It’s Better to Give Than to Receive!

Remember the old saying, It’s better to give than to receive?  That simple expression can apply to so many  aspects of life.   

I believe it can even apply to the practice of networking these days.  We all know that networking in business circles is the rage in the quest to find contacts and leads to grow a business.   Anyone can work a crowd by going around saying, “Hi Joe, my name is Mary, I am the sales manager of XYZ.  Need any widgets, these days?”  Admittedly, such an introduction sounds a bit crass and you might not win many friends  with a line like that. I am sure you can picture the stereotyped used car salesman whose only objective is to close the sale and run.  The shortrun is all that counts in that situation.

Instead, a better strategy is to focus on establishing a rapport and even forming a bond with someone you may have only  just met.   That’s just a start.  Then, share information, offer expertise, and provide suggestions. It will should show that you are more interested in goodwill than making a quick sale.   Remember,  the saying, It’s better to give then to receive”. 

It can even apply to the management of a business web site, or blogs, Facebook and more.  The practice of  sharing helpful  information with  customers or contacts will go a long way to establishing meaningful relationships.  When used effectively, you will very likely gain even more customers and more business.

Advertisements

Find Opportunities with Linkedin Groups

I am a big fan of joining Linkedin Groups.  To me, it’s one of the best features of Linkedin.  For one thing, it’s the quickest and easiest way to build a network.  When you join a group, your network of contacts will instantly expand for you will be linked to all of its members.  Then, whether you do an advanced search for people in a particular company or simply search by job title or keyword, it will be easier to identify people with whom you are already connected.

That’s not all. For job seekers, group sites all have a jobs’  link. Unlike other online job avenues, employers can add a job posting for free.  For employers, posting job opening on Linkedin makes sense. Postings publicized through groups cost nothing. Sites such as Monster and Careerbuilder, etc. , charge handsome fees for each listing.  From the job hunters’ perspective, many more people are searching the job boards than are using Linkedin groups to hunt for postings, hence the competition could be less (depending upon the size of the group).

Linkedin groups can be great sources of information about an industry or field.  Have a look at the discussion tab, to see what people are talking about.  Ask a question or post a comment.  You may even learn something new!

Now, for Questions and Answers.  At the top of the Linkedin page and under the heading, “More”, you will find a list called, “Answers.”  From here, you can either ask or answer questions.  When you answer questions about your area of expertise, it’s an opportunity to publicize your knowledge.  Here is an easy way to demonstrate what you know and in a setting that’s far less intimidating than an interview.  Not only will it show up within this section, it will appear in your profile. 

So, go ahead and make the most out of your Linkedin account!

Social Media and Small Business

If you are running a small business, taking advantage of social media tools can be the great leveler between you and the big boys.  Can’t afford expensive ad campaigns on television or radio? No problem.  Channels such as the Internet combined with mobile technology should be your friend. The beauty of an online presence is that a well-designed web site and its trimmings can make your company appear larger than it actually may actually be. Who can tell a “mom and pop” operation from the behemoth anymore?  If your company is internet-based, who knows if you even have a warehouse full of inventory. The manufacturer or distributor can be carrying it all for you.

About social media. Develop a dialogue with your customers. That’s what it’s all about today. By establishing a direct communication link between you and your customers, you learn about their likes and dislikes.  They will tell you what they like about your products, your customer service and more.  Isn’t that what you should want anyway? Your customers can help you hone what to sell and improve your level of service with the feedback they provide.

So, develop a conversation with your customers through the likes of Facebook and Twitter.  Let them know about promotions with a Tweet.  Enable your customers to post comments on Facebook.  Why not share your expertise by writing postings to a blog linked to your web site.

If you don’t know where to start, there are lots of books out there about social media and small business.  The more you read and observe how others are using it, the more it will make sense.  One book I recommend is the Complete Idiots Guide to Social Media Marketing by Jennifer Abernethy.  It’s fairly comprehensive and easy to follow.

 

 

Successful Job Interviews

In a tight job market, being able to interview well is essential.  The competition is keen and you really have to know how to close the deal.  In a tie-breaker between two candidates, the better interviewer will likely win the race. So, how do you edge out the competition in an interview?

  1. Be sure to show up on time. So, allow enough travel time to avoid being late.
  2. Dress appropriately to make a good appearance and err on the conservative side. You should sparkle and look ready and eager to work.
  3. Do your homework.  Learn whatever you can about the employer/company. You can find information on the internet, reading newspapers and business periodicals.  Why?  When given the opportunity to ask questions, use it as an opportunity to learn more about the company. Plus, it will definitely show your interest and motivation.  Also, research the industry and find out the major players, trends, outlook, etc. Libraries are an excellent source of information by the way.   Demonstrating your knowledge about the company and industry may set you apart from your competition.
  4. Research and practice sample interview questions.  Libraries have books you can use.  Or, try searching the Internet for questions pertaining to your field, industry or job title. 
  5. Have a look at the web site, glassdoor.com.  It provides company reviews, interviewing information and more.
  6. Be sure, to prepare for the tricky behavioral questions that start with, “Tell me a time when…. “or “What would you do if….”, or  “Suppose there was an electrical failure, what would you do”? You can find great sample questions like those and more by searching on the Internet by the way.

Then, practice!  practice!  practice!  Practice with someone else and try to replicate the setting.  How about a study room in your local library!

Have You Had a Look at Careeronestop?

Are you new at the challenge of looking for a job?  Or, are you interested in finding a new career?  Don’t know where to start?  Careeronestop is a web site well worth having a look at. Here is a very comprehensive  site that deals with just about everything related to careers, occupations, and the job search., run by the U.S. Department of Labor.  It’s your tax dollars at work and it’s money well-spent.

For anyone interested in careers, it provides information in great detail about a host of occupations.  Of course, you will find job descriptions, education requirements, detailed skills and abilities, and even specific jobs tasks and activities.  You will also find statistics about occupation trends by state and in the nation as a whole.

You wil also find statistics about occupations that are the fastest growing, with the most openings, the largest employments, and data about wages. Afterall, the U.S. Departments collects such data and compiles statistics anyway. Afterall, why not share it with the people who need it the most.

That’s not all.  Are you new at a job search and don’t know where to start? CareeroneStop offers tips on developing a plan. In order to conduct an effective job search, you need a strategy.  Your search needs structure and you need to figure out how to make the best use of your time.

Need some help writing a resume? CareerOneStop can help. It has tips, sample resumes, guides, and more.  If you need the right buzz words to add some pizazz, just have a look at the information they provide about occupations, mentioned above.

If you don’t know where to look for jobs, it has links to a myriad of job boards from the general to the specific. You will find private job boards as well as government-sponsored ones. 

I don’t think I can’t say enought about the merits of CareerOneStop.  Just give it a try!

Be a Sleuth for Job Leads

A job search is likely to involve a number of different approaches.  Although online applications and responding to postings on Monster, Indeed, and other job boards are fine, the rest of your time should be spent elsewhere.   Active networking is extremely important from telling everyone you know that you are looking for a job, to using online networking as in LinkedIn.

As a librarian, I like to encourage people to do research to identify growth industries and most importantly companies that are likely to be in a hiring mode. One way of finding information about companies is to read business publications. The business sections of local and national newspapers are great places to start.

However, my favorite publications for business or company-specific information are business newspapers. These days, such newspapers have both print and online versions. In Denver, Colorado, we are fortunate to have both the Denver Business Journal and ColoradoBiz Magazine.  Both of these publications  focus solely on business, industry and economic development. 

In fact, as a I was about to write this post, I found an article on ColoradoBiz Magazine, 50 Colorado Businesses to Watch.  Here are companies worth exploring for they have been cited for their exponential growth especially with regard to jobs. 

So, once you find companies that appear to have some potential in terms of jobs, read all you can about them starting from their website. Then, you can search for additional information by using article databases in your library such as Ebsco Business Source Premier, Lexis-Nexus, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Of course, do try searching the web with your favorite search engine.

Hopefully, you will have a number of companies worth contacting. Find contacts in ReferenceUSA (accessible at many public libraries) or try LinkedIn.   

That’s what the sleuth for job leads is all about.

Haven’t Looked for a Job in a Long Time? Things to do!

If you haven’t been active in the job market in a long time, you may need to get reacquainted.  Resume conventions and styles change.  Is a summary of qualifications “in”?  Or, how many years of experience should be revealed?  Or, should a resume be limited to one page?

How do you get those answers?  Talk to recruiters, career coaches or counselors, or of course, have a look at a recently published book for job seekers.  Career support groups and workforce centers are excellent options as well. 

Don’t forget Linkedin.  If you do not have a profile on Linkedin, be sure to create one.  HR managers may use it as an indicator of how savvy you are with technology or how “with-it you are.  No one is going to want to consider a candidate who appears  like a dinosaur.

Another reason to join Linkedin is to also join some groups.  You will find professional groups (finance, project management, marketing, etc) plus there are groups for job seekers.  All the groups maintain their own discussion boards and they are great forums to exchange information. 

In addition to open discussions, you will also find job postings on group pages that you may not see anywhere else.

Get onboard!

 

 

QR Codes and Small Business

With the growth in the use of smartphones among consumers, funny looking barcodes seem to be cropping up all over the place.  What am I referring to?  QR Codes also known as quick response codes.  Instead of a horizontal string of black bars, a QR code looks like a randomly placed bunch of boxes that form a  a square.

Find QR codes on product packaging, advertisements in newspapers, in-store displays, posters and signs.  Consumers will be directed to web sites, email addresses, and yes, cooking recipes.

Android, blackberry and IPhones are all able to read these codes with downloadable apps. Businesses and other entities in the nonprofit world are using them to attract attention with customers, patrons, donors, etc.

An article in The Wall Street Journal, Small Retailers Take Advantage of Smart Phone Boom, cites a coffee shop that is using QR codes to direct customers to their menu.  Busy people on the go can scan the QR code on its ads on trains in Vancouver, BC before ordering their morning coffee and breakfast roll. By the time, they reach the cafe, voila, their order is read to go!

With so many different channels of communications available today, it’s difficult to stand out in the crowded market place.   So, market your business in unique and creative ways to be noticed.

Your local library has all sorts of books about the latest marketing tools.  Just check’em out!

Over 50 and Looking for Work?

In my role as a business librarian in a public library, I work with people nearly everyday who are looking for work.  So, when the  New York Times reported in the fall of 2010 that 2.2 million unemployed workers were in the 50+ age bracket, it was no surprise to me. But, don’t think for a moment they don’t want to work.  It’s quite the opposite.  These are people who never envisioned being out of work at the twilight of their careers and they are struggling to get back on track.

So, if you’re over 50 and unemployed in America, you’ve got lots of company.  But, it’s no time, to feel sorry for yourself.  You may have to work harder than the younger ones, but sooner or later, it will be your time. That’s what you have to pound into your head.

Luckily, there’s help out there if you look for it. Workforce centers provide services for older workers. Arapahoe Douglas Works in the southern suburbs of Denver Colorado offers a program called, Fifty and Fabulous. The American Association of Retired Persons(AARP) is of course an advocate for the older worker. Their web site is chockablock with tips from resumes to interviewing.  Find about the best employers to work for if you are over 50. They also have a jobs database powered by Indeed.com.

Here are some other websites worth trying: retiredbrains.com, workforce50.com, and retirementjobs.com

Be sure to keep up to date with the latest technology. That means, social networking sites such as Linkedin.  Don’t resist it. Employers are looking for candidates who are nimble at using the latest techniques.  Once you’re on Linkedin, here is a group, you may want to join, “Interns over 40”.  There is always a lively discussion going on about the do’s and don’ts of the job hunt.

A Novel Way of Financing a New Business

Obtaining funds to start a business can be difficult. Lenders even with a guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), expect the borrower to bring sufficient capital to the table as well as quality assets as collateral. 

Here and there, you hear about how people manage to start a business with nearly nothing and you wonder how they did it.  You hear about people who max out all the credit cards, continually transfering balances one from card to another.  And that’s a job, to manage that charade.

Recently, I was reading an article on SmartMoney.com about a startup business owner who was able to fund his new business with a 401(K) rollover.  It’s a really clever strategy if you can pull it off.  It’s known as a Rollover as Business Startup or ROBS.

You set up a corporation with a new 401K.  Then, you roll the funds from your old account into the new one to purchase stock in the new company.  Alas, you now have the cash to fund your new company. Got all that?

For more information, please see article, How to Fund a New Business with a 401(K) in the digital version of Smart Money.