How to Deal with Post-Conference Overload

Last week I returned from a conference, which put me into my usual state of post-conference overload. My bag was busting with business cards; the conference agenda and my notebook were filled with notes I must have thought important at the time I scribbled them; and a tsunami of to-dos had landed on my desk and in my inbox. I spent my first day back trying to processing what I learned at the conference while muddling through the rest of my work. I started thinking about what I’d tell myself if I wanted to make the most out of my conference experience. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Try to have a light schedule on your first day back. {This is really something you need to do before the conference to make your life easier afterwards. Because I violated this rule, I lost nearly a full Saturday playing catch up.} If you can keep at least the morning blocked off for conference follow-up, you’ll have the best chance of doing the other things on this list. The more time that passes after the conference, the less likely you’ll be to actually do the follow-up, connecting, and reflecting you should do.

2. Do something with the stack of business cards. At the very least, write something on them that will jog your memory of who the person is. After years of collecting business cards, I’ve finally accepted the fact that I won’t take the time to input contact information for most of them into my various address/email systems. That said, connecting with people on Facebook or LinkedIn takes almost no time and assures that you can find the people you want to keep track when you need them. I learned this from my cousin Jennine whom I stayed with while at my conference. She had just returned from an adventure travel conference and was linking up with all her new connections online. With each invitation, she included a note to jog the person’s memory of how they met. Connecting on LinkedIn also helps if you’re trying to find someone months after the conference since it allows you to search by keyword in addition to name. (Hat tip to Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder of  In Good Company Workplaces for that handy tip.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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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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5 simple ways to share articles online

One of the best ways to stay connected to people or to stay on their radar is to send clippings. If you just want to send something to one person, nothing beats old-fashioned snail mail. But if you want to share articles with a wide group of people, there are some fantastic and easy ways to do that online. Each of these lets you easily share articles widely with just a few clicks.

Delicious: Delicious is a service that lets you bookmark articles you’ve read, add a description or editorial observation, and tag them by subject matter. That makes it a useful way to keep track of articles and blog posts you don’t want to lose, in a addition to a way to share what you’re reading with anyone who sees your Delicious tags. Ben Casnocha, one of my favorite bloggers, posts his Delicious Bookmarks and tags on the home page of his blog, creating a public record of what he’s recently read and what he’s thinking about what he’s read. Handy both for him and for anyone who wants to know what’s in his head. Facebook also has an application for Delicious so that every time you bookmark new articles on Delicious,  those links can show up on your Facebook profile.

Twitter: Though people think of Twitter as a place where people answer the prompt “What are you doing,” much of the action on Twitter answers the question, “What are you reading?” If you read something you like anywhere on the Web, posting it on Twitter is a two-step process. First, you’ll need to shorten the URL because if you leave it long, it will use up the 140-characters Twitter allows for a message. (See URL shorteners below). Then you can add some observation about the piece: “Brilliant post from Yahoo! Shine on how to share articles online.” Then you plop in the shrunken URL and hit send. Anyone who follows you will see your articles and because Twitter is public, your posts will also appear in the public timeline. Which means you might even get into conversations with people you don’t know because they are interested in an article you posted. Like Delicious, you can share your recent Tweets on a website or blog (Check out the right-hand column of Jennette Fulda’s blog, PastaQueen, to see how Twitter updates look on a blog. You can also have your Twitter updates show up on Facebook. (Caveat: some people find this annoying.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Marriage makes for safe conversations at work. But not for everyone.

I’m back in business after taking pretty much the whole month of September off for my wedding and honeymoon. And since we returned on the night before Yom Kippur, back-to-work was further delayed by another day.

I’ve had quite a few work/life interruptions over the years — times in which I’ve said no to almost everything that comes up on both the personal and work front because life is just too busy. Some of them have been for awful reasons like when people have been ill or passed away. In those cases, people usually understand that you’re going to be out of commission for an indefinite period of time. And they usually leave it to you to tell them when you’re ready to re-engage.  When you’re lucky, they offer the right kinds of support.

But few reasons for dropping out of work and life feel as good as taking time off to get married. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Career lessons from my (young) personal trainer

I have a 21-year old personal trainer, Scott, whom I’ve been working with for about two years. He is a good trainer and knows his stuff. But that’s not why I see him two to three times a week. I use him because he is a natural marketer who happens to be marketing himself.

At a birthday dinner last week with Scott and a group of his clients, talk turned to how many of us, well into our 30s and 40s and established in our careers, could learn a lot about career management by watching our young trainer. And it has nothing to do with his use of technology or some of the other ways we think young people are succeeding today.  It’s pure old-fashioned business smarts.

Scott is a first-generation American who was raised by a single mother and grandmother. He tested into the best schools and has held part-time jobs since he was around 14. By age 16, he was contributing to the family finances. When I started working with him, he was in his junior year of college, and this fall he’ll be starting graduate school. All along, he has worked up to 30 hours a week at the gym, building a serious career out of an arrangement that could easily look and feel like a part-time gig.

Here’s some of what he does right: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Tired of working alone? Try coworking

I’ve worked on my own for nearly ten years. But thanks to a band of fellow free agents, freelancers and entrepreneurs, I’ve often worked alongside other solo workers. I like the company. And I like having someone to bounce ideas around with.  For ages, I worked this way without having a name for it. Then the phrase coworking sprung up to define a movement in which people who choose to share a workspace, usually with a common sensibility and set of values.

Coworking has many flavors. There are free public spaces and fee-based communities, and often they are organized around a common mission like environmental consciousness or supporting women entrepreneurs. There are also ad hoc arrangements (Friend #1 via text: Wanna co-work today? Friend #2: your place or mine?).  And who says you have to be working to coworking? Looking for a job with others around you could be a good way to keep motivation up and ensure that you’ll have structure and camaraderie in your life.

As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of working on my own, with others, here’s my take on things to ponder if you want a successful coworking situation: {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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How to ask for help

For a long time, I had difficulty asking for help. I felt more comfortable on the giving side of things and feared that if I regularly asked others for help I’d take advantage of their kindness. Then I realized that most successful people know how and when to ask for help. And that most people are inclined to offer help when asked (research backs this up.)

So I started asking, and good things happened as a result of it. I got smart advice. I got support from others. And I probably made a lot of people feel good that I respected them enough to seek their counsel.

Every day I get at least one email or call asking for help with something — a request for an introduction, a recommendation, advice on how to find a job. Some of these requests are easy to answer, and in those cases, I respond quickly, either by doing the thing requested of me or explaining why I can’t. Others leave me frustrated with the questioner. And when I’m frustrated it’s usually for a variation of the same few reasons. The person didn’t ask a proper question; the person didn’t appear to have done any work to solve the problem on her own; or she was coming to me for something that I wasn’t really in a position to help with.

Based on these experiences, I’ve developed some guidelines for how I ask for help: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Volunteering your way into a job

When I wrote about searching for salary information online, I missed a new player in that market, Jobnob, which says it has collected and posted salary information on close to three million jobs.

But that’s not what caught my eye about Jobnob. For a site all about making salary information more transparent, the founders are doing something surprising — encouraging people to work for free. Just as I’ve been plugging adult internships as a way to build skills, connections and experience, Jobnob has organized happy hours in San Francisco to bring together jobseekers with cash-strapped startups looking for part-time help. The pitch on Jobnob’s website targets both the jobseekers and startups.

To the jobseeker it asks: “Are you willing to work at least 5 hours a week for free or minimal pay?

To the startup, it asks: “Are you willing to buy a smart, talented, unemployed person a drink.” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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