decisions go into the book, and I’m expecting to get feedback on even the most minute detail. Fortunately the decision-making team communicates very well and we are able to differentiate between small issues and large issues.

We’ve also received the foreword from Lee Lorenzen, who is the first Facebook-only VC and a very big name in the Facebook space, created the book’s blog, and a “Page” that you can join as a fan (to keep up to date on the book progress).

The biggest question we still get is the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn, as far as how you would use them. Many people say “I use LinkedIn for professional networking and Facebook for family and social networking.” Not much of an argument there… how in the world would you do “family networking” on LinkedIn???

But there is definitely a compelling reason to learn about how Facebook can help you professionally, from You, Inc. to your role as an employee to your own business venture… Facebook has a lot to offer. And that’s what this book is all about.

The editor just sent me a revision in the Table of Contents, but here’s the old one, with the gist of what we’re writing about:

Foreword – Lee Lorenzen
Introduction
Chapter 1 – Getting Started
Chapter 2 – Getting Involved
Chapter 3 – Commonly Asked Questions
Chapter 4 – Applications
Chapter 5 – Privacy
Chapter 6 – Your Facebook Strategy
Chapter 7 – Facebook for Businesses
Chapter 8 – Facebook No-no’s
Chapter 9 – Additional Resources
Conclusion
Appendix

More information soon, once the cover is finalized we’ll have a page to pre-order the ebook and the hard copy at discounted rates!

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Getting Laid Off and Moving On (a simple tip)

January 3rd, 2008

phone book A few days ago I posted to one of my favorite e-mail forums (beware: there are usually around 1,000 e-mails sent each month) about the “We had a great year but your job no longer exists” letter, and got this brilliant reply from Angela Fowler:

One of the best tactics for weathering the storm of lay-offs is: KEEP your company phone rosters! Simple and easy way for future networking when you need it the most.

Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Probably because was too embarrassed to communicate with people who stayed at the company. But I shouldn’t have been. It’s just the way it is, and getting laid off or otherwise finding yourself in transition doesn’t make you a leper.

This applies to moving, also. Keep your old phone books, church rosters, etc. Thanks Angela!

Oh yeah, the small print. A follow-up e-mail on the thread suggested that it might be against company policy to take the phone list, as it might be “company property.” This was certainly true when I worked at the FBI. Make sure you check that out before you take the roster!

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Inviting People To LinkedIn And Getting Your Hand Slapped

January 2nd, 2008

IDK You!There is an issue with LinkedIn that gets some people all bent out of shape. It hasn’t affected me yet because (a) I don’t invite that many people to connect, and (b) if I invite them, I first ask them outside of LinkedIn (phone, e-mail, or in person) if they want to connect, get their approval, and then do it through LinkedIn.

But I know some of you invite people fast and furious… not that it’s bad to do it, but the current design of LinkedIn disciplines you if you appear to be a spammer. The issue is that it’s too easy to appear to be a spammer, even if you aren’t.

On my I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? blog I address the issue in two posts:

I Don’t Know You (OUCH!) talks about the issue and explains things you need to know, and

How To Know When You Get A LinkedIn IDK shows you screenshots to help you know if/when you get IDK’d.

This is an issue that all social networks face… what to do with those who “spam.” It’s ugly, though, because they will usually discipline you with no warning and with little recourse. Last year one of my favorite bloggers, Harry Joiner of MarketingHeadhunter.com, got his entire account disabled on Facebook because he simply used their tool to invite people to be his Facebook friend.

So there you go, just a simple warning to keep your account intact :)

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