Tag: Skills

12 Ways PodCamp Can Benefit You and Your Business

Registration.  Name tags.  Sign-in sheets. Driving directions.  Hotels. Free stuff.  Business cards.  Does this remind you of anything?  If you attended PodCamp Philly 2011 this past weekend at Temple University, then this is all still fresh in your mind.

PodCamp is a BarCamp-style unconference where people come together to share and learn about new media such as blogging, social media, podcasting, social networking, and videocasting.  The first PodCamp was held in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006 and today enthusiasts can catch it in cities around the world such as New York, Montreal, London, Toronto and Barcelona.  PodCamp is open to everyone – experts and novice alike.

At the event this past weekend, I spoke at one session entitled Bootstrapping 101 – Using Social Media To Innovatively Optimize Your Bottom Line.  You can see a little more about the session here.  The audience was great – interactive, curious and very willing to share information with each other.  So I left my own session with a number of takeaways, thanks to them!

With so much energy and the free-flow of knowledge, unconferences such as PodCamp are packed with advantages. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, whether you’re attending for yourself or your business.

1. Networking – This is not a day that attendees want to forget their business cards; but with laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices welcome, it is easy to keep up with the professionals, small businesses owners, bloggers, and other content creators you’ll make connections with.

2. Best practices – As you learn from speakers and participate in discussions, you’ll get insight on how your company can better improve processes and workflow.

3. Teambuilding – These events are a lot of fun if you go with a big group because you can decide which sessions members of your group will attend and debrief to share the main ideas after.  With familiar faces around, you’re bound to have a good time.

4. Increase awareness – Nothing is worse than being out of the loop.  Sitting through the various sessions broadens your knowledge and gets you up to speed with the latest and greatest.  You’ll learn what else is out there, what others are doing, and how they’re doing it.

5. Leveraging technology and tools – Because you have the latest gadget or you’re using the newest social media tool doesn’t make you an expert.  You can get tips and tricks to better use your time and become more efficient with these tools.

6. Take the pulse of the market – Do you have a great product or service idea?  What better place to find out if it will have traction than a weekend full of energetic and opinionated people?  Maximize their feedback.

7. Branding – With the opportunity to speak and share your insight during interactive sessions, you can promote your business and position yourself as an expert and thought leader.

8. Training – Some sessions will be very specific with step-by-step guides.   This is a great way to get a crash course for yourself or your team.

9. Big picture analysis – With so many passionate people and ideas floating around, you will leave revitalized and inspired.  It is a great opportunity to take some time to reflect and rethink your overall personal or business strategy.

10. Give back and share – This isn’t all about your takeaways and what you learn.  Add value to someone else’s experience by sharing what you know.

11. Take online relationships offline.  Social media is great because of its reach and the fact that geographic location doesn’t limit who you interact with.  But nothing beats a face-to-face connection which is possible if you plan to meet up with others ahead of time.

12. Take a break, get energized and have fun!  Yes, this is what it is all about.  A community of movers and shakers who want to make a difference is bound to be magnetic!

What is your experience with unconferences?  How have they benefited you?


Essential Holiday Job Searching Tips

When the holiday season comes around, it brings cheer, fun, smiles, joy and distractions!  So if you’re that job seeker who has been looking around for a while or if you’re new to the search, the temptations for you to veer off track will definitely surface between now and the end of the year.  But fight the urge, because it is important to remain steadfast.  Easier said than done.  But you’ll be grateful when the new year begins, and you have a fresh start due to a small sacrifice you made now.

You can do it.  You have the power to be in control!  You have the power to initiate change!  You have the power to enhance your current situation!

Once you believe that, here are some tips to help you following through:

Remain focused on your goal.  As the weather is cooling down and the festivities are underway, it is easy to get sidetracked and procrastinate.  But don’t let it happen!  Remember that situations and circumstances don’t automatically change your current situation if you aren’t actively involved.  So be proctive and stay after your pursuits!

Keep your spirits up. This isn’t an easy one.  Naturally, the holiday cheer may be foreign to you as you focus on your situation.  But it is all a matter of perspective.  And, the saying is true that someone may very well be in a more dire predicament than you.  So be thankful for what you have.  Life. Family. Health.  And don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system during this time.  The good news is that people are always willing to help!

Make holiday get-togethers work for you. There will be a lot of parties and events hosted by family, friends, neighbors, former coworkers, etc. to attend.  An excellent advantage is that many of these will be free and they will be attended by people from various circles.  So what’s in it for you?  Networking opportunities! Yes, great conversations are to be had over eggnog and cake!  So get out there and work the room!

Most jobs are not posted. This goes for online as well as newspapers and all other places you can think of.  As it turns out, less than 20% of jobs are advertised!  So where are they?!  These days companies are using other means to make the process work for them.  They are relying on the networks of their employees for referrals in addition to other focused networks around the community; ultimately, this means less time and money spent for them to sort through applications.  With that said, you have to be out and about mingling, speaking to colleagues, and tapping into these networks so that you are referred!

Know thyself. Simply put but this goes a long way.  Can you readily explain what makes you better than job applicant number 3487 or 4727?  Know your resume like you know the back of your hand.  Be ready to discuss it from a chronological perspective in addition to a functional.  What are your strengths?  How would hiring you benefit the company?  What quantifiable contributions have you made that are indicative of your potential and capabilities?  Can you perform and deliver?  In addition to solidifying this base, what out-of-the-box approach can you incorporate to communicate your value to your potential employer?  Don’t forget that everyone is trying to tell their story and you don’t want your application to be another one in the pile!  So in the spirit of setting yourself apart, force yourself to have the most convincingly communicated story!

Follow up! Do what you can to remain at the forefront of your potential employer’s memory.  Remember that following up is a nice gesture all around so also reach out to individuals you meet so that you can start building a relationship and add them to your network.  A holiday card adds a nice touch and makes the communication timely and relevant.  Don’t forget to be tactful.  One email is a nice gesture, but six voice mails may be excessive.

Participate in other activities. As time-consuming as your search may be, it is important to do other things also.  For instance, at a time when you may think you’re the one who needs the most help, step outside of your situation and maintain your big picture perspective.   Others may need your help!  Think about volunteering or being a mentor.  Not only can strategic activities help you reduce gaps in your resume, but they may also lead to other opportunities.  You never know who you may encounter or who could be watching from afar and admiring your efforts.  Lastly, these activities may be invigorating and provide positivity just when you need it!

Get organized, go forth and conquer! Armed with this advice, get your game plan together.  Figure out how you want to allocate your time to these different activities.  Brush up your resume and make sure you are familiar with everything on it.  Rehearse your pitch until it feels natural.  Go forth, be aggressive and conquer!  All the while, don’t forget to smile!  After all, it is the holidays!

Eating As A Networking Opportunity

Do you ever eat alone?  We all have at some point as a matter of circumstance or choice.  But you shouldn’t make it a habit.

At the very least, eating may be a time when you get away from the hustle and bustle of the day.  It may be your time to escape from the office where you’re staring at the computer screen, answering phone calls, or preparing for a presentation.  Whatever the reason is that propels you to run out the door for lunch, chances are it may also lead you stay out for an entire hour.

One whole hour.  That’s a lot of time.

Ever thought about fitting something else into that time that doesn’t take away from your goal of experiencing freedom and relaxation?  It is very possible.  Not only could you have an enjoyable time while eating with company but you could also achieve some of your other goals in the area of personal development, for example.

Eating isn’t just a necessity; across different cultures, it is also a way of socializing and building and enhancing relationships.  These relationships may be personal or professional; but ultimately, they are the foundation of your network.  And by now, it is no secret that having a strong network is vital.  However, since building relationships take time, the goal here is maximize your time by accomplishing multiple objectives simultaneously.

So here is how you can do it:

Make it a point to eat at least one meal with someone else each day. If you’re an early riser, breakfast may be ideal for you.  But if you’re not, there is always lunch or dinner.  That’s connecting at least 7 times per week out of 21 opportunities; this isn’t asking too much right?

So now that you have a game plan, who should you eat with?

Colleague. Maybe this is someone you work with.  You work with them today, but they may move on to something else tomorrow and be an asset to you.  You never know.

Mentor. It is great to have someone who has been there and can provide you with their insight.  Whether the advice is about what you should or shouldn’t do, this usually enhances efficiency.  And it is great to have someone who is genuinely interested in your progress and success that you can touch base with periodically.

Someone you admire. This one is simple.  It doesn’t always have to be focused on you.  Take the time to let someone know the positive impact they have on those around them.  They may not know; so give credit where credit is due.

Potential or existing client. Whether you work for yourself or for a company, you may have clients who are important to you and whose business you want to retain.  Having a conversation over lunch about topics outside of your business will make you more personable and enhance the relationship.  Or maybe you met someone at an event who you would like to become a client and discuss what services you or your company offer.  Take them to lunch to discuss how you can meet their needs.

Friends and family. This isn’t one to forget.  Non-business relationships also need to be fostered.  Aunt Margaret hasn’t seen you in two months; take her to dinner.

Now, here’s your task:

Starting tomorrow, invite someone out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Don’t eat alone.  Maximize your time by accomplishing the necessity of nourishment while taking the steps to build relationships that will enhance your network.  You’re doing this at least 7 times out of a possible 21 times each week.  See what your schedule allows; you may even be able to fit in more!

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