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Archive for February, 2008

Personal networking isn’t optional anymore

February 29th, 2008 Comments off

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Career Opportunities podcast logoPersonal networking isn’t optional anymore

Facebook. MySpace. Twitter. LinkedIn, Plaxo. Pownce and a hundred others. We are inundated with social networks these days with more being created every week. As with any new trend, there are the detractors that bemoan the loss of “real” friends to the passing acquaintances of online “friends.” Whatever you might think about the usefulness of social networking sites, it becomes clearer every day, to me, that personal networking, facilitated by online tools, isn’t optional anymore. If you want to raise your career to new highs and reap the benefits of serendipity that they provide, you have to engage with these services. Yes, you can do it on your own terms, but I urge you to do it, today.

Even as a techno-geek of the highest degree, I have never been one to jump, willy-nilly, onto every high-tech bandwagon that came along. While I do make a point of checking new services as they appear, if I can’t find a way to integrate it into my work and life, it quickly falls by the wayside. That said, the services being created today seem more useful than any others I have used in the past. I am finding new ways to use these services to improve my career, my business and my life. While it might be difficult to think about how the constant jabbering on Twitter might be useful, I am starting to see rewards from this particular service already.

Twitter: An Example

When I first signed up for Twitter (http://twitter.com) I was unsure of how it would integrate into my work and what value it might provide. As I added a few friends, I began to enjoy staying in touch with friends and colleagues even though they might be scattered all over the world. It was like we were running into each other in the break room. As you might imagine, it wasn’t long before useful information started to flow along the Twitter lines. We could ask questions of one another, almost as if we were raising our heads above the cubicle walls in an office, and get immediate responses. We could find out when others were in town, where they might be and whether they might like to get together for lunch.

Just yesterday, I got an important confirmation of just what Twitter, and other social networks could do for me. A fellow Twitterbud put out the call for information on people who create mortgage advice and information on the Internet. As it so happens, I produce a show for my friend, Rick Gundzik, entitled Mortgages Made Simple. I respect Rick deeply, as he has the same philosophy about sharing great mortgage information as I do about sharing career and high-tech info. I replied to my Twitter friend with information about the show. It so happens that this Twitter friend was being interviewed by a major NPR show and was looking for examples of great online resources. Directly through Twitter, I had now made a connection that could very possibly result in a wonderful PR opportunity. Without Twitter, though, it is very likely that I would never have known about the opportunity.

The more connections we make, both deep and shallow, offer more opportunities for serendipity to occur.

The truth is, you have to engages in social networks like Twitter, because you have no idea who might lead to your next great success. Serendipity happens only when we allow it. The more connections we make, both deep and shallow, offer more opportunities for serendipity to occur. You are simply increasing the odds by increasing the numbers of people you are aware of and who are aware of you. Even better, engaging in social networks takes no money. Sure there is the time involved in getting started with the networks, but that quickly settles down as you establish links to most of your face-to-face and close online friends.

Are you doing everything you can to reach out to those around you, no matter where they might be geographically located? If not, you are limiting your effectiveness and limiting the ability of serendipity to work its magic. Online social networking is no longer optional. You need to engage with these new tools and allow them to connect you to an entirely new world of possibilities.


Next Friday: March 7, 2008: The answer lies somewhere in-between


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Archive: Return – January 28, 2005

February 27th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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As I write, I am finishing the last few days of a holiday vacation to my home state of Ohio and learning that returning from a vacation can be just as stressful as preparing to leave for one. Despite doing my best to complete any necessary tasks before I left, a host of new challenges await my return. The same will probably be true of your next vacation. If you want to ease your re-entry into the work-a-day world after the holiday break, here are a few guidelines to keep you on the right track.

This Friday: February 29, 2008: Personal networking isn’t optional anymore


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Are you prepared for whatever might happen?

February 22nd, 2008 2 comments

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Career Opportunities podcast logoAre you prepared for whatever might happen?

Here is an interesting question…what would you do it you found out tomorrow that your job, or even your entire career was going to disappear? I know, this is an extreme event that will probably never occur, but imagining extreme events can help us better formulate plans for the future. If we can handle the most extreme possibility we can imagine, then we can handle nearly anything.

I don’t bring up this topic merely to scare you. Instead, I want you to understand that thinking about extreme possibilities can lead to some very productive changes in your day-to-day career. While your career may never disappear in your lifetime, contemplating the possibilities can help you to cope with company closures, outsourcing, off-shoring and other career issues that you can little control. Too often, we put off thinking about such issues until they are suddenly thrust upon us. This is never the best time to be formulating plans, though.

If you might think you career path is stable today, there is one important question you must ask yourself…Can someone else, somewhere else, do your job faster or cheaper? Be honest with yourself. If so, you career is not secure and you need to be looking for ways to increase your security before your company, or industry, figures it out. Can you change your specialization? Can you find a way to personalize your service? Can you develop an entirely new career that is more protected against the cheaper, better, elsewhere realities of the world?

If you might think you career path is stable today, there is one important question you must ask yourself…Can someone else, somewhere else, do your job faster or cheaper?

Here’s a personal example. I know in my own computer consulting career, I haven’t experienced a lot of competition from the Geek Squad and other technical support operations for one important reason. When a customer, new or current, calls me, they know that I will be the one performing the work. They don’t have to develop a new relationship with every service call. Sure, these groups can offer services I cannot, but over the years I have developed a particular niche in my geographic area that helps to maintain my customer base. What can you do to create your own niche, within your company or in your own consultancy? What holes have larger companies left in the market that you can more easily fill? You don’t have to change careers, if you can find a way to take your career to a different level.

Next, what if your entire career or skill set is in danger of disappearing? Impossible, you say? Ask a COBOL programmer or a network manager specializing in Novell Netware. Technologies go out of style every day. You want to be involved in a growing technology, not one that has reached its peak or beyond. Again, you have to be honest with yourself. As a computer consultant, large parts of my knowledge are rendered obsolete with every new software and hardware release. While this might feel threatening, it is simply part of the world we live in. Look to your own career? What processes, knowledge or skills are in danger of becoming obsolete…or are already nearly worthless? Worse still, are you still holding onto old ways of doing work, when you should be looking to new tools and new methods. That is sure to lead to problems, as well.

Now, with your new thinking in mind, where can you direct your attention to better prepare you for the future? What technology, what businesses, what skills would place you in a better position? What would happen if your job or career disappeared today? Do you have a plan, or would you be shocked into inaction? This is exactly why we all need to take the time, at least twice a year, to review our future plans and readjust our focus. Planning should always be done when we are feeling comfortable and secure, so that when change strikes in a large way, we already have a plan to address them.


Next Friday: February 29, 2008: Personal networking isn’t optional anymore


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Archive: Totaled – January 14, 2005

February 20th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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Just as a car can be “totaled” after an accident, I am running into more and more computers that should be “totaled”, as well. A piece of Spyware can have infected someone’s machine so badly a complete rebuild is in order and the cost of my time to do that is simply more than the computer is worth. While I can understand this with older systems, running Windows 98 or 2000, I am starting to see this effect even on computers that are only a few years old. Even in our current “disposable society”, I still have major issues with telling my clients to “throw it away and get a new one.” That said, I understand that the clients would be better off spending their money on a new computer, rather than paying for my time to fix their old one.

This Friday: February 22, 2008: Are you prepared for whatever might happen?


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Litigation Support – An interview with Mike McBride

February 16th, 2008 Comments off

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You can find out more about Mike at http://www.mikemcbrideonline.com/

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Next Friday: February 22, 2008: Are you prepared for whatever might happen?


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Archive: Start and Stop – January 7, 2005

February 14th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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It is a rare high-tech project that progresses neatly from beginning to end. Most project schedules change dramatically over the lifespan of the project. Along with this, many projects can go on hiatus for days, weeks or even months at a time. You probably already know that the ability to move from task to task is an important quality in your high-tech career, but learning how to put a project “to bed” and awaken it later can help you move up the career ladder.

This Friday: February 15, 2008: An interview with litigation specialist, Mike McBride


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Scared by too many possibilities

February 8th, 2008 Comments off

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Career Opportunities podcast logoScared by too many possibilities
February 8, 2007
© 2008 Douglas E. Welch

Sometimes the amazing amount of possibilities in our lives can simply overwhelm our ability to deal with them. Once you see everything that you could be doing, it can scare you into inactivity. This can happen for a number of reasons, but often it is because we only see the big picture and not the thousands of tiny little steps that make up any project.

Whether I am talking to someone about changes in their career or the possibilities that podcasting and new media provide, I can tell when I reach the saturation point . They start to get a panicked look and begin shaking their head. “Stop, Stop, Enough”, they seem to be saying. I try not to get to that level, but my own passion for the topic can get the better of me, too. In these cases, I need to spend the next several minutes, “talking them down.” The way I usually accomplish this is to start looking at the next, physical action we can take.

Whether I am talking to someone about changes in their career or the possibilities that podcasting and new media provide, I can tell when I reach the saturation point . They start to get a panicked look and begin shaking their head. “Stop, Stop, Enough”, they seem to be saying.

If they want to look for a new job, we start to talk about what they want out of a new job, where it might be found and places to look. Where can we do some research? Who can we call or email? What areas require more thought? More importantly, is there some action we can take, together, right now. I often have people asking me how to get their audio or video on the web. If they have a piece of video recorded, I usually try to take that video and get it on YouTube or some other video service while I am sitting with them. I am not necessarily expecting them to be able to do it themselves that soon, but I hope the demonstration will impress on them how, relatively, easy it is to do something that might seem complicated at first. It also helps to establish the idea of one small step at a time, immediately.

Why do we need to get over our fear of enormous possibilities? Simply, out there among all these possibilities lies our future – a future we should be reaching out to embrace, not recoil from in fear. Too many of us settle for less than our fair share in life, simply because we are afraid of what might happen. This doesn’t mean being afraid of just the bad things that can happen. We often fear our own wild success. We can be afraid that we won’t be able to handle success and happiness. We will dream up all sorts of reasons why being successful is actually a burden and not a relief. Get over it! Life is so much easier and so much better when you are achieving your wildest dreams. Sure there are consequences of success, but you will be much more prepared to deal with those consequences when they arise. Dealing with the problems of success is so much easier than dealing with the problems of failure.

Speaking of failure – this is another reason we can become overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Trying new things, pursuing new ideas, chasing new dreams insures that at some time, we will fail. It is all part of the territory. No one likes to fail, but everyone needs to fail – and learn something from that failure. Failure litters the path to any great success. It has been said before, but bears repeating – fail a lot, fail quickly and learn from every failure. Don’t obsess on failure. Accept it as one step on the way to greatness.

The next time you start dreaming of your future, don’t feel overwhelmed. Don’t let the shear enormity of it all swallow you up. Find one small action that you can take immediately and start there. Let this small step lead you to the next and the next. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to career and life success, doing things you never dreamed possible before.


Next Friday: February 15, 2008: An interview with Litigation Support specialist, Mike McBride


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Archive:For the love of it all – December 31, 2004

February 7th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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This Friday: February 15, 2008: An interview with litigation specialist, Mike McBride


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Without risk, we all stagnate

February 1st, 2008 Comments off

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Career Opportunities podcast logoI think it is true of any long-term relationship, but I began to notice that when I brought up new ideas to my wife, her response often began with a host of reasons why that particular idea wouldn’t work. There seemed to be a never-ending list of reasons we shouldn’t do something. At one point, I stopped her and said, “Instead of finding all the reasons we shouldn’t do something, why don’t we try and find one reason to do it.” I realized we had fallen into a common trap in life…that of risk avoidance. New things are risky and prone to failure. Still, life without new thoughts and new challenges quickly degenerates into boredom and stagnation. Will we fail, sure, but we may also succeed beyond our wildest dreams. I think the risk is worth it.

Still, life without new thoughts and new challenges quickly degenerates into boredom and stagnation. Will we fail, sure, but we may also succeed beyond our wildest dreams. I think the risk is worth it.

Whether in work or life overall, I often talk with people who are stuck on the wrong side of this equation. They know something is wrong, but the act of reaching out — of doing something new and different — scares them. Even though they know something is wrong and are often angry about it, they can’t seem to take the first step towards resolving the issue. They simply stew and complain more and more each day. I am sure you know or work with people like this. It seems a common problem. Furthermore, no matter what you might suggest, they remain immovable.

The truth is, like most issues in life, the person has to recognize a problem before they can confront it. They can blame their unhappiness on a host of other issues — their job, their spouse, their earnings — but the true problem lies within their own fear. Until they come to grips with that, they are failing to see the true and deeper cause.

So, does any of this sounds like you? I know that, on occasion, it describes me perfectly. I can get comfortable and cocooned and seek out a safe little hole sometimes. Then I start to feel the prickle of dissatisfaction. I get grumpy and can’t seem to place my finger on the cause. If I am lucky, I quickly realize the problem and start to look for a new project, a new place, a new taste, a new smell — something to break me out of my comfy little hole. Sure, it seems counter-intuitive. Comfort should not bring dissatisfaction, but too much comfort, for too long, can do just that.

If you are feeling a little dissatisfied today, here are a few, low-risk ways to shake things up and get yourself moving again. They might seem small, but they can work wonders.

  • Take a walk, preferably in a neighborhood you have never visited before.
  • Go to a different restaurant for dinner, or at least, order something different at your favorite one .
  • Talk to new people — online and offline
  • Randomly visit a new web site — use StumbleUpon (http://stumbleupon.come/) or other random site link, like the random link in Wikipedia (http://wikipedia.org)
  • Visit your library and pick up a book or magazine you have never read before
  • Whatever gets you out of your rut and back on the track to something new
  • Even better, do it with a friend!

Are you feeling dissatisfied with your current surroundings? Is everything seeming a bit too dull and grey? Maybe you aren’t taking enough risks in your life. No one says you have to jump out of an airplane, or careen down a river with Class 5 rapids. You only need to do one small thing to get you moving again. Share your own concerns and methods for breaking free on the Career Opportunities Forums at http://forums.friendsintech.com. We’d all love to hear what works for you!


Next Friday: February 8, 2008: Scared by too many possibilities


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