Thursday, 17 January 2013

Networking Doesn’t Stop Being Important Just Because You’re Employed

Remember when you were looking for work, and people kept telling you the best way to find employment was to network both on and offline? Specifically, you should remember ME telling you that. Well once you start working, your networking shouldn’t stop. Opportunities are going to continue to present themselves outside of your current position and you still need to be visible to really take advantage of them.

Reasons to Network

Side Projects: Other motivated people will always have some kind of side project on the go that will enhance your resume beyond what your current job can offer you.

Random Really Cool Stuff: There is always some kind of event going on that you only really know about because you’re connected to the right people.

Finding Out How Much You’re Worth: If you’re decent at your job, and others see what you can do, you could start getting offers to “jump ship.” Then you see things like how much another company is willing to pay you, and you can feel confident asking for a raise.

New Job Opportunities You Never Would Have Thought of: Sometimes, you SHOULD jump ship and try something completely new. Sitting at your desk doing the same thing over and over followed by going directly home and not engaging with people outside your circle of friends really limits this opportunity.

You Could Be Looking Again: Someday your company could shut down, downsize, or just start to suck altogether. You’ll want to be able to exploit all of your contacts for a speedy job search. Remember, the bigger your network, the shorter the search.

Networking at Work

Meet Everyone at Work: Make a point to engage with as many people within and outside the company as possible. Vendors, agencies, clients…pretty much anyone.

Be Involved in Your Community: People are 300% more impressed with you when you are working vs when you are unemployed (Warning, may not be an actual statistic). So why not meet people at these events when you’re impressive rather than waiting until you’re sad and poor?

Leverage Social Media: Your community is going to have some kind of event calendar posted somewhere whether it is created by your local Chamber of Commerce or the city or town that you live in. Whoever has created it is going to love it when you comment, share or retweet it. This will also increase your presence among people who attend these events, even before attending them. Make sure to add all of your contacts to LinkedIn and Twitter as you meet them, so it doesn’t look so desperate later when you contact them (i.e. try to exploit them).

There are millions of ways to network. For a reminder on how to use social media to do it properly, check out an earlier post Dude, Where's My Job 2 - Networking Revisited. Remember, if you’re an introvert and have difficulty networking and meeting new people, just get over it cause there’s no real alternative that would yield the same results. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Recruiting for Social Media: It’s Easier Than You Think

Your company understands that it needs to be active on social networking sites. Your Facebook page is quickly becoming more important than your website. The dilemma most small business owners face is though they understand the need for social media, they don’t understand the most effective ways to use it. You’d like to ask your marketing guy to do it, but yesterday you saw him make a voice call from a landline to a record store to see if they had the latest albums. At this point you resolve to hire someone to create and manage your online presence. Here are a few tips for when you’re looking.

1.  Age Doesn't Matter

Most people will assume that a young person will be better at social media, because they grew up in a generation that uses it more readily. This is incorrect. As a young person, I can tell you that we are literally not better at ANYTHING. Experience trumps (whatever the hell you think young people have) every time. We are more apt to engage in social media, but someone in their 40’s with an affinity for social media also has “life experience,” “related job experience,” “industry experience”  and other things to draw on that a younger person wouldn't.  Social media skills require a specific way of thinking. The person can’t be intimidated by a new program or feature, because there’s a new one every 5 minutes. There is no reason someone in their 30’s or 40’s can’t have this skill.

2. Hire a Writer

It’s all words. Your employee needs to make the words happen and he needs to make ‘em happen good.

3. Check Up on Them Online

If this person is planning to work in social media, they should have given you links to their social media accounts, and their presence should be quasi-professional. As much as you think you would like to separate the people from the organization, now that everything’s online, you really can’t. They will put your company’s name on their LinkedIn, and attach their Twitter feed to this account. Others will look your company up on LinkedIn and see who your employees are.  Anything they've made publicly available on purpose is fair game to use in your assessment.

4. Beware of Experts

Someone who walks into an interview telling you they know exactly what needs to be done and exactly how to do it is a dud. Social media is social, therefore you need to get to know the clientele before you’re able to really understand the best way to engage with them. A good candidate will offer suggestions of possibilities along with the caveat that everything is subject to change based on the results of the interaction.  

Don't make assumptions based on what you believe a good social media expert should be. Put these people through the same process you put all of your employees through. Identify the key skills and relevant experience you're looking for. Assess them thoroughly, and hire someone who is the right fit for your organization. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Jumping Ship: Switching Careers

Remember when you started your career and you were super-excited about all the things you could accomplish? You had lists of goals, creative ideas, and enthusiasm. Over time, you may have found that the industry you work in, or the management team you work for, have slowly chipped away at all of that excitement and now every day is just a struggle not to slit your own wrists. It may be time for a career shift (or medication).

If you started in Human Resources like I did, you may have found that your position had significantly less “strategic consulting” and a lot more “glorified secretary” work. You also probably noticed that there was so much process and red tape, that anything new or innovative you came up with won’t be implemented for years, and by then it will be outdated.

Don’t’ get discouraged. Basically, you played Russian roulette with the career revolver and lost. Luckily, the consequences are less brain-spattery than actual Russian roulette and you can bounce back a lot faster.

Step 1 – Don’t quit your day job

The economy still sucks.  You need money. Food and shelter are still very important components of staying alive. You may not have any experience in this new industry you’re entering. Keeping your day job and testing the new industry in your spare time is an excellent way to not make the same mistake twice. Also, people will want to see proof that you know what you’re doing before they hire you. It’s a weird thing companies are doing now.

Step 2 – Start doing what you love

Just start doing it. If you want to be an events planner, start small. Host a dinner party. People will give you feedback on how terrible you are, and you can see if it is something you want to do full time. You can take on additional, larger events as opportunities arise. Once you develop a reputation, people will start asking you to do it, and maybe even pay you! …unless you suck…in which case, you still have your day job.

Step 3 – Advertise

Keep a portfolio of the new projects you’re working on. You don’t have to spend money on advertising. Post your portfolio on LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogger or any relevant account where your target audience would be.

Step 4 – Network

Develop a list of relevant people to follow and engage with online and learn how to do it properly. Think about where your target customer/employer will see you and who they engage with. If you would like to become an event planner, you should be interacting with companies that plan events, the events themselves (which will normally have their own social media accounts or at least a Facebook event) , and anyone else who is interested in what you’re doing. The more people sharing pictures of your place settings on Pinterest, or talking about you on Twitter, the better.

This gives you an opportunity to test out a new job risk-free. It’s like an internship, but more impressive because of the entrepreneurial aspect of having to create the opportunity yourself. After a while, you’ll have developed enough experience to make yourself a marketable employee in a completely new industry. …or you’ll have realized this job isn’t for you, but without getting all wrist-cutty.