Learn To Use New Social Media in Marketing

27 08 2009

I’m currently in the process of writing a “How to use social media” guide for students which will appear on this blog as soon as it’s finished. The reason for this? Despite the recent surge in discussions and commentaries on the advantages of new social media channels, the actual implementation rates can often be very low. This is true even for the Generation Y talents and my classmates who are graduating from university and letting some of the best opportunities slip either through mismanagement or ignorance of professional uses of social networks. And they’re not the only ones.

Who should be using new social media for marketing?

  • soon-to-be  and recent grads: market yourself in a professional way in the daunting job search
  • professionals: Are you maintaining your personal brand? Are you considered an expert in your field?
  • businesses: Do your customers know what you’re doing? Are you open about your business strategies? Are you attracting new customers?
  • nonprofits: Is your charity getting enough publicity? Do people know about you? They can’t help if they don’t know you exist.

How can you use social media for marketing?

If you’re an individual, make sure your profile is complete and puts the best reflection on your professional credentials. LinkedIn is extremely useful if you’re currently job hunting – use the search options to get yourself a referral at the company or find out who the hiring manager is so you can contact them directly. Make sure your profile is in line with the personal brand you’re trying to portray (for a great article with more information see Dan Schawbel’s “How To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn” at Mashable).

For companies and nonprofit organizations, LinkedIn can be a great source of professional publicity. Do you appear in the “Company Search”? Are your employees on LinkedIn and saying good things about their job? Use LinkedIn to manage your professional network and maybe attract new talents.

  • start a blog

Blogging is a great way to establish expertise. Are you following the news in your industry? What happens if you do a “vanity search” and put your name (or your organization’s name) into Google? Do you like what comes up? Do you have a strong online presence? Writing a blog allows you to control the content that appears online and is a great way to present yourself to potential employers or your customers. Blog about what your business is doing. Blog about the cause that your nonprofit is supporting. Blog about your knowledge of the industry and the skills that you’re developing. Then put your blog url on a business card and make use of this wonderful channel of marketing.

Tweeting about your company can provide you with great feedback. Use the search engines to find out who (if anybody) is talking about you. Individuals should tweet too. You can use Twitter to promote your blog posts. You can use Twitter to share interesting articles that pertain to your field and which your followers and customers could find valuable. Build your social network and strike up conversations. Make sure the content you post is useful and engage with others. Present news about your organization. Mention the seminar you’re attending to advance your career. Work on your personal or business brand in the vibrant Twitter community.

This is especially useful for businesses and other organizations. Set up a Facebook Page and post information about new products or innovations, about events and workshops that you’re holding. Allow people to connect with you and seek feedback. Gain new supporters on one of the largest social networks.

How are YOU using social media to market yourself or your organization?

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Soon-to-be Grads: What are you doing now that will help you later?

26 08 2009

I’m about to enter my final year of university. This is both an exciting and uncertain time as I don’t know what the future will hold after I leave the relative safety of university environment behind me. I have had two amazing years at Cambridge and enjoyed every second of it. And I’m eager to make the most of my final year as well. The workload will be high but also rewarding and I’m keen to take on everything that comes. At the same time, however, it is hightime for thoughts about my future direction after Cambridge. The “scary” job search is getting nearer and nearer. And whilst the possibilities of gaining internships and summer work experiences are mostly aimed at first and second-years, soon-to-be grads are left with great tools that can help in the future job search.

The best time to implement these, of course, is before you get into the swing of your senior year and schoolwork occupies most of your time. The summer before your final year at university should therefore be used not only to get some needed last-minute experience but also to prepare for what lies ahead and make your future job search a bit easier.

So what can you do now that will help you later?

  • update your CV and learn how to write cover letters and market yourself to potential employers

Put in the effort, do your homework, and make your CV stand out. Think about all your activities, skills and experiences that could show what you’ve achieved so far. Use the Situation-Activity-Result process to identify how your achievements can be presented on your CV. Research cover letter requirements and make sure you show yourself in the best light.

  • build your online presence

Almost 1 in 2 companies will now check your online identity before they make you an offer. That means almost a 50% chance that you’ll be “googled” before you even get an interview. Go now and perform a “vanity search” – putting your name into Google. What do the results tell you? Is your online presence strong? Is there something that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see? Check for unflattering information and then work on building up your positive online image. Social media can help you a lot and I suggest starting and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed and a blog. This way you can influence your personal brand on the web and prove your expertise and commitment.

  • build your knowledge of the field

School is not the only place to gain knowledge. Read blogs that talk about your industry. Follow experts on Twitter. Watch inspiring talks or listen to podcasts. There are many ways in which you can gain new expertise and thus enhance your job prospects.

  • devise a plan of attack

When and where will you start with your job search? Is there anything you need to do beforehand? Who will you ask for help? How will you balance school and job hunting? Sit down and make a plan of action. Figuring all of this out in advance will save you precious time later.

  • broaden your network

Networking is still one of the most important strategies in any job search. Do you know any people who could help you? Have you been in touch with old connections, classmates or peers? Start building and broadening your network by realizing who you already know and then building up on it. Attend events, get involved in Alumni groups and social networks. Work on your network now and offer value and help to others before you need help yourself.

What are YOU doing now that will help you later? Any other strategies that you would recommend?





Are You Using the Right Motivation Strategies?

24 08 2009

What is the most effective way to motivate people? Does it depend on the task and situation? Do motivation strategies change from person to person? Dan Pink asks these and other questions in a very inspiring TEDTalk on the surprising science of motivation.

The main point?

Incentives DO NOT WORK!

Dan argues that unless you have a clear-cut task with a set of pre-determined steps and rules, giving someone an incentive to win or be faster (e.g. a monetary reward) will usually not only be unhelpful but often also harmful. Carrots and Sticks do not work anymore. People working only for a reward will often produce worse results than when not presented with any incentive.

Using psychological research to back up his claims, Dan Pink suggests a better alternative may be an open-minded search for solutions, whether in a group or with an individual, concentrating on intrinsic motivations. Intrinsic motivations, as the name suggests, come from within the individual. They put the employee or the team member in the centre of the work process by letting them decide how they’re going to tackle the problem. The three key components, Dan argues, are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

How is this useful?

Whilst Dan focuses on the premise of businesses not utilizing the scientific evidence and being stuck in the traditional management phase, I believe that Dan’s discussion pertains to the individual in a great measure as well. You, as an individual, should use his ideas.

How?

Do not limit your scope of focus. Let go of prejudices you may have about the range of solutions for a certain task and be open-minded. We’re talking about the often-mentioned thinking outside the box. Anybody can provide a fresh perspective and the fact that you’re not an expert does not disqualify you from coming up with the best solution. This is especially important for the younger generation just entering the workforce. True, we may not have the same expertise and experience. But if we try hard and make use of all our knowledge, we may produce more innovative solutions than someone who works solely for the reward. We are, afterall, highly motivated from within to prove that we are worth the hype about Generation Y.





Are You a Purple Cow? – marketing in the new world

23 08 2009
it’s safer to
be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things.
Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but
down, it becomes even more imperative to create things
worth talking about.

I’ve just been reading Seth Godin‘s marketing masterpiece Purple Cow. The style of the book, with short and to-the-point chapters and case studies, provides a very readable, crisp and thought-provoking account. Below are some assorted notes and favourite parts.

Seth talks about BEING REMARKABLE as the biggest, and only, marketing strategy in the modern world. Simply advertising your product is not effective anymore as your potential clients and customers have learned to ignore the majority of marketing efforts. What you need is a unique and remarkable idea.

On the easiness of this task, Seth argues:

I don’t think there’s a shortage of remarkable ideas. I think your business has plenty of great opportunities to do great things. Nope, what’s missing isn’t the ideas. It’s the will to execute them.

What Seth talks about here is the idea economy. Ideas – new and fresh – are what separates you from the competition. Only with the ideas can you market your product effectively. That’s why companies seek creative people – employees that can provide the necessary edge and “remarkable” new perspective. Thinking is important.

He continues:

It’s safer to be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things. Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but down, it becomes even more imperative to create things worth talking about.

———————————–

Seth also concentrates on who your audience are when you come up with remarkable ideas. He stresses the “early adopters,”

who can actually benefit from using a new product and who are eager to maintain their edge over the rest of the population by seeking out new products and services.

These people are your most important group. Firstly, they may be the buyers or users of your new product. Secondly, they are the idea-leaders of the rest of the population. The majority of people are followers. They wait out the first rush and only after they’ve heard recommendations from the early adopters will they choose to engage with the new thing.

This point is especially important when you take into account the sudden sky-rocket spread of social media in recent months. If you own a business or are launching a product, you want to be able to use these. The modern word-of-mouth recommendations appear on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Sure, face-to-face contacts are still the most powerful but imagine the reach a recommendation on Twitter can have if the individual has thousands of followers who believe his taste and credentials. And then add Re-Tweeting to the equation. The results are amazing.

——————————

How do you break into the market? Specialize!

The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market. With a niche, you can segment off a chunk of the mainstream, and create an ideavirus so focused that it overwhelms that small slice of the market that really and truly will respond to you.

You still need your great idea. But at least you’re not trying to eat the whole elephant at once.

—————————–

How can you apply this strategy to a job-seeking individual?

The secret doesn’t lie in the job-seeking technique. It has to do with what these people do when they’re not looking for a job. These Purple Cows do an outrageous job. They work on high-profile projects. These people take risks, often resulting in big failures. These failures rarely lead to a dead end, though. They’re not really risks, after all. Instead, they just increase the chances that these people will get an even better project next time.

So go out and try and be unique. Build your remarkable badge. This is Seth’s advice which is still very timely. Network your way to better opportunities, get the most out of each one of them, take on extra tasks. Build your personal brand and become the Purple Cow yourself. Can you do it?

For some pointers watch Seth give a TEDTalk about standing out.





What If You Had 15 Extra Hours Every Month?

22 08 2009

Andy Robinson who writes about career success at his blog recently published a post about Getting 15 Extra Hours Every Month for Personal Transformation. He writes:

“What would you do if you were “given” 15 extra hours each month? We’re talking about more than four weeks of extra PERSONAL time each year! What would be the highest and best use of that time?”


How do you get this time?

Andy suggests that you set your alarm clock to wake you up 30 minutes earlier than normal tomorrow. And then continue this habit day after day.

In this way you’re cutting down on your sleep (although you may go to bed early and thus balance your sleeping time).

Other ways of gaining 30 minutes a day may include:

  • cutting down on time spent watching TV (or at least recording your favourite programmes and shows and then watching them without commercials)
  • committing to actually GET UP when your alarm clock rings instead of lying in and then rushing
  • getting organised
  • using your commute time to do productive things
  • getting ready for your day the night before
  • not procrastinating

What to do with your 15 hours a month?

Andy suggests you use your 30 minutes a day for highly personal time (journaling, meditation, inspirational reading or planning your day).

But I believe that your extra 15 hours a month could be used in hundreds of ways, depending on what your priorities are. Use them to:

  • learn a new skill and advance your career
  • learn or improve your knowledge of a foreign language (daily practice is your best bet)
  • read for pleasure
  • read to keep up with your and other fields
  • watch interesting talks from outstanding people (try TEDTalks or Fora.TV)
  • get some exercise
  • find a blog in your field and read it
  • do anything that your normal day doesn’t allow

If the only thing stopping you from doing something is your (perceived) lack of time, give serious thought to these strategies and start changing your life today.





Get your life organized! — Evernote

21 08 2009

This is a first post in a series on useful tools to get your life organized.


Now, just a quick disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Evernote or their products, just a satisfied user eager to share some tips.

I do have to admit, however, that I am a bit of an “organisation geek” or, put in a more sophisticated way: a person with a penchant for being organised. I look for systems. I look for ways to make my workflow faster. I look for optimization of current procedures and often spend long hours planning. Take me into a stationer’s store and I’ll spend at least one hour browsing it and seeing what’s on offer. Devising new ways to make my life easier and more efficient is what I enjoy. This has often brought new opportunities ( – it naturally pushed me into a manager role in my highschool and has proved essential in my position in the student council in my college or when organising a big charity event). It may sometimes be annoying to others but, much more often, I am in a position to help them get their everyday tasks at least a little more organised.

On to today’s theme…

The first tool that I want to introduce to you is Evernote.

Evernote is useful especially for managing your “little tidbits” of information. Phone numbers on little pieces of paper. Sudden waves of genius and ideas that do not fit anywhere else in your computer directory. Webclips from an article you think may be useful at some point. Evernote is perfect for storing all of these. It is easy to use, has both an online and offline version (so your notes sync across platforms) and is available to both Mac and Windows users. You can tag your notes and the database is fully searchable making sure you never lose that important piece of information that you wrote down yesterday but can’t remember how you called it.

Just give it a try and maybe you’ll find that having one place to store all these little tidbits will save you hours of frustration and crying over spilt milk.

Find out about Evernote’s secret (hint: elephant cloud):

Do you have experience with Evernote? Leave a comment…





Have you done your homework?

20 08 2009

Maybe you have been out of school for a long time. The days of sweating over homework the night before it’s due or finishing that assignment just at the last minute are probably gone. But do such experiences ever completely disappear? No, they don’t. And it wouldn’t be advantageous to you if they did. Why?

The meaning of homework

In school, homework was always set to move you a bit forward. An assignment with mathematical problem sets is designed to help you revise what you did in class, test your knowledge and maybe point to several areas which still need more practice. Homework is essentially a control system – a preparation for further improvements and gains. In school it allowed you to look at things in more detail and maybe gain new bits of information that helped with absorbing the following advanced subject matter. I’m not claiming that homework is universally a good tool and should be (over)used. But on a general level, it often has the advantage of allowing a person to ensure better gains from further opportunities to learn.

Homework outside school

In life we come across many situations that require “homework-like” preparation. And often these are key to improving our standing or raising our chances of gaining more in the long run.

EXAMPLE:

Looking for a job is a clear example of a situation where “doing your homework” is almost essential.

  • take care to write and then constantly update your resumé/CV:

Crafting a complete and representative CV detailing your qualifications and competencies takes time. A lot of time. Yet this initial investment pays off very highly especially since, after the first push, updating is usually much less time-consuming. So take the time to think through all that you’ve done in the past and make an inventory of activities, competencies and results that could make you a perfect fit for a job advertisement. Then tailor your CV for every application.

  • research the company before you make an application

Spend time on researching the company and position that you are applying for. This could separate you from the tens of applicants who will have posted general mass CVs expecting to be called for an interview simply on the basis of a non-tailored and (from the hiring manager’s perspective) nothing-saying piece of paper. Look for news in major newspapers. Use google or new social media like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. What has the company done in the past few months? What is their position on the market? Why are they better than the competition? Why do you want to work for them? Investing 30 minutes of your time could save you the opportunity to actually receive an invitation for an interview.

  • send in a cover letter with your CV

Take the time to actually send a non-generic cover letter with every CV you send out. This may limit the number of positions you can apply for. But it will raise your chances for getting an interview at those that you do choose by a large percentage. Cover letters, tailored to the specific company and showing how your skills match the requirements of the positions as well as your interest in the company, will take you a great lenght further than hundreds of non-specific CVs.

“Doing your homework” still applies long after you’ve left school and can increase your chances of getting better opportunities and open a lot of doors. So have you been doing your homework recently? Maybe it’s time to start! Success if about more than just showing up.