Be a better networker

In this troubled economy, finding your next job (or not) may depend on your having a strong circle of people you can call on, and who know they can call on you.

By Anne Fisher, senior writer
November 7, 2008: 7:13 AM ET


NEW YORK (Fortune) — You’ve heard or read it a thousand times (including in this very space): To supercharge your career, particularly when times get tough, you need a big, strong network of professional contacts — people you can call on, and who know they can call on you, for advice, information, referrals, and introductions.

But many smart professionals are flummoxed when it comes to figuring out exactly how to get such a network started, and how to make their network grow and flourish.

“Networking is one of those things that some people naturally ‘get’ and others don’t,” says Ivan R. Misner, founder and CEO of BNI (, a worldwide networking organization with more than 110,000 members in 39 countries. “One metaphor I like is that most people treat networking like hunting – they’re out there trying to bag the big one – but it’s really a lot more like farming. You have to cultivate relationships over time.”

You won’t learn how in college, or even in B-school, Misner notes: “Most professors have never run a business, or had to figure out how to rise through the ranks in a big company, so they really don’t understand how critical it is.”

A survey of 2,200 BNI members found that 87% never had a college course that even mentioned networking – “and we’re not talking about entire courses on the subject, which are rarer than unicorns, but any course that even briefly brushed on the subject,” Misner says. “Yet, in another of our surveys, of more than 3,800 businesspeople worldwide, 73% said they get most of their business through networking.”

To help close that knowledge gap, Misner’s new book, The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Strategies (with co-author Michelle R. Donovan, Greenleaf Book Group, $21.95), details a whole year of networking tactics, week by week, explaining how to set goals for what you want to achieve through networking and then make a systematic plan.

Take, for instance, Week 24, in which Misner recommends that you focus your attention on making a great first impression. Since psychologists tell us that people make snap judgments about each other within seven seconds of their first meeting, every detail matters. For example, body language can be “the silent killer of conversations,” Misner says.

Next time you go to a networking event, including an office party, Misner suggests asking a trusted friend to keep an eye out and report back on how you measure up in these four areas:

Eye contact. Are you making steady eye contact throughout your conversations, or looking behind the person you’re talking with, to see who else is there?

Arm movement. Where are your arms while you’re chatting? Are they folded across your chest (which says, “I’m bored”)? It’s better if they’re tucked behind your back (“I’m interested, I’m listening”). If you’re in the habit of gesturing when you talk, to add emphasis to your words, that’s good too.

Positioning. Are you standing in an open, welcoming way – or blocking people out of your conversation? Are you leaning on something, looking tired or bored? Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling a glass and a plate? Tsk, tsk.

Facial expressions. Misner advises keeping conscious control of the look on your face. You don’t have to wear a nonstop grin, but do try to look friendly and interested, even if you’re not.

What you say counts too, of course. Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone new, ask a question like this: “How can I help you or your business?” “Ask her to talk about what she does,” advises Misner. “This others-oriented approach produces a powerful and positive first impression, because people remember you as the person who offered to help them – not just as someone trying to sell them something or get something from them.”

The title of Misner’s book, by the way, refers to the widespread belief that each of us is connected to everyone else in the world by six degrees of separation – that is, a human chain of half a dozen acquaintances. It’s a nice idea, he notes, but then, so is Santa Claus. The popular six-degrees myth stems from a series of experiments by psychologist Stanley Milgram in the ’60s and ’70s, but Misner points out that Milgram proved only that, at most, 29% of us are connected to everyone else by an average of six mutual friends. That means, obviously, that “six degrees of separation” doesn’t apply to the 71% majority. Why does this matter? Milgram’s studies “indicate clearly that some people are better connected than others, and connecting is a skill that can be acquired,” Misner says. If you’re intent on joining that elite group, The 29% Solution is a pretty good place to start.

Readers, what do you say? Do you have a strong network? Could it be better? Has your network helped you find a job? Conversely, have you helped colleagues find work? What has helped you – and hasn’t? Who’s been most helpful? Any pet peeves? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog. To top of page

Original Article –

Job hunting for introverts

If networking drives you nuts and you tend to think a while before you respond to interviewers’ questions, you may find a job search especially difficult. Here’s what to do.

By Anne Fisher, contributor
Last Updated: February 17, 2009: 1:21 PM ET

(Fortune) — Dear Annie: I lost my job as an IT manager in a downsizing last November and am still looking for another one. Apart from the fact that the tech job market is pretty flat right now, and employers seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach to hiring, I think my personality is getting in my way.

I know I’m supposed to be networking, and I’m trying, but I find it exhausting, and I’m aware that I often don’t come across well in a crowd of people I don’t know. Also, in the few interviews I’ve managed to get, I’ve been asked some interesting questions that required some thought, and I got the impression that I took too long to answer them. My wife says I’m a classic introvert and that this is making my job hunt harder than normal. Your thoughts? –Sudoku Samurai

Dear Samurai: Sounds as if your wife is familiar with a personality test widely used in business called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which identifies introversion as a specific personality type. One clue: You find networking exhausting. Another hint: You’re inclined to think carefully before you speak.

“In everyday language, people often use the words ‘shy’ and ‘introverted’ interchangeably,” notes Wendy Gelberg, a career coach whose firm Gentle Job Search/Advantage Resumes ( has been advising introverted executives since 1979. “But introverts are not necessarily shy.” Rather — in contrast to their extroverted opposites — introverts are more focused on what’s inside their own heads than on what’s happening around them, and they are refreshed and energized by solitude. Extroverts direct their attention outward and get charged up by having other people around. Says Gelberg: “After spending a few hours or a whole day with others, an introvert needs to withdraw and be alone for a while, while an extrovert will be saying, ‘Let’s party!’ “

Gelberg wrote a book you might want to check out, The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career (Happy About, $19.95). She observes that introverts, among whom she counts herself, usually assume that introversion is, well, kind of weird.

“We tend to feel that extroversion is the gold standard, that it’s more ‘normal,’ ” she says. “But that’s because it’s all we see, on TV and elsewhere. After all, a television show about someone just sitting quietly or reading a book wouldn’t draw many viewers. And then, as introverts, we don’t get together and share our experiences, so we assume we’re all alone.”

Far from it. Research analyzing the results from a national representative sample of 3,009 people who have taken the Myers Briggs test shows that introverts actually outnumber extroverts, 50.8% to 49.3%. More men (54.1%) than women (47.5%) are introverted. And lest you think the title of Gelberg’s book is an oxymoron, consider this: Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) chairman Bill Gates, Sara Lee (SLE, Fortune 500) CEO Brenda Barnes, Steven Spielberg, and Charles Schwab all describe themselves as introverts.

The job-search process, alas, often seems to favor the extroverted, but you can prevail. First, let’s take those interviews where (you think) you haven’t spoken up quickly enough. Gelberg says that modern neuroscience has pinpointed one difference between introverts and their opposites: PET scans of both kinds of brains show the two types process information differently, with introverts tending to think before speaking and extroverts thinking while they talk.

“In a job interview, you can overcome this difference by preparing thoroughly beforehand,” says Gelberg. “Most people, especially extroverts, go into an interview and ‘wing it.’ For you, a better approach is to think hard beforehand about what questions you are likely to be asked, and have your answers ready.” Take a pad and paper with you, she suggests, not just to take notes but also “to give yourself prompts. Write down key words and phrases to remind yourself of what you planned to say.”

What if, in spite of your best efforts in advance, the interviewer throws you a curve ball? “You can say, ‘That’s a good question, let me think about it for a minute.’ Then do,” says Gelberg. Try to come up with an answer as quickly as you can — but bear in mind that any job interview is a two-way street. A corporate culture that discourages cogitation may not be one where you’d be comfortable in the long run.

Another tip: Make full use of an advantage your introversion gives you, which is the inclination to do detailed research. “Everyone should do their homework before a job interview, but extroverts usually don’t,” observes Gelberg. You, on the other hand, probably relish the prospect of studying the corporate Web site, seeking out the press the company has gotten lately, Googling your interviewer, and generally gathering as much information as you can find before you go in. “Employers love this, because it shows you are interested in their company, not just desperate for a job,” she says. “It will often give you a real edge.”

As for your other bugaboo, networking, Gelberg recommends that you accept the fact that you have to pace yourself. “Since it’s hard for you to shine in a big gathering, you need to give yourself more time in between them than an extrovert would,” she says. “Be more selective, too. Instead of hitting every single event you could go to, think strategically and go to just those get-togethers that are most likely to be truly worthwhile.”

When it comes to making professional connections, Gelberg notes, the Internet may be an introvert’s best friend. “Social networking sites like LinkedIn, blogs, and chat rooms are all great for introverts because you get to think and choose your words before you ‘speak,’ ” she points out. “One reason for the huge growth of online networking is that it plays to introverts’ strengths. You can ‘meet’ and be in contact with large numbers of people without the strain of spending time with them in person.”

Readers, what do you say? Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Do you agree that job hunting is easier for extroverts? If you’re introverted, have you got any tips on what worked for you in your last job hunt? Would you rather work for an introvert or an extrovert? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog. To top of page

Original Article –

Tim Esse

Networking for People Who Hate Networking

We all know that networking is the #1 way to get a new job. Everyone says so! But what if you’re shy and hate doing it?

I’m just like that. The idea of networking always terrified me. When I started my business, I knew I’d have to make new contacts and revive old ones, and so I bit the bullet and started making phone calls and going to meetings where I struck up awkward small talk with strangers.


So you can imagine how happy I was when I stumbled on a way to network that didn’t involve shuffling into rooms and handing business cards to people I didn’t know.

That’s the secret I want to share with you – there is a way to network that you won’t find at all threatening. You just have to redefine what’s mean by “networking.”

My realization happened when I referred a potential client to a resume writer who had more expertise in that industry than I did. The client was delighted that I was honest with him and referred his friend to me a few weeks later. And the other resume writer subsequently sent several clients to me when she went on vacation. And all it had taken was a quick email from me.

And that’s when the light bulb went off! Helping people without expecting anything in return is the very best way to network.

Think about this in terms of career development and/or your job search. Instead of putting together a list of people you know and then thinking how you can tell them that you need a job, how about just reaching out to help other people?

Every person that you help is a new connection and every one of them may prove valuable down the road.

5 Tips for Networking by Helping Others

Here are just a few ideas I have for expanding your network/reconnecting with people by helping others:

1) Contact headhunters in your field and instead of just asking if they have opportunities, offer to help them source for positions. Send a brief email saying “I know you specialize in sales recruiting for the medical industry and I have an extensive network of contacts in this field. Feel free to call me or send along any vacancies. I’d be happy to pass them along.”

2) Watch your LinkedIn network, checking for questions from your contacts. LinkedIn allows people to send out questions to their entire network – be sure to have these sent to your email so that you can offer assistance when possible. Just getting your name in front of people regularly is half the battle. (Note for this to work you need to make connections with as many people as possible. The more people you know, the more people you can help).

3) Look for blogs or forums about your area of expertise and become active. I have one client who is a search engine marketer – he found his most recent position via a marketing forum where he regularly answered questions and gave his opinion. One day he received a private message via the forum software offering him an interview.

4) Contact friends, family and others in your network and offer help for free. A friend who is a graphic designer revamped several website while she was unemployed. Not only did this buy her goodwill with her contacts, but it also fleshed out her resume during the period of time she was without a job. I have a similar story – when I first started out, I offered recruiters a free resume rewrite for one of their clients. Of course, when they saw my work, they continued to send me paying customers.

5) Offer help to a charity or non-profit organization in your area. Sure you might not want to work there full-time but all of the people who volunteer there know people who know people and someone may well have an opportunity that’s perfect for you. And hey, it beats sitting at home reading the same job postings online day after day.

These are just 5 ways that popped into my mind for ways that you can expand your network by helping others. And the beauty of this approach is that in addition to expanding your network, you get to feel good about your contribution every day.

What about you? Can you think of ways you could apply this for yourself? Or have you already done so? If so, tell us how it worked out.

Original Article –

tim esse

How to Write an Effective Resume

In the summer of 2008 I noticed a question on LinkedIn where a job seeker had asked, “What is the best way to create a successful resume?” I decided to respond because as a recruiting and staffing professional with over a decade of experience, I’ve searched for, reviewed, and worked with well over one hundred thousand resumes. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with hiring managers at 100’s of companies, gaining significant insight into what they respond to, so I felt I could offer valuable resume writing advice to job seekers.

You can read the original question and answer(s) here on LinkedIn: “What is the best way to create a successful resume?”

The employment market has changed drastically in the 9 months since I answered that question on Linkedin, and with an historic number of people who are now finding themselves looking for jobs, I feel it is especially important to get this effective resume writing advice to as many people as possible.


First I want to want to point out that I find that most HR, recruiting and staffing professionals, as well as hiring managers, often fail to recognize the simple fact that job seekers are not professional resume writers. Yet they want them to be. How realistic of an expectation is this?

Should an accountant, software engineer, project manager, etc., with 10 years of experience really be expected to produce a fantastic resume? I’m not so sure – they have 10 years of experience performing accounting functions, developing software, managing projects…they don’t have 10 years of experience writing resumes.

If a job seeker has had 2 jobs in 10 years – take a guess at how many times they have likely written their resume. Does writing 2, or even 10 resumes make you especially proficient at writing resumes? If you played golf a total of 10 times in your life, how good of a golfer would you be?

If you are a job seeker – be aware that recruiters and managers have very high expectations of you when it comes to resume writing. It is critical to prepare a resume that is a strong and effective representation of you, your skills, your experience, and your accomplishments. It can literally mean the difference between getting or not getting the chance to interview for the job(s) you want.


As I was preparing to respond to the job seeker’s question on LinkedIn, it dawned on me that while HR, recruiting and staffing professionals get to see and evaluate resumes all day long – job seekers rarely have the opportunity to see resumes of other people with experience similar to theirs.

Sure, there are tons of resume writing books on the market, and perhaps even more resume writing sites on the Internet, but I don’t find many of the samples I’ve seen to be particularly impressive, and there aren’t samples for EVERY job or role in the world. Most are ”canned” samples of common roles – and I wouldn’t say they are a fair representation of “real” or effective resumes in most cases (sorry undisclosed authors!).

Plus, job seekers need to realize resume writing books and websites exist to make money for the people who created them. That doesn’t necessarily mean they all offer good or bad advice – it just means they are trying to sell something and you should be conscious of the fact. Everyone knows that writing an effective resume is very challenging – so there is no shortage of people trying to capitalize on this need by selling advice.


Now I am going to share with you a modified version of my full response to the job seeker on Linkedin – he was interested in RF Engineering Manager positions – I am going to attempt to make my advice universal for any job seeker of any profession.


You can and should search the Internet for real resumes of other professionals who are in your industry and have similar experience to you. This will enable you to effectively perform a comparative and competitive analysis, and you will likely get many excellent content and format ideas on how to best represent your experience (and certainly some ideas on how NOT to!). It can be especially helpful to see real examples of the types of resumes your resume may be compared to, and it can provide you with a competitive advantage over other candidates. Knowledge is power.

There are many ways of finding resumes on the Internet – here is an example of a generic search string you can enter into Google, filling in appropriate titles and skills.

(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume) (”Job Title1″ OR “Job Title2″) Skill1 Skill2 -job -jobs -sample

If you are a software engineer, here is what your search string could look like:

(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume) (”developer” OR “engineer” OR “architect”) Java Oracle Weblogic -job -jobs -example -sample

Click here to see the results

If you are a tax accountant, here is what your search string could look like:

(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume) accountant tax -~job -~jobs -example -sample

Click here to see the results

After you run your search – spend some time reviewing the resumes to compare your resume to others of people who have similar experience to yours and to get ideas.


I believe it is an excellent idea to review job postings for your target role as some of them are highly detailed, specific, and very well written. Reviewing job postings can help remind you of experience you do actually have but forgot to mention in your resume or perhaps only briefly mentioned and will allow you to expand on it effectively.

When reviewing job postings to get ideas for resume writing, I suggest viewing a larger sample of jobs than you would normally. Go beyond local positions and search for jobs nationally. Why limit yourself to one location when all you are doing is looking for meaty, well-detailed job descriptions? Any of the large job boards (Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Dice…) or job search aggregators such as Indeed or SimplyHired can serve as a resource for you.

Searching the entire nation is a good way to see a larger sample of jobs thus increasing the statistical probability of you finding very well written and highly detailed job descriptions that may help you more effectively and accurately represent your experience.


Unlike the past, when people used typewriters to craft their resumes individually for each job opening they were applying for, in today’s day and age a large number of people create only one resume (what I will call a “generic” resume) that is essentially used as a “one size fits all” representation of their experience. If executed properly, a “generic” resume can be effective, however, every position you will be applying for will be with a different company and will be its own unique opportunity. As such, I strongly suggest customizing your resume to specifically expand and highlight any experience you have that is highly relevant to the job opportunity you are applying to.


How much/How large/How many?
It can be critical to mention size, scale, and scope in relation to your experience because it may enable the reader to instantly grasp the level and extent of your experience. For example, if you were responsible for a network deployment, you should mention how many sites you were responsible for. There is a big difference between 5, 500, and 5000 sites – and it may be able to set you apart from other candidates applying to the same position.

Quantify anything relevant to your experience. Other examples: Number of accounts reconciled every month? Number/size of clients serviced? Size of budget? Number of direct reports? Number of vacancies filled? National or global? How many servers? Lines of code? Size of data warehouse? Number of users supported? Number of requirements taken?

Of course, if your experience isn’t that impressive in terms of size (i.e., 5 sites), you may not want to draw attention to it in your resume. However, it will likely come out on an interview anyway, so be prepared to speak about the quality of your experience instead.

What was the environment?
Always be careful to remember to include as much detail about the environments you have worked in, including the type of environment (HQ, field, operations center, etc.) and all software, hardware and other tools and technologies you worked with. This can enable the reader to quickly assess how closely your experience matches with their environment – recruiters and hiring managers unfortunately won’t often give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have experience with anything. If it’s not explicitly mentioned in the resume, it’s more likely to be assumed you haven’t done it or haven’t used it.

What was it for/What did it do?
It is helpful to explicitly explain the purpose behind what you did in your jobs, if not readily apparent. For example, was it a migration or upgrade? What was the purpose of the migration or upgrade? Who used the product? Was it a redesign project? What was the end result? Who benefitted? Did it help your company or customers? How? This detail can help reviewers assess how applicable your experience is to what their company is trying to accomplish.

What did you do specifically?
It is critical to clearly represent your role and responsibilities beyond your title and to be very specific. Be sure to mention your major responsibilities as well as your level of responsibility in comparison to others on your team or in your group.

For example, if you performed RF network design, where you the only one responsible for it or were you part of a team of others and you shared the responsibility? Were you the go-to person/expert for propagation analysis? It can be a critical point for a potential employer scanning your resume to determine if you are qualified for their position.

Can it be measured?
If you saved your company 5 million dollars, or you completed all of your projects 80% faster than expected, or you reduced the site deployment process from 8 weeks to 3 weeks, you should say so because it is a quantitative way of representing your experience and the impact you had for previous employers. Most resume writing books suggest this – and deservedly so.

Who did you work for/support? The CEO? A 4 star general? The lead architect? Attorneys? Senior Engineers? The Director of Tax? 5000 end users of an application? Who you have specifically worked for and/or who you have supported in your previous roles can be a good representation of what you are capable of doing and and the level of work you have performed.


I personally don’t feel that a shorter resume is better. If your well written resume is already 1-2 pages, then great. If your well written resume is 3-4 pages long and you feel pressue to try and artificially limit your experience to 1 or 2 pages, this can work against you. If you have to remove valuable information from your resume to shorten it, how can a reader evaluate experience you don’t mention? However, I do recommend avoiding excessively long resumes (over 5 pages). If your resume is over 5 pages, you can probably benefit from being more concise in your writing, no matter how much experience you have (although I have seen resumes over 10 pages that did not prevent the people from getting jobs).


Be aware that at some point, your resume is going to make it into a database – whether you post it on a job board, or it gets parsed into a company’s database because you responded to their job posting, or a potential employer scanned your paper resume into their system. As such, your resume will then be retrieved (or not!) by someone running a Boolean search for keywords related to the opportunity they’re hiring for.

If you have experience with a particular software, skill, or technology and fail to mention it explicitly in your resume, and the person searching through their database is actually searching using that specific term – they won’t find you. In fact, they CAN’T – because they’re looking for a word that doesn’t exist on your resume. What’s especially challenging for most job seekers is that some of the specific things you do and use every day in your job are often the ones you easily forget to mention, simply because they are so familiar to you.


It is critical that you are aware that very few people “read” resumes. The reality is that most recruiters and managers scan resumes – sometimes as quickly as 20 seconds (or less!). When someone has to review a large number of resumes in consideration for an opportunity, they typically scan each resume quickly – focusing (in my experience) mostly on the actual experience and not as much time (if any) on the summary, objective, or skills/technology summary. If they don’t see what they’re looking for in 15-30 seconds, they can pass over you and move on to the next resume. It’s your job to not let them do that.

If you take a moment to think about the way most people process resumes, you will realize that what they are trying to determine quickly is how many years of applicable experience you have and what you have specifically done that is highly relevant to the position they are reviewing you for. That means many people skip immediately to your employment to analyze your years of experience at each employer while trying to quickly gauge exactly how deep your experience is.

There are many acceptable ways of representing experience, but I personally favor bullets as opposed to paragraphs. They enable you to represent experience in easily and quickly absorbed “power statements” that lend themselves to scanning. It is important to note that many people will scan down first to your most recent employer, take note of the time you spent there, and then scan your experience there from the top down – which means that your first 3 to 4 bullets (or sentences) are perhaps the most critical.

If you can convey your experience effectively and concisely in the first 3-4 bullets or sentences, most people will not read the remainder of your experience at that employer and will skip to the next employment and repeat the process. A well written resume can enable the reviewer to accurately assess a candidate in 15-30 seconds (or less!).

An example of a solid “power statement:” Responsible for managing the site survey, design, and deployment of a 315 site EVDO and WiMAX network spanning 6 states involving 37 engineers and completed ahead of schedule in under 14 months. Short and concise – in one sentence it mentions responsibility, what they did and with what, how many, and how fast.


My opinion is that “functional” resumes are of little value – for the simple reason that I cannot tell exactly how much experience (in years) you have with any particular skill, responsibility, or technology, and perhaps even more importantly, I cannot tell how current your experience is with any particular skill, responsibility, or technology. I strongly suggest reverse chronological formatting.


While some people take the time to read cover letters you should know that in my experience, a surprisingly large percentage of people skip them altogether and go straight to the resume, where they (I assume) feel the “real” information is.

However, I do think it would be foolish to not prepare a cover letter which briefly states a high level overview of your experience as well as your specific interest in the company and/or opportunity you are applying to, with a concise explanation of how you are specifically qualified for the position/firm.


I could not possibly cover every single aspect of effective resume writing in a single blog post, however, I’ve tried to cover what I think are the most important points to consider when writing an effective resume.

If you found this resume writing advice helpful – please share this post with others or link to it so that they may benefit from it. With unemployment at a 26 year high, job seekers need all the help they can get in setting themselves apart.

Original Article –

Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand

February 5, 2009 – 3:51 pm PDT – by Dan Schawbel

Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog.

In the past few years personal branding has been discussed exhaustively throughout the Net. The difference between today and over ten years ago when it was first mentioned by Tom Peters, is the rise of social technologies that have made branding not only more personal, but within reach.

From the corporate brand (BMW), to the product brand (BMW M3 Coupe) and down to the personal brand (car salesman), branding is a critical component to a customer’s purchasing decision. These days, customer complaints and opinions are online and viewable through a simple search, on either Google or through social networks. There is no hiding anymore and transparency and authenticity are the only means to survive and thrive in this new digital kingdom.

Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, yet each and every one of us is a brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them.

We can also have just as much presence as most startups and mid-size companies and products. Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled us to reach incredible heights, at the cost of our time. Today, I want to share the personal branding process, so you can start to think about what face you want to show to the world and how you want to position yourself for success!

1. Discover your brand

The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what’s in their best interests. The key to success, and this isn’t revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion. In order to find your passion, you need a lot of time to think, some luck and you need to do some research online to figure out what’s out there.

Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan. Have you ever been called intelligent or humorous by your peers or coworkers? That description is part of your brand, especially if you feel those attributed pertain to you. To know if you’ve discovered your brand, you need to make this equation equal:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

Before you enter the next step in the personal branding process, you’ll want to select a niche, whereby you can be the master of your domain. For example, Joel Comm has mastered the Google Adsense niche and brands himself using his name, and Brian Solis owns the social media PR niche with his PR 2.0 blog (under his name). When I say domain, I mean an area where there aren’t many competitors and literally, your online domain name. Once you sort this all out, now it’s time to create your brand.

2. Create your brand

Now that you know what you want to do and have claimed a niche, at least in your mind, it’s time to get it on paper and online. The sum of all the marketing material you should develop for your brand is called a Personal Branding Toolkit. This kit consists of the following elements that you can use to highlight your brand and allow people to easily view what you’re about:


1. Business card: It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, CEO, or a consultant, everyone should have their own business card. The card should contain your picture, your personal brand statement (such as Boston Financial Expert), as well as your *preferred* contact information and corporate logo if necessary.

You can create your own business card and share it through your mobile phone using or On the web, is a great social network for creating and distributing your person business card.

2. Resume/cover letter/references document: These are typical documents that you need for applying for jobs and when you go on interviews (something over 2 million job seekers will be doing as we speak). Be sure to prioritize each document with information custom to the target position. Take your resume online and add social features to it to make the ultimate social media resume, promoting your personal brand to the world and making it shareable.


3. Portfolio: Whether you use a CD, web or print portfolio, it’s a great way to showcase the work you’ve done in the past, which can convince someone of your ability to accomplish the same results for the future. and are social networks for people who want to show off their creative skills to the world.

4. Blog/website: You need to own or a website that aligns with your name in some fashion. Depending on who you are, how much time you have on your hands and if you can accept criticism, you should either start a blog or stick with a static homepage. Those who blog will have a stronger asset than those who don’t because blogs rank higher in search engines and lend more to your expertise and interest areas over time.

5. LinkedIn profile: A LinkedIn profile is a combination of a resume, cover letter, references document and a moving and living database of your network. Use it to create your own personal advertising, to search for jobs or meet new people.

6. Facebook profile: Over 160 million people have profiles, but almost none of them have branded themselves properly using this medium. Be sure to include a Facebook picture of just you, without any obscene gestures or unnecessary vodka bottles. Also, input your work experience and fill out your profile, while turning on the privacy options that disable the ability for people to tag you in pictures and videos (allowing people to see the ones tagged of you).


7. Twitter profile: Your Twitter profile should have an avatar that is carved out of your Facebook picture and used in your LinkedIn profile. You need to use a distinct background, fill out your profile and include a link to either your blog or LinkedIn profile., developed by internet mogul Jim Kukral, has templates you can use to sculpt your very own Twitter background (Photoshop skills not included). is another solution that also lets you promote your Twitter profile.

8. Video resume: A video resume is a short video of you talking about why you are the best for a specific job opportunity. You get about a minute or so to communicate your brand and are able to send the link, once you upload it to YouTube, to hiring managers.

9. Wardrobe: Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important for standing out from the crowd. Select clothing that best represents you because it will be viewable through your pictures/avatars online, as well as when you meet people in reality.

10. Email address: Don’t overlook your email address as not being a significant part of your toolkit. Most people use email over all social networks and when you connect with someone on a social network, you are notified via email, so get used to it. Your email address poses a great opportunity for your brand. I recommend using gmail because of the acceptance of Google and since GTalk allows you to form tighter relationships with others. For your address, use “”

What’s next?

After you spend the time on these parts of your personal branding toolkit, it’s time to showcase it to the world, especially your target audience. Don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come. Unless you’re the luckiest person on earth, you’ll have to actually communicate everything you’ve created to others.

In the next post, I will discuss how you can take the personal branding toolkit you’ve developed and communicate it to your audience. I’ll give you tips on how to market your personal brand to become known in your niche. Then, I’ll finish by explaining how you should monitor and update your brand over your lifetime.

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Ways Job Seekers Can Find Old Contacts

When Rick Featherstone, 49, was laid off from DHL in August after nearly five years with the company, he dived into his Rolodex to call old network of colleagues and business associates. He figured it would be easy to reconnect. But it turned out that many of his former coworkers had moved on and finding them was a challenge. Mr. Featherstone, who had worked at just three companies over the previous 22 years, quickly realized his contact list was sorely out of date.

Four months later, the former IT manager has found many former colleagues, but in retrospect he says he has learned a valuable lesson: “You have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, you aren’t going to work for the same company for 50 years.”

Many laid-off professionals who’ve worked at the same company — or just a few firms — over their careers may find that their networks have gone stale. Experts recommend networking be done consistently and be nurtured throughout a career, but that’s not always feasible in a world of 70-hour workweeks and family commitments. There are ways to jump start a network that’s out-of-date and to rebuild rapport with former friends and colleagues.
Dead Ends

First, you actually have to find these people. The email address you used a year ago may yield only a bounceback message now. Michael Duncan, 44, was laid off from a software-development firm in late October. While working for the same company for 11 years, Mr. Duncan hadn’t done much networking. “I just had this assumption that I didn’t need to worry about it,” he says.

To rebuild his network he emailed former colleagues, did Internet searches and asked ex-coworkers to reconnect him to people they have stayed in touch with. But Mr. Duncan has had trouble locating former managers for references, particularly a manager who moved overseas, whom he still hasn’t found.

Social- and business-networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo are good ways to find old connections. LinkedIn officials say the site has seen a 36% increase in membership over the past six months as executives scramble to rebuild their networks. You can search by name or company to find old acquaintances. Personalize your network invitation request with a memory the two of you shared or a reminder of who you are, says Cheryl Yung, a senior vice president of outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison. Once you’ve re-established your relationship, you can also view the friends of your connections, and request an introduction to people at companies that interest you.

If you already have a LinkedIn account, keep it current. An update on David Stevens’s LinkedIn status indicating that he was “up for grabs” spurred one of his contacts to alert him to a job opportunity. He interviewed for the job and within two weeks of being laid off, he was back at work.

Once you’ve located people in your old network, a simple holiday card to a former manager or colleague — or calling to wish them a happy New Year — can reopen dialogue, says Ms. Yung.

It can be daunting or uncomfortable contacting people you haven’t spoken to in years — especially when you’ve just been laid off. But, you can use the spirit of the season as a crutch; December and January are prime months to get reacquainted with old friends and colleagues. Also, try to attend as many holiday parties as you can; look for people you’ve lost touch with and speak to people you’ve never met, advises Bettina Seidman, a New York career-management counselor.

Once you’ve made contact, arrange a meeting. “Email and networking sites speed up the communication, but they don’t do the networking for you,” says Liz Lynch, author of “Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online.” Career coaches say it’s critical to set up in-person meetings and attend networking events. Be mindful of your contact’s time; you might not be the only one asking for help. Ask for 10 minutes to chat, or offer to catch up over coffee or lunch, says Ms. Lynch.
Professional Groups

If you’ve exhausted your efforts to find people or need to start from scratch, professional associations are a good place to begin. Associations give you access to other professionals who may work for or have contacts within companies you want to work with. Finding a local chapter is as easy as plugging your industry and the word “association” or “society” into a search engine, says Laura Hill, a career coach with The Five O’Clock Club in New York.

Once you find the association, join up and look for events the local chapters are holding. It’s an opportunity to network with people who will speak your industry language.

If you’ve been in a more senior executive position, consider volunteering to speak at industry and trade conferences or offer to serve on committees for professional associations, says Ms. Seidman. Volunteering to work at professional events like speaking occasions, luncheons and networking affairs are also great ways to meet people, says Ms. Hill.
Back to School

Alumni associations can also be helpful. In wake of the financial crisis, many colleges are ramping up their alumni services and even holding career fairs and networking events for alumni, says Ms. Lynch. Contact your alma mater’s alumni-relations office to get access to their online database. Once there, you can search for old friends by name or class, or search for alumni at different companies or industries you are interested in working in, says Ms. Hill.

Informal networking can also help. If you find yourself standing in line at the bank or grocery store, strike up a conversation with the person behind you, says Susan Guarneri, a career coach based in Three Lakes, Wis. “You should network with everyone you meet because you don’t know who they know,” says Ms. Guarneri, who once got a job after receiving a tip from her exterminator.

And remember, networking is a give-and-take experience. Figure out what you can offer — whether it be a contact, a lunch or a favor. “It gives the signal that you’re in it for the two of you,” says Ms. Lynch.

Write to Dana Mattioli at