Category Archives: Twitter

Career changers: 30 minute daily strategy

Can you afford not to?

For anyone embarking on a job search related to career change and developing what is now called a “personal brand” for the first time, I outline the steps and options involved using social networking. As I do so, I am always aware of two things. Faces turning ashen with panic and then groaning, as clients,  whether individually or in groups, mentally try to calculate how much time this process is going to take out of their already busy day. There is a reason it’s called net “working” (not net “vacationing”).  It is indeed a lot of work, it does take time and much of it is doing stuff people have never heard of before  (and wouldn’t choose to do if they had!) .

Authenticity
Today,  job search is personal, flexible and strategic. Sadly there is no template or blue print which can be reproduced, although guidelines can be given.  What works for one individual, will not work or sound authentic for another. The whole point of it is also to be unique and stand out, not to be a clone of your neighbour.  The learning process is  intuitive,  as we move away from the old style rigid approach. This does indeed makes life far harder for any job seeker today and it is time-consuming. However,  authenticity is key,   which is why we have to run, stroll or even crawl,  the hard yards for ourselves.

Strategic alliances
As recessionary thinking starts to hit us again after a very brief interlude of optimism,  the job market looks set to shrink.  Economic downturns touch even the brightest and the best. It’s imperative that developing a  personal brand  and raising visibility becomes a daily part of all job seekers’ routines –  before there is a crisis.  Social networking is a great way to supplement and enhance actual networking,  although ( and I stress)  not a substitute for it.

Simple basics
—Select a primary platform  – for most people this should be a professional network   (e.g. LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing)  to showcase career success stories and background. The largest English language one is LinkedIn for and anyone seeking a career in an international arena,  I would always advise a profile placed on this platform. — As a minimum I would suggest the following activity:

  • Send out 1 update daily to develop your reputation. If you have a blog so much the better,  otherwise any nugget of information that could be interesting taken from the press or other media related to your new function/sector. Twitter is a good source.
  • Post 1 comment in a LinkedIn group related to your target career.
  • Indentify and connect with 5- 10 new connections in your target sector – preferably ones you hope to meet in person.
  • Research companies in your target sector.

Connect with other platforms  – extend your reach via Twitter and Facebook which are becoming fast growing global job boards as the Like, Share and Tweet functions become a quick way to circulate job information. Employers are also strengthening their Employer brand on these platforms and offer increasing opportunities to inform and connect with job seekers. Trend spotters are suggesting that these 2 platforms will change the job search  landscape in 2012.   Although their figures are US-based, Europe is  usually only a few steps behind. Get ahead of the game. Even a British spy agency is seeking code-crackers via Twitter and Facebook.

  • Post content via Twitter.
  • Share content from others ( RT).
  • Comment on or “Like ” a blog or LinkedIn update.
  • Post an update or a note on Facebook.
  • Locate followers and friends that might be helpful to you.
  • Pay it forward  – share any new updates with your peers or other job seekers in your network.
  • Partially automate when you are busy. Bufferapp hits Twitter and Facebook. I would advise not to over do it  – engagement is key.
  • Filter out the white noise of LinkedIn updates using LinkedIn signal 

—One of the advantages of Social Networking is that it’s self scheduling  – so any of this can be fitted  around other activities and in a piece meal fashion. It’s a question of carving out 10 minutes of time, 3 times a day which may make a difference. Yes, initially it might take longer, but as skills are honed and knowledge acquired,  it can be whittled down to become  rapid fire productivity. Eventually you will think in terms of the time this is saving you.

 The real question is perhaps not if can you afford the time,  but can you afford the risk of not allocating those key minutes, in the current economic climate? If you don’t take time to plan now,  you may find you have  more leisure than you planned for  to live with the consequences.

I “link” therefore I exist! Modern connectivity

Drowning in the Google pool and sinking into oblivion

 Modern connectivity There was a time probably no more than 5 years ago, when I could do my job very effectively by going into my contact data base and simply picking up the phone. Those days are gone. In 2008, as world markets crashed taking many global businesses with them, millions lost their jobs and disappeared into the ether of unemployment. If, and when they resurfaced they were difficult to reach. The foundations of the way most of us did business crumbled beneath us, as we tried to find new ways to stay connected.

At the same time we saw a dramatic upturn in the use of social media, which heralded a new era for business generally and became especially valuable in the executive search and hiring process. Early adopters got a head start. Now it is less ” I think therefore I exist” but more ” I link therefore I exist”. We are in an age of super connectivity.

Google ranking
Many column inches have been written about online connections. The quality vs quantity discussion rages unabated and I’m not even going to get into that one. My simple point is that unless you are a high-ranking executive in publically registered company, or some sort of super star, with acres of media coverage to your name, and land a first page Google ranking (for positive reasons!), an online professional profile or other virtual presence, which benefits you professionally, is a must. For the average, mere job seeking mortal, the failure to have an online professional identity, while possibly not total career hari kari, will be tantamount to jumping into the Google pool with lead weights on your ankles. You will simply sink into oblivion.

What  to do?

  • Get going! Create an online professional presence:  this enables you to be found  not just by search specialists and hiring managers but anyone who wishes to locate you or your professional expertise. This will vary from one country to another. The strongest global English-speaking platform is LinkedIn. Other platforms such as Viadeo or Xing also carry traction in different geographic areas.  The 3 demographics most reluctant to do this in my experience are entry-level, women and Boomers. This one simple process shows you care and are switched on!
  • Complete the profile fully and strategically: using  strong key search words. Generally I find the people who get most frustrated (and whinge the loudest) with a tendency to blame other external factors,  are the ones who have the weakest profiles and fewest connections.
  • Connect and engage strategically: build up your professional network, establish relationships,  generate credibility in your industry or sector. Set up an online trail of links to you! You can’t tap into your network unless you have one. Reluctant categories in my experience are: entry-level and women
  • Manage your reputation: leverage social media to cement the professional you. Use key words in your other online profiles and even a link to your online CV or LinkedIn profile.   Entry level, women and Boomers are the equally reluctant to do this. Social media is no longer just social, but has a professional component too. That’s why it’s called Personal Branding. Change your privacy settings if this really bothers you.
  • Don’t neglect other personal  networks: there is tendency with social media pundits to drink their own Kool Aid and believe their own hype, that these platforms are the “one- stop- shop” solution. No matter what, you have to get out from behind the computer and network personally! An online professional presence is only one tool in a much bigger job search tool kit. Category most reluctant to do this – women and entry-level.

As we teeter yet again on the brink of a possible financial services meltdown, with Greece clinging to the edge of the Acropolis by its fingernails, those without professional online “links” will almost certainly be caught at a disadvantage. There is even in my anecdotal experience, an emerging pattern of which demographics are constantly at risk.

Regrettably we have to do more than “think” to exist today. We have to “link“.

Women and networking: strategic or simply social?

 Another hornet’s nest 
Last week was a busy week for women!  It started off with Katherine Bigelow  winning an Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker,  followed swiftly  by International Women’s  Day.  Much was written about women’s roles, the progress  they have made and the steps they could make in the future. Then the wives of the UK party leaders were launched into the pre-election build up as the political “hidden weapons”.  Finally,  sneaking in at the end of the week was an article in Times Online  ”  Why women are such bad networkers”  by Antonia Senior.

Initially, I read it  with disbelief and then truthfully with some  irritation!  Of course women are good at networking! What was she thinking when she said  “women are not natural networkers”? This statement was key to her premise that women are less prevalent in board room positions because of  their lack of “social capital”  (connections ) meaning that they are less likely to be head hunted  for senior positions,  because they seemingly know fewer people.   Other serious and more meaningful issues were glossed over  a little dismissively   as a ” range of complicated factors“. 

But then I thought about the wider implications.

Women network all day,  every day,  in all their roles , whether professionally, as parents,  as neighbours, as partners or socially. Do we really think that their failure to have a corner board room office is because of their reluctance to sip warm bubbly,  nibble inferior canapés  and exchange card ?  If it was so simple,  wouldn’t women  be sending in their RSVPs to the nearest cocktail party quicker than the preparation of an  “amuse bouche ” ?  

You would have thought so – but  seemingly they don’t. Why is that?

Naturally social
Women are generally natural communicators.  We are social. We keep in touch. We build relationships. We have address books packed with names.  We share information and make referrals willingly. We are active in all sorts of areas. But An de Jonghe, Managing Partner at  Women on Board ,  a Belgian initiative to facilitate women’s advancement to directorship roles in local enterprises,   says  ” … women are social  rather than strategic networkers and very often network, not for their own purposes,  but for the benefit of  other peopleMen network to meet their own professional goals.  Today,  it’s still a man’s world and we have to do everything we can to give ourselves an edge,  to raise our visibility , even if it means attending receptions we don’t want to go to”  

Social Media
Social media networking is perfect for women because it gives them the flexibility they need to combine key networking with other priorities and allows them to manage their ROR (Return on Relationships) and ROE ( Return on Energy) more  effectively.   The claim  that they have not embraced social media  for networking purposes to the same extent as men,  flies in the face of the latest research figures released by Nielsen Wire . Using mobile usage as a litmus test,  women’s on-line networking contact  is 10% greater than their male counterparts.   53% American women use social media with Facebook being the primary network of choice.  Twitter users are not required to register their gender,  but research has shown that women also lead the field in this sector too.  23 million women a year write, read and comment on blogs – the top of the social media pyramid.

Real questions
But once again these figures have a US bias rather than a European one.   In Europe, LinkedIn and Twitter penetration is lower than the US for example,  so there,  both male and female usage  alike,  is not as high   But millions of  women  globally use social media  for business purposes and anyone who is active on these platforms knows that!  Forbes and Technorati  have produced  lists  of women to follow in social media!  Penny Power of Ecademy,   Carrie Wilkerson – Barefoot Executive,   and Sarah Brown – just to name  a few more ladies who make intelligent use of social media.  Some of the most aggressive marketeers on social media I think are actually women!  

But de Jonghe  suggests that these women are unfortunately only the visible tip of the iceberg . She firmly believes that the vast majority of women use social media  for social reasons  and not necessarily for professional advancement.

Cyanide Hours
So why are  women absent  from  male orientated networking events ?    The after work cocktails, boxes at soccer games  or golf outings?   After work receptions are frequently held in what I used to call affectionately the “cyanide hours”  ( dinner, homework, bath, bed). The pressures on women not to attend these functions are huge.  But  they are also making choices on how to spend their time.   De Jonghe  feels that women need to take responsibility for sharing child care arrangements with their partners,   so they are able to attend such functions. But with the rise of single parent families with the mother as the primary care giver,  this is not always easy.  Networking is time-consuming and women with families are  simply not able to give up whole days to  participate in  the type of activities  that Mark Twain suggests  “spoil a good walk. ” 

Perhaps this is why women’s networking groups are proliferating  globally to connect with each other at various stages in their careers .  In Belgium  Jump has had a significant impact as well as the huge numbers of women’s networking groups in the UK, US and throughout the world  – too many to mention here. 

Effective Leverage
Another  issue  is whether women are  more likely to leverage an emergency babysitter or  a  reliable  plumber from their network,  rather than a leg up the corporate ladder to a C – suite position?  De Jonghe comments ”  Women tend to sit quietly and do a good job and hope to be recognised and discovered. They are reluctant to take the initiative in the way that men do”

 But networking is a two-way street.  If the thesis is that women are not networking with CEOs ( male)  then the converse is also true. It also means that head hunters are not being creative  and  in the pursuit of  “copy and paste” search methodologies,  are not opening up their own networks to female candidates.     With precious few women  hovering under board level,  the female talent pool is not huge and it would seem to be in everyone’s interest for that to happen.

The male way
However,   De Jonghe  makes  a further point that  “while the guys sit cosily in their Board level positions, they are more than happy that women are absent. They have no reason to change the system. The old-boy network works fine for them” 

So  will the ladies have to play the networking game by male rules to make any steps forward? De Jonghe believes so.     “Once they get those  Clevel appointments ” De Jonghe says  ” women can change the system – but until then , they  have to play the male game.”

In the meantime, while the status quo prevails, it would seem  that we  women have to be strategic and not just social in our networking efforts. Even if it involves being subjected to warm champagne .  

What do you think?

“I think therefore I exist?”. Wrong…think again!

Personal Branding and the 50-somethings!  
Every week I get messages from executives of a certain age , partly because of my post “ Job search strategies for the 50 something’s “   A typical one would be “ I  m working really hard,  have contacted 4 head hunters, sent off 25 CVs, been called for 8 interviews and short listed for 2 – but no luck.  Will I end up stacking shelves in Tescos/ Walmart / Carrefour  in January?   What do I have to do? P.S  Send food parcels”

The answers are in no particular order:  1) possibly  2) postal address  required  3) something different  . 

Visible message
The main point I took from this is despite being as  pro – active as they can,  these execs are still  not being contacted by head hunters as passive candidates.  So I check out their LinkedIn profiles , Twitter presence and Google them and can immediately tell if they have what  the new buzz word calls a Personal Brand. This seems to trip off my tongue lightly. Don’t be fooled!  Truthfully it is a phrase that I have only become familiar with over the past year because I had to confront it  both personally and professionally.  It is new speak for your clearly defined, highly  visible, core message.  

You too..
I  had always thought that personal branding was something associated with celebs (major and minor) being photographed getting out of cabs  (with or without underwear)  after  launching  over  priced costume jewellery ranges or  marketing dodgy smelling perfume.   So definitely NOT my thing!    The news  I received a year ago that I needed to work on an under performing  SEO,  conjured up notions of  an inactive muscle group,  requiring painful sessions with a trainer. Or worse still,  as financial markets lay in tatters  a  meeting with my bank manager .

So not only did I have to adapt my coaching programme to deal with changes in the job search market,  I also had to practise what I preached and get myself out of my comfort zone.  If anyone had told me that by the end of 2009 I would have been posting weekly blogs, writing comments and tweeting  like a trooper,  with my face splashed over the internet I would have been highly incredulous.   But here I am! So,  I can truthfully say that  I have walked the talk. I have also found it challenging, frustrating,  fulfilling, mind-opening. I have made amazing global connections and  come across some individuals who are simply different  in their expectations. Some I have let go, some I have embraced. So a formative learning curve.

Google ranking
A  year ago on Karen Purves’ advice  somewhat embarrassed, I  furtively Googled myself.  I always felt this was faintly narcissistic,  an activity reserved for aforementioned ego fragile  starlets. I gave up after about 10 pages. Even I was bored!  And I am me … or at least I thought I was. Not only was I not unique,  (there are numerous Dorothy Daltons)   I did not stand out from the crowd  at all.  Worse still  I was totally  invisible.  Whatever happened to ” I think therefore I exist”?

So after masses of research and consulting experts including Karen ,  it was obvious that there were 2 alternatives : a crisis or a plan .  I opted for the latter, knowing from experience that no matter how attractive drama  can appear  in the short-term, crises are a lot of work. Eventually there  has to be a plan.  It was partly laziness.  Age does have some advantages  – if there’s a short cut we look for it!

Get  a new habit
So to paraphrase Paul Getty, if business success is the force of habit , we 50 somethings  indeed have some deeply engrained ones. Some  are undoubtedly good,  some may need tweaking,  a few just totally nuking.  But we also need new ones. One of those is to  let go our cautiousness  regarding  on-line visibility and make that activity part of our daily routine.  If your name is not appearing  in any searches ( metrics- conveniently shown on your LinkedIn home page  – mid right ) or  getting those  discreet under the radar calls  from executive search companies,  this means that you too are probably regrettably invisible.  Gen Y are used to having every living moment  displayed on Facebook. Us Boomers are generally a more private generation.  But we need to get over that.    As Karen said  Google yourself! 

This personal journey I feel  has actually helped me have some credibility as a coach.  It is genuinely –  me too! If I can do it –  anyone can.

What do you need to do?

  •  Decide on  your “brand” focus.   This involves basic discovery work and goal setting. What are your USPs and success stories.  This is just another way of asking what is your core message? What do you offer?
  • Reserve your name  if you can as a url on a number platforms: LinkedIn,  Facebook and Twitter, Skype,  plus the .com domain.  If you name isn’t available make it something as close as possible. Use that consistently on all platforms.  
  • Use the same photo on all media
  • Make sure your email address and urls coincide. Lose hottotrot 1985@hotmail.com That stopped being cool circa 1987.
  • Set up a full LinkedIn profile ( Viadeo,  Xing, Naymz or any other … or all of them) Pro-actively increase your network and raise your visibility
  • Open a Twitter account with personalised home page and start to engage.
  • Set up a blog –   with a feed to your LinkedIn profile establish yourself as  a sector guru and expert. 
  • Participate in discussions, answer questions, post comments on other people blogs 
  • Create your own web site.

I am a work in progress –  as indeed we all are.     Karen  has very kindly offered to give me an end of year performance appraisal! 

Watch this space…

The strength of a weak network

In the past year I have attended more conferences, courses (on and off-line) seminars and webinars than possibly in the whole of my previous career. I have read articles , periodicals, blogs, newspapers, e- zines, magazines and worthy tomes. I wouldn’t consider myself to be especially perceptive generally, but I could see a year ago as markets crashed and millions of people were impacted by events outside their control,  that for my profession,  adapting to change would be key to prepare for any upturn.  So there was a strong need to get up to speed.  I identified pretty early on and somewhat unusually quickly for me,  the strength of what is now called a “weak network”.

Resisting change
In my role as a coach and an executive search professional I constantly come across individuals erecting barriers to embracing change in the way business is now being done across many sectors, but especially in recruitment and search on both sides of the process. People who are active in these new media tend to endorse each other’s efforts and so are essentially preaching to the choir. But in the general congregation I have noticed undoubted resistance and scepticism.

Impact of social media
Last week I attended the AESC European Conference ( Association of Executive Search Consultants) where a number of speakers eloquently shared their thoughts and studies of different economic changes and the impact these would have on talent management and executive search in Europe. @GeorgKolb  of Pleon,  Deutschland, gave a great and dynamic presentation on the impact of social media on the sector and  there was some talk that executive search could be reduced to a job  matching process by these new developments.

Wide networks
Many executive search consultants rely on their Rolodex contacts to facilitate introductions to potential candidates. But at the same time global internet sourcers, who could be based in India, Eastern Europe or anywhere else in the world, are equally active using Boolean Strings to remotely identify passive and active candidates they have never even heard of,  from information that is in the public domain via the internet. These might be professional networks, or any other source.  Many of us are not aware that  we all constantly leave our footprint in cyber space and are visible and traceable, whether we or not we want to be,  or even like the idea. The profession is in the throes of a major refocus when as a recruiter I am  possibly more likely to  identify a candidate from  social media or  on-line network than my immediate physical one.  My LinkedIn network, modest by some standards,  has a global reach of over 18 million people. Most of them could care less about me until maybe one day, they appear in a search and I approach them for what might be their dream job. The chances of me reaching that number of people through traditional networks are I’d say…. zero.

Cyber Sleuths
There is now a new breed of recruiter called a Cyber Sleuth! Such is the power of having a wide “weak ” network Shally Steckerl  of Arbita  has been arbitrarily stopped by LinkedIn from extending his network any further now it has reached 30000 LinkedIn users.  One client Nils Oudejans has voluntarily limited himself at 26000 connections before any restrictions are imposed on him.

Another strength of a weak network is that it is democratic. You don’t need to be in the right club or church, have attended a certain school  or worked in  a specific company to get connected. Generally if someone has a strong and professional on-line presence,  adds value  and  communicates  in an appropriate way, they are accepted. There are no barriers to entry based on academic qualifications, age, gender, race or sexual orientation. There are no exorbitant subscription or membership fees.   Porn and affiliate marketing spammers are treated the same as they would be in any network – excluded!  People who don’t engage get left out. Same as in  a physical network.

Personal Branding
On the transition side I coach clients specifically in raising their on-line visibility, now called Personal Branding.. Many are conservative and concerned because they don’t know  ” these people” who contact them via social media platforms and who invite them to “be- friend” “follow” or “connect “.   It’s sometimes an uphill struggle to explain that it doesn’t matter if they haven’t been physically introduced and no one cares about that,  and it’s about the added value of the contact, however remote. Do any of us know absolutely everyone in our alumni associations or golf clubs? No, of course not. This is no different.  On-line connections can actually be just as meaningful and sometimes more so, than physical ones. It’s about being visible, not just to them directly, but to their networks and being seen to offer quality.

Wide networks can be narrower than you think!
I can only speak from experience. I have more daily contact with some members of  my virtual network than even my family, who  I suspect might not understand what I do! This isn’t even a generational issue. My own Gen Y son,  is completely resistant to the idea that recruiters access Facebook to search for entry-level candidates  and will not use it for professional purposes. His new LinkedIn photo bore a striking resemblance at one time to what I can only describe as a tree. Happily this has now been changed. I have baby boomer executive search colleagues with limited on-line presence who balk at the idea of filling out their profiles and others who resist using keywords in all their presentations,  despite all the evidence that this is what they need to do.

When I met @MarionChapsal who I connected with via Twitter, my brother @MD60 was issuing ominous warnings about  potential axe murderers lurking in cyber space.  As 1 in 6 marriages today in the US  begin with  an on-line connection,  the way adults initially interact  before physically meeting  for the first is time  is constantly changing.   Not that I wanted to marry Marion by the way, beautiful though she is – it was just an illustration of changes going on! As we saw in the backlash against  Jan Moir,  after her  ill advised article about the death of Stephen Gately,  Twitter has the potential to be more powerfully viral than swine flu.

Best combination for best talent
I am in no way dismissing traditional executive search and recruitment strategies for identifying the best talent. They are invaluable skills. At some point telephones have to be picked up and face-to- face interviews arranged  – so for me on -line job matching is not the best option for finding high calibre candidates.  Just as job seekers  have to leave the security of their computers and exhibit strong inter personal skills.  But the combination of the old methodologies combined with the new cyber sleuthing skills, make a formidable combination for identifying the best global talent.

How’s your cyber footprint?

What impact does our cyber foot print have and how much should we be mindful of it?

A Twitter connection asked me the other day, somewhat to my surprise , if I had an alias for my “fun and social side”. I have to say an eyebrow was raised! The thought of myself skulking around cyber space with a nom de plume or an alter ego, stretched the imagination. However the question was actually entirely serious and raised a very valid point that I had been discussuing during the week with fellow professionals and coachees. What impact does our cyber foot print have and how much should we be mindful of it?

Raised visibility
As a transition coach I talk to individuals constantly about raising visibility and the job search process changing from looking for a job, to becoming a need to be found. So they are coached through a process to raise their SEO and their Google ranking, to connect on Linkedin and to be active on other social media. Some I encourage to have a blog and a web site, all to enable job search specialists to easily locate them. All the time, this supposes that they are being tracked for their excellent professional backgrounds and first class, on- target experience, rather than photos of them stealing signs during their college days, or messages about whooping it up at some party. So my visibility suggestions are also accompanied by equal doses of cautionary tales to be careful about what is posted by and about them, not just in their own posts, but via other people’s.

Mike Dalton, Partner  Co-Founder Youbug , with deep experience in the internet security sector says this:  ” People need to be aware of just who can see what when they join social networking sites. Recent changes in Facebook’s privacy settings defaulted to everyone being able to see everything you post. So check the privacy settings of any social media you use and make sure that only those you want to see your posts can see them. … take care about what you post…. too much detail could put you at risk of identity theft, if not directly from the information on the web, then through social engineering. Before posting anything ask yourself “will I ever regret posting this?

This is only part of my current concern
Shankar Srinivasan a Recruitment Technologist in his blog of July 1st ( Glimpse into the Future of Recruitment Technology) brings to our attention the future of recruitment ,with all the new technological developments in the pipeline. One of these is candidate profiling from social media content. Eventually he anticipates that profiles of candidates can be drawn up from input to sites such as Facebook,Linkedin, Twitter and so on. So all sorts of conclusions can be drawn from even the most harmless, innocent and banal details which send out messages to others about our personalities, our values and our skill sets: in photos, web sites, texts, messages and tweets. I suspect this might also ultimately have an interesting impact on psychometric testing.

Multiple accounts
I actually don’t have an alias! I believe that people do business with and recruit people they like and trust and you can’t give an all round impression of yourself if you only display one side of your character and keep the other half hidden. But then I don’t have a terribly wild or mysterious life either and as many of you already know, the organisation of it all would simply confound me! I think I would also find having two different personas quite hard work. So no, I don’t have a professional and a social account. But I do understand why some people do this, even though I believe that software spiders will eventually be able to penetrate even private social accounts to glean any information they’re looking for. So in time it won’t make any difference if they are separate or combined .

Manage your message
But I am also mindful that I am constantly leaving cyber messages on a daily basis, not just about my professional life, but also about my personality, my skill set and deficiencies (some of them very obvious) hobbies, interests, family, values, opinions etc. Each time we send a message, post a blog, write something on someones wall, tweet, answer a discussion,join a professional network, we are telling the world something about ourselves. How we engage, react, the vocabulary we use, the topics we that we pursue,all tell a story about who we are.

We can’t control how people react to us, but we can manage the message. By that I don’t mean being fake. For me it just means treating cyber space as you would any other networking or social arena. Social norms still prevail. Why should things be any different because you’re on line? The only thing now is that everything is in writing and can be traced. Nothing will disappear the day after. It can come back to haunt you and it might well. They say that 47% of candidates are rejected based on on – line content, although that figure is not very meaningful. The same people may have been ruled out in a networking event.

Guidelines
So what are basic rules or guidelines? Same as in actual life I think. Don’t be rude, bitchy, abusive, crude or aggressive. Don’t swear. Anything private and intimate – should be just that… private. Don’t over share! Just as it’s inadvisable to drink and dial – don’t tweet when tight. Don’t bad mouth your boss, company or co-workers! They will find out . Keep language constructive and it might even be be wise if inflammatory topics are kept for email or phone contact. Would you try and flog someone a timeshare or marketing programme the minute you were introduced at a party? No. So why do it on-line? In all, it’s just commonsense. Mike also warns that he knows people who can find any information on the web, even items which have been deleted  ”  …. information posted  on the web stays there for ever!  You may well delete a dubious photograph  or an unfortunate remark, but it is still out there, and it can be found.”

Sensible engagement
So bearing all this in mind, I actually think that people, whether fellow professionals or recruiters, do want to see the lighter sides of their professional on – line connections in the right and appropriate context of course. Just as you would off line. Otherwise the process becomes only about information exchange, rather than authentic engagement. I still think that despite all the technology that surrounds us, that’s what we all want. To engage.  

Twitter: Cynic to Convert in 10 weeks

Hello, my name’s Dorothy. I’m a Twitter convert!

About 10 weeks ago @MikeDDalton (my brother) suggested I sign up for Twitter. He insisted that it would be fun and a way for our dispersed family to stay connected. Unconvinced, mainly because of what I’d heard and read, I did finally register, but truthfully, it was because primarily President Obama was said to use it, rather than any family loyalty.

My efforts were rather half hearted. I followed @MikeDDalton, plus a couple of well known British celebs, which actually turned out to be duller than watching paint dry (sorry Bro!) I posted a few mundane things myself, trying to enter the spirit of it all. The minutiae of their daily lives held no interest for me at all. Cosmo Landesman of The Times (London) suggested that Twitter made even interesting people seem dull. I was in total agreement. I even bored myself.

Support
But a few people, even through cyber-space, picked up on my “lost caused -ness”. @karenpurves, @nicolabird and @judethecoach, all came to the rescue and went to huge lengths, with super supportive basic tips about choosing the right people to follow, posting a photo, leaving myself open to be followed (hadn’t realised I was closed) and some of the other protocols. But even then, despite their encouraging words, cynicism still prevailed. Honestly… I did try – but the whole thing just completely eluded me. I sensed the tearing out of cyber hair.

Breakthrough
Then one day – something kicked in. I have no idea really, even now, what it was. I think more by accident than design, I left the social media robots behind and finally started connecting with people with 3 digit IQs. Their tweets caught my eye and I started reading and responding. I engaged. I began to get, just a little, the Twitter etiquette and protocols. Gradually, there seemed to be a few people I was connecting with on regular basis who seemed fun, on the same wave length and prepared to give, rather than send automated messages and self publicity. I finally understood ( after 8 weeks – I know a slow study ) that I needed to download Tweetdeck to manage the activity.

Don’t worry I’m not going to launch into a ” How to…” pitch! Wouldn’t dream of it! There’s clearly no way someone can advise people on the detail of this process, when they only found the Tweet shorten button today! This is just to share my own Twitter journey. Sometimes the voices of the clueless, resonate as much as the voices of experts – a bit like Forrest Gump.

My rules
Generally, as an almost total beginner, what I look for are people that I find fun and interesting and are active in my areas of general interest. That’s all. Nothing strategic or sophisticated at this point. I have no master plan. I make it a basic rule to only connect with people who have a photo or a convincing bio, wearing clothes. They do make a difference – so are mandatory, for me at least. I only follow animals if they are extremely funny.

I look at the stats just to check they’re balanced and I can see that the individuals are active. I avoid braggers and give anyone pre-occupied with target-reaching a miss. Same for anyone who tries to hard- sell me anything early on. I am gradually identifying the egoists and I can see now that there are people who have the same messages on automated feeds which come around and around, 24/7. You know who you are! Guys, change the tape or stream ( or whatever it is that goes round) I suspect I will eventually decide to “un-follow” some of them, when I summon up the courage. Apparently this is ” not a good thing”. Whole contentious blogs are devoted to this process, with a slew of vitriolic exchanges in their wake.

So what has this got to do with a Talent Management Strategist based in Europe? Why since last week, have I included a section introducing it into in my coaching programme?

At the moment 47% of Twitter traffic is US based, but that will change for sure. Just like the Big Mac, it will take root here in Europe. As more and more corporate HR and recruiters use it as a network, it will be another opportunity for candidates to raise their visibility and connectivity, in the hope of being found. With a job loss: job creation ratio at 3:1 in Europe, right now, job seekers need that. The churn on Twitter is huge, but people leave their bio details, and provided that the contact info doesn’t change, that’s great for internet sourcers.

Added value
But for me personally, and this is the message I share currently, the greatest value is the high speed communication of really useful, up to date information. Having it distilled and recommended by trusted sources is a major bonus. It’s the sheer pace of the circulation that is amazing and fascincating. It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch and keep a finger on an ever changing pulse. It has not only saved me hours of time, but brought my attention to sources and resources that I may have over looked or not even considered at all, simply because I didn’t know they were there.

IRL ( In Real Life)
Earlier this week, I had dinner with a Tweet buddy @marionchapsal who was visiting Brussels. We had connected via Twitter. Despite mutterings from @MikeDDalton about meeting strangers from cyber space, and the lady from Lyon turning out to be a potential axe murderer ( that thought is rooted in extensive knowledge of heinous on-line scams, following a long career in internet security) we had a wonderful, fun evening, sharing experiences and getting to know each other. What was most interesting, was that I saw immediately how 140 characters can convey a person’s personality. She was exactly as she seemed in her Tweets! It was simply global networking at it’s best. Virtual, became actual. Would our paths have crossed otherwise? Probably not. Just brilliant!

Somewhat approropiately, the restuarant of choice was the ” Idiot de Village”. Nothing lost in translation there.