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Five Things I Believe About Blogs as a Career Tool

Everyone, regardless of profession, should be using a blog to record their employment experience. Resumes dumb down years of experience to one page, failing to capture or oversimplifying the whole story.  A blog that records, semi-regularly if not daily, your thoughts on your job experience, initiatives you've taken, self assessment compared to goals of what you think your ideal performance should be, and potential mistakes and what you've learned from them would go so much further to constructing a complete picture of what you bring to the table.  Blogs are a great record of your demonstrated ability to think strategically and to communicate with written word--two of the most important attributes that employment candidates need in today's sales and service focused economy.  There will be a time when blogs are almost as commonplace as resumes and employers check the blogs of the top resumes screened out as an interim step between the resume drop and the interview invite. 

Blogs are much better tools than social networking sites to connect to others in your industry.
  Social networking sites are focused on the connections themselves, which is as forced and feels just as unnatural as networking for the sake of networking.  No one wants to be seen as the person "working the crowd" to see whose cards he or she can get or how many they can dish out.  Network development should be an incidental outgrowth of sharing of interests and connections should be earned by impressing others with your ability to bring something interesting to the table.  Blogs allow people to demonstrate, before you make a connection, how insightful you can be about your field of interest.  A great comment on the blog of someone else who is established as a thought leader may drive them to comment about your ideas, as well as drive traffic to your own blog and give you the chance to earn the respect and credibility of people in a great network.  You can get tapped into a group by the sharing of ideas, as opposed to feeling like you are walking around with "hat in hand" when you are pinging strangers for connections on a social networking site. 

Blogging helps you become a more insightful worker.  Anyone who has written a book will tell you that the process of writing turns parts of your mind on that pay more attention, pick out insights, and develop theories about the subject you are focusing on.  Your "mind's eye" looks for things to write about and attempts to come up with interesting things to write about.  Plus, you find yourself striving to be consistent in what you think and write, because putting all your thoughts "on paper" challenges you to match them all up in some kind of unified pattern.  You can't write one thing here and contradict yourself later.  The same thing happens to people who start taking up photography.  Whereas you might have missed lots of interesting visuals in your world before, part of your mind is now on the lookout for things that might make for an interesting photo, making you more observant. 

Blogging can be a positive outlet for people who are dissatisfied by their jobs or "between jobs."  A professional blog can be a great way to create something that keeps you thoughtfully engaged in your career in the face of a bad employment experience.  Blogging might help you seek out ways to make your job more interesting or help connect you to people who are undergoing the same frustrations.  Written in a careful and positive way, it can also turn into a great discussion of suggestions you've made to improve your situation or the systematic things about your position that make it difficult and how employers might examine their structure to improve things.  (Of course, you don't want your professional blog to be a long list of complaints about your company or boss that might reflect poorly on you or get you fired).   When you are not working, a record of thoughtful discussion of research is a better and more impressive use of your down time than not having anything to show for it except unsuccessful job searching. 

Blogs need better ways of searching the "About" page.
  Standardized fields like industry, college, years of experience, areas of interest, etc. should be tagged in a way that allows me to pick out, for example, all of the Fordham graduates blogging in the investment field.  This is incredibly easy to do and it would go a long way to making blogs more functional social networking sites as well as make it much easier for new blog readers to quickly identify who they would like to start reading.


It just occurred to me that I don't actually have a family or holiday category for my site.  I guess that might say something...  I'm not a big fan of the holidays, mostly because my family is a lot smaller than it used to be.  We used to have at least 15 or so people stuffed into either my mom's house, my grandmother's, or my mom's now black sheep sister.  Divorce and death have taken their toll, though, and now, admittedly, the holidays are a bit meloncholy for me.  However, I did reengage myself a little bit this year with the camera, fully intending to blog the holidays in our family.  I also learned that I'm a goofball and didn't figure out how to use the autofocus on my camera until after the photos were done.  So, some of these didn't come out that great, but rest assured, the Christmas pics will be clear and crisp.

Img_0192 Nana and Puba...  I try not to get her excited, because she'll pee on the floor...   the dog, that is.  Puba is actually much older than Nana.  She's 98 in dog years, while Nana is a young 86.  Nana is mom's mom.  She's Sicilian.  Both Nana and Puba have bounced down a flight of stairs in the last few years...  Nana fell backwards down a flight of steps at my brother's old house in Chicago and wound up with a golf ball sized bump on her head.  Puba fell down our basement steps the other day, apparently, and was completely unscathed.  These old gals are unbreakable.

Img_0204 This is my dad checking out the neighbors behind us in the backyard.  They're gutting their house, but instead of moving the furniture from room to room while they work, they just dumped it all in the backyard...  totally uncovered.  Its raining now, and there's a microwave out there for starters.  Bizzare.

Img_0197 They got a new dining room set.  I think it looks nice, but it turns out that small people don't fit in the chairs very well, because they're too big.  My mom's cousin Denise couldn't reach the floor with her feet.  So we only had eight people:  Me, my parents, Nana, Mom's cousin Denise, Jackie (my great uncle's widow), her new boyfriend Jim the Pilot, and my brother Steve.  Steve hates being photographed, but I did get him to take one with me at the end.




Holiday traditions: 

Mom making me a leftovers dish to take home. Dad doing the dishes.  Puba foraging under the table for scraps.  My strawberry tart.

Img_0240 Img_0226



Img_0236   And yes, Steve does exist.  The funny thing is that Dad's cousin Danny once thought that we only had two brothers in our family...  the guy knew us for 25 years and didn't know Steve even existed.  That's why we used to call him The Phantom when I was younger... he was always off working or at the gym.

Best picture...  My parent's wedding picture in a frame in the dining room:


They're married for 43 years now. 

Consulting Magazine - The #1 Online and Printed Resource for Consulting Professionals

Link: Consulting Magazine - The #1 Online and Printed Resource for Consulting Professionals.

So my friend Brian just called me up. He works for Consulting Magazine and is helping to lead their web efforts.  I've been trying to introduce him to this whole blogging phenomenon, and, short of reading my own, I'm not so sure he "got it" until today.  He was doing some competitor analysis, which led him to ring me and ask, "Are you familiar with RSS?"

Brian went from being a good journalist to an even better salesperson.  He knows his field very well, and he certainly helped me a ton by editing my Stanford essays.  But, he's never been a cutting edge tech guy, and its very meaningful to me as a milestone that RSS has found its way into his vocabulary. 

Bagel breakfast is on Brian tomorrow, since he'll be picking my brain about what this is all about.  At the moment, I'm at DTUT writing the outline for the blog career book.  This is all gaining traction very quickly.

Worst drivers: Teens, doctors, lawyers - Nov. 18, 2004

Link: Worst drivers: Teens, doctors, lawyers - Nov. 18, 2004.

This is really interesting, because if you combine the data from speeding tickets and accidents, the result is that politicians are the best drivers.  They are one of the least likely professions to get in an accident, but one of the most likely to get a speeding ticket.  Therefore, they're driving really fast, but avoiding crashes. 

Getting Connected

Link: | The Reality of Raising Venture Capital#jump.

Jerry Colonna, who I had the good fortune to meet in person the other day, has a really great response to a frustrated entrepreneur in Texas, but there's one point I want to comment on...

"you MUST get connected. You know that business relies on people connecting with other people and that few great ideas are truly great enough to break through and emerge as successful companies without the founder/entrepreneur/CEO going out and pressing the flesh. So you don't have an MBA. So what? Go out and find a network you can join. If there's none in your area, start a chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) or Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO). Go to you nearest university and meet with the professors there."

It is important to be connected, but a lot of people's efforts to get connected are misguided or too forced.  That's why, although I'm a huge proponent of networking, I'm always very cynical about the networking nights that Fordham tries to do with its Young Alumni.  I tried to focus those efforts on a three month mentoring program, where you could build a relationship over time.  To me, networks are what develops naturally out of being a productively functioning and active member of a number of circles.  I never tried to develop a network, but I was always active in pursuing my interests and so my network grew out of that.  If you're growing a network and you don't have one currently, I'd wonder what's going on that is leaving you out of what should naturally be your network given your course of business. 

For example, I have an idea for an online information service related to college recruiting.  That idea comes out of the student mentoring I've done, which connects me to many people in and around the career education world, and some recruiters as well.  It was my participation in this network, because it was an interest of mine, that grew the idea.  By talking to all these people, I found a need and came up with an idea to fill it.  If you ideas are grown in a bubble, away from customers, peers, other entrepreneurs, its probably not a well tested or appropriate product for the market.  If I wanted to shop this idea around a network, I have one already because it is a relevent network that helped grow the idea in the first place.  If you join a network with the intention to see what you get out of it, people will see right through you.

Its a lot like dating.  When you go out to a bar with the intention of hooking up, you're unlikely to build a long term relationship out of that.  People are a bit guarded, because they know you're "on the prowl" and they're trying to play defense.  Its a market that paralyzes its sellers because they're all afraid of getting duped.  Its all too forced.

However, if you just pursue your interests on a regular basis, taking part in activities you enjoy, you will find yourself meeting people with shared interest and you've got a much higher chance of success.  I met lots of great people at the Boathouse in a much more natural and informal way.  I always wonder about people whose only outlet for finding new people is at a bar. 

A lot of times, I find both people who understand this point and people who don't at professional gatherings.  When I'm at ILPA, I talk to the people I like and the ones I find interesting, rather than anyone I feel like it might be fruitful for me to cozy up to.  I think these personal connections are much stickier than those made by new entrants trying to "work the crowd." 

So, not to say that Jerry's suggestions won't bear fruit, they're good suggestions. I just want to point out that networking--the building of really effective long term relationships--happens over time and it happens not because you go out and look for it.  It is the coming together of like minded individuals taking part in activities for their own sake, not necessarily to get connected to other people.  Just be careful not to cross that line between trying to connect and enjoy time with like minded individuals and trying to get something out of them.