I’ve got to get this off my chest, as I’ve recommended it to so many people over the past few months. Whether you are a recent graduate or an executive with many years of experience, blogging and tweeting are optimal ways to let the people who care about you to keep in the loop and to help you better. I have also helped people to make more impact among highly connected people by providing “scenarios,” a different package of information that’s easier to remember. Read on for quick outlines of these techniques.
How Job Hunters or Fundraisers Can Be Valuable to Executives
When you are fundraising for a startup or you are hunting for a job, you are intensely focused on a particular kind of market. You have offerings, and you are exploring how those offerings play within that market at a particular time under certain conditions. Most “job search” methods are hopelessly outdated because their underlying premise is that you are a worker who is looking for a slot that demands certain skills. This is Industrial Economy baggage. In the Knowledge Economy, things are more fluid and entrepreneurial.
More specifically, you are talking with people and rapaciously consuming information that will help you to meet the market. You are a market researcher and an entrepreneur. You are a machine for insights about that market’s needs, and you have a point of view. This information can be immensely interesting and/or valuable to the executives and knowledge workers in your network.
To maximize learning and effectiveness, you need to keep track of the significance of your interactions, so you can see patterns and adjust your approach. Do it publicly by blogging [update: summarizing generally why you met with the person, what you learned, thereby creating an online, public job search journal, without using names], just omitting the small portion of what you learn that’s really personal to you or proprietary (in many cases, this will be 10% max, if you doubt it, Google keywords or use LinkedIn Advanced Search to reveal how little is really that private).
All the people who want to help you need to be able to dial in when they want, just like they hit your Wall in Facebook or your Twitter stream to catch up quickly. If you had an information interview with someone two months ago, don’t you want to give her the opportunity to dial in later to check your progress [update: by reading your journal]? It’s highly likely that someone who has given of their time to help you will want to keep up with you. You and they have invested time and attention to have the call or meeting. Leverage it! For a more detailed treatment of the value of using your blog as a “public journal,” see David Teten’s and Scott Allen’s The Virtual Handshake. Don’t overlook the Executive’s Guide’s quick guide to blogging.
For example, let’s say you are a designer or a supply chain executive. The designer will have all kinds of thoughts on how design is used in many different situations. The supply chain professional will encounter supply chain transformation on many levels (yes, the glass pipe is finally happening, albeit painfully ,^). How do these things affect your career plans or the people you’re talking to?
Finally, think about your blog outside your job search or capital raise. When you get the job or the Series A, you will still want to be connected to the people who have helped you. Therefore, have a category called “Jobsearch” or “Fundraising” and file these stories under that. Remind readers that they can subscribe to that category or tag via RSS. Be available in a granular way.
I realize that most professionals will not like this idea because job search is not something people like to be public about. However, think about this: job search is a journey that everyone knows, whether they relish it or not. By sharing parts of your journey and insights, you are giving people a new way to connect with you, to care. It can be quite inspirational. How you do this, and how much you share, are totally up to you and your personal style.
For a recent example of job search blogging, see Jacob Cynamon’s new blog, which just launched this week.
To help others who read this, please leave excellent examples of job search bloggers in comments.
Obviously, tweeting is a more on-the-scenes, real-time version of blogging. Use the EGTW Value Vectors to decide how to tweet. Definitely set up Twitterfeed to feed blog posts to your Twitter feed. Picture this tweet: “waiting to meet with prof at Institute of Design to talk about personal space in commercial aircraft.” Then you blog about the conversation, which flatters the professor and shares your insights. Supply chain tweet: “awesm article on analytics that looks like can boost velocity 20% [include link].”
Resumes and CVs Do Not Apply: Use Scenarios
Resumes are an outdated 20th century artifact, a holdover of “bodies in slots.” Sure, everyone needs to have one, but they are too much information to be really interesting for people who could help you (how many thousands have Kellogg or Booth MBAs? Not very distinguishing, although very valuable later in a job conversation). Here I have to qualify my remarks. Most EGTW readers are knowledge workers and executives who have some awareness of the strategic value of their “jobs” to the organizations they want to serve. At the management or expert level, you are focused on how your job or company moves the value needle. You realize, also, that you add more value under certain conditions.
Let’s focus on your customer a minute. S/He is a harried executive/manager. Too many contacts, too much information. But very connected and in a river of information, relationships and opportunity. How do you stand out? Engage his/her imagination of several levels:
- Mission: what you want to do and why. Why is it personally and professionally meaningful for you to have this goal? What does it mean to you? If this is “more than a job” to you and you can communicate its importance, the other person will pay more attention.
- Business context: are you more valuable in emerging situations or mature markets? After mergers? Clawing market share from established competitors? New product launches? Picking up after failure? You get the idea.
- Unusual skill combinations: chef and supply chain executive, chess and interior designer… but understand how the mashup makes you more valuable. Be honest. Look on LinkedIn for those keywords and see how many others have them in similar combinations or contexts.
- Roles: the scope of what you want to do, including results you want to produce, why you will be important to the org or market.
These are the components of the “scenario.” Scenarios are 3-5 sentences long, and note they include strategy/importance/context coupled with the role. Scenarios are small chunks that engage an executive’s mind on several levels and are easier to remember. Do two or three of them. Share continuously, have them on the blog as sticky posts or a static page.
Let people keep up through your blog. Put its URL everywhere (handbill, email signature, business card, label pin, resume, the side of your car.. ,^)
Let me close with a disruptive thought. In the Industrial Economy, things changed much more slowly than now because information flowed slowly. It was a matter of “fitting in” to slots that were available. The Knowledge Economy runs much faster on a pervasive network. In a pervasive network, the specialist is more employable. If you are too general, no one remembers you. This feels counterintuitive to most executives who have been taught they have to fit into some box.
Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to talk about what you really want. You’ll be more memorable and engaged at a higher level. The trade-off is, you have to overcome the fear that people won’t want you. If there’s a market need (there always is, you just have to recognize it), and you engage people around it who could employ you, or who know people who could, you’ll get the job faster by being focused, and you’ll be more satisfied.
Please share your thoughts!