Learning to network

February 20, 2009

How to create the best profile picture

Filed under: career, Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:37 pm

Having done plenty of work on the written elements of my personal brand, its now time to take a look at … well … how I can look my best? Because online networking is so common nowadays it really helps to publish a picture wherever you write, which aims to serve two primary purposes:

  • People who know you recognise you instantly
  • People who don’t know you yet begin to get a great impression of you

And actually, these two things can meet together in a third, combined purpose

  • People who know you remember you in a positive way

We are so used to picking up visual signals when we deal with people that a tiny static image next to something we write can have a tremendous impact on the way that people feel about us when we read it. This is why it is so important to get your profile picture looking as good as you possibly can.

There are two elements to getting a great profile picture – having the right image, and publishing it well. There are actually two great articles on the Personal Branding Blog that can help you do this:

  1. To get yourself the ideal picture to start with, have a look at 11 Rules for Best Personal Branding Results with Avatars
  2. Once you have captured the best of you in a file, here are precise “mechanical” instructions for how to prepare that file for upload so you look the best you can on all the popular social media sites: The 2009 Personal Avatar Size Reference Guide
    . And even better, it explains a tool you can use to do all the hard work for you!

January 15, 2009

Do you want your resume to be fancy, or just plain findable?

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 1:21 am

I am updating my personal profile and CV, and part of this is my list of Specialities. Naturally I want to create the best possible impression, but perhaps I should actually consider compromising some of my principles.

Because I see my list of specialities as about “doing things”, I think that Verbs make the point most clearly, and I always prefer to use plain language when I can

for example:
 – implementing systems
 – defining requirements

However most people seem to write resumes and job specifications using nouns

 – systems implementation
 – requirement definition

These are not plain language, nor do they have the feeling of action – they are static and staid. Also they are slighty longer and and actually more difficult to get your mouth around if your read them out loud. I just feel that the verb versions are simpler and better.

However, the modern dynamics of curriculum vitae, resumes and profiles is driven by a new imperative, “findability”. It is becoming increasingly rare for a resourcing manager or recruitment consultant to discuss key roles with their contacts or thumb through their rolodex or file of quality personnel. Nowadays it is far more likely that they will search through a series of online resources looking for good keyword matches.

In other words, your online career profile must have good SEO.

You may be able to rely on some of the recruiters’ search portals having sensible thesauruses, but at the end of the day you are more likely to score hits if you include the same precise terms in your profile as the ones that recruiters are looking for.

January 8, 2009

One-trepreneur: running a Company Of One

Filed under: career — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 4:12 pm

Towards the end of last year I considered starting a business. Following some valuable conversations with other entrepreneurs I made the choice to stick at being a company of one, for the time being. The simple reason is that, for now, I choose to place my parental responsibilities higher than any other responsibilities to employees to a larger customer base or to official authorities.

I’m sure you can understand how I could get far more pleasure from teaching my four young children new games, activities and skills, rather than sweating day and night laser-focused on building a successful business. The fact is that right now they’re all at an age where they enjoy and crave my attention, and there’ll be plenty of time for me to think about commercial growth once they’ve all turned into teenagers and turned their backs on uncool old dad.

So I plan to focus on client projects as a skilled individual resource, making a singular commitment as a professional rather than spreading myself as business owner over a wider range of responsibilities. However that does not mean to say that I don’t desire to learn and develop my company of one. In fact there are plenty of areas in direction,marketing and in operations where it is important for me to improve and grow.

That is why I am choosing to be a Onetrepreneur, an enterprising business focused around a single person.

December 4, 2008

Growing by blogging

Filed under: career, Learning, Manage my network, Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media — Tags: , , , , , — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 5:15 pm

Inspired by a discussion with Karin H. on her 1 plus 1 makes 3 blog about using blogging to grow, I started to think about all the things you can grow with a blog:

  1. To grow your own personal understand of a subject.
  2. According to Yogi Tea “To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach” – in other words the act of writing what you have learned consolidates it in your own knowledge. And of course in blogging the fact you share it with others is simply an act of generosity

  3. To grow your own personal awareness of the world
  4. This starts from the similar point 1 above, except that it leads blogging from monologue into dialogue. Your participation in the blogosphere, groups and lists means that you are interacting with the topic of your attention, and with other sharing similar interests, so your growth of understanding is accelerated.

  5. To grow a community of like-minded individuals
  6. This extends from point 2 to focus exclusively on a given topical area, and many people share the podium instead of one. This either becomes a group blog or it could be based on other media such as mail lists.

  7. To grow your own individual career
  8. Rather than focussing on self-education under point 2, this becomes more informative and the conversations exploratory.  This is of course the art of personal branding, where you turn yourself into a thought leader in your chosen subject by sharing your wisdom (at least that which you’re prepared to give away for free) and nurturing communications with people in your same field

  9. To grow your own business
  10. This could be similar to 1 or 2, but the objective is more commercially oriented.

  11. To grow the market’s awareness of your business proposition
  12. Like the personal branding in point 4, this is the commercial branding that helps get your message out.

  13. To grow a community around loyal customers and interested prospects
  14. Perhaps this is the true way forward for growing your business by blogging. You give your prospects free information to help them make their choice. This encourages you to distinguish yourself by making your proposition more enticing or even “remarkable”. And at the same time you nurture a community that includes existing customers as well as potential customers, who can all give you very direct feedback about what they want, what they have liked, and what they would love more of.

Of course all this potential for growth relies on people making time to share their ideas with others, so there is a cost. But if you think about the nature of the relationships you can build within the micro-communities that form around you, that sounds like an excellent investment in your future.

November 4, 2008

Standing on the brink…

Filed under: career — Tags: , , — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 9:19 pm

What is it about Novembers? It was just two short years ago, in November 2006, that I decide I needed a change of pace, started learning about networking, blogging, personal branding and myriad other ways to find my feet in the world (yes even 40 years on) and carve a niche for myself (or gouge my existing one deeper).

Having successfully made that transformation and enjoying its fruits, I am now teetering, slightly fearfully, on the edge of another potential major transformation and considering whether I really want to start up a business. OK, so I’m not talking about giving up a day job in one market and going out chasing a dream in something completely new, I’m merely talking about a step change from being a consultant to owning a consultancy, and starting it in the market I already know and love.

What concerns me is the idea of sacrificing the nice steady (as steady as contractors can ever be) pace of income in order to chase after something based on some feelings and desires about what should be possible. The upside is an ever expanding experience where I am the person who defines my own limits in life, and where I am constantly driven to new experiences and marvelous discoveries. The downside is a father who no longer has time for his young children, his wife or himself, and who has used all his savings, shortcuts, belt-tighening and favours and is still clinging on to the dream because he’s “almost broken through” …

Interestingly enough fellow LinkedIn Blogger Scott Allen, a familiar name on this blog, has collected a great list of starting points for me to work out whether or not I’m really made of “the right stuff”, in his section Becoming an Entrepreneur.

I think there’s plenty of material in there that’ll help me decide whether I’m right for it, so now I guess the simple way for me to work out if its right for me (before taking the final plunge) is to speak to a few people who’ve done the “start up” thing themselves, and find out how they found the experience.

Any opinions? …

July 18, 2008

Upsizing your Personal Brand

Filed under: career, Self-marketing, think positive — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:59 pm

One of the issues I’ve always struggled with in the past is the fact that I am my own product, as a consultant I only have a certain number of hours in any given day that I can spend with clients and bill to them. Although there is often room to negotiate rates up, depending on the circumstances you move yourself into, this still a major limiting factor on ones income.

Well, if you are well-versed in how to identify, develop and project your own Personal brand, then the next logical step would be to grow this into a fledgling Corporate brand. All you need to do is to find a way to remove yourself from the critical path, or if you have already learnt to think big, remove your foot from the hosepipe. Whether you encourage trusted ex-colleagues to take on parts of your role, put yourself out of a job by developing a tool that does some of the wonderful things clients want without you needing to be there, sell some of your experience in the form of courses or books, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, you can find ways to accept more clients who will value the extra special something that is behind your USP.

It all comes down the the notion that we are the people who set our own limitations – if you can just encourage yourself to think that little bit bigger, then the sky becomes your limit!

May 5, 2008

Who is striving to fill the need for Private Social Networks?

Filed under: Privacy, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 1:45 pm

In his article Is “My Dow Network” a “Social Network”, Dennis McDonald describes a series of reasons for a company to want to offer the social networking experience to a limited internal audience.

In the collaboration systems space there are plenty of examples of private platforms. Systems such as messaging, newsgroups, document sharing and information portals, and especially the old mainstay email are commonly used in a closed environment. Companies can supply them internally (or have hosted on their behalf) and they match well the need for internal consumption and privacy whilst allowing an interface to and from the outside world. But what about the particular dynamic that is fulfilled by online social networking?

Are there any social networking platforms that can host a private instance for clients who want such features in a ring-fenced social sphere?

Or are there any software providers or open source projects that allow companies or societies to deliver an internally housed service to their stakeholders?

And increasingly the more important questions will be:

  • how can such systems provide interfaces to leverage information, connections and features that already exist in external (or partner) social networks?
  • How could the private system allow a limited flow of information out into third parties, or onto the public domain?
  • What provision could there be to allow new joiners to import information, and individuals to retain a copy of information they might want to take elsewhere?

I’m afraid I don’t have any answers to these questions right now, and perhaps that’s a shame. After all, the bulk of our modern economy is based upon information, and unless the entire world of commerce turns around and says “nah, its just hype – there’s not really any lasting value in information about people, their relationships, and anything they share or transact!” then I’m certain there will be a lot of attention (and by consequence cash) being focussed in this area in the coming months and years.

March 13, 2008

Tell me again, why have I been nurturing my network?

Filed under: Manage my network — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:56 am

So I didn’t leave it until the last minute when I needed help, I grew and tended my network whilst the sun shone.
And I knew that one day the time would come when I needed to get something back from my network . . .
Now that day is here, how do I go about it?

In a great article, well worth keeping for that rainy day, Kent Blumberg explains some excellent tips on How to ask for help from your network, including:

  • improving the chances that someone in your network will give you precisely the information you need
  • ensuring that your request is received happily and painlessly by members of your network, so they become even more receptive to your requests for help in the future.

March 10, 2008

Four top reasons why clients hire Interim Managers

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 2:14 am

Executives Online have carried out a recent survey of the UK interim sector. They have included their findings in their New Interim Report, which draws together “Research and Analysis on the UK Market for Interim Management and Other Fast-Track Executive Resourcing”. It supplies an interesting range of facts, figures and evaluations that may be relevant to clients, but which are most definitely very pertinent to people who are looking to place themselves into interim roles.

Benefits of interims

For me, one of the most valuable findings concerned the reasons why clients chose to hire Interim Managers. Executives Online found that over two thirds of clients cited one of the following amongst the most important qualities of interim managers:

  1. Skills/experience for job
  2. Strategic but also implement (sic)
  3. Results focused
  4. Quickly get people on side

The report suggests that clients like to reduce risk by employing someone who’s “done it before” – obviously no great surprise there. However, once you understand the other key qualities clients appreciate, then it makes it easier to emphasise to them that you are capable of delivering.

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March 7, 2008

Where are you and what are you up to?

Filed under: Manage my network, Privacy, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:43 pm

I learned about new “location brokering” services such as Mk Loki and
Yahoo’s FireEagle through a thread in the LinkedInBloggers group. The following article gives a brief intro, in case this is a new idea to you: Information Brokering: MyLoki provides granular control of your location – O’Reilly Radar

Through the discussion it seemed that online business networkers would find this kind of information valuable, so that they could take those rare opportunities for face-to-face meetings when they suddenly found themselves to be in the same part of the world as someone else in their network. However the disadvantages appeared to be in planning a meeting with sufficient notice to get a common slot of free time.

This is where I considered the possibility of allowing your future personal free-busy information to be viewed by your network, along with your projected location – that way a system can easily hook you up with close matches amongst your first degree connections. And to be more sophisticated you could indicate which areas of your personal network were “hottest” for you right now, so it would allow a slightly more “fuzzy” match. After all, you might be prepared to switch your appointments or travel a little out of your way to go and see someone who’s in a line of business you’re particularly into right now.

Interesting idea but it begs the question, would you be prepared to publish information to your trusted business network about where you are planning to be and when you might be free?

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