Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

How to find a job using social media

March 31st 2012

Today, I introduce another guest author, Christian Arno, with his excellent article on how you can use social media to help find yourself a job.

Being unemployed is never an ideal situation.  The situation is nearly as bad if you are in the wrong job and not having much luck getting another position, whether it is a career change or advancement in your current sector. However, since we are living in the age of social media, help is at hand. Social media is something that should not be underestimated when you are looking for a new job. Because competition is rife for employment, every opportunity should be explored and social media is one of the best available. The following six tips will help in utilizing social media for employment purposes.

1. Join LinkedIn

Today, there are dozens of social media sites. However, one stands out amongst the others in its usefulness for employment purposes – LinkedIn. If you are looking for a social media site to help increase your job opportunities, then you should definitely join LinkedIn. Unlike Facebook and many others, it is aimed more towards networking rather than friendship. On your profile you can enter your work experience and skills and expertise. You also have the opportunity to write a summary where you can let potential employers know your main employable attributes; the summary section also provides the perfect opportunity to let everyone know if you are looking for new employment opportunities and, specifically, what you are looking to do.

2. Connect with people who can help

Once you have completed your profile, do not be afraid to be active – join groups and interact with potential employers and people in the industry you want to work in. You can just complete your profile and hope that you will be headhunted; that approach has worked for a few people. But for the best results, you need to get involved. Since LinkedIn is designed for you to connect with other people that are not necessarily your friends, you need take advantage of that and not hold back. You should request every contact you think might be useful, even if you have never met the person; if they work in the industry you want to be in or want to advance in, connect with them because you never know what avenues might open up from it.

3. Watch out for profile picture pitfalls

Your profile is going to be the first thing a potential employer will see. If you have a profile picture they will be immediately drawn to it. So, do not under any circumstances use that hilarious picture of you drinking out of a bottle of Jack Daniels at 4am as your profile picture. Yes, that might be fine for your private Facebook account, and your friends might get a good laugh out of it, but it is definitely not for your LinkedIn profile. It does not say to potential employers that you are fun loving and will be a great guy to have about the office. The same goes for a graduation picture if it is not current; it will instantly give the impression to employers that you are a recent graduate and not an experienced professional. It is better to use no picture at all than one that could potentially ruin your chances.

4. Do not attempt humor

If you are not looking for work in comedy, do not try to be funny in your LinkedIn profile; it hardly ever translates well and, simply put, is unprofessional. What you might think is witty and shows off your sparkling personality, might come across the exact opposite to a potential employer. It is best to stay on the safe side. Furthermore, avoid all modern abbreviations, such as ‘lol’. There are too many disastrous profiles that include sentences like, ‘I have been an IT Consultant for two years, but I am not a geek, lol. I am now looking to use my degree in Politics and pursue a career as a Diplomat.’ These modern abbreviations have no place in a professional piece of writing – and that is exactly what the text in your profile should be.

5. Set up an alternative Twitter and Facebook

After you have a professional looking LinkedIn profile and you are utilising its capabilities, it may be worthwhile setting up other profiles on Facebook and Twitter exclusively for job-hunting purposes. This is will be where you leave all you embarrassing Facebook pictures and controversial tweets behind for your other accounts. If you want to link your other accounts, make sure you make them private; this is so that potential employers do not have access to them and all your good work on your professional profiles will not be ruined.

A good thing about Twitter is that you can buy cheap twitter followers; which is where having an alternative Twitter account will be ideal to have if you are going to interact with any potential employers.

6. Do not forget about the smaller social media

So, you have got your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and perhaps even a YouTube channel sorted. So far, things are going well. However, you should not ignore other smaller platforms, such as blogs. By creating your own blog and interacting with people in your field via blogging, you will increase your chances of making potential employment connections. Places such as WordPress and BlogSpot are excellent places to become part of an online community and make valuable connections. Blogging has taken off in the past decade and there are millions of them everywhere now. You should, as with the other social media platforms, be active and get involved – comment on popular blogs that are in your sector, make contact with them and get them aware of what you are doing.

Social media is not an instant cure to employment woes. However, it opens up a world of opportunity that should be taken advantage of. The world is changing, and you should change with it by embracing social media and by managing your online digital portfolio. When it comes to job-seeking, just remember to make sure you social media presence shows you at your most professional.

 About the author

Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a provider of top translation services in Canada. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. You can connect with and read more from Christian by following Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 16 Comments »

The Keys To Advancing Your Career

February 12th 2012

Today I welcome a new guest author, Carolyn who brings us this great article on advancing your career.  I am always surprised how many people think that the next great job for them is not at their current workplace, but at the next company or job for them.  The reality is, every job can be your next level job and people would position themselves much better by continuously advancing their careers and building their skills in EVERY job, just by dropping one and seeking the next.  So, please add your comments to welcome Carolyn and you can find more of her articles at her link at the end of the article.

Gaining a promotion at work is something that many workers would put on their to-do list. But how exactly does one go about the task of climbing the corporate ladder? Well, the corporate ladder is less of a ladder and more a staircase. What I mean by that is that advancement doesn’t come in huge upward motions. It most often comes in slow, steady moves. Continually move forward, display a desire to learn more about your job and strive to do the best you can on all of your assignments and before you know it, you’ll realize you’ve ascended quite a bit from your original position.

Before I outline a few points about advancing within a company and furthering your career, let me begin with a short illustration.

The Two Workers

Two men began work at an accounting firm at roughly the same time doing Scientific Animations. The two new employees had attended rival schools but got along well enough. The first employee decorated his desk with memorabilia from his alma mater and the second chose to keep his work area sparse and sterile. At lunch during a coworker’s birthday celebration, while the cake was being passed out and “Happy Birthday” being sung, the first employee joined in with the chorus of voices while the other hung toward the back, not wishing anyone to hear his less than impressive singing voice. Both of the employees were well liked within the office. Neither participated in the intra-office politics or petty office gossip. Both were generally on time with their assignments and both pulled their weight. However, the first employee quickly got a feel for the office culture and began arriving in time to flip on the lights in the office in the morning. He was trusted with a key to the office because the bosses figured, if he wants to get here so early, why not let him?

Still the two men performed about the same amount of work. What the first employee accomplished in 9 hours at the office, the second employee could get done in 7.5 hours.

It wasn’t until an opportunity arose to get trained on new software that the first employee really set himself apart. The company was readying itself for a switch to a new type of software and it asked for volunteers to get trained on the new system. The volunteers would then turn around and train their coworkers on the new system. It was not a popular position — there were no benefits — but the first employee volunteered for the position, was trained and lent his new expertise to his coworkers.

When it came time for the accounting firm to consider applicants for a promotion to a recently vacated managerial position, whom do you think they chose?  It should be fairly obvious that the first employee demonstrated that he was worthy of the career advancement. But why is that? The second employee was technically the more efficient candidate. He worked at a rate that was about 17 percent faster than the first employee.

Eagerness

The fact is, most companies care about efficiency and your ability to carry a heavy workload only to a certain extent. The thing that many companies look for is eagerness. The first employee had that quality in spades. This is shown not only in his volunteering for the unenviable position of new software trainer but also in his loud singing at the coworker’s lunch time birthday party and his early arrival to the office each day.

Taking the time do something as small as stand by the water cooler for a few minutes on your break and chit chat with employees shows that you’re not just there for the paycheck. You’re taking an active interest in your work and your coworkers. It shows management that you’re eager to be there. You enjoy being there. So they should want to keep you.

Keep Learning

The software-training example (and even getting fake college degrees) is just a small example of a time that someone took an opportunity to learn more within their job. This often pops up at jobs in the form of new certifications, licensures or training opportunities. The first employee’s willingness to learn the new software demonstrated to management that they are looking to learn. The desire to take on new tasks is something that managers are constantly looking for in prospective recipients of promotions.

Respect Your Elders

The managers at your job got there for a reason. Although sometimes it may seem like they don’t quite know what they’re doing, they have a better job title than you for a reason. Part of learning on the job and using the knowledge you gain to advance your career is found in relationships made with management. Offer to take your boss out to lunch and ask how they achieved their successes, how they dealt with their failures and how you can get on track to follow in their footsteps.

This is not only a great way of learning about the company and its day-to-day operations, this is a great way of making sure your boss can pick you out of a crowd. If a chance for a promotion comes up, they’ll be much more likely to consider you if they can pick you out of a line up.

Contribute

The example of the first employee singing along to “Happy Birthday” is also a metaphor for something that too many employees fail to understand. Speak up. No one will promote you, let alone acknowledge that you’re in the room unless you make your voice heard. Contribute to the discussions. Put your two cents in at meetings. Don’t be afraid to put your opinions and ideas forth at meetings. This will raise your visibility within the office and, in the event that you say something incorrect, the correction you receive at the meeting will stick with you.

As the old proverb says, “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than 100 blows to a fool.” The implication is that if you’re wise, you will only need to be corrected once and you will heed that instruction. If you’re a fool, you could have someone try to beat the information into you, but it wouldn’t take.

If you’re looking to advance your career but are worried about the opportunities within your company, don’t abandon ship just yet. Advancement opportunities will inevitably open up if you apply these principles for moving forward.

Carolyn is a guest blogger who writes about employment topics and RN schools.

Posted by Mike King under Business & Success | 5 Comments »

Coaching in the Workplace

January 20th 2012


Working as a manager or leader in any workplace leaves a lot of room to influence other people.  And shouldn’t that include then some specific coaching and discussion to help others improve their role and work results?  I certainly think so and I also think that every person in a leadership or supervising role should be expected to learn about coaching in the workplace.  If coaching were better understood and used on a regular basis, the results of whole teams and companies could be drastically improved given some time.

Coaching in the workplace is something I’ve practiced for a number of years through managing others and it is now one of the most effective ways I have to develop people for higher level roles, better performance and to address weaknesses getting in their way from being as effective as they could be.  I originally learned the model I use now for coaching from Manager Tools at one of their effective manager conferences.  I can’t stress the value enough of their many free podcasts and training for managers.  These models and tools create a foundation for coaching that works reliably and you then only need to tweak it to fit your style, your methods for your workplace and to adjust each session of course to the person you are coaching, the most important part of course.

Uncovering Goals through Questioning

Questioning is a tool, unfortunately overlooked and under studied which can help you tremendously in coaching others.  Learning to use probing questions and digging deeper with the 5 common W questions, you can get to the root of motivations or problems to uncover the real goals the other person might have.  Its often easier to determine some simple goal or short term item that you can coach a person for, but if it has an underlying motivation and meaning that has more impact and value to the other person, it is worth using questions to uncover that.  I have 3 previous articles on questions, all can really help in coaching:

These questioning methods can help you engage with the other person more easily and to quickly cut through surface level issues and find goals and ideas that have a deeper meaning and value.

The Coaching Model

The model that Manager Tools is best described in their podcasts mentioned above.  It is essentially a series of 4 steps toward achieving the coaching goal.  They are:

  1. Set a Goal
  2. Brainstorm the Resources
  3. Create an Action Plan
  4. Act towards the Goal
These steps can be repeated as necessary using smaller goals towards a large goal or simply by changing the goals on a regular basis to achieve different short term results.  The steps themselves should all be written on paper with the person you are coaching and you need to aim to get through them quickly to get the action started as soon as possible.  Often people spend too much time wanting to get the perfect goal or the perfectly optimal plan of action, but it takes much longer to plan and seek that then it does to simply start getting practice.  The goals can be tweaked as you learn more and its the action of the individual that is going to activate them towards the goal.  Yes, of course it is a balance of some planning and then some action, I’m just suggesting you don’t get held up on the early parts.  Steps 1-3 should only take 15-30 minutes and then the action can start once you get good at coaching.  The coaching then requires you to provide regular feedback (daily if possible, weekly in the worse case) about their progress and actions.  Review the work at least weekly and adjust the plan as needed to prevent things from getting stuck or held up.

Tailor Coaching To the Individual

Coaching only works if it is specific to an individual and the same coaching plan will never work for everyone.  The brainstorming and even the goal could be the same, but each person will have their own action plan and steps to achieve their goal.  This is because you need to let the action plan be something that works specifically for the individual you are coaching.  For example, just because I know I can easily learn content from reading a book by some subject matter expert, I know this doesn’t work for everyone and reading a book in a coaching plan might be more discouraging to some individuals than it is helpful.  Some people will need to learn by trial and error, some by courses or training, some self taught, some through experimentation, research or by hearing stories and reacting emotionally to some method.  Everyone will have their own style and its your job as the coach to tailor the coaching to find the methods that work best for the individual and then incorporate that method for them to practice and learn most effectively.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 8 Comments »

5 Ways To Spread Your Message Without Spending A Fortune

August 15th 2011

I am happy to provide another great guest article, this week by James Lee, who is a promotions and marketing analyst for small businesses.  Please provide any comments below and I hope you enjoy his article!

My mom was a huge fan of the late, great Gourmet magazine, a culinary monthly full of complicated recipes that took time to prepare and cook. Her favorite column in Gourmet, though, was Gastronomie Sans Argent or, translated from French, “Cooking Without Money.”  Its recipes involved only fresh ingredients prepared by simple methods. These recipes did not include expensive ingredients like saffron and truffles!  Communicating your telemarketing list message is the same way. You don’t need to spend a fortune as long as you keep the message fresh and simple.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up through research and experience and from clients to get your message to the table sans argent. You can try them a la carte or pair them with an event you have spent money on — a trade show, an opening, a open house, a giveaway — to extend the life of your event, for nearly free.

Write

If you are like most business owners, you have a website (a good example of hand-crafted table pads website) and may even have started a blog, but you update your blog a few times per year, if at all. Why? Because although blogging is free, writing takes time and time is money – more so than ever when you are running a business. But we know that a regularly updated blog can help to bring traffic and interest to your website – and consequently your business. One of our clients alerted me to a simple solution: write shorter posts. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Keep your posts short, sweet, and daily. If you can’t think of anything to write about, post a quote of the day, or a picture of the day. You can even make these posts on the run, from your phone. WordPress has a mobile plug-in (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mobileadmin/), and so do most other blogging platforms. Or post via email using Posturous (https://posterous.com/) or your blogging platform’s email protocol (here is the one for WordPress: http://codex.wordpress.org/Post_to_your_blog_using_email).

A quote of the day sounds silly. But if you also tweet it (Buy Twitter Followers), and share it on your Facebook page, you’d be surprised how many Twitter followers and Facebook likes you’ll get just by sharing quotes that people find either funny or inspirational. People will print them out and tape them to office bulletin boards.

Writing an e-newsletter will also help to keep your business name in front of subscribers. But if you try this route, don’t overdo it. One newsletter a month is usually enough to remind subscribers that you exist, without irritating them into unsubscribing. Also, be sure to give your subscribers a reason to open your emails. Try including a coupon code or special deal in every newsletter.

Microblog

If your blog posts will always be super-short, you might want to try microblogging instead. Microblogging sounds complicated, but if you use Twitter, you are already microblogging. You may want to branch out, though, into Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com), or even smaller microblogs such as Plurk (http://www.plurk.com) or Jaiku (http://www.jaiku.com). Microblogging is easy to do on the run, from your phone. Tumblr will even let you phone in an audio post. You can also microblog by email with Posturous. To build up an audience for your microblog, follow other microbloggers – they will tend to follow you back, and their followers may follow them to you.

One caution: there are a plethora of microblogging sites these days – but not all microblog networks reach the same demographic. Choose your microblog venue or venues carefully, choosing the one that best suits your customer base. There are even microblogs geared to specific geographic areas, such as Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site.

Shoot

Video. With your camera or your phone. One option is to shoot video at community events that your business participates in – that way, suddenly, anyone who attended the event has a reason to visit your website. Or make videos about your expertise or experience in your niche. Provide a link to the video in your e-newsletter or e-blasts to keep your message going. You may want to post the video to YouTube as well. Or sign up for your own free YouTube channel.

Another creative option that works well for certain kinds of businesses is to add a live webcam feed to your website. This works well if your business is often mobile. For example, some cruise ships have webcams mounted on the front of the ship. But even if you are not running a cruise line (let’s face it, most of us aren’t), you can still put a webcam in your place of business. For businesses in locations that are big tourist destinations, a fun option is to train the webcam on your view of the local scenery: mountains, a local park, whatever is scenic and can be seen from your workplace. (I wouldn’t focus a webcam on the inside of your business – that just makes customers edgy, as if you think you are about to be robbed.)

Connect

For some people, using social media becomes a second job. Some people (Charlie Sheen springs to mind) hire social media interns to promote their businesses. But we can’t all be Charlie Sheen, and some of us have enough to do just running our businesses. Do connect, but find ways to do it that don’t cause social media to eat up your entire day. Set up your blog to automatically tweet or otherwise microblog itself, and post itself to Facebook. Or save time by writing a day’s worth of tweets or microblogs at once, and use a tweet scheduler such as Autotweeter (http://www.autotweeter.in) or HootSuite (http://hootsuite.com) to set up the tweets for certain days and times (11 a.m. and 4 p.m. are good, high traffic Twitter times). If you want to tweet a business event or sale, you can set up all your tweets for weeks in advance, if you choose to – after all, you know what date you have chosen for the event.

Free advertising

Advertising doesn’t have to cost a fortune. First, there are the old standbys, the free listings you can get in directories that are all over the Internet starting with Yellow Pages. Make sure your business is in them all, with up-to-date address and phone information, a map, and, most important, your URL. Yahoo offers free classifieds, and you can always advertise on Craigslist. It’s not only free. It’s popular for people looking for a specific item, or sometimes just browsing in the miscellaneous section.

But don’t stop with the old standbys. Try making an effort to comment at all the websites and blogs that you visit regularly. Each time you comment, include your website URL (most comment forms will ask you for it, but they may not publish it with the comment, so add the URL line under your signature). Make sure that your comment is worthwhile, so that it stays up and is not flagged as spam. You’ve just created a link that will drive traffic back to your website!

James Lee is a promotions and marketing analyst for small businesses. James has been researching and writing for Amsterdam Printing’s Small Business Promotions for the past several years. He has owned small businesses and his work with Amsterdam Printing is focused on assisting small businesses use personalized promotional materials such as apparel, pens, calendars and mugs for marketing purposes.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 15 Comments »

5 Myths of Entrepreneurs Needing Start-Up Capital

June 14th 2011

This is a guest post by John Williams.

NOTE:  I, Mike King have no affiliation with John or his company.  I welcomed a guest post from him solely on his comments and messages to me about this blog with some sample writing which i liked and still do.

HOWEVER, since posting this, I’ve received many messages and warning about his work I wanted to put this warning at the top for people to read ALL the comments at the end of this article about John before following his advice.  This is not first hand knowledge from me, so I am leaving the post up, but please consider the comments and find out the truth before following this advice.

Ever hear about companies that were started on a shoestring? Well, there are more of them than you might think. In fact, most people would be surprised at the humble beginnings of what are now some of the largest businesses in the world.

Here’s a good trivia question: Name two giants of today’s technology industry that were literally started in a garage. Give up? Well, in 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen began writing a BASIC programming language for Altair computers out of a garage. They got a cpa review for free  expanded their repertoire and began creating products for the software market, specializing in operating systems for the growing personal computer industry. Their company, Microsoft, is now an industry icon. So is Apple, which believe it or not also originated in a garage—the very same garage where Steve Jobs and his partners built the first prototype of a personal computer that would later evolve into the highly popular Macintosh line. Since that time, Apple has grown from a struggling startup into a full-fledged industry staple employing nearly 50,000 workers and generating over 14 billion in annual revenue.

Other large companies which are well known today had equally humble origins. The Mattel toy company got its start in the 1940s when one of the founders of a small Southern California picture frame business was inspired to make doll furniture from leftover scraps of wood. In 1948, a young fisherman rented a storefront for $300 and opened a small bait & tackle fishing supply store which soon evolved into Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The moral of the story: you don’t necessarily need a lot of start-up capital and a large footprint to make it big. A good example is Brother Sewing Machines. In fact, a lot of people have misguided ideas about what it takes to start a business. The biggest key to success is not money or real estate at all—it is the dynamic combustion you get when you start with an idea and infuse that idea with the passion and drive to make it all work. By the way, here is a nice website: homes for sale in louisville KY. Yet some would-be entrepreneurs are slaves to their own misconceptions. Here are five of the most common myths you run into surrounding business start-ups:

Myth #1: You need a lot of employees.

Always remember that your best employee is you! At some point in time, it may be a good idea to do some aggressive hiring but be wary of doing too much too soon. What you need in the beginning is not quantity but quality. That quality comes from you and maybe those that are close to you. Many top corporations started out as family businesses. Involving your family in your business as joint owners can be a great idea because you automatically start out with a leadership team which is dedicated, dependable, and trustworthy. And they are also personally vested in the business. The largest management expense in any business is usually employee salaries. So keep these as low as possible, especially in the beginning stages of the business venture.

Myth #2: You need to do everything yourself.

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Just because you don’t have a lot of employees, don’t think you need to fly completely solo either. You can’t do it all yourself and lurking in the background is always a burnout danger which you don’t want to be messing with. But there are smart ways of finding help. For one thing, you can outsource certain functions of your business (for example, marketing automation, a telemarketing list and phone support) to skilled yet relatively inexpensive specialists. In general, it is always smarter and cheaper to contract a function out as opposed to taking on permanent employees. You aren’t stuck with someone on your payroll and you have the flexibility of matching your costs to job performance.

Another good rule of thumb to consider when it comes to outside help is enlisting partnerships. When you hire an employee, they give you their time in return for their salary. But when you take on a partner, you get not only his time but also his personal commitment to the venture because he is vested in the business like you are.

Myth #3: The obstacles you see in front of you are immovable.

Make no mistake: there will always be roadblocks. But the true entrepreneur is the person who can find ways around them or through them. Very often the obstacles you see are more movable than you think. Remember, almost anything can be negotiated. Successful bartering is a skill, to be sure. But it is a skill worth learning and practicing.

Myth #4: You need to keep things the same and always stick to the way you do things.

One of the most prominent traits of a successful business is an ability to reinvent itself. When Netflix started out, it was strictly a mail-order business, where DVDs were mailed to customers. Yet its founders chose the name Netflix because they foresaw that eventually movies would be delivered over the Internet. They were astute enough to realize that change is inevitable and that their company would need to adapt to an ever-changing market. Never assume you can stay stuck in the sand. Flexibility is essential. Remember, your creativity is what you relied on to start your business so keep relying on it to carry you through.

Myth #5: Money is the motivator.

If your principal passion is the lure for the buck, then you will probably fail. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who start a business in a field they are already passionate about. To these people, financial profit is secondary. The pride and satisfaction of achievement in something they really care about is what drives them and in turn drives their customers to them. Successful business people also realize the value of free giveaways. Sure, some profit is lost initially but the long-term gain in terms of buzz about their product and word-of-mouth publicity more than makes up for it. When people do something primarily because of a love and passion for what they do, success usually follows in a business start-up.

Creating and developing a business often leads to wealth. But it doesn’t have to start out that way. Despite common misperceptions, the keys to success don’t lie in startup capital but instead in large doses of passion, perseverance, and dedication. Once you know the common myths and are able to debunk them, the road to success as an entrepreneur can become a whole lot clearer.

John is a veteran of over two decades in the advertising industry. He has published extensively on branding and now shares his thoughts and works in logo design.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 11 Comments »

Guest Post at WorkHappyNow.com: Recognizing Talent!

May 12th 2011

I have written a guest post about recognizing talent for Karl at WorkHappyNow.com.  It is called,

5 Ways to Recognize and Utilize Talent

Karl runs a great blog there and one with so many excellent tips about enjoying your work and work related improvements, I definitely encourage each of you to not only read my guest post there, but explore his site some more as well.  I have featured many of Karl’s posts in my resource lists and he continues to provide great content and will definitely help you enjoy your work more!!  Please join me with any comments at the linked page above.

Posted by Mike King under Business | Comments Off on Guest Post at WorkHappyNow.com: Recognizing Talent!

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