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Archive for July, 2011

Work your rolodex like a pro – Podcast

July 29th, 2011 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoBack in the day, your Rolodex™ was your breadbox, your money maker and in some cases your lifeline. Today, whether you store your contacts on paper, in Gmail or some fancy CRM system, these descriptions are still valid. A lot of life and business is still about who you know.  Those contacts — both online and face-to-face — are golden. While the image of the smarmy salesman making endless phone calls is stuck in many minds, using your virtual rolodex to build your career and your income is as important as it ever was. Use your rolodex for good, not evil, and you can take your career to new heights.

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These days your contacts and network are about much more than just sales. In a large way, the success of your career depends upon relationships — who are you connected with can help you achieve your goals while also, hopefully, achieving some of their own. Will there be sales involved? Of course, but as every good salesman knows, you have to connect before you can sell. You will also find that sharing and helping others often results in big returns to you in ways you sometimes can’t imagine. Relationships that lead to income are just as important, and maybe more so, than the income itself. It is often these relationships that lead to larger projects that far outweigh the more immediate rewards of a quick sale.

First, if you don’t have a decent contact list and contact manager, get one. There are a host of software programs and online services out there to help you stay connected to your friends and business contacts. Since I am a big Gmail user, my contacts tend to reside in my Gmail contacts list, but this list also syncs up with all my computers and, most importantly, my iPhone, so I can access it wherever I am. With the recent addition of the CardMunch app, I now often enter contact information when I meet someone or very soon afterward. All it takes is a quick photo of a business card and all that information is captured.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t require any technology at all to maintain your contact list. You can do it on paper, it just might be a little easier electronically. It is far more important, though to maintain your list than to worry about how you do it.

Second, make a point, everyday, to randomly select someone from your list who you haven’t spoken with recently and contact them. If you have something useful to share with them, all the better, but even a simple “follow-up” email is useful. So often when I do this, I receive a response like this: “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about a new problem, project, partnership, but I haven’t found the time. It is great that you called!”

Follow-up emails are a way of gently reminding people that you still exist — that you are still working — and that you might have something they need. We all get tied up in our own busy worlds so a quick “poke” is often what is needed to generate that new project — and hopefully new income.

Third, do the same not only with your standard email contacts, but also with those people you only know through social media. I have been randomly choosing one of my Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn contacts each day and checked out their profile, their recent updates (which I might have missed in the timeline as it streamed by), their photos and any other information I can find. This is so important if you want to deepen your relationship with these far flung contacts. You won’t run into them at the local coffee shop, but maybe they will be at an upcoming conference. The more your know about them — and the more you interact online — the more you can make of your face-to-face meetings.

It doesn’t take much time to connect with your contacts, but it can be dramatically effective in improving your work and career. Take a minute, right now, to find someone in your contact list, or among your Facebook friends, and reconnect with them. Ask them what recent projects they have been working on. Let them know what you have been doing. Work your contacts like a salesman whose income depends on it. Your goal and reward, though, is a closer relationship, not necessarily the big sale. Relationships are what will bring the money down the road and should be cultivated on a daily basis.

 


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I Like This – July 28, 2011

July 27th, 2011 Comments off
    A collection of career items I found interesting this week.

  • Executives and fake decisions – July 21, 2011 – You can be faced with this outside the executive suite, too. I find I am often presented with questions by people who have already made up their mind and are only looking foe further support for their position. This makes it very awkward when I don’t agree with them. I also find it a great waste of my time. Avoid doing it, or being on the receiving end of it, at all costs.
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I Like This – July 21, 2011

July 20th, 2011 Comments off
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Most of us undervalue our knowledge – Podcast

July 18th, 2011 Comments off

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This weekend was the 4th of our free CareerCamp unconferences here in the Los Angeles area. You can learn more about what happened there on the web site at http://careercampscv.wordpress.com.

My first session of the day was a breakout discussion on social media and your career. (The audio from this session should be available both here on Career Opportunities and the CareerCampSCV web site.) During that discussion, I heard a common refrain, “What do I have to share, discuss, write about, blog ab out?” I have heard this many times before and I always work to dispel this myth.

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Unfortunately, most of us often undervalue or devalue the unique knowledge that we have developed over the years. Even someone starting out in a career has learned some important lessons that could benefit others. Still, many of us hang our heads and proclaim we have nothing to offer to the world. Sometimes, in a slightly mean fashion, I will point out to people that if they have nothing to say about their work or their life, then they have much larger problems than just building their career. Most immediately understand what I mean. It is my effort to get them thinking about what they know and how important it might be to others.

What is an expert?

My definition of an expert is someone who has one more piece of information or one more experience than someone else. In reality, this means we are all experts at something — to someone. There will always be those around us who can benefit from our experience and our unique, specific knowledge. No two lives are the same and we will always have different experiences from those around us. Sure, we might think we all move through the same world and experience the same things, but it simply isn’t true.

We each have our own perception of experiences, even if we experience them at the same time as others. It is simply a part of being a unique human being. We might see the same concert, the same movie, work in a similar job at a similar company, but we experience them quite differently. Everything in our past and present effects how we perceive the future and changes it — sometimes in dramatic ways. This uniqueness is exactly what we have to share with others and exactly what they want most.

Your blog to the world

One of my first prescriptions for most people seeking to build their career using social media is to start a blog — start sharing their unique knowledge and experiences with others. As I am sure you have seen on occasion, though, many people start by simply sharing other people’s information. Sharing neat items you discover is great — you are acting as an information curator for those reading your blog — but it is more important to share your opinion, your analysis, your gut feeling of why something is important enough to share. People read your blog to hear YOUR opinion, not simple restatement of news that can be found elsewhere. Make sure you offer your take on the info to make it as useful as possible.

One amazing thing that occurs when you start a blog is that you start to finding things to share there. The mere act of having a place to put stuff lets you see exactly how much you have to share. It is easy to not share something if you have no place to post it. Your blog makes it easy and you will suddenly find yourself blogging more than you ever thought possible — simply because you have “a place for your stuff” as comedian George Carlin once said.

Don’t undervalue your own knowledge and experiences. I know it is very natural and very easy to do, but if you want to build the career you deserve, you must learn to recognize exactly what makes you unique — exactly what makes you special — and, more importantly to share that with those around you. Your goal in using these tool is to build your career by showing people “what you do and how well you do it.” Doing this on a daily basis, both face-to-face and online, could be the single most important thing to do for your career today.


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I Like This – July 14, 2011

July 13th, 2011 Comments off
    A collection of career items I found interesting this week.

  • Waiting for the fear to subside? – Don't! – July 11, 2011 – As someone who is not always the most fearless, Seth’s reminder is a great thing to put on my desktop so I don’t let the fear overwhelm me. There is also a great series of books, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (and others) than can help you overcome the paralysis that sometimes accompanies the fear.
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Too much can’t – Podcast

July 9th, 2011 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoI must confess that I didn’t watch the launch of the final Space Shuttle mission today. I couldn’t bring myself to be in a celebratory mood since I see today’s launch as yet another step in a long list of “can’t” in today’s America. We can’t do this. We can’t do that. Even worse, we can’t afford to do this or that. Can’t often has nothing to do with external realities of money or knowledge. It has much more to do with a lack of will. Can’t allows us an easy excuse to stop doing those things that are most important. Can’t allows us to continue a long, slow slide into mediocrity, seemingly without blame. “It’s not my fault, we can’t afford it!” We can do these important things if we are innovative and creative and if we find the ability to see the value that is often found in these long-term programs.

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careercampscv-logo.jpgCareerCampSCV is just a week away! July 16, 2011 College of the Canyons

 

Get your FREE tickets today!

Not in the Southern California area? Organize your own CareerCamp in your area. Visit CareerCampInternational.com for more info!


 

Talk to any businessman or business expert today and they will constantly repeat the word innovation. I truly believe we need to innovate dramatically and in every way, but can’t is the enemy of innovation. Why innovate when we can simply abdicate our responsibilities to ourselves and others by saying, “It can’t be done!” Throughout its history, America has often been a place of infinite possibilities. In just my short lifetime we have gone from a black and white television to high-definition and 3D. We went from driving automobiles to putting men on the moon, to placing probes into the deepest parts of our solar system. We went from mechanical calculators to the home computer to the smart phone. We have proven we can innovate, if we want, but it seems we have lost our desire.

We can find a solution to hunger, the national debt, homelessness, unemployment, global competition and a host of other challenges facing us — or we can simply give up now and say we can’t do anything about them. I, for one, will not “go gently into that dark night”. Down that path lies madness and ruin as surely as anything that can be known.

Disinfecting ourselves from this can’t virus starts at a very personal level. In our own lives and work, we need to reject “can’t” as an answer and see it as the excuse that it is. We might not be able to accomplish something today, but it is almost guaranteed that we can accomplish it in the future if we want it enough.

If you fall into the trap of the constant can’t, your life and work will suffer. Your boss doesn’t care what you can’t do. Say can’t enough and you are likely to be out of a job — and that is probably the way it should be. Each day should be dedicated to doing something important, building something better, not an endless repetition of meaningless paper-shuffling. Facing adversity is part of every life. How we deal with it is unique. We can crawl back into our hole and ignore the problem or continue to look for a solution that we know is out there, waiting to be found.

Fight against can’t at every step. Question every can’t that enters into your life and work. There is no need to be angry or threatening about it, but figure out if the problem truly can’t be solved — today — or if someone simply doesn’t want to do the work to solve it. There is a deep difference between these two positions. Too often can’t arises out of lack of motivation or simple laziness. It is always easier to complain about something than doing the work to fix it. As a dedicated careerist, though, you must avoid it at all costs.

Next, attack the can’t that occurs in your groups, your departments, your unions, your businesses, your governments. Yes, some problems are very, very difficult and require bridging the gaps between dramatically different ideologies. That said, we can never let these differences prevent us from doing something. The first agreement that must be found is that something needs to happen or change. We must agree that it is in everyone’s best interest that something be decided. To sit still and say can’t doesn’t just hold up the status quo, it holds us back, leaves us behind and makes it even harder to get to where we need to be. Gridlock isn’t standing still — it means moving backwards at an ever more rapid rate.

I mourn the end of the Shuttle program and the can do attitudes of the people involved in its creation. When faced with can’t, they replied “maybe not yet, but soon. Then they went out and did it. We should all take a great lesson from the innovators that have changed so much in the last 40 years. We need to let them and their actions mentor us for the next 40 years and beyond. Even more important, we need to let them show us the way out of our can’t addiction and back to a more innovative, productive and simply better world.

 


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I Like This – July 7, 2011

July 7th, 2011 Comments off
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Time for a review – Podcast

July 1st, 2011 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoAh, the sweet smells and sounds of Summer are here. Hopefully, the pressures of life and work have eased up a bit, at least for the next few weeks. With my wife teaching at colleges full time and a son in junior high, our life tends to revolve around the school schedule, so right now we have a few moments to slow down and review our lives and see where we might be headed next.

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careercampscv-logo.jpgCareerCampSCV is just over a month away! July 16, 2011 College of the Canyons

 

Get your FREE tickets today!

Not in the Southern California area? Organize your own CareerCamp in your area. Visit CareerCampInternational.com for more info!


It is easy for thoughts, tasks and projects to get lost during the height of the work and school year. There is simply so much competing for our time that it is inevitable that some things get shuffled off into storage or forgotten entirely. I realized the other day that I hadn’t picked up my guitar in months. I love playing guitar, but finding the time — any time — to sit and play just wasn’t in my schedule. I was busy, and due to being so busy, more tired than I normally might be. This is a dark road that leads to hours spent staring at the computer or the television.

If you have found yourself a little overwhelmed lately, now is the time to sit back with a cool beverage in a nice quiet spot and reflect on what the rest of the year has to offer. Sure you might be running around doing vacation worthy things, but there are always those down times in the evening when things get quiet and you can take a little time to think. For some of us, the beach is calling, but what a wonderful place to kick back and spend a little time on yourself, instead of your work.

First, take an inventory of those things you haven’t done in a while. I mentioned my guitar, but I am sure you have missed out on baseball games, gardening, bike rides, cooking and a host of other activities that you love. Think back over the last 12 months and try to see where they fell off your schedule. I can guarantee you that as you remember one thing it will trigger a host of other activities that have completely slipped your mind. Write them down and then, if you can, do one of them immediately. Pull out the guitar. Grab your tennis racket. Pick up your pen and have at it.

We hear a lot today about how we have to focus on one task, one job, one career with laser-like precision in order to be successful. I know that, for me, it is the moments away — the breaks — that enhance my productivity the most. Sure, I can hammer away a project for hours when needed, but I also need those frequent breaks that refresh and recharge me so I can go back and do even more and better quality work. I think you can benefit from that, too.

There is a law of diminishing returns when we are pushing for a deadline. We might be able to pull and all-nighter, but I question the quality of the work that results. This is often where errors creep in — bugs in programs, typos in documents, driving accidents. As humans we need breaks, both mental and physical. Don’t deny yourself or you might reduce both the quality and quantity of your work.

What haven’t you done lately that you really enjoy? Make a list and take the time to do one of them today. I am sure both your head and heart will benefit!

 


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