Internet Safety – Protect Yourself

Everyday the lines between personal and professional become all sorts of gray shades.  Who you are becomes much clearer to everyone you interact with, and those you don’t.  Enter the buzz phrase – “Personal Branding”.  What you are in real life and online is your personal brand.  Great, but you already know that, are hearing more about each day and maybe even creating a personal strategy to implement.

In this vein, I thought it is AWESOME that The Disney Channel is putting “Internet Safety” tips out to its viewers and is getting the young kids exposed to being safe online.  Last night I was watching The Disney Channel with my boys and on came a public service announcement from The Disney Channel in the form of Phineas & Ferb to talk to young viewers about internet safety.

I was unable to locate a video from either The Disney Channel web site or through YouTube but I did find this great link: http://disney.go.com/corporate/privacy/safety.html

Keep being safe and smart!

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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!

Do You Have A Twitter Strategy

As you are on Twitter and communicating with your followers, I have on question for you to seriously consider:  When you type a tweet, who is it for?

Your answer will vary but will be in one of these main categories:

  1. I tweet for me only
  2. I tweet trying to be funny/sarcastic/witty
  3. I tweet to convey interesting information and insight
  4. I tweet to interact with others

Let’s talk about each of these.

I tweet only for me

My short answer is to get off of Twitter now.  I don’t mean to be harsh but really you are not here for social networking (yes networking… connecting with others).  I have seen people tweet what they are eating or drinking, what they are doing, or a simple statement “ah refreshing”.  Obviously these messages are not doing anyone outside of you any favors and you are not providing value to your followers.

Recommendation: review your strategy to improve it or stop tweeting

I tweet trying to be funny/sarcastic/witty

Twitter isn’t a comedy club or an episode of Seinfeld.  Again, it is social networking… connecting with others.  You need to engage in conversations and not try to be a one man stand up act.  If you are naturally funny/sarcastic/witty in the course of these conversations then that is adding to the value of your followers.

Recommendation: interact and use your personality to the advantage

I tweet to convey interesting information and insight

This is a great place to be.  You are pushing information out there so that others may learn from your insight or information that you find.  This is a most helpful person but they do not always interact.  They are too busy pushing information out that they cannot manage the two way conversation.

Recommendation: get a Twitter application (TweetDeck or Seesmic) to respond quickly to responses and be more interactive

I tweet to interact with others

This is where you need to be, in the Web 2.0 world.  Push information and discuss with others on a number of topic levels.  You have the ability to follow people all over the world who share similar interests and may provide unique insight to you.  Why stay within a particular geography?  Recommendation: connect with others and get broader insights to any topic

The real use of Twitter is in actions and not in just pushing out information.  If you don’t interact, you are lost and need to revise your plans.  Do it now before your value and trust are questioned by your followers.

A Different Spin on Personal Branding

1181758It seems that if you are going by the book these days, your personal brand should be your first name and last name, or something close in that order or something easy like this.  Easy to do if you have a more unique name and more difficult to do if your name is more common.

Me, I buck the trend.

My name isn’t too common but there are a few “Keith McIlvaine” characters out there.  I chose to go with “kufarms” or more accurately “KUFarms”.  Why did I do this?  Simple, I didn’t.  I was branded and I decided to own that brand.

I was branded my first day of college.  My roommate was a 6’4” 310 pound offensive lineman on the football team.  And then there was me… all 5’9” and 150 pounds.  While meeting some of our neighbors in the dorm and introducing ourselves, Keith and Del, and there it started.

Del?  You mean like “the farmer and the del”?  Yep, I became “The Farmer” which was quickly shortened to “Farms”.  So, after graduation, I decided that my email address should be the university I attended initials, “KU”, and “Farms” second.

And there you go.

Some of my friends still call by this nickname and when my wife is angry with me or I’m not listening, I know it by her yelling “FARMS”!!!!!

I find this to be a rather solid personal branding statement and a rather unique one as well.  A great topic of conversation and one that will stick with those I connect with at almost any meeting.

This just goes to show that personal branding does not have to be so vanilla but if you brand yourself correctly it might easily become something for you to really leverage in your career.

So, what is my Twitter handle?  @kufarms

A First Impression Faux Pas

There are countless first impressions each and every day for all of us.  Meeting with a new customer, meeting a new coworker, bumping into a parent at your child’s school, attending a networking event.  But what if your first impression is recollecting a name from a lawsuit you read in the paper?

The Huffington Post reported on August 2nd that Trina Thompson has sued Monroe College for $70,000 to reimburse her tuition because she has been unable to find a job.

What?

Two points here.

First, to stay on track regarding first impressions, how will this impact her current job search?  With so many recruiters conducting Google searches on candidates, is this something you want popping up most likely at the top of your results?  This is not what I could call a positive branding moment for an individual.

Second, so you get a degree and this entitles you to a job?  Nowhere does it say what she has done to position herself for a job (internships, study abroad, part-time jobs, etc.). Entitlement is not the case in the world and, to state the obvious, this economy has made it more difficult for college graduates or seasoned workers to find new positions.

To me, untrained in the legal system, I can’t see how this will have any teeth with a judge or jury.  I don’t recall any colleges or universities providing a timeline as to when you would receive a job upon graduation.

This is truly a think before you act moment.

Social Media Value – Guru’s and Experts are Being Questioned

So everyone’s an expert.

Go onto any social networking site and check out the profiles of your followers and see how many are either “guru’s” or “experts” in a particular field: marketing, social media, SEO (search engine optimization), financial information, human resources / recruiting, sales, branding and more.

If someone or many people have labeled you either of these, three examples are Dan Schwabel (www.twitter.com/danschwabel) as the Generation-Y personal branding expert or Scott Stratten (www.twitter.com/unmarketing) as the social media expert or Guy Kawasaki (www.twitter.com/GuyKawasaki) as the technology company start-up expert, then you are absolutely justified to put this as part of your profile.  These three examples are key note speakers which command this level of consideration.  However, if you are simply trying to market your skills to others to increase revenue then you are completely misrepresenting yourself and misleading others.

If you are either an “expert” or “guru”, then you should be able to provide countless instances of where you have helped others achieve success in a particular area.  If you are saying that you are either an “expert” or “guru” because of your own personal success, then you need to reconsider how you label yourself.

I like to follow a wide variety of people to better understand how individuals in many different fields utilize social media for their success.  Sometimes these people send out great information and are valuable resources and on other instances they are simply taking others content and pushing it out to increase their network.

As a follower in social media, YOU need to take responsibility to determine who adds value to your needs and who is trying to be self serving.  Sure, there is a lot of self gratification in social media but you also need to be aware of your value that you add to others networks as well.

Personally, I enjoy those who are understated in their profile about their background and then get completely WOW’d by their communication.  These people tend to be the most influential to me and get my attention prior to the self promoting “experts”.

Be yourself and good things will happen.  Try and force things and you may not be so lucky.

Me 2.0 – my review and thoughts

While on vacation I took the opportunity to read Dan Schwabel’s book, Me 2.0 and it left me with a really positive feeling and outlook.  Dan provides the reader with some great insight into personal branding through social media and social networking.

Although this book is geared towards Dan’s expertise of Generation-Y, or Millennials, other generations (like me a Generation-X guy) can pick some good insight out as well.

Below are a couple to areas I really enjoyed in the book, I am only highlighting a few as I don’t want this to be an essay!

Excellent points:

  • Social networking – excellent overview to numerous sites, why it is important to manage your brand and how best to effectively manage.
  • Security – great points on internet security and how to try to reduce your risk of being affected.
  • Social media – setting up your own web site, blogs, how to interact with others effectively to further push your message and brand into the market.
  • Passion – be passionate about you because that is really what it is all about!

Points I tend to disagree with (from an HR perspective):

  • Cover letter – most recruiters today tend to bypass the cover letter and head straight to the meat of the resume.  If you are contacting a recruiter directly via email then use the email body as your cover letter.  Also, highlight why the company will benefit from hiring you.
  • Résumé – Dan recommends including a lot on your resume and I have the opposite approach and recommendation.  Sure, your resume is the tool to get in the door but don’t oversell so that there isn’t much to add in a resume.  A resume is a sales tool to get in the door to sell your brand.

I firmly believe this is a great read and an excellent resource for anyone of any generation considering their personal brand.  Again, this book is geared towards Gen-Y / Millennials but anyone should be able to pick and choose the ideas that work best for their own personal goals.  The value of this book for anyone wanting to consider their personal brand is priceless and, yes, some information maybe review but there are plenty of new ideas to consider.

Worse case scenario, this is a topic that will stay in your mind in a very competitive world (regardless of your industry) and you will continue to refresh your mind and maybe even encounter some new ideas along the way.

Why Companies MUST Create A Social Media Plan

As you already may well know (but to refresh your memory), there are five types of consumers as defined by the Product Diffusion Curve; (1) innovators, (2) early adopters, (3) early majority, (4) late majority, and (5) laggards.

According to the model, five different groups of people will purchase your product (or in this case move to social media) at different stages of the product’s life:

  1. Innovators: Members of this group include in-the-know consumers who are willing to take a risk on a new product.  Innovators either have a pressing need, or are wealthy enough not to worry too much if the product doesn’t work.  They’ll most likely be knowledgeable and self-confident and (if they’re to be influential) may be people that others look up to.
  2. Early Adopters: Members of this group gauge the response of the Innovators before rushing in purchasing a new product.  They’ll probably be educated and somewhat product savvy.
  3. Early Majority: Members of this group are more cautious and prefer to avoid the risk associated with purchasing an unproven product.  Generally, members of the Early Majority group accept a product only after it has been approved by members of the Early Adopters group, waiting for the recommendations or product endorsements from those who have experience with the product.
  4. Late Majority: Members of this group are more skeptical.  They are late to jump on board and do so only after a new product becomes main stream.
  5. Laggards: Members of this group are more than simply skeptical.  In fact, they generally do not accept a new product until more traditional alternatives no longer are available.

I find myself emotionally in the early adopters ranking but when it comes to action I am definitely in the early majority more times than not.  There are always exceptions but early majority is my honest position.  I care about my money and on what proven technology to chase but I tend to do it fairly early in comparison to others I know… so maybe I’m an early early majority.

This has not been the case with social media.  I really became entrenched fairly early and am as much a student of the various tools as I am fascinated to learn how each works and how each differentiates themselves from the other tools available.  I also jumped into the personal branding aspect and am a believer in this as well.  I like to save articles shared on by those I follow on Twitter and read them later in the evenings.

What I am most shocked and surprised at is how long it takes for local business to enter the social media space.  There is a huge market of locally owned businesses to create an account and provide free marketing and customer interaction and customer service.  The advantages are endless and all it takes is a bit of time.

Have a look at some of the companies and individuals on the sites such as Twitter: Microsoft, Bill Gates, Apple, Steve Jobs, President Barack Obama, Oracle, any number of US Senators, ESPN and a number of ESPN company owned spin-offs, Rachael Maddow, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and so many more that I am forgetting to include.

Some companies are comfortable being an innovator and giving something a try.  Innovators represent the first 2.5% of people to adopt a new product.  These companies tend to have a champion internally who drives this and believes in the result and can influence whomever else is needed to push it into action.  When something like social media raises its head, why not chase it?  Best case, business improves and you are a leader.  Worst case, you get out early and no money was spent (outside of personal time).

Some companies are early adopters and begin to get their feet wet.  Early adopters represent about 13.5% of the total consumer population.  This is after they see a few companies test the waters and determine early positive results and that they too may create something positive from it… but still trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Some other companies are early majority (like me).  The early majority represents 34% of consumers.  We find the early success is proven and now are working to stay up with competitors or the guy next door.  Like I said, I love to be on the brink of technology but I research and read about items to make the best decision for me and how to best utilize it to really make it work.

Others are in the late majority, not a great position to find you in but still showing interest.  The late majority represents about 34% of consumers.  Playing catch up is never good but better late than never I assume is the thought here.  Companies here are typically a bit more on the conservative side and do not always see the benefits of trying something out earlier.  There is potentially too many ideas that come out of this that are viewed as more negative than have been proven to date.

Still a significant amount of businesses are laggards which really is the scariest place to be in this medium.  Laggards represent about 16% of consumers.  This pretty much says that you missed the boat and now need to play catch up to all of your competition and partners.  This is much more of a reaction mode that a company must now join the fold because they cannot ignore this product/technology any longer.

To me, this raises numerous questions about companies who come late into the social media space… Do businesses truly know their customer?  Do businesses know where to find consumers?  Do businesses know how to communicate in an evolving market?  Do businesses market themselves into today’s marketplace effectively?

Companies must engage and be a part of this movement.  Social media is here to stay, just some of the tools to use it may and will change over time.  Make a plan, or better yet – work with someone who can help you with this plan, and put it into action.  Don’t be a laggard into this space or business may pass you bye, get in the game as early as you can!

 

NOTE:  I have truly enjoyed connecting and speaking with many of you on this topic and look forward to continuing to meet and speak with many more of you as well.  (References on the Product Diffusion Curve:  http://www.quickmba.com/marketing/product/diffusion/  and  http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_93.htm)

Personal Branding, always evolving

Today, Dan Schawbel launched his new book, Me 2.0.  This looks like an interesting read as getting different perspective on these topics are always interesting, especially when it is regarding you and your career (referring to me, sorry to be confusing).  Personal Branding is critical for everyone because you always need to have this in the back of your mind ready to go as you never know who you may come across when you are out on the town.

 

There are always blogs and tweets regarding personal branding, personal elevator pitches, blog elevator pitches, landing pages and the like.  All are important, but don’t get caught up in all of this too much.  It is good to have them but when you start aggressively going down this path, you begin to shrink-wrap yourself into a package.  Networking is still people interaction and you shouldn’t brand yourself as something you are not.

 

My brief thoughts on this just to get you thinking:

 

  • Be yourself.  This is always the most important aspect.  Don’t put yourself out there as something you are not as this will be uncovered very quickly.
  • Talk with your friends/family.  They will give you objective feedback and help you to realize points you may not have thought about.
  • Create a landing page.  This is a personal page where you maybe found and put a little bit about yourself out there for people to learn about you.
  • Update your resume every 3 months.  Have different copies of your resume, a one pager and a two pager, just in case.
  • Try to meet one new person a day.  It is amazing who you may come across out there.

I know this is just scratching the surface but something just to get you thinking a bit if you haven’t begun already.