Networking Valentine: What’s black & white and read all over?

Periodically, I like to remind my readers and prospective clients to look for networking and new business opportunities in the most obvious place: your daily newspaper.  It is still black and white (whether online or in-print), and it contains many gems if “red” (sic: read) all over!

Let’s take a look at the Monday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, with its daily focus on different business themes (Monday = “Small Business”).  Since there is no business news over the preceding weekend, the editors publish the weekly “Business Calendar” and “People in the News” in the Monday edition. (BTW: It seems the calendar may not be accessible online anymore, so you’ll have to decide if there is sufficient ROI to warrant .75cent investment in the good-ol’ fashioned newspaper.)  My ROI analysis:

Business Calendar for week beginning Jan. 31st:

Week beginning Feb. 7th:

In the “People in the News” section, find names of people you know (or want to know) at companies that are alive and well: they are hiring and promoting people.

And of course, you can indulge in some of your own out-of-the-box thinking by reading about what others are doing, e.g.

  • Rajant Corp of Malvern, a maker of wireless communication networks whose products are now successfully exported to Australia, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere, improving our balance of trade and local economy;
  • A cabinetmaker and fine woodworker “went with the flow” of a career change (suggested by his Dad); his elevator remodeling business is projected to generate $50 million in annual sales, with a new factory on the drawing board for western USA.

NYNT: Speed Networking with Net Impact-Philly

Kudos to Lindsey and Kate, who organized this well-attended event at the  Public House in Center City, Philadelphia.

What is “Speed Networking?” It is an event designed to promote business connections, in this case among a group of professionals who already share an interest in careers in the “Sustainability” sector of business.  In my role as a resource for people interested in this sector, this association-sponsored event was sure to attract people I would be able to relate to.

How does the event work?  Participants were assigned either letters or numbers.  Letters remained seated at small tables; numbers changed seats after a specified period of time  until most attendees had an opportunity to meet one another.  In other words, letter “C” met with number “3;” then number “3″ moved over to meet with letter “D.”

Where does “speed” enter the picture? These events are staged to promote a quick introduction to as many people as possible, with time afterward for socializing.   Time seems to be our scarcest resource these days: I was able to meet and make an initial assessment of 10 people in 65 minutes.

WIIFY-What’s In It For You?

  • For those who are not comfortable with face-to-face networking, this is an opportunity  to practice in a controlled environment and for a limited period of time – no need to reach-out to people ‘cuz they’ll come to you.
  • This type of event preserves a bit of anonymity – you may find 1-2 gems among the 10 contacts you might make, and there is no shame in leaving the 8 or so other contacts to be mined later or not at all.
  • In just a few minutes, participants  share business cards and discuss their goals, share their “1-minute commercial,” ask for recommendations”, etc.   Take notes, follow-up, be a giver…
  • Your group can suggest some “prompts” or conversation starters, or leave it to the participants.  Lindsey and Kate suggested 6-minute blocks of time, so there was ample time to share information and determine if connections were worth pursuing.

I’d like to hear about your experiences:  is this a legitimate method to build your network, or is it too contrived?  So far, my take on it is that speed networking could be a great ice-breaker for a group training exercise or meeting.  I recommend it as a NYNT – Nurture Your Network Tool.  Thanks again to Lindsey and Kate, (and to whomever jammed the parking meter outside the Public House so I could park for free)!

MBA, or should we strive for MBI (Indispensable)

The Reach Personal Branding group recently circulated a post that deserves wider circulation.  William Arruda,  a respected advocate for personal branding and co-author of Career Distinction, commented on a NYT piece by Thomas Friedman called,  “The New Untouchables.”

Arruda makes the point that those who will survive and flourish during challenging times are those who can distinguish themselves – those who can become the purple cow in the herd of brown and white cows.   As I prepare to meet MBA students who aspire to be the corporate and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow (Net Impact Conference 11/13 & 11/14),  it seems timely to extrapolate these words from William’s post:

As I see it, this is all about personal branding. What do you offer that is not available from anyone else? What emotional brand attributes do you add onto your competence that gets people excited about you? What unique talents and abilities put you in a class by yourself?

Will you make the case to a prospective employer that you understand their issues – that you are prepared to integrate your education, experience, and personal qualities in a plan that makes an overwhelming case for hiring and retaining you.  Will you make yourself indispensable?

Salute to Studs Terkel – a community organizer extraordinaire

Studs Terkel died in Chicago yesterday at age 96.  He enjoyed a full life to be sure, with the possible loss of an opportunity to cast his ballot for a fellow community organizer, Barack Obama.  Click here to read an excerpt from an October 23rd interview with Studs about Election 2008.

As one whose first "professional" job was with a community-based employment development agency... …with two sons who work to repair the earth, one through higher education and another via social entrepreneurship/BOP…whose family has walked the talk, I join Studs Terkel and Barack Obama in celebrating the value proposition that "community organizers" can bring to the workplace.

Some may scoff or snarl at the idea that "do-gooders" offer value to the traditional world of employment (e.g. Rudolph Guiliani at the Republican National Convention), but with the perspective of an interviewer like Studs Terkel, let's look at what a hiring manager may find:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills – listen twice as much as they talk to people who are not often heard
  • Needs assessment ability – understand the needs that are underneath the expressed frustrations
  • Problem solving/Resourcefulness – able to identify needed resources and people
  • Project/Program management – ability to keep a lot of balls in the air, all headed for home-plate
  • Sales/Marketing ability -  accountable for outcomes; identify continued and new funding sources
  • Communication tools – written, verbal, print, visual, audio, Web 2.0, and in several languages

The service that community organizers perform is as valuable as that offered by our military, our teachers, our police officers and fire-fighters, and by journalists, broadcasters, and interviewers like Studs Terkel, who respectfully chronicled American workers since 1957.

BlogTalk Radio with Jason Alba re: Lessons from the National Interview

Great experience today – my first as a guest on BlogTalk Radio!  I was honored to join a few other JibberJobber Partners who have talked with Jason about issues of importance in the Web 2.0 world of career transition and job search.

We talked about McCain and why he appears to be losing the job to Obama, despite his "hard copy" credentials and experience.  The conclusion appears to be that McCain has not responded well to the behavioral question of the day – the economic crisis. 

  • Obama has been able to convince the interviewers, a.k.a. voters, that he "feels their pain" and has practiced the time-honored strategy of listening with 2 ears and talking with 1 mouth. He has learned from the interviewing process and has offered need-based plans that appeal to voters whose issues are health care, education, foreign policy and war, and of course, the economy.
  • McCain and Palin talk a lot about themselves – a commentator on NPR suggested that McCain is asking the voters to reward him for his military and government service – he is not offering success stories via examples or testimonials that speak directly to the concerns of voters.  Indeed, one commentator observed that he appears to be a veteran of WWII, rather than a Vietnam War-era veteran; perhaps his POW experience shielded him from the cultural shift that affected his chronological peers.  His problem is not his chronological age, but the perception that he
    lives in the past and is not equipped to lead in the future.

The lesson for job seekers and career changers is to identify the needs of prospective employers; identify and emphasize transferable skills and personal qualities that are prized by this organization; and offer your brand and mini-business plan in a WIIFTm (What's In It For Them) context. 

The Recruiting Animal joined the conversation and added value by sharing his perspective as a Recruiter and a Canadian.  We discussed the impact of age, race, personality, and blogging in the interviewing space.  Listen to the recording and offer comments to keep this topical discussion alive:  <>

Scale the Brick Wall: some inspirational words suitable for a downturn

A client has maintained a constant training regimen
to scale her brick wall: technology is sending her job to the scrap-yard. 

She is an incredibly positive and tenacious
person.  The transition/training process has required nearly 6 months of
patience and focus; now she is close to realizing her goal.  One door may be closing, but a window is

Her recent e-mail referenced this excerpt from the
last lecture of Professor Randy Pausch, who offered a legacy talk shortly
before his struggle with cancer ended with his death. Perhaps these words will inspire
those who are trying to scale their own walls


The brick walls are there
for a reason.

The brick walls are not
there to keep us out;

the brick walls are there
to give us a chance

to show how badly we want

The brick walls are there to stop the people

who don’t want it badly

They are there to stop the
OTHER people!


Download randy_pausch.m2YH4U3WTBO0QA.htm

Randy Pausch

Successful interviewing at all levels: secret weapon is P-A-R

you’re reading this article, you probably understand that job
successful job seekers talk about what they have accomplished in
previous positions, and present a “mini-business plan” to relate to the
needs of a prospective employer. Review the following list to be sure
you are prepared to interview successfully:

  • You have
    clearly and concisely described one – two “success stories” for each of
    your previous employers, using the Problem (Challenge) – Action -
    Result model.
  • You have analyzed your accomplishment
    stories to identify the personal qualities, skills, and areas of
    knowledge that made it possible for you to achieve your successes.

Going forward, you need to re-frame this data in terms of what is needed for the specific position you are applying for.

Step #1
- Study the job description and organization to identify the criteria
for the job (not “requirements”). The criteria are likely to be “soft
skills,” e.g., flexibility, team orientation, interpersonal skills,
etc. Create a grid, with the criteria on the left and your previous
employers across the top.

Step #2 – Fill-in the cells
with a note about each employer/accomplishment that addresses the new
job criteria. (Without the ability to post a table online, I can’t
provide a good-looking sample – contact this author for a complimentary
copy of this worksheet..)

Step #3 – Once you’ve
completed this “homework,” use your notes to prepare for questions and
conversation with the interviewers. Be careful to limit your responses
to three – four crisp sentences, using the Problem (Challenge) – Action
- Result model.

Ironically, you’ll need to rehearse these responses so you can deliver them in a style that appears to be totally spontaneous!  Rehearse
wherever you are alone and won’t feel silly talking out loud to
yourself, e.g., while driving, drying your hair, etc.  Want to hear a supportive refrain while practicing?  Try Frank Zappa’s 2005 The Classic InterviewsZappa Classic Interviews_7358270

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