Thomas J. Armitage

Digital Marketing Consultant | Utica, NY

Category: Business

Business
What Mario Kart Taught Me About Business

What Mario Kart Taught Me About Business

Business

I’m not much of a gamer anymore. I used to be. Then again, weren’t we all in the 90s? Nintendo was pretty much our generation’s iPhone. Mostly everyone had one. And those who didn’t have one, wanted one. It was fresh, cool and continually being modified with newer versions and games that were better than the last. I fell in love with Super NES in 1994 when my brother and I got it as a Christmas gift. And on it, we loved playing one of the greatest party games of all time: Mario Kart.

 

 

Parents used to always rag on video games back then. Remember? They advised us that we should go outside and throw the ball around instead of sitting on the couch playing video games. “It will rot your brains,” they preached. “Those games don’t teach you anything.”

But now as an adult, I find myself constantly feeling nostalgic, thinking about those great games and if what our parents said was actually true. And then I started to realize something.

Mario Kart was a great parallel to the business world.

It didn’t rot my brain. No sir, Mario Kart taught me everything I know about life! Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but there’s certainly something to be said about the game and the lessons it lends to today’s business world, especially those looking to excel in marketing. Here’s three key reasons why I find Mario Kart to be the perfect metaphor to succeeding in today’s workplace.

Every Employee Has Different Skills

You turn on the game, and before you can even start thinking about all the fun you are about you have, you have to make a decision. In the worry-free 1990s, this was probably the most important decision you were going to make all month. Which character are you going to be?

I love how Nintendo made each character distinct. Not only in who they are, but in the strengths they possessed. Mario was well-balanced, for example. He didn’t have any stats that were off-the-chart, but was a great well-rounded driver. You could count on him to do a good job on all courses. Toad was light and had excellent handling abilities but his size and stature didn’t fair well when getting bumped by the big boys. Speaking of which, Bowser’s size and weight made him have slow acceleration speed but top off at the highest speed once he got going.

In the workplace, we all have unique strengths. At my company, upon hire, our president makes us each take the StrengthsFinder test as well as a personality test. By doing so, the group can quickly get a feel for a new member’s work style and what he/she might be great at. There’s a total of 33 strengths in this particular study. Some include:

  • Achiever
  • Belief
  • Competition
  • Developer
  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Focus
  • Futuristic
  • Positivity
  • Strategic

What I love about the book (that supports the test) is that it instructs readers to not focus on trying to compensate for weaknesses, but rather take time to understand and accentuate strengths. Just like Mario Kart, different employees, based on their strengths, might be better suited for certain projects, tasks, clients, etc. Maximizers are wonderful at working through the details, woo (winning others over) are great in client facing roles or in sales, etc.

It’s also helpful to take a look at personality types. Using the Jung and Briggs Myers model, learn which of the 16 personality types you fall in. By carefully understanding your personality, you can do a better job at adjusting your work style to find greater productivity and efficiency and settle into roles where you will succeed.

In Mario Kart, you have to know what you are good at to compete at the highest level. Understanding each team member’s strengths in your company can help you do a better job at aligning the proper resources to each project, while seeing far greater quality in work. Manage by strength, not by name or title.

All Markets Are Different

I bet running a small business was easy in the 1880s. You opened your business, maybe put an ad in the local newspaper, and dealt with all those great, loyal customers walking through the door. Life was good.

Today, it’s much more complicated. The web and mobile make geographical reach virtually non-existent. Remote staff and sales teams allow us to hire anyone, anywhere. The ability to reach all sorts of customers let even the most niche product or service have the potential for success beyond any sort of borders.

And at that same time, competition is fiercer than ever because anyone can start a business, raise funds, operate a staff, and sell a product. You see how much some of these GoFundMe pages have raised? It’s more important now, more than ever, to fully understand your market and target audience.

One of the coolest things about Mario Kart is the different courses that you encountered. Each was unique with different themes, roads, and enemies. It took weeks or even months of playing before you could master them all and know the special nuances of each. But let’s not mention Rainbow Road.

Tying back to real life, your market is the course. Each with a different landscape and makeup.

You may not have a bird’s eye view of your market like Mario, but you can research and pull from past experiences. As long as you have the time, talent and resources, you have access to data and information that can help you understand your market and audience and better lay out your business plans.

Explore blog posts, case studies and online statistics, and lean on research to build out buyer personas to see what your target audience is like – from both a demographic and psychographic perspective. Read into the cultural makeup of the areas that you are selling in to see if there are any correlations with buying habits.

Some activities to gather this information could include:

  • Google Consumer Surveys
  • Email Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Google Analytics and Social Media Demographic Data
  • User-Testing
  • Customer and Company Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Secondary Research
  • Negative Persona Development

The information gathered should be complete and help establish a comprehensive understanding of the audience. Some things you’ll definitely want to gather include:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Income
  • Company
  • Title
  • Family
  • Language
  • Favorite Website
  • Favorite Apps
  • Preferred Device
  • Buying Motivations
  • Buying Concerns

There are resources out there, you just need to find them. Do so before you create any action plans so you can tailor the product, service, brand, and messaging for the audience within that market. And make sure to keep a close eye on your competitors too. You wouldn’t want Donkey Kong sneaking up on you and blasting you with a triple red shell now, would you?

Different Tactics Work At Different Times

When the race began, you had one goal. Get a weapon as soon as possible.

The genius behind Nintendo is their creativity with things like this. Each weapon offered a different advantage, and some even could come back to haunt you. The green shells were sent flying to try and knock off a leading racer. Red shells were similar but tracked the competitor for increased accuracy. And the blue shell chased the race leader! Banana peals were dropped behind you and hopefully forced your nearest enemy to slip and wipe out. And of course you also had mushroom boosts and the beloved star power.

In the business world, and most especially in marketing, we have an incredibly wide breadth of tactics at our disposal to try and reach our goals and/or improve our bottom line.

I came up with a list of 99 marketing tactics one day just to try and see how many were available to me while I was working on a new marketing plan. The fact is: we have a ton of options. Here’s just a few:

  • Affinity programs
  • Blogger outreach
  • Contests
  • Employee videos
  • Lead nurturing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Mobile apps
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media
  • Remarketing
  • Webinars
  • Websites

But what works best?

Of course that all depends on the company, the competitive landscape, the industry, budget, the audience and more. Before your new calendar year begins, put together a marketing plan that will map out everything you are looking to accomplish this year and why.

And before you start making the decisions on what to include, begin with research. Not all tactics are created equal and some companies see greater success than others, depending on how well they’ve crafted their plan.

In Mario Kart, some items work better than others. That depends on the course, the player, your current positioning, and the enemies in front or behind you.

In the game, it was a toss up what weapon you’d receive each time. And you were left dealing with the hand you were deal. Fortunately, in the business/marketing world, it’s not random. You have the power to choose whatever tactics you want.

Do the research, understand the market, lay out a strategy, and select the tactics that work best for you to help your company reach your goals. Choose wisely and work towards earning the most profound ROI around your work.

So, there ya go. See, Mario Kart really did teach us kids something. Happy personality test-taking, buyer persona-creating, marketing plan-building, and of course, Mario Kart playing. Have fun! And good luck!

This article originally appeared on Steamfeed.com. To view the full article, please visit: http://www.steamfeed.com/what-mario-kart-taught-me-about-business/

How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero (And Other Productivity Tips)

How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero (And Other Productivity Tips)

Business

I used to poke fun at my wife because she has some OCD tendencies. For example, different foods can’t touch each other on the dinner plate. For me, I just pour gravy over everything. Or what about how the bed needs to be made just right or else she can’t fall asleep? I passed out in Grand Central Station once next to a homeless dude. Slept great!

At home, not much bothers me. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I’m very different when I arrive at the office. Maybe she and I are more alike than I thought.

Like many, I have a ritual that I follow pretty closely each day and each week. It’s this routine that helps me stay focused, get a lot done, stay organized and my keep stress levels down. This past week, a co-worker of mine wanted to chat with me about how I manage my time so well.

I started to jot down notes.

Then it dawned on me. So many things are just habitual that I never really noticed how many small things I do regularly that add up to make a big difference in the way I work. Here are the five major work habits that I’ve identified that help me with my time management, productivity, and organization. Maybe you can find benefit from these too!

A Morning Routine

You know how some people say: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee?” I’m pretty much the same way, but with my morning activities instead of the cup of joe. Each day, I take the first 30 minutes or so organizing e-mails I received during the night (see the next section about my e-mail inbox), reading news, checking my social media handles, and scheduling posts. Unless it’s urgent, I will ignore everything else.

This helps me find my footing on the day, be in-the-know with any industry news, and clear out my notifications, to avoid any later distractions. This doesn’t get much work OFF my plate, but does do a nice job at helping set the tone and understanding needs and expectations from clients and teammates. Most people have a routine. But if it’s more coffee-related and less work-related, it’s probably not helping you much. Develop a routine that works for you and stick to it!

My Inbox Stays at Zero

A co-worker came to my desk recently and asked me to open an e-mail that he sent that morning. I asked what it was about. He said: “I just sent it. Check you inbox.” I replied, “I have nothing in my inbox. Tell me what email you are talking about and I’ll find it.”

It’s quite a shock to some when you say that you keep your inbox at zero. I know it’s not easy for everyone, but it can be done. Here’s what I do.

I develop a mailbox folder structure that’s custom to my needs. I create folders for each client, my company-related activities and most importantly, a “Pending” folder. Every half hour or so, I’ll check my email. If it’s urgent, I respond immediately. If it’s not, I’ll drag the email to the folder where it belongs.

If it’s related to a client, for example, it goes in that specific client folder. If it is related to my company, it goes in that folder (or one of its sub-folders). And if I need to take an action on it and am in the middle of something, it goes in my “Pending” folder. Later on in the day, I’ll block out time specifically to answer e-mails, and this is where I’ll follow up on those pending items. Sometimes I can’t take an action on it right then and there, so I’ll leave it in pending or another day or two. Better than keeping it in my inbox where it will get ignored.

I bet some of you are thinking that you get way too many emails and it would be impossible to keep your inbox at zero. Here’s a few tips. First, ask your colleagues to take you off the cc of irrelevant e-mails and to stop abusing the “reply all” function. These have become habit for far too many professionals. Address the issue and nip it in the bud and I bet you’ll see a dramatic decrease in inbox notes.

Secondly, you probably get a lot of junk mail. Use a service like unroll.me to mass delete e-mail marketing subscriptions or roll those auto e-mails up into one daily message.

Finally, consider project management and collaboration tools that house internal communication. Use basecamp, Clarizen or another similar services that keep project-related discussions within the platforms and out of your inbox.

Log Your Time Daily

If you work for an agency like me, you know the necessary evil of completing time sheets and having to log hours based on non-billable or billable time, and logging hours for each of your clients so you can track time, measure performance and profitability, etc. But I don’t look at time cards as a bad thing at all. In fact, I like them.

Time sheets help me understand where I’m putting my time and what I accomplished that day. Before I leave at the end of the day, I do my time sheet. I’m actually psycho about it. I refuse to go home until it’s done. And if I happen to have an urgent meeting that takes place at the end of the day, I simply do my time sheet ahead of time to make sure it’s done.

Doing these daily helps me to be accurate with my recording, not fall behind on logging hours (which then becomes a very daunting task in and of itself), and cap off my day with another point of organization. By visually seeing where I put time, and which clients were given attention, I can better prepare for my next day and the remainder of the month. Harvest and Timely are both great.

Ongoing To-Do List 

For years, I kept a to-do list on paper. It works okay, but here’s the drawback. Things get constantly added and removed, and priorities always change. So as a result, I had to keep re-writing my to-do list, every other day or so. This went on for years. I’m not sure why I didn’t adopt a digital tool until last year, but I’m glad I did.

My co-worker introduced me to Trello, which today, is one of the most popular to-do list managers. What I love about it is that it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. In other words, don’t expect this to replace your project manager tool or your time sheet manager tool. Trello simply helps you organize your tasks and keep you sane.

My Trello consists of five boards: “Short-Term,” “Long-Term,” “Waiting on Client,” “Waiting on Team Member” and “Other Reminders.” When I have a new task, I create a task for it and add the name and description. I then color-code it based on what type of task it is (i.e. social media, reporting, content, development, etc). You can even color code by client if you wish. Finally, I drag it to its appropriate place in the order – the higher on the list, the higher the priority.

Here’s an example. I’d create a new task: “Work on quarterly report for client XYZ.” I make it blue because it is a report. And I’ll put it at the very top of the “short term” list because it’s high priority and needs to be done today.

When I’ve completed a task, I archive it. It disappears from my board but I can retrieve it later if I need to check on my work. I also use the “Other Reminders” board to manage things to keep in mind or meeting that need to be scheduled, which previously existed as sticky notes or as inbox e-mails.

I have Trello open all day, every day, and it has worked wonders in helping keep me organized, and saves time where I do not need to handwrite new to-do lists. There are mobile apps for it too.

The Weekly Sandwich

No, I’m not talking about food, though I wish I were (I’m always hungry). What I’m referring to is an activity I do on Mondays and Fridays – so it comes full circle and helps complete my week.

On Mondays, after my normal routine, I develop my list of tasks that I’m delegating to support staff or items I need colleagues to assist with. I document them in e-mails and them off.

I then add each task to my Trello board under “Waiting on Team Members.” This helps my team understand the tasks they need to work on that week. And it helps me remember what items need to be returned by week’s end.

On Fridays, I have brief meetings with my teammates to check on progress and see what has been worked on. I see what work has been accomplished that week and understand where my priorities lie for the next week. Hold yourself and your team accountable.

By doing these activities on Mondays and Fridays, I’m able to start the week on a strong note and leave for the weekend with less stress, seeing what I finished that week and knowing that it’s all organized and well-managed.

So there you have it, my top 5 list. I’ve been exercising these tactics for a while now and there have been very few days where I leave the office with that exasperated feeling that many of us know all too well. Try to implement these, or come up with tactics that work for you, and help yourself stay productive and manage your time better.

Do you have other tips? Leave them in the comment section. I’d love to continue improving my own organizational skills!

This article was originally published by SEMrush. To read the original article, please click here.

Here’s Why Your Company Isn’t Listed On Wikipedia

Here’s Why Your Company Isn’t Listed On Wikipedia

Business

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a great resource for neutral, non-biased information on an assortment of topics from academic subjects to music to historical events and more. It is the sixth most visited website in the world and attracts millions of visitors each day who explore information on the many subjects and utilize the internal and external links to find even more material. Wikipedia has made itself known as being a free and reliable source of information, having articles incorporate cited sources and also reviewed by volunteer editors. Outbound links from Wikipedia are nofollow, meaning the “link juice” is not transferred to websites, however, the links can still be valuable in generating high levels of referral traffic. 

But think about what you personally read on Wikipedia? Business or pleasure? I doubt you learn much about companies through this medium. Only 0.1% of companies are approved to have Wikipedia page entries. That means of the 30 million companies in the U.S., only 30,000 or so have Wikipedia articles about them. A small fraction. This is due to several reasons. Here are Wikipedia’s requirements for company pages.

 

Subject

There are more than four million English-based Wikipedia entries. Some topic types include: company/organization/foundation, people, word, event, musical artist/group/album/song, and general subject. Companies should first look to whether an entry already exists. If not, it’s possible to create a new article. However, not everything is suitable for Wikipedia. Here are some criteria:

  • Articles cannot be about yourself, your company or your organization due to conflict of interest
  • Articles cannot be about your friend, your band, or your website due to notability
  • Articles cannot be about your vendettas or campaigns due to neutrality

Third party writers should submit material on behalf of a person or company to ensure a neutral point of view. If the entry passes the “subject” requirement, the contributor can then move toward submitting an entry in Wikipedia’s content management-like system.

 

Notability

If a new subject makes sense, the contributor should verify its notability. Notability refers to the popularity and recognition of a company. This is determined by the amount of significant coverage the company has garnered from reliable, independent sources. The criteria for notability is as follows:

  • Companies must be the subject of multiple non-trivial published works whose source is independent of the company itself, or
  • Companies must be listed on ranking indices of important companies produced by well-known and independent publications, or
  • Companies must be used to calculate stock market indices. Being used to calculate an index that simply comprises the entire market is excluded.

If the article appears to be written by a member of the company, includes advertising messages or obvious backlinks to the company page, or does not supply proof of notability, it will be deleted by editors.

 

Sources

Wikipedia relies on sources to prove accuracy in the information it provides. It also helps information-seekers find additional material outside of the site. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Sources should have a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy, and be independent of the subject. Entries that do not contain proper citations will be removed.

  • Good sources include books, newspapers, reputable magazines, and academic journals.
  • Bad sources include blogs, MySpace pages, personal knowledge, any source that cannot be independently verified by another editor. 

Sources are the bread and butter of Wikipedia as they demonstrate authority and accuracy of the information. Articles without sources will be removed, as they appear biased and inaccurate.

 

Content

Article content must be unique and not violate copyright infringement. Authors and contributors should be cautious of copy/pasting from websites. Instead, content should be written in the author’s own voice, alongside cited facts and quotes. Finally, it should be written in a neutral tone of voice and shy away from “puffery” or personal opinions and exaggeration of facts.

Company articles will only be approved for Wikipedia inclusion if they meet all of the above criteria.  If sources do not exist, Wikipedia will not be the best platform for a third party company profile. Pages will be deleted quickly.

 

If you meet the criteria, Wikipedia can be a useful online page to educate readers about your company and lead to tremendous amounts of referral traffic. Company entries that are written and have neutral tonnage can upload a draft entry and await reputable sources to prove notability and meet source requirements. For small companies, or those who do not meet the requirements, Wikipedia is probably not an SEO tactic worth investing in. Instead, try other link-building strategies that not only offer “link juice,” but referral traffic opportunities as well.

The Ultimate 21 Point Checklist for Recent Grads to Land a Job Using New Media

The Ultimate 21 Point Checklist for Recent Grads to Land a Job Using New Media

Business

We’ve seen the transition happening slowly over the past few years. But at this point, job searching and hiring through new media is a pretty well accepted practice. For recent college graduates, there’s a number of ways you can use new media to your advantage.

But before you start scrolling, let me provide you with a little disclaimer: new media doesn’t make job searching any easier.

If anything, it forces you to be constantly working on building and improving your personal brand and managing the job search on a number of fronts. So in a way, job searching today is actually more of a challenge. But on the bright side, you can stand out far beyond your competition if you do things right. Through both experience and conversations with hiring managers, I’ve compiled a list of 21 checklist items that you can use to help secure a job in the PR, marketing or social media fields.

21. Develop a Plan

Although this is more of a traditional practice, having a plan has never been more important. As you embark on your search and take advantage of some (or all) of these tips, you’ll find yourself falling off the track unless you mentally stay focused. Ask yourself questions that can help you work towards goals. What type of job are you looking for? What is your dream company? At which age do you realistically feel you should be making $60,000? What type of corporate culture are you looking for? Are you planning to do your master’s? The answers to these types of questions are going to directly affect which jobs you apply, where those jobs are located, etc. I know that beggars can’t be choosers, so you may be willing to take anything right now, but by keeping that plan in the back of your mind, you can stay focused now and in the future.

20. Daily and Weekly Benchmarks

Too little time, so much to do. Since most graduates are scrambling to find a job as soon as possible, it can be a quite overwhelming time period. Setting bite size goals can be much more manageable. This sets daily expectations and gives you guideline on what you need to accomplish each day to keep going. For example:

  • Send out 10 LinkedIn requests
  • Follow 20 relevant Twitter handles
  • Send out five resumes
  • Request one informational interview
  • Write one blog post

Block out time each day to work on job searching. Once you’ve finished your tasks, let yourself “unplug.” This is important because job searching, especially when using new media, can seem like a 24/7 project. By committing yourself to job searching tasks for certain time periods, you can relax outside of that window. It keeps your body and brain refreshed and helps you avoid getting discouraged if the job responses aren’t coming in just yet.

19. Keep Track of Everyone You Meet

As you immerse yourself into job searching, you are bound to forget who you met and where. And no one wants to bump into a VIP at a mixer and not be able to recall a past conversation. A Google Drive spreadsheet should be sufficient. With every person you meet, simply indicate his/her name, company, title, contact information, where you met, when and any other notes that may help you in future conversations. Although you can’t get from one contact to another as quickly, you can also use the “relationship” tab in LinkedIn to indicate where you met a contact and any past conversations you’ve had. This type of information can come in handy if you are applying for jobs and notice that you’ve communicated with a hiring manager before.

18. Download and Use Job Searching Apps

You’re probably using some of these already. But mobile job searching apps are a no-brainer when looking for jobs. There are a number of options out there. Find the one(s) that work best for you and your profession. Some of the more popular ones include:

Make sure to check your app daily. They make it easy for job seekers to quickly apply, which in turn, makes the number of applicants rapidly grow. Make sure yours is one of the first to arrive. And follow directions. If it asks for a cover letter. Send a cover letter. If it requires writing samples, send writing samples.

17. Create Your Personal Brand

The top professionals in our industry have strong personal brands that extend from site to site. First, take time to write your professional bio. You should write a short one for sites that limit your character amount (like Twitter) and then a standard bio for sites with longer or no limits (like LinkedIn or Google+). Take time to carefully develop messaging that portrays you and the type of industry you’re looking to work in. Have a professional headshot taken (can be fun and relaxed, but still should be professional). Finally, make sure everything is consistent across all your sites. Most people are visual. They will remember your face more so than your name. If they see your headshot on LinkedIn, maybe they’ll remember tweeting with you. Create profiles on several social media platforms and ensure you are using the same headshot, banner image, bio, links, etc.

16. Maintain Professionalism

If it’s on the web, you are never truly private. According to Career Builder, more than two in five hiring managers who research candidates via social media said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate, up 9% from last year. What’s crazy is that it is totally within the applicant’s control. Digital marketing is all about the web and all about transparency. You can’t apply for a job in PR or marketing and expect hiring managers to not have checked your social media pages. And they aren’t looking at just LinkedIn (the site you’re okay with them seeing). They are looking at Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. Don’t rely on privacy settings either because there are always loopholes. Clean it up and you’ll be comfortable with (and rooting on) hiring mangers to review your sites.

15. Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

You cannot apply for a social media related position and only have experience with Facebook and Twitter. That puts you on the same level as 500 million other people, including your grandmother. You must become well-versed on as many social media and digital communication platforms as possible. Download. Create accounts. Test them out. Be confident in how they operate and what the target audience looks like for each channel. You’ll likely be asked in an interview if social platforms are worthwhile to invest in. This is where it becomes critical that you understand each channel and relate how a business can put them to use. Saying that SnapChat is cool and popular won’t help much. Pulling a stat out of your hat that says that businesses that take advantage of SnapChat are seeing X% growth in sales from the Millennial market is valuable.

14. Create a Personal Website

(Source: about.me/veen)

If a hiring manager tweets you and asks: “Can you send me some info about yourself so I can see your social media experience?” You can’t tweet him/her 10 times with the URLs of the many different social media sites that you use. Instead, sending along one website where that person can find your other social channels is perfectly acceptable. It’s great to have a place where you can easily direct peers, potential partners or hiring mangers with everything they need to know about you. It can also give you the opportunity to be creative, showcase your writing samples and portfolio, your blog writing, and more. Some examples of personal website services include:

13. Keywords

Keywords, when carefully used, can still play a role in helping populate the rankings in search engines and the results in popular social media sites. You must be strategic in the keywords that you use in your online bios, your work experience details, your website’s content pages, etc., to help your listings appear towards the top. One tip is to use a wordcloud generator. Pull a handful of job descriptions from positions that you’re after. Throw those descriptions into a wordcloud generator and see what the top keywords are that are used to describe those positions. Take some into consideration. Be cautious though. You don’t want to sound generic. You must also incorporate unique language to make yourself stand out. But common keywords can potentially help your profiles appear earlier when hiring managers are searching for candidates.

12. Learn Software

As a consumer, you might use a lot of different native social media platforms. But as a professional, you’ll likely find yourself using third party software to help curate content, streamline scheduling, assist with promotion, track your progress, and report on success. By having a working knowledge of these software, you can continue to stand out from the pack and give yourself some incredibly important knowledge to drop during interviews. Some popular and important tools include:

11. Twitter Lists

You might be only following a couple hundred people now. But as you begin job searching, your Twitter count will likely grow exponentially. It’s hard to stay sane unless you keep organized. Twitter lists are one of the best ways to do this. This classic Twitter tool lets you group users together, and view those feeds individually. For example, you can create a list for “Agencies,” “PR Rockstars,” “Marketing Conferences,” and “Local Professionals.”  You can also create a list for “Places I’ve Applied” or “Companies I’d Like to Work For.” For the latter two, make sure you set those lists to private so other Twitter users can’t see which members are in the lists. Check your lists daily and be sure to engage with those members.

10. Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are a popular way to meet fellow industry professionals and come together to discuss relevant topics. Chats, at least the popular ones, take place at the same time every week. Do some research to find ones that interest you based on the jobs you’re looking for. Then sign onto Twitter at those times, introduce yourself, and dive into the conversation based on the moderator’s questions. Make sure to RT and fav tweets you like to engage with peers in the field. And most importantly, don’t forget to follow and list people you’ve interacted with. Here’s some Twitter chats you could be participating in on a regular basis:

9. LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is often the first place that hiring mangers turn to learn more about you, beyond your resume and cover letter. This page is not only an extension of your resume but a snapshot of your entire professional makeup. Include your professional headshot and bio, your contact information, work history with more extensive job descriptions and details, portfolio pieces, awards, volunteer ventures, and more. The more comprehensive, the better. Leave off anything that is irrelevant though. And don’t forget to ask past employers, partners and former professors to give you recommendations. Though LinkedIn has been pushing the endorsement feature in recent years, recommendations are still a powerful way to have a third party describe your great personality and/or top skills.

8. Join LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has its own network where professionals communicate and learn from one another. These groups get like-minded people interacting, asking questions and forming relationships. Make sure to join groups that fit your profession and goals. By doing so, you can more quickly see new job opportunities that are posted and potential meet hiring managers. Start with your alumni and local groups and then find others that fit your professional interests. Here’s some groups on LinkedIn you might want to join and start participating in:

7. Read….A Lot!

Much of the knowledge and skills that today’s digital marketers and PR professionals use aren’t things they’ve learned in school. Instead, they taught themselves and have learned on the job. There is plenty of reading material and research out there for you to start studying to get up to speed. There’s even certifications available to earn you credibility. Consider using an RSS feed to skim headlines quickly. Block out time each morning to browse through an app like Feedly so you can stay in-the-know with the top trends in the industry. Here’s some great publications and blogs you’ll want to read on a regular basis:

6.  Resume

Although the job search environment has almost completely transitioned to electronic communication, the resume is still vital for securing jobs. First, one often has to send resumes through email to a hiring manger or through an application system. Second, you need to have a hard copy when you attend interviews or job fairs. Include links to your website and/or LinkedIn page in your resume. And post your resume on your website and LinkedIn pages too. You want to make it extremely easy for recruiters and hiring mangers to find the info they need about you. Although the Word/PDF versions are necessary, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have another, more modern, version too.  Digital resumes (or visual resumes) are becoming quite popular these days, letting applicants showcase their creativity, portfolio, social links and more. Some popular digital resume builders include:

5.  Conferences and Events

Face to face communication is still extremely powerful – even in this age of technology. Thus, attending in-person conferences, mixers and events can get you face time with working professions and let you build your network. Always have business cards ready to hand out and don’t forget to follow the people you meet on Twitter and LinkedIn later that day (or the next morning). National scale conferences can also offer great advice on new technology or discussions on better ways of doing your job. Write follow up blog articles on your findings and share them on social media. In addition to your local ad clubs, PRSA chapters, and AMA events, here’s some examples of events you could attend:

4.  Informational Interviews

Many digital marketing/PR agencies are often on the lookout for talented professionals. This is because clients often dictate if the company needs to rapidly expand. It’s also because finding a new team member is a daunting task. Hiring managers need to find someone who is not only qualified but will fit well within the corporate culture (and this could be difficult). As a result, most hiring mangers are often open to meeting and learning who you are and if you might be an ideal fit for the future – even if they do not have openings at the moment. After establishing a connection over social, reach out and ask a fellow professional for a 15-minute chat over coffee (you buy the coffee). Get to know the person and his/her company and slide in a few great pointers about yourself. And bring your resume too! Informational interview are one of the best ways to take the relationship “off-line” with people in your network. The receiver will feel like they are providing value to you and might offer you advice, job openings somewhere else that he/she is aware of, or names to get in touch with. Don’t forget to write a hand-written following up thank-you note for the time and help he/she provided you.

 

3. Blog like Crazy

http://jessicalawlor.com/

(Source: jessicalawlor.com)

Blogging might be the single best way to showcase your knowledge and skills. It allows you to be found more easily and more often too! Create a blog through WordPress or Blogger and start blogging on a regular basis (minimum of twice per month) on a theme of your choice. If you are serious about finding a job, you’ll keep your topics related to the field you’re entering. Perhaps you do product reviews on the newest social media tools and apps. Maybe you do write-ups on software following product trials or demos. Or possibly you can do research and present enlightening statistics. If you have artistic skills, don’t be afraid to supplement your posts with photography, graphics and infographics. These helps readers further understand your skills and it makes posts that much more shareable. If people share your posts on social media, always reach out and thank them. And be sure to mention your blog in interviews when talking about experience and your portfolio.

2. Create Boatloads of Content

Don’t limit content creation to just blogging. Consider vlogs, animated gifs, quote graphics, e-newsletters, and photos. Upload Vines, create charts and graphs, record podcasts, share slide decks. Pin, post, tweet. It doesn’t all have to be work-related, but it all should be professional and clean in nature. By producing content, you are giving your peers a reason to follow, share and interact. Although there are large volumes of people using social media, the reality is that a small percentage are actually content creators and the rest just watch, listen and take it all in. Be in the minority and be the one standing out. You’ll get noticed and your peers and hiring mangers will have a reason to interact with you even before you reach out.

1.  Connect, Connect, Connect

I’ve repeatedly heard people say that you shouldn’t connect with others online who you’ve never met. I usually tell those people to climb out from behind their 1960s cubicle and get with the program. This is the age of social. It’s perfectly acceptable to meet and connect with fellow professionals online, as long as you justify why you are reaching out. Do you share a similar LinkedIn group? Connect. Are you both alums of the same school? Connect. Are you both tweeting about an upcoming conference you’re both attending? Connect. Find a reason and get in touch – whether that’s through LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr – whatever. The larger your network, the more people you have at your disposal. Your network is going to be the building block to where you reach out for questions, advice, informational interviews, etc. And don’t let it stop with just the “accept.” Follow up and get to know these people. The more interactions, the stronger the relationship. And that’s what turns into job opportunities.

Remember that job searching, even when using new media, isn’t a short-term strategy. One should still plan on several months of effort, working towards your goal. However, following these guidelines will get you connecting with the right people, creating content that is likely to be seen by fellow professionals, and helping you build a more refined online brand that looks impressive in the eyes of hiring mangers.

Are you a working professional and have other job searching tips that are useful in this new media age? Feel free to comment below and offer recent grads some helpful hints.

To those reading this for advice on landing that next job…Happy Hunting!

Embracing New Software in the Workplace

Embracing New Software in the Workplace

Business

It’s easy to become complacent. We get into our daily routines, we learn how to do our jobs just well enough to not get fired, and we rinse, wash, and repeat until retirement. Or at least some of us do. Others embrace the new methods and new tools that become available to be more productive in our jobs. Whether this leads to a promotion or not, it should be your duty as a valued member of your team to continually be innovative and find the best possible ways to get your job done at the highest quality.

Author David Foster Wallace delivered a commencement speech titled “This is Water” at Kenyon College in 2005. It was brought to life last week after a multimedia company created a video based on Wallace’s recording. The video, which attracted more than 1 million views in 24 hours, provided visuals of Wallace’s concept that day in and day out, we do the same things. But instead of just accepting that, we should look at life with a different perspective and appreciate all the little things we see. If you have 10 minutes to spare, I encourage you to view the video below:

http://youtu.be/xmpYnxlEh0c

As the video points out, we regularly find ourselves trapped by daily routines after work. But what about *during* work? Even more so do we walk in, tap on the keyboard, pound out reports, and call it a day. Every day. It can get boring. And we can find ourselves not only dissatisfied with our happiness level but we’re also reaching productivity lows. Instead, there are alternative ways of doing things and better ways of operating.

Learn.

I’ll say it again. Learn as much as you can. Learn today, learn tomorrow. Every day you should be discovering new things about your company, your customers, your clients, your team members and new ways of becoming a better employee. From a personal standpoint, this comes with setting time aside to educate yourself. There are a variety of new tools, software, devices that appear on the market every day. Take time each morning to go through your RSS feed (Feedly, Pulse, Newsblur, etc) and research the trends in your field. Are there new software that help to get the job done more efficiently? Here’s a few examples of things you might find:

– A new project management tool that allows you to track time and communicate with employees better. Many organizations get used to an internal tool like this and do not bother to research better systems.

– A new CRM system can make responses to customers more efficient. Just because your company uses the most popular tool in the marketplace doesn’t mean it’s the best one for your particular company.

– Does your most-used tools come in app format? Whether you are comfortable with them yet or not, mobile devices are taking over the workplace. Within five years, you may be working solely from a tablet. Become familiar with these devices and the interfaces of the apps that are present.

– You’ve read the same three trade publications every day for the past five years. Are there any new ones? New blogs and news sites pop up online every day. Perhaps you’ll find one today that has great information about your respective field.

Whatever industry you sit, there is always innovation. Be the liaison to your organization and share with your superiors your thoughts on improving and streamlining daily processes. Whether that results in a tangible reward or not, there’s always personal pride and conscientiousness!