Not Able To Attend A Conference

Every year there are countless conferences I want to attend and every year I have to pass up on almost all of them. It is disappointing but I find ways to follow along. If you find yourself in a similar situation to me, what might you do to still gain insight about the conference?

 

LinkedIn – Check LinkedIn events and see who is attending and begin to network with them. Some individuals you may know and others maybe not. But connecting in advance could lead to sharing of information and feedback on the conference and topics and maybe even the sharing of notes about valuable take aways.

Twitter – Find out the particular hashtag of the conference and follow along with what is being shared and follow along. See what is being shared and even participate in the conversation from your home or office. Good tools to follow a particular hashtag include:

Ustream – Some conferences, like the 140conf will use Ustream to play live video of the sessions so that everyone may see what is happening. You are able to listen to the sessions, just miss out on the in-person networking.

Facebook – Some conferences will create a Facebook Page for people to join and get upcoming information about a conference or seminar. What is also valuable about these Pages is that the conference hosts may also upload pieces of the conference after the fact in video form or transcripts or with reviews.

YouTube – Many conferences or conference attendees will take video and upload the content to YouTube to share with the masses. This is an excellent way to get information but also hear others opinions on topics that were discussed.

Blogs – Use Google and do a search for blogs from the conference name and see what others wrote about their experience. These posts may appear after the conference but they will be helpful in accumulating additional knowledge about events.

 
While all of these are good tools to use, it is helpful to follow a variety of channels to maximize the impact and knowledge of what is being discussed. Conversations even continue online after events or into the evenings. Knowing that we are all busy and following along all day is not realistic; pick and choose what makes sense for you. And chances are, you will network and meet new people along the way even though you are not there in person.

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LinkedIn Tips

I need to do a min-rant about LinkedIn.

It seems that everyone on LinkedIn is ready to give you a tip on how to better your experience. And this includes me as I have absolutely given my input on good practices to include on LinkedIn. But have you ever considered the “where” or “why” the tip was suggested?

Not every “tip” is going to be right for you. It is common sense people. Just because someone makes a suggestion does not mean YOU have to do it. Pick and choose what you are comfortable attempting or incorporating into your profile or usage of the site. There are many tips that are fantastic but are not right for me, for whatever reason. Some tips will make sense for you and others are going to make you scratch your head and wonder why you would do this. Be selective but follow-through to maximize the impact.

And that is one more LinkedIn tip for you.

Improve Your Recruiting Practice

Recruiters tend to be creatures of habit, we stick with what works. While being productive and filling open positions is the ultimate goal, we shouldn’t get rooted in our ways and afraid to adapt to new techniques and methodologies.

I continue to be surprised while talking with recruiters about what they haven’t tried. I understand that not all social networking tools are not for everyone and there are far too many for any one person to have an impactful presence on all of them.

I still believe that recruiters, or people in general, must expand into areas that are uncomfortable to grow. Trying a new tool isn’t a bad thing. But don’t just try it and move on. Truly spend time with the tool and give it a fair try. Otherwise you are cheating yourself out of a potential new and valuable sourcing tool.

Make 2011 the year you try at least 1 new tool. Give it time as anything new takes time to evaluate. If you are unsure as to how to use the particular tool or if you are looking for tricks to make it easier to use, ask someone. Most recruiters enjoy being viewed as a subject matter expert and will be happy to provide insight and helpful hints.

Spend time doing research on what sites might be best for you to use. If you are in the Federal or State/Local government space then GovLoop will be a great option for you. If you are seeking entry level or recent college graduates then you may want to consider KODA. If you recruit on a wide variety of positions, then give Facebook a fair try.

Also, please don’t say that you are going to try LinkedIn (http://www.LinkedIn.com). I mean, isn’t that cheating? You should be there already.

These are just a few ideas but give something a try starting in January. If you really want to challenge yourself, try one new tool every 3 months to see if you are able to continually expand your sourcing toolbox.

Have fun!

Photo credit: Significantblog

LinkedIn and Twitter… Not Perfect Together

Social media is integrated and is becoming more so every day.  One of the more recent releases was that LinkedIn now allows you to connect your Twitter account and feed into your LinkedIn profile, and vice versa.  Also, since both sites allow you only 140 characters to post a message, it is even more of a natural fit.

 

 On the surface, this is a great move for LinkedIn.  But upon a deeper dive, I’m not so sure that it is in every instance.

 

 Twitter is an outlet for you to share information on any topic whether it is personal or professional in nature.  LinkedIn is very much a professional networking site and where business related topics are discussed.  With the introduction of Twitter to LinkedIn, the conversation may change and probably not for the better.

 

 Members on LinkedIn who are not currently neither active nor accepting of Twitter are now getting your “noise” on any topic, including the non-business variety of message.  This could be viewed as a negative within your network and could result in the loss of connections.

 

Personally, I have linked my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts because I felt this was a fantastic merge from a business perspective.  I am now able to communicate with two, potentially different, networks.

 

If you are like me, my strong recommendation is to not allow every “tweet” into your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn was smart in how they allow you two choices as to what “tweets” are connected.  You are able to select either the “all tweets” option or the “only tweets with #in within the message” option.  The first option has a high probability of drowning out your audience and potentially damaging professional relationships simply if you “tweet” often or not always on business topics.  The second option is much better and appears to be more realistic for each audience.  Simply by keying “#in” within your “tweet” will post to both Twitter and LinkedIn.  This provides you a greater ability to stay on the course you have chosen on Twitter but increases your ability to post business information on multiple sites.

 

Not perfect but it definitely can work well depending on how you choose to use it.  What this integration continues to reinforce is that you must be very smart with what information you choose to publish online and to what audience.  But the business application can be highly leveraged in how you communicate to both audiences.

Twitter and Facebook Friends

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I began using Twitter and Facebook for two different activities; Twitter for more professional use and Facebook for more personal use.  That seemed to be a very logical course of action.

 

 Over time, after lots of thought and many, many conversations I have changed my strategy.  I am using both in a more professional manner and interjecting the personal side along the way.

 

 My wife is one of “those people” who don’t completely understand social media and isn’t happy when I post personal information about our family.  So while I do have Twitter and Facebook on my Blackberry, I rarely use them when I am with my family.

 

 And while I strongly disagree with her on the use of social media, she caused me to take pause about the personal sharing aspect.  Are my “friends” interested in big family updates or in minor happenings?  Maybe.  Do my “friends” really need to know that I am watching Manchester United with my sons?  Do my “friends” need to know what I am doing, even in general terms?  I didn’t think so and this began my transformation.

 

Since everything has been/is/will be about your image, or personal brand, I began to take a stronghold on “me on-line”.  I chose to continue with a more serious me.  My friends/followers will get to know me and my personality through my communication and hopefully, as is my personal goal, to speak with many of them in real life to develop stronger relationships.

 

Plus, social networking is not a numbers game.  I don’t care if I have more followers than you or if you have more followers than me.  I care about how we interact, about learning and about sharing good information (hopefully).

 

I am inviting my Twitter friends into Facebook and connect in what I hope becomes the beginning of stronger relationships.  Take these relationships and watch how your connections grow.  It is truly amazing that value (which an over used word in my opinion) will add both credibility as well as meaningful connections into your world.  It is how you grow your friends and followers that is ultimately most important.

 

So, please join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and let’s pass it forward!

How I Landed My Dream Job

clouds-2Have you heard those stories about people who follow their passion and they end up finding their dream job?  I have heard these stories as well, and I never truly believed it would happen to me (although I always kept hope and kept chasing that passion).

Well, it did happen to me!  And I want to share my story with you in hopes that it will help you to chase your passion.  The best part… the job I have didn’t exist within most companies as short as 6-months ago!

I have been a recruiter for over 10 years, both on the agency and the corporate sides.  I love networking and connecting with people, so this profession is a great place for me.  I also like to keep updated on the latest trends and stay on top of great ways to connect with people effectively.  I never needed to change any of my search strategies or methodologies, just added new techniques to the list: mainly surrounding social media.

I was an early adopter of social media within my team and I used it to connect with new people, globally, in order to exchange ideas on a variety of topics but I really focused mainly on HR and recruiting.  I found this to be a way to expand my network and learn from a much broader population.

So, what do I do on social media?  Pretty much the same as most of you out there.  I am active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn as well as reading blogs and posting blog entries.  I am on other sites; however, I do not spend as much time or focus on them right now.

One blog post that really energized me was from Jessica Lee, that she posted just over one year ago.  Jessica referenced an online article she read about a recruiter in Silicon Valley who was interviewed at a job fair.  The purpose of the article was to allow the readers to learn more about her job search as well as how the job market was changing.  Jessica Google’d this particular recruiter and found it extremely difficult to locate this person within the returned results.  What I took away from this post was Jessica’s resounding recommendation that all recruiters need to be in social media in order to be found… especially in recruiting!

That day I went out and began to sign up for a few new social networking sites, which I was not already on, in order to:

  1. connect with others more efficiently
  2. to become more active in the conversation
  3. to be found

I put forward a more conscious effort to discuss with others to learn more about what they do.  I took time to connect outside of social media (either on the phone or in person if the ability was there) to further develop these relationships.  And through these relationships I directly impacted open positions I was working on and did make a hire through Twitter.  I continue to leverage all social media resources today to supplement my recruitment activity.

Over time, my company investigated social media for our messaging, our ongoing branding, recruitment activity, and as a new channel for us to grow as a company.  As this direction was being considered and decided upon, I was approached to help lead our global recruitment social media strategy, implementation, and execution.  This truly was a dream job opportunity for me and it is something so new that I am finding myself directly impacting my company’s message into the market.  Yes, I did say dream job even though this position did not exist just a few months ago.

I read about companies creating this type of position and thought to myself that this role would be a phenomenal opportunity for me to expand my experience and knowledge.  Also, it would be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.

Yes, as a recruiter I have always worked to positively impact my company and convey our brand and message in my daily recruitment activities.  But now to be able to do this on a much broader scale is completely energizing and humbling – that I was selected to help lead this effort.  For a relatively short time, I was thinking that one day I would like to move into this type of an opportunity and determining how might I position myself best for this type of career progression.  The results of my personal decision to expand into a relatively untapped medium was that I was rewarded for thinking outside of my teams current strategy and I am now able to directly impact my company in the social media space.

The best part, I am still with my same company and expanding my experience and responsibilities!

My recommendation, to all of you, is to follow your passion.  Identify what it is that motivates you and will allow you to do your job better and more effectively.  Also, determine how it may impact your day-to-day activity in a positive way so that it is not distracting from your objectives.  You may even want to approach this passion with your manager to discuss how you might involve it into your productivity.  In hind sight, I wish I approached my managers directly but it did end up for the best.

Don’t wait for something to happen, make it happen.  Your dream job is waiting for you as well!

How To Leverage Your Network When Looking For A New Career

So you’re looking for a new position.  What is your game plan?  Where do you start?  Do you know?

Time to go and post my resume.  Wait!  You’re going to what?leverage

Take a second and think for a moment.  Have you thought about your network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other site?  No.  Well this should be your starting point.

To be more specific, LinkedIn is probably your best place to go first.  Regardless of your perceived safety in your current position, you should update your online profile/resume 3-4 times a year.  Why, to let people know what you are doing.  Why is this important?  Networking.  You never know when you will connect with someone that you maybe able to help… or that might help you.

Facebook is a great next step.  Here you can network with friends and family; those people that tend to have a personal interest in helping you in your search.  You may need to follow up with them and make sure they are thinking of you but a good place to build from.

Twitter is great to connect with your followers and let them know your skills and what you are looking for. (but you network really well so your followers already know what you do!)

Sure, along the way you might check out the job boards and see what is out there because that is only human.  Did you know that the majority of jobs are not posted externally?  This is why networking and referrals become so vital in your search.

Work with your social network to let them know more about you, professionally speaking, so that you are in their mind at any given moment.  Also, get to know your network better.  You never know when you both might be able to assist each other.

Social Networking Hesitation?

This most likely does not pertain to you specifically if you are reading this post or found it through Twitter or another networking site.

 

After a great conversation with Mary Wilson (www.learn-solutions.com) where we spent a few minutes covering networking sites/tools and why they are so powerful today, I wanted to put this out there for those of you that also encounter the naysayer to social networking.  I am somewhat shocked at the feeling out there of people having any hesitation for social networking sites.  I have been hearing a negative connotation surrounding them with a few common threads:

  • I don’t want to tell everyone what I am doing every minute of the day
  • I don’t care what you ate for lunch
  • I don’t understand why someone would want to tell people things about their life
  • Isn’t it scary that someone out there knows what you are doing

The one thought that is escaping the individuals who I spoke with is that YOU control what information you put out there and who you follow and with some sites you can block those you don’t want following you.  If you don’t want everyone to know details of your day, life, work, etc. then don’t publish it.  If you are seeking advice on a particular topic then these sites are fantastic for networking and knowledge sharing.

 

Being closed minded to expanding your network, short term or long term, could be detrimental to your career.  Think about this scenario for a moment.  Let’s say you and your colleague are being considered for a promotion.  Your manager asks for each of you to complete a project by the end of the day and you both know this will be influential as to his decision.  Research is required and you jump on Google and start to search and now have to sort through numerous pages and links to find what you need.  Your colleague jumps on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and asks questions on each site… the responses come flooding in with feedback, guidance and even links for what was asked.

 

Does this happen all of the time?  Is it realistic?  I really did this to prove that these sites are not all about “Enjoying a sandwich at Panera” or anything along these lines.  These sites are business and professional but, again, it is on how you choose to utilize them.

 

My recommendation to those who question this new medium, get out there and give it an honest try but give it a good try… don’t fool yourself with a weak effort.  Try it and if you still have a poor opinion then just cancel your account.  I have a feeling you will find true value, and who knows… you may even make some strong connections along the way!

 

Ouch, Careful What You Post

Articles are popping up everywhere on people getting fired or jobs rescinded due to their activity on Twitter and Facebook (exhibit A – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29796962/wid/11915829).  Not everything you do has to go on Twitter of Facebook… seriously.  You are not the only one on these sites, obviously, and lots of people pay attention to key words and maybe already following you or connected to you somehow.

 

There are some things that just shouldn’t go onto social networking sites:

  • Negative feelings towards your job
  • Negative feelings towards your company
  • Negative feelings towards your boss
  • Negative feelings towards your coworker
  • Negative feelings towards an interview
  • Negative feelings towards your spouse
  • Negative feelings towards your girlfriend/boyfriend

Instead, keep it light or lighter by not being so direct in these areas.  By directly making a negative you are already close to the hot water.  Plus, not everyone wants to hear you complain about whatever.  Pick up the phone and call someone, get out of the house, whatever but don’t put yourself in a position where a momentary lapse of judgment may impact your future.

 

Recruiters look at these sites now to get a feel for a person before you meet them, maybe even before they pick up the phone.

 

Sure, people need to vent but think before you act.  Basic steps and an elementary thought process but it may save you in the future.

How Do You Stay Focused?

A few years ago I was privileged enough by my previous employer to take part in a seminar and found it tremendously valuable – so much so that I keep a mouse pad next to me as a constant reminder of the important information I learned as to hopefully never forget.

Ah-ha Reminders

I love reminders, notes, to-do’s or whatever your verbiage of choice maybe.  I am high on keeping notes handy to remind myself later of important information or just so I won’t forget in the course of a day.

I’m trying to simplify my life a bit but I have a Palm, a Blackberry and a couple of notepads that I will never get rid of… there is just something about actually writing that still sticks with me.  I keep a notepad on blog ideas (an idea I got from Problogger), one for notes on a book I hope to write one day and one for what I need to do for work which is ultimately my most used each and every day.  I also have a “honey-do” list at home which never seems to get shorter.

The list is something that resonates within me to focus and get accomplished.  With so many distractions available these days in the form of co-worker chit-chat, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social networking and the Google search of your choosing there must be a devise to help refocus yourself.

If you work off of your memory well, then you are one of the lucky ones.  If most of you are like me, then I highly recommend taking time to devise what will work for you and don’t let it go.  Embrace it, use it, focus with it and grow with it.  Who knows, it may provide you with more value than you could ever imagine and maybe begin to enhance other areas of your professional or personal life.