Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Make and Receive Quality Recommendations

One of the key features of LinkedIn is the ability to give and receive recommendations.

You need to make the recommendations you give and receive count. Here is the criteria.

1. You should have at least one recommendation from an immediate manager.
2. You should have at least one recommendation from a co-worker.
3. You should have at least one recommendation from someone who worked for you.
4. You should have at least one recommendation from a vendor or supplier, if possible.
5. You should have at least one recommendation from a manager that you did not report to directly.
6. Recommendations should tell a story. What was the problem you identified, what were the actions you took, and what was the result.
7. If your recommendations are simply "Tom was a great guy to work with, I would recommend him to anyone." Send it back, you can even suggest content as long as it is true. Some people simply cannot write a recommendation.
8. This is my own biased idea of a great recommendation. "Shortly after Tom started he recognized that we were over paying on our vendor maintenance agreements by 20 to 30%. Tom identified that we were paying monthly support charges for computer racks, cabinets, and shelves. Tom identified all of the overages and contacted the vendor; his efforts are saving the company over $2500 per month." The recommendation tells a story and allows a recruiter to interpolate what Tom might do for the new company.
9. Write great recommendations about others first, then if what they write isn't exactly what you want you can feel comfortable asking for a revision.

Great recommendations will help get you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Happy networking!

Are you using LinkedIn?

I'm an avid networker on many different social networks. My main focus, however, is LinkedIn for professional networking. Currently I have 275 LinkedIn connections that result in over 3,000,000 total connections or roughly 10% of LinkedIn. If you are not on LinkedIn send me a request and let's get you started. You can find me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/tomstaskiewicz.

A little further investigation of LinkedIn shows that I have 5800 different companies in my first and second level contacts. The fact that not only do I have these companies but I can find out who has the contact is awesome. Granted some of these contacts will be stale, but it is far better than anything I had previously and it's always a great starting point and opportunity to learn about the culture.

I am amazed as I look at the LinkedIn page for some of the people that I know are currently seeking a new job and I find them with 20, 50, maybe 100 connections. What is with that? You're telling me that you only know 20 people that are on LinkedIn? Either no one likes you and you don't like anyone else, you live in a hole, or you're really not interested in finding a new opportunity. To have less than 150 contacts is ridiculous and shows me someone that is not making any networking effort.

Things to do:

1. Find at least 100 people on LinkedIn to add to your network.
2. Commit to adding 5 to 10 people per week.
3. Join at least 5 groups in your areas of interest.
4. Obtain at least 5 quality recommendations. I will define a quality recommendation in another post.
5. Build a profile that tells a story about you and what you have to offer.
6. Monitor the statistcs that tell you how many people have viewed your profile and how many times you have appeared in a search.

More Recommend Reading

These are awesome books. Marshall Goldsmith has great words of wisdom about being successful in your net position.
Marcus Buckingham wants you to discover your strengths and use them to your fullest, while minimizing your negatives. Basically he says don't try to fix your weaknesses, just learn to manage them so they don't hold you back. Great words of wisdom.
Jack Canfield talks about the success principles that we all need to practice to be successful. Use the success principles to manage your life and career and they will guide you in the direction you want to go.
We all remember the story of Aladdin and the Genie. Jack Canfield leads us a new discovery process using the values of the original story.

How is your networking attitude?

I received a link today to a friend's blog. She was feeling pretty down about the current job market and that's understandable. This isn't an exciting job market and as we continue to hear the news reports, it's hard to find anything encouraging. With that being said we can't afford to let the economy get us down. I know it's much easier to say than to do, but we need to maintain an upbeat attitude.

We need to find whatever positives we can to maintain our own positive attitude. We can't afford to convey anything but a positive attitude because we never know when we will encounter that person that possesses our next opportunity. I also believe that at this time people want to find positive individuals.

In her blog my friend wrote about a contest, she didn't call it that, but that's exactly what it was. The contest is whose life is worse. It's a game often called one-ups-man-ship. My take on that is if someone wants to point out how much worse they have it, let them have at it. Don't compete with these people let them be worse off, because if they are then you have something to be thankful for, even if it's only a better attitude.

Thoughts for the day:

1. If someone wants to feel more sorry for their situation than you do for yours, let them and be happy that you are not that way.
2. We need to remind ourselves that we are great people and it's the situation around us that is bad.
3. Keep a positive attitude, you never know when the right person will be impressed that you are smiling.
4. Look for people that continue to be successful and start doing the things that they are doing.

This is a great day and live it to your fullest. Happy networking.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why I Stopped Avoiding Social Networks

I watched my teenagers become involved in these social phenomena and I was very critical. I felt that they were wasting their time and efforts, when they should be studying. I'm not sure I have changed my mind regarding where their efforts are best spent, but I have changed my mind on the social networking phenomena.

The reality is that it's all about branding. You know establishing an identity for yourself. I've finally figured it out, no one is going to sell me like I can sell myself. No one is going to look out for my family and me, like I will. No one is going to care as much about my success or even failure for that matter as I will. So why not call it like it is and start marketing yourself in the same way that any organization promotes and sells their products.

To some of you that may sound pretty commercial but the reality is that we are a product that we attempt to sell to the highest bidder, as long as everything is legal and ethical there really is nothing wrong with that philosophy.

So why am I in so many places. That's a great question and the answer is because there are so many networking places. If you are truly concerned about networking and branding you need to cover all of the bases. There are many people with the same name as yours and one, some, or many of them will be in all the different networking places on the Internet. It is important to your networking and branding process that you establish yourself in all of those different locations so no one confuses you with someone that may not share your same values and ethics.

Managing your Social Networks:

  1. Create a consistent brand - use identifying verbiage and pictures.
  2. Create a strong profile, don't simply put place holders out there. Tell people something of value.
  3. Establish a presence in all the right places, but don't try to keep up with all of them - focus your energy.
  4. Make sure that your comments and discussions are uplifting and supportive. Don't be known as a negative contributor.
  5. Participate in and start discussions, especially in those areas where you have a passion.
  6. Join relevant groups to establish and promote yourself.
  7. Add valuable comments and contributions that help others and in-turn raise your value.
Networking will work for you, when you do it correctly. Happy Networking!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Networking Library Recommendations

Your Networking Library is not complete without these books. I haver read all of these books and I recommend them wholeheartedly. Understanding Networking and being great at it is a skill: learn from some of the best.

I have to admit that I haven't read this one by Keith Ferrazzi, because it doesn't release until May, 2009.

This networking book has been released and it is on my "To Read" list. Smart Networking has received consistent excellent reviews.

Networking While Traveling

I've always been one to sit by the window or on the aisle when I travel. I'm the one with the noise reducing headphones and have a book or magazine as a constant companion.

What's wrong with that picture? If you consider yourself to be a networker looking for opportunities to expand your network you couldn't be doing anything more to dissuade conversation. You have done everything within your power to make yourself unapproachable.

As a networker you need to be looking for networking opportunities to get to know people and for job seekers more importantly get people to know you. Starting those first networking conversations while in a plane, train, or bus can be an uncomfortable experience for many people, but this is where you start stepping out of your comfort zone.

Begin by asking the simple questions:

  1. Is the departing or destination city their home?
  2. No, then where do you live?
  3. Are you traveling for business or pleasure?
  4. What is your final destination?
  5. If for business; what type of business are you in?
  6. What is your position?
  7. If for pleasure; do you go there often?
  8. When was the last time you were there?
  9. Are you visiting family?

This should create a give and take networking session that will last for much of your flight. If these questions can't get something started, because you are in the middle seat, turn to the person on the other side of you.

Don't forget to get a business card and follow up with at least an "It was nice chatting with you during our flight to (wherever)."

Happy traveling and happy networking!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When Should You Build Your Network?

The truth is that you are building your network every time you meet someone, the question is whether you are recording the information or simply letting the opportunity pass.

Networks are a resource to be managed and nurtured. Your network is not something that you should think of only when you have a need. When you read a thoughtful article or a good book you should be thinking about who in your network would benefit from the information. If you hear of a job opportunity you should be thinking about who you could refer or recommend. Not that you want to be mercenary, but your network will appreciate you more when they know that you care about them.

If someone in your network is promoted or takes a new job, congratulate them, let them know that you are happy or excited for them.

Take care of your network.

  1. Send congratulatory notes on promotions, new positions, or honors received.
  2. Follow up with new contacts or referrals immediately, try to send them a relevant piece of information.
  3. Immediately thank anyone that helps you in building your network.
  4. Set a personal goal to add five to ten contacts each week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Networking for fun, opportunity, and employment

Are you a networker? Or ... does the idea of networking scare you?

If you're unemployed one of the constant things that you have or should be hearing is that 70% - 90% of jobs are found through networking. It's a fact, there is a comfort level in hiring people that you know or have been referred to you.

Our lives are driven by the referral process, whether it is the movies we watch, the books we read, the places we eat, the vacations we take, or whatever; referrals play an important part in the choices we make. Why should we expect hiring to be any different?

You need to reach out and constantly be networking.

Networking will take most people outside their comfort zones. To be a successful networker, however, that move outside your comfort zone is critical. Most people think that networking is talking to the people that they are always talking to, but nothing could be further from the truth. You need to extend your networking efforts beyond those you already know.

If your current contacts cannot move you beyond people you already know, you are not moving forward in your networking.

Steps to take:

  1. Identify your purpose for networking: i.e. a new career, new contacts, learning opportunities, reading recommendations, etc. You need to understand your purpose to make your networking purposeful.
  2. Talk to each of your contacts and ask for two or three names that could help you achieve your networking purpose. See if they will arrange an introduction or if you can reference their name.
  3. Follow up with the new individuals and explain your purpose, let these individuals get to know you. Don't ask for a job, again explain who you are and what you have done and ask if they may know of someone that could use your talents. As with your initial contacts, the idea is to get more contacts and follow up again.
  4. With each contact you make look for some way within the next day to e-mail them a thank you and provide them with some information that will be beneficial to their business or situation.
Networking is a skill to be developed. Happy networking!

Networking 1-2-3s's Fan Box