Learning to network

February 16, 2007

Its not just about SEO, its also a good habit

Filed under: Publishing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:28 am

Frequently we bemoan commercialisation, because it dilutes principles that we hold in high regard. Chasing the dollar, we say, makes us focus on vulgar distortions, loosing the original beauty of our intentions. Well, in some cases the opposite is actually true.

I found this article interesting not because I want to improve the SEO ranking of my content, but because it suggests doing things that you should be doing anyway. Because search engines rank content that is well constructed, simply, relevant and clearly marked up, they favour pages that are well put together.

http://www.cmswatch.com/Feature/150-SEO-and-Your-CMS

February 13, 2007

More of my own sins

Filed under: Publishing, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 9:29 am

No, my conscience has not suddenly developed a perspective – I was not the one who worked out these were other sins, I have merely recognised myself as a perpetrator.

Lorelle on WordPress has made a fine wish for this new year – “Things I Want Gone from the Web in 2007“. She eloquently explains why her individual gripes are bad, and what individuals can do about them.

Unfortunately, I have fallen foul to one of these demons, Link Spawning. I profess innocence – my WordPress editor would offer me the choice “open link in this window, or open in new window”, so of course I chose new window so the reader would not find themselves inadvertently take away from my site. However, Lorelle quite rightly says that readers are not as stupid as you might think, they know how to go “back” or to open content in new windows on their own.

Its not our job to mollycoddle people and guide them in browser usage – merely to deliver content that interests, engages and enthuses them. I am grateful for Lorelle’s “call to simplicity”, because it is easy to become overwhelmed by the cool features you hear others talk about, and start to feel insignificant if your own blog does not include them. But, lets face it – if you want to educate users about how to improve their interface-experience in the blogosphere, write a post, or even a whole blog about it – but don’t overload your blog with tools that treat your readers like fools.

February 8, 2007

Make yourself easy prey for any “sourcers”

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 5:26 pm

Sourcers are more like traditional headhunters than regular recruiters, they go out to try and find the ideal person for a role, rather than searching their existing database of CVs. Shally Stekerl and (six degrees from) Dave Mendoza have recently started a business called JobMachine, sharing their sourcing secrets with recruiters. In the post StlRecruiting: JobMachine Interview: Sourcers Extraordinaire we find some usefuls suggestion for people who are hoping to be “sourced” at some point in the future.

Whereas recruiters publicised their requirements and extracts from job descriptions, in the hope of attracting potential candidates, sourcers are far more pro-active. Therefore there is not point in contacting sourcers, because you cannot know what they are interested in. Instead Shally offers the following advice

7) How can I, as a candidate, improve my chances of getting “found” online by a sourcer?

Create an online presence that clearly details your expertise, aspirations
and how to contact you. Make sure that online presence is listed or linked
to places relevant to your industry.

This follows on very well from the sound advice many career consultants offer. They say we should define our ideal role, to help us take specific specific actions to find where such opportunities exist. Now the sourcers are adding the advice to disclose that information about our ideal role. If we share it publicly, then sourcers can find it, and of course prospetive employers can know when they have found someone who could well be just that person they were looking for. Maybe this is a case where your wish is more likely to come true if you tell other people what you wished for.

I finally know how to introduce myself

Filed under: Manage my network, Self-marketing, Social Media — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 4:56 am

I have just come across something very curious, but oddly enough it really does work. 15SecondPitch is a site with a little five step wizard that guides you through creating yourself a personal introduction. And amazingly enough it comes out just like they promise – concise, compelling and conversational. OK I will admit that the first one I did was only about 80% compelling, but that’s still about 75% more than if I had tried to make one up myself! But I am sure they will only get better as try more, or edit this first one.

One thing I couldn’t understand whilst stepping through the wizard filling in the boxes was “how on earth are they going to turn this into a concise pitch?”. But then, after the 5th step, it displays a simulated business card with the pitch written on it. It was word for word what I had written – my answers from the five steps one after another. Obviously the clever bit is in the way they structure and ask the questions, and it seems to work like magic.

Now the site does have a few other features for “networking” (searching and connecting) between the users. This seems somewhat out of place, in my mind, although I can kind of see why they are trying to do this. I know this sounds like “oh my goodness – yet another profile!” but with powerful little pitches like this, it helps you evaluate the other people on the system very quickly indeed.

Incidentally, they have a “google yourself” box on their homepage and I was amazed to see that my simple name brings up my LinkedIn profile at number 6, and with my middle initial in, I get #1 ranking with my Squidoo lens. Wow, that’s so powerful that I had better get on and put some decent content in there.

But hey, both alternatives of my name give me first page ranking. Who’d have thought it, hey. Personal Branding, here I come ๐Ÿ™‚

February 6, 2007

Reach out to more readers – fit in with their rhythm

Filed under: Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 9:08 pm

Everybody has their favourite time and place for reading. Some people like to wander gently through crisp web pages, some like readers that aggregate by subject and bring new items to their attention, and others want to get every post slapped in their face via email. We each prefer our own personal rhythm for reading, so we would do well to adapt to the habits of our audience when we write.

You guessed it, I’m talking about that 9th deadly sin, “making it hard to subscribe”. And subscribing is not limited to RSS, but can just as easily apply to email too. It might not be your favourite way to read blogs, but why should you cut off potential readers just because they have not yet gotten the hang of feed readers (or because business pressures have them intavenously attached to their inbox). (more…)

February 5, 2007

Successful blogging is simple if you keep at it

Filed under: Blogroll, Publishing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 8:26 pm

SiteProNews published a list of the 10 Blogging Sins that can help you be succesful by avoiding common pitfalls.

10. Sending Mixed Messages
9. Making It Hard to Subscribe
8. Inconsistent Posting
7. No Contact Info
6. Not Moderating Comments
5. Excessive Advertising
4. Not Linking to Posts
3. Dark Background, Light Text
2. No Search Box
1. Hiding Navigation

My defence for committing a couple of these is “well they are not all deadly”, as I am not aiming to do this professionally, nor is my readership extensive. But they are all very sound advice, and there’s no excuse for not starting off on the right foot.

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Market to the eyes, not to the fingers

Filed under: Publishing, Self-marketing, TTD — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 7:40 pm

When I first set this blog up I clearly had a very different mindset. I guess I was used to finding neat abbreviations that meant something, yet did not take too long to type out. Since then I have clued in to the fact that only geeks or morons type out any kind of URL by hand, and the rest of humanity use the venerable click to reach their destination. And what I have noticed myself is that the eye is in almost complete control of the arm-move-finger-click reflex (except when strong passions pull rank, or small children and pets arrive at the desk).

I have just read my own signature (it is healthy to check your own reflection, from time to time) and was disappointed by my own lack of branding expertise. Take a look at the following two lines: although they point to the same content, which do you think is clearer, bolder and therefore more likely to draw interest from the pointing finger?

Blog: http://learnet.WordPress.com/
Feed: http://feeds.FeedBurner.com/LearningToNetwork

Maybe a learnet is some kind of bird, a distant cousin to the egret? No? In any case, few people are going leave their eyes there long enough to work out the convoluted abbreviation of learning to network. That’s called learning the hard way!

For some reason I’m suddenly seeing my own work with a very critical eye, and I have also noticed that my chosen WordPress theme does not work so well with multiple blog posts in a single day. The date has higher contrast, and therefore appears more prominent than the title of the post. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up this rate of posting, but I will have to find a way to make the all important copy in the title appear more clearly.

Shucks! If only everybody read the feeds ๐Ÿ˜‰

Download a great online business networking book for free!

Filed under: Learning, Manage my network, Publishing, Social Media, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:53 pm

Tidying up some odds and ends I came across this link. “Oh my goodness!” … I can’t believe I never posted it here before. I have just checked, and although I have mentioned Scott Allen and a couple of his blog posts, I have never mentioned his book “The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online”.

This is a great introduction to online business networking, and it carefully explains a whole range of social networking tools and techniques. For the beginner it is a valuable companion, but even if you already know about “web 2.0” tools, his summary of the features and benefits still helps put them into perspective, and maybe give you a new view on something you had previously taken for granted.

And the best thing of all is that, for the time being at least, he has published the PDF to download for free. Well worth the read – Get “The Virtual Handshake” Free!

Standard CVs part 2 – the jobseeker’s holy grail?

Filed under: career, Self-marketing, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:28 pm

Following on from my last post on standardised CVs, I managed to dig out the link for resume standards I saw in a post from Bill Vick. He mentioned the HR-XML Consortium.

I discovered that I was not the only person musing about how much better the jobseeker’s world would be if only there were a simple, unified way of marking up the content in CVs – Sara Moss recently wrote Staffing Technology: Portable resumes. However, the reality of the situation might be slightly less rosy. For a more pragmatic view on the obstacles holding us back from curriculum nirvana, see Chuck Allen’s reply HR-XML blog ยป Portable Resumes.

After all, we are all individuals, and every person’s resume should convey their own personality, capabilities, and even brand. All of this becomes rather difficult to quantify in standardised terms. Yes you can measure quantities in an XML schema, but will it allow a candidate’s qualities to truly shine through.

Still, dreaming about informatic ideals is obviously a part of my individuality, and is a quality that helps me add some measure of positive change into the activities I carry out, so I’m not going to stop just yet.

February 2, 2007

Pitching XING and LinkedIn head to head (round 1)

Filed under: LinkedIn, Manage my network — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:10 pm

So today was my first opportunity to do some comparative analysis between these two networking tools.

I received an invitation to a business seminar from a Xing emailgroup, and although you “don’t get ‘owt for nowt”, my up-front costs are a couple of hours one evening, so I decided to accept. I trust its not one where they lock the doors ๐Ÿ˜‰ , so I’ll be free to leave if I feel uncomfortable, and I can just repeat the mantra “don’t sign anything” to ward off evil contracts. Anyhow, I digress, this event is also posted up in Xing which leads to some useful benefits for a virtual networker who is looking to try a little physical networking.

Of course in this first round of the match, you must bear in mind that my LinkedIn profile has many more connections than my Xing profile, but as you’ll see that might be symptomatic of how easy LinkedIn makes it to find your real-world connections.
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