The Secret to Good Introductions

As a congenital connector, I make introductions all the time. Usually I have good results. I’ve had an uncountable number of successful career matches and even ignited a few romances (one of which resulted in a strong marriage.)

But sometimes I mess up and when I do, it usually boils down to one thing: I made an introduction where I thought two people would want to meet, or accepted a request from someone to get an introduction to someone else, but in the end both people weren’t interested in the introduction.

Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who writes the excellent blog A VC, recently wrote a post that distills everything you need to know about introductions into one simple rule: “When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.” He calls it the “Double Opt-In.” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to work a conference, even before it starts

You know the feeling. You sign up for a conference, scan the list of panels and keynotes trying to find out which you’ll go to, which you’ll snooze through, and when you’ll escape for some alone time or a workout.

But how often do you have a strategy for meeting the few people you are really hoping to meet? You know, the ones who have a crowd of people surrounding them and then zip off for a pre-arranged coffee date with some other person who looks important.

Basically, how do you become the kind of person who has those pre-arranged coffee dates (or at least a good shot at some spontaneous ones) with the interesting people at conferences.

Here’s a few ideas:

Spend some time online.  Visit the conference’s website and start studying the speaker list. If the conference is using a social networking tool like Crowdvine to encourage people to meet one another, take the time to fill out your profile and see who else is attending. Find out the conference’s Twitter hashtag and start checking Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it. If you’re active on LinkedIn or Facebook, mention that you’re going to the conference in your status update. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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LinkedIn for complicated resumes

Creating a LinkedIn profile is pretty straightforward when you have a job with a well-defined title. But I’ve been getting questions lately about how to create a profile on LinkedIn when what you’re doing isn’t so tidy. Two scenarios that come up a lot are how to create one of these profiles if you have a slash career (e.g. yoga instructor/caterer), or if you’re unemployed (or, as they say, consulting).

There’s some overlap between the two scenarios because in both cases you are taking what feels like a standard tool and tailoring it to fit your needs. And the good news is that when you spend a little time with it, LinkedIn allows for a lot of customizing.

Here are a few ideas: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to write a killer bio

For a growing swath of the workforce the resume has been replaced, or at least supplemented, by the bio. If you’ve ever had to be introduced by someone at a conference, you know it’s wise to give the person introducing you a written bio rather than sit back and hear how she decides to describe you. Written bios are posted on websites; abbreviated bios show up on sites like LinkedIn; even shorter ones appear next to our profiles on Twitter; and snappy taglines trail the bottoms of our emails.

With the bio in full bloom right now, it pays to take some time to write yours in a way that that reflects how you want to be perceived. Perhaps you want to show a sense of humor or wit. Maybe you want to show your technical prowess by delivering your bio in a video format. And while you’re at it, why not let your bio accomplish some personal branding for you. As you write yours, consider a few things.

If you’re a writer, show off your writing

While writers should have an advantage in crafting well-written bios, it’s remarkable how few unleash their facility with language when profiling themselves. Which is why I love the bio and “about Laura” sections of novelist Laura Zigman’s website. They are composed entirely in the third person and the opening few lines of the bio give you an idea of her tone: “Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn’t fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in).” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to stay in touch without stalking

Have you ever been in this situation? You meet someone new, have an instant rapport and a feeling that the two of you would be able to help each other. You know you want to stay in touch or at least stay on the other person’s radar. But you have no idea when you’ll run into the person again and don’t want to rely on chance.

This issue comes up all the time. It happens when you want to keep up with people who might be helpful in a job search or when you want to let prior clients that you’re around and available for work.

So how do you stay in touch without looking like a stalker or someone who is just lurking around waiting for something to happen?

Here are a few ideas:

Write a newsletter. This idea works for anyone who wants to reach out to their contacts on a regular or irregular basis without picking up the phone. I send an email newsletter to my mailing list roughly four times a year. And each time I do, I get several inquiries and bookings within a few days of sending it out. I also get a lot of hellos from people I’m happy to hear from. The key to writing a good newsletter is to give your readers something useful rather than using it solely as a self-promotion vehicle. The “Casnocha Beat,” a periodic newsletter sent by Ben Casnocha, a blogger/author/speaker, always leaves me with something juicy to think about. He includes an “estimated read time” at the top, a clever way to convince you it’s only a small investment to read it. Colleen Wainwright, a communications consultant who goes by the name “Communicatrix,” sends a newsletter that does a good job of reminding people of her services while giving volumes of helpful stuff. (It’s no surprise that she wrote an excellent post on how to write a bulletproof newsletter.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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5 online job search tips

Now that so much of the job search process happens online, the most common complaint I hear about is the “black hole” — that mysterious place to which resumes seem to travel from the moment an applicant hits the “send” key. If you’re involved in a job search where you feel like you repeatedly send out resumes in response to ads and rarely hear back, then it might be time for some new online search techniques. Try these 5 tricks to shake things up:

Answer questions on Linkedin

Your strongest chance of being hired is to find ways to show off your expertise and build relationships in your field. One easy way to do this is to troll the “Answers” section on LinkedIn and start responding to questions where you think you can be helpful. People whose answers get high ratings show up on a list of experts. Nabbing one of those spots is a terrific way to ensure that people using the site to fill a position will find your profile. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to look like you’re working when you’re unemployed

There is a natural tendency to want to hire someone who is already working, but in this economy, how do you convince those who you want to hire you that you are already doing what they want you to do?

When I decided I wanted to be a writing coach, I did two simple things. I added a “slash” to my business card (writer/speaker/writing coach) and to the signature line of my email address. Before I had even figured out the details of my coaching business — what I’d charge, where I’d meet with clients — people started asking me about my services. Within a couple of months, my coaching practice was off the ground.

The business card and email signature work well if you’re consulting or freelancing, but if you are looking for a full-time job, you’ll need to use different techniques. Here are some other ideas: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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4 ways to prepare for a layoff

A few days ago, I got an email from a friend — yet another — who told me that he had just been laid off from his journalism job. The job losses in our field are so huge that there is at least one website entirely devoted to tracking the loss of journalism jobs day by day.

My friend wrote that he wished he had done some planning before the ax had fallen, and he is not the only one feeling that way. Many people are in situations where they know layoffs are a possibility, yet they do little to prepare themselves.

Here’s a few suggestions I would have given to my friend had he called me before he got his official notice. But it’s not too late. These things still make sense once a layoff is official. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Business cards go creative, and cheap

Recently I went to a conference without any business cards. When people asked me about it, I said I was “going green” and saving paper, but in truth, I just forgot. I know. That’s a weird move for a career columnist. But in my case, business cards don’t serve much use anymore. I have a website and email address so easy to remember that if anyone wants to find me, all they need to do is remember to spell Marci with an “i” not a “y.” And you can find me on pretty much any social network.

That said, I’m in the minority on this one. As I quickly learned when I wondered aloud on Twitter whether people still care about business cards now that so much of our contact information is posted online. Moments after my tweet, I was barraged with messages from people who are still clinging closely to their business cards. Job hunters need them. Those seeking clients need them. And if you’re dealing with people from other cultures, proper business cards are expected. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to Manage Your Personal Brand

Personal branding has been one of the hottest buzz phrases ever since Tom Peters wrote a Fast Company article way back in 1997 that turned into the book, The Brand Called You. The notion is that individuals are all brands — much like our running shoes and kitchen appliances (though some of us are clearly more running shoe than refrigerator). And from that flows that logic that we all need to cultivate and nurture our brands so they thrive and prosper just as the brands managed by big business.

There’s a new kid on the personal branding block — Dan Schawbel — and he’s taken Peters’ principles to their next logical incarnation — branding in the social media age. I call him a “kid” because at 25, he is also part of the new generation of Internet wunderkinds who have become so adept at spreading their ideas online that they write their first books and hit the morning show circuit when barely out of college.

Now that we are all publishers — writing personal blogs, answering questions on LinkedIn, updating our status on Facebook or Twitter — Schawbel has a message that is very much of the moment. Which is that we need to harness these tools in order to convey our personal brand to the world. And once we do that, we will not only find career opportunities, but they will find us. (Read the rest at Yahoo!)

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