Help Me Help You: Tell Me What You WANT To Do Next and WHERE You Want To Do It

22 04 2011

Now that I’ve wrapped up my first 2 weeks in my new role as a full-time employee for FILTER, a digital solutions agency for staffing and creative services in San Francisco (and Seattle, LA, Portland), it’s finally time for me to put this request in writing because, quite frankly, helping people connect with employers in my new job pretty much depends on it. JessicaMillerMerrell.com birds

When I meet you out and about at an event, on a BART train, in line at Specialty’s or at a board meeting, please tell me NOT what you’ve done, but what you really WANT to do next and WHERE you want to do it. Give me a few titles or roles I can remember and a few company names I can latch onto so I can keep an eye out for them when I’m out there doing my thing.

And for those in both Seattle and San Francisco, be sure to tell me where you DO NOT want to work as well. We all have our lists of both, so don’t be coy and act like you’ll take any job because, even as bad as things have been, we all know that unemployment has been a much more desirable option than taking a job at a place with a commute that’ll kill you and/or destroy your relationships, or at a place like “the Death Star” (don’t ask).

If you’re worried that you’re limiting yourself by this, when you go to your next event, or send your next “I’d like to meet for coffee to reconnect” email, be sure to tell that person 2-3 different roles and/or company names so you can plant a variety of seeds in your garden. Help them help you! 🙂

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How NOT to network in 2011

1 01 2011

Since so many people have “I will do more networking this year” on their New Year’s resolutions lists, I had to share this:

Here is an example of something I categorize as “leveraging the useless.” I’m also including my explanation of why this type of communication is useless to the sender as well as the receiver. The names have been changed to protect the innocent clueless.Clueless Networking

This message came from someone I’ve never met, referencing someone I barely know, and requesting an intro to someone fairly close to me, as well as someone I protect from inquiries just like this (as she does for me).  This message came into my LinkedIn messages Inbox.

On 11/28/10 3:49 PM, David Paul wrote:
——————–
Sandy,

I just had coffee with Wayne Lunky today as a followup from a seminar he did at his church on job search tips.

He highly recommended your book – ‘I’m at a Networking Event – Now What???’ to me.

I was wondering if you could introduce me to Mary Lorenzo at Expedia so I could learn more about the ‘Business Development’ opportunities they have.

Thank you for your help,

David Paul

——————–

That’s it?! Oh, sure. Let’s imagine what he thinks I should do on his behalf:

Call or email my contact and say, “Hey Mary, I don’t know this person, I barely know the person he referenced, but he apparently wants me to ask you to make time to talk to him about whatever opportunities might exist at your company in an area you have nothing to do with. Is it OK if I give him all your contact info? Oh, and since he’s acquainted with the guy I barely know via something at his church, he must be OK and totally worthy of your referring him into your company for a job and associating yourself with him.”

REALLY?! What I want to know is who is advising people to “network” this way? (He certainly did NOT read MY book!) There are so many things wrong with this I’ll get a headache if I have to go through them, so I’ll just go with the most basic:

The definition of the word “network” according to The Oxford Dictionary is:

nétwerk n. & v. a group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes.

We can then define networking as one’s efforts to create a group, and the key word in the above definition is EXCHANGE.

So, if you’re doing the “ask,” and there’s not even an attempt to at least offer an exchange of some type of future assistance, it’s definitely best to find another way to get to a very distant connection’s contact.

Please feel free to share this post wherever you think it might be seen by people who need this basic business savvy info. Thank you!

Additional note: Even The Onion has something to say about what they refer to as “nonconcensual networking.” CLICK HERE for a chuckle.
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Thank You Notes 101

14 12 2010

“Thank You Notes 101” is the title I decided to give this blog post because it’s better for SEO, but I really wanted to name it “Why Bother With Thank You Notes” or “Thank You Notes and then some…”

I know a lot of folks think that thank you notes are more in the realm of etiquette, but I believe they are not only a sign that someone has good manners, they also indicate what I refer to as “basic business savvy.” Not much else creates the same impression or positive social capital as a well-written, genuine and timely thank you note. (Earlier this year, I even wrote about a “Best Thank You Note Contest” I came across.)

I’ve always found that the end of the year is a great time to turn the “To Do” of holiday card writing into an enjoyable gratitude exercise and use it to write personal thank you notes to:

  • Clients
  • Business/referral partners
  • Vendors
  • Managers
  • Employees
  • Neighbors
  • Others

Write a thank you note in your holiday card
Try to make sure your notes include sentiments like the ones I’ve used or have received over the years:

“I am proud that you think so highly of Bella Domain that you recommended our services to one of your clients. Many thanks for your thoughtfulness.”

“I hardly know how to express my gratitude for your assistance; without it, the deal would never have closed.”

“Your kindness and responsiveness during a very stressful time were deeply appreciated.”

“Words cannot express the heartfelt thanks of my team. Your assistance was invaluable.”

“I was so glad you were able to attend. Your insightful questions helped put the client’s challenges in a whole new light.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to learn the ropes from a real rock star like you.”

“My time is your time – anytime.”

“You were very kind to take time to meet with me about developers. I hope to have the opportunity to return the favor when you’re ready to talk about your launch.”

“The gift of time is priceless. Thanks for the countless hours you devoted to the WITI proposal.”

“We think you have just redefined ‘above and beyond.’ The presentation deck was more than anyone could have imagined.”

“I know you had to put aside some important projects to complete the proposal deck. I just wanted to tell you how much it meant to us. Please use this gift card to take your team out on our behalf.”

“Your efforts added a new dimension to the scope of our upcoming social media project. Thanks for being there when it mattered.”

“I just wanted to let you know that I never take clients for granted. I will do everything possible to continue to deserve your business.”

“Many things have changed since we started doing business together. One thing has not: I value our relationship and will do all I can to strengthen it in the coming year.”

In lieu of a gift

Now, granted, some of the vendors or employees you’re thanking might prefer, and even warrant, a gift card along with the note (see below). However, when you can’t afford gifts, or it’s not appropriate because of a corporate policy, a well-written thank you note creates a lasting impression and is often posted up on a bulletin board and glanced at all year long.  I recently read that President Clinton advised Oprah to write thank you notes in letterform and kept to a single page so they’d be easier for the recipient to frame and hang on a wall. Not exactly what I’m talking about here, but it proves my point. People hang onto thank you notes and the gratitude or recognition within them.

When I managed a large team of what I like to affectionately refer to as “junior mints” (either directly or indirectly), as the VP of Research Operations at a past employer in Chicago, each year-end I would take time throughout the month of December to personalize a holiday card for each member of my staff. I couldn’t afford to buy them each a gift, but I could take the time to write a note thanking them for specific things they’d done during the year or to recognize their unique talents and contributions to the company.  I knew the notes were received as I’d hoped when I would still see them hanging on the cube or office walls of the recipients long after the holidays had past and into the next year.Thank you notes on a cubicle wall

So why not take some time this year to write thank you notes/holiday cards and put some thought into how specific people have helped you in your business, career or life in 2010 and tell them how grateful you are that they’re in your network? You’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel when you write them and how much good karma you’ll experience once you pass them onto the deserving recipients.

When a gift is appropriate

One word of caution though, if you have biz or referral partners that have sent revenue generating business, or other types of significant opportunities your way, think very carefully about what else you could do to show your gratitude this year. If you haven’t reciprocated or offered them some form of trade, well, that’s just bad business savvy. And, if you’re not sure how you can reciprocate or what they might value in trade, simply ASK THEM.

BTW, as a biz owner you’re allowed gift allowances as a business expense (here’s a WomenEntrepreneur.com article covering this), so if you don’t have a formal referral program in place (which I recommend), or don’t extend some form of a gesture of thanks other than an email, you just might see fewer opportunities or leads sent your way next year.  I’m just saying…..
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Learning to Love LinkedIn Tip #9

8 10 2010

If you’re a business owner (big or small), and didn’t know you could create a Company Profile on LinkedIn, I’m here to tell you you can and it’s time! You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 or even Inc. 500 company to have a profile there. They’ve made it easy for all businesses to do so as long as you have an email that corresponds to your business name (this is important for authentication). You can add a description of your business, headquarters location, website, Twitter name, specialties and more. Here’s the straight scoop from LinkedIn’s help section:

How do I add a Company Profile on LinkedIn?

Only current employees are eligible to create a company profile. In order to create a Company Profile, you would need to provide a registered, company-owned email domain. This unique domain name would appear in all company employee email addresses following the “@” symbol (e.g., tsmith@companyname.com). Common email domains such as yahoo.com, gmail.com, hotmail.com or others cannot be used in the creation process of a Company Profile because they are not unique to an individual company. The requirement of a unique domain name also supports an authentication process built into the feature that allows authenticated company employees to edit the Company Profile information in order to keep it current.

If you have a registered, company-owned email domain, you can add a Company Profile by taking the following steps:

  1. Click on “Companies” found under “More” in the top navigation bar of your home page.
  2. Click on the “Add a Company” link found in the upper right area of the page.
  3. Type in your company’s official name and your email address at the company on the “Company Name and Email” page. If your email address is already tied to an email domain for an existing Company Profile, you will be prompted to click on the existing Company name to edit the Profile.
  4. If your company email address is not a confirmed email address on your LinkedIn account, a confirmation email will be sent to the company email address. The email text will give you a link to log in to your LinkedIn account. Be sure to log in to LinkedIn with your current primary email address. This will confirm your email address and add the email address to your account.
  5. If your email address is confirmed, you will be taken to the “Create a Company” page that will allow you to enter information about your company.
  6. Click on “Create a Company” once you have completed the required fields.

If you do not have a registered company owned email address to create a Company Profile you may still create a group to promote your business.

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Learn to Love LinkedIn Tip #1

24 03 2010

Make a practice of regularly scanning the LinkedIn status updates of your network in order to keep an eye out for opportunities, expressions of interest or stated needs where you might be able to offer help. I note needs like:

Job candidates needed
Spread the word or re-post requests
Vendor resources requests, etc.

It’s a great way to practice pay-it-forward style networking and is something I see reciprocated more often than I ever expected. I use about 10-15 minutes each day to complete this worthwhile task.

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Networking help – it’s everywhere!

9 02 2010

I keep coming across great content on effective connecting/networking out there, and since I have some serious Valentine’s Day spirit already I thought I’d spread some linking love around. Enjoy and please share the love with people you know that could use some networking food for thought!

Learn from Kalpesh’s mistakes.

The Art of Networking (Not Just) For College Grads.

A blog post for SPU students.

Networking Tips for 2010.

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Why a Climate Policy Primer?

29 04 2009

Because crafting a comprehensive climate bill will be on the table in the coming weeks as our elected officials in WDC start debating climate policy legislation, President Obama no doubt knew that he needed to break it down in simple terms in his Earth Day speech for Congress, as well as the masses. Clearly, it’s critical that our elected officials thoroughly understand what’s involved, and, if you, like me, don’t want to just hope for the best on this, why not send them something to help educate them?

What you ask? Thanks to the SVP event we attended last night, that was hosted by Aaron Fairchild of G2B Ventures, I have just the thing….

The brilliant folks at Sightline Institute already wrote, and have made available, a handy Climate Policy Primer doc you can download via the link below for forwarding to your state representatives. It’s called, “Cap and Trade 101: A Climate Policy Primer.”  Check it out and please spread the word!

Download:

cap-trade_101_climate_policy_primer

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