Market Me First - The Positive Career and Work Action Plan Market Yourself | Make Money | Be Happy

------------------ In Black and White -------------------------------

Since 2005. Market yourself. Find better work. Make a name. Survive Layoffs. Be successful.

Friday

Marketing Me! Agendas are neccessary

I am in Atlanta this week. Lots more on that later.

One thing I have learned for any interview, sales call, customer meeting or discussion with your employer - have an agenda.

In our informal, shirt sleeves workplace, many believe in getting together to "brainstorm" and discuss openly a number of topics. Nothing could be more unproductive.

When calling a meeting, put forth an agenda. It could be as simple as:

Discuss contract for Burns.
Review compensation package.
etc..

Then complete a short list of points which are part of the topics on the agenda:

Burns contract -
Non recurring charges
Certification status
Contract signing update

When meeting, make sure one attendee agrees to act as recorder. Their job is to capture all salient points, assignments and agreements for the meeting.

Finally, even if the agenda topics are not completed, send out a follow up communication after the meeting which includes a record of everything accomplished at the meeting.

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Plaxo Pulse

I have been getting deluged with emails like this..

John Smith wants to add you as a business connection on Plaxo Pulse.

To accept this connection request, go to:
http://pulse.plaxo.com/pulse/connections/confirm/xxxxxxxxx/xxxxxxxxx/xxxxxxx

If you use Plaxo I am sure you have as well.

I have used Plaxo since about 2003 when a friend sent me a link to join. Since then, I have successfully used Plaxo to maintain and organize my email addresses and contact information for hundreds of contacts.

It has worked great for that purpose and now Plaxo wants to take advantage of all of those users (15 million as off 2006 according to the Plaxo website).

So, following the Web 2.0 social network craze, Plaxo Pulse was born. A Facebook meets Linked In "let's get to know each other and network" platform.

I am always a fan of new social media sites so I updated my profile on Plaxo Pulse. The first thing I noticed is that current Plaxo members are not obligated to use PP. They can only use the address book version.

Next, you will start getting more invites from other Plaxo members to join networks.

Also, there are groups to join with shared, networking interests. I have joined a couple already.

Finally, Plaxo Pulse is just another way to network and meet others. This tool is only as good as the amount of work you put into it and the interaction you have with members of your network.

Monday

Marketing Me! Suvival of the adapter

Neo-Darwinists love to cite, "survival of the fittest" as their misconstrued mantra. The corrected statement should actually read, "success of the adapter".

Adapters adapt to a changing environment and continue and succeed. In the natural world, success may be the ability to continue their existence. In the work world, success (or survival) means having work and continuing to grow new opportunities.

Would it be that life were perfect. The U.S. manufacturing employee laments the loss of the base in his or her particular geographic area. But manufacturing jobs continue to be found here, here and here.

For the U.S. manufacturing employee, to adapt means leaving Massachusetts, Michigan or Wisconsin. It may also mean adapting to an individual contract rather than collective bargaining situation.

Adaption for work means success, not survival. Survival is after losing his mortgage broker position, the office worker sells his home, moves in with relatives and mows lawns to pay bills.

Success is about lateral and upward moves to greener fields. Successful adapters may scale back temporarily but eventually they return and thrive. The successful adapter will come to dominate his world whereas the survivor awaits extinction.

Remember, when the term, "Survival of the fittest" is bandied about, remind the speaker of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the lowly mammal. The T-Rex was bigger, faster and stronger, but where is he now? And the mammal? Now he dominates the earth.

What will you be?

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Get the interview with keywords

Having a problem getting an interview is another example of yesterday's people in conflict with today's world.

The standard action is to a)write a resume, b) stick in envelope or attach to email or include in form online, c) send to company and d) wait for phone call or email requesting an interview.


The problem with this method is it no longer works. This is sort of like watching television and yelling at the talk show host about their opinion; they aren't listening.

The world is two-way and you are still an observer.

Today's Web 2.0, globalised, connected world is not about paper resumes and interviews. It is about advertising your particular skills, abilities and accomplishments online, networking with appropriate people and creating a personal branded platform with your name on it.

The trick to getting the right person to notice you and get the interview, is to be found. In the old days, the right people depended upon a recruiter, headhunter or employment firm to find them candidates.

Today, the "searcher" will more likely use a search engine (Google for instance) to find who they are looking for first.

Now, when a searcher searches, they use keywords like "wireless sales director, technology marketing professional, experienced Java programmer" to locate web sites related to the people they are looking for.

A word about web sites.

Web sites are not limited to the traditional, "this is my company" web site. Web sites can be blogs, profile pages and even resumes if done right.

You, your skills, experience and accomplishments can be located on the internet by search engines if you create your web site with the same keywords and phrases the searchers are looking for.

Here are some keyword friendly tips and actions you can take today to increase your "findability".

a) Complete your profile on LinkedIn, Ryze, Xing, etc. Include key phrases and words. Search for your profile on Google. Does it appear?

b) Register your name as a domain, put up a web site with your resume (CV) and include a link to your industry related, personal blog.

Build that blog.

Make both sites keyword friendly. That means making the header tag searchable, (the header tag for Marketing Me is "Market Me First - The Positive Career and Work Action Plan Market Yourself | Make Money | Be Happy").

Blog regularly. Create an RSS feed for your blog. Enter it into Google reader or your Yahoo home page. It will get indexed immediately by the search engines and start appearing in web searches.

c) Besides your blog, start writing articles about your industry. what you do and what you contribute to the industry. Make your articles keyword search friendly. Post them on the hundreds of free article sites on the web. You are spreading your name as an expert.

d) Build a lens on Squidoo. Include keywords about what you do, what you want to do and what value you bring. I receive dozens of hits on my Squidoo lens related to my industry daily. All of that traffic belongs to me and not my employer.

e) Start "pinging" your blog using sites like Technorati. This creates more links to your site and pushes you up the search engine ladder. Higher rankings means more searchers will find you. [Note: Do not submit your web site or blog to search engines or use a company which promises to do this for you for a fee. This is a waste of time and money].

Get busy with these few simple actions and you will start seeing traffic in a short time to the branded platform called you. This takes time. And has to be done right. Next, I will show you some great resources which I use to brand myself on the internet...



Closing:

How many hacks have you heard about getting your resume noticed? Stick a post-it note on your resume. Include a gift. Write your resume entirely in white colored font and repeat key words repeatedly in case your resume is scanned electronically. Who thinks this stuff up?

Tuesday

Marketing Me! Goodbye email at work, Seth Godin and farewells

From the great Seth Godin on his blog..

It seems to me that you ought to say goodbye with the same care and attention to detail and honesty you use to say hello. You never know when you'll be back.

So remember, when leaving the job, skip the blame, accusations, gossip and rumors. Stay positive, be real and be prepared if you have to come back!

Friday

Marketing Me! Travel notes and Shoemoney



Welcome Shoemoney readers! After my comment on Shoemoney, I have had a number of visits from Shoemoney. Thanks for stopping by and please visit again or add Marketing Me! to you reader!



Am on the road at a trade show. Yippee.

Here are a few worthwhile suggestions for those who have not traveled in awhile.

1) Keep printed copies of where you are going (directions, address), how you get there (flight numbers, car rentals), where you are staying (hotel res and address and directions), who you will be meeting (names and phone numbers!) and what you will be doing there (agenda, itinerary).

You never know when electronic copies might go AWOL....

2) Charge your phone/PDA before you go, in the car while you are going and whenever and wherever you can find an outlet, even for only five minutes.

And if your device is not charged, there go those electronic travel plans!

Many planes have chargers equipped in the middle seat where ever you see a lightning bolt on the bulk head. Amazon has a neat charger for taking advantage of this power source for your phone or laptop.

3) Use the restroom as often as needed and whenever a clean location is available. O also carry some anti-bacterial wipes with me for cleaning certain parts of public facilities, (if you know what I mean).

4) Keep antibacterial wipes or gel with you. There are small bottles available in the travel or sample section at your favorite retailer for less than a buck.

Travel is a dirty business.

5) Drink water. On the plane, ask first for water. Since the cups are small, ask for two. Tell them no ice (it defeats the purpose of bottled water!). I also pick up a large bottle once in the terminal past security.

6) Pack some sort of snacks. I always carry a few certain things like nuts, hard candy, a protein bar or two, dried fruit. Avoid cheap candy bars and junk food. They will only provide a brief sugar rush and bad health.

Shoemoney recommends protein shakes, but those cannot be brought past security in carry on luggage. Otherwise, they are a great purchase once at your destination.

7) Know how to get on the Internet wherever you are. If your PDA supports Internet access, all the better. Otherwise, have a HotSpot account or Freedom Link, Boingo, you get it.

8) Eat when needed. I had the worse headache today because I skipped meals.

9) Use insole pads if you are on your feet. I tried those Dr. Scholl pads once and found they provided some comfort. My best recommendation is to have high quality shoes when traveling.

10) Book a good hotel. Once in Vegas, I booked an off strip hotel recommended by a well known friend. What a mistake. The hotel was loud, dirty and full of tourists not associated with the trade show I was attending. I checked out after the first night and paid extra for a centralized hotel.

10.5) Purchase a smart phone with email and web capability. You will be glad you did. Also, bring along that back up phone. I carry one phone on T-Mobile and another on Verizon. My Verizon phone has email and web available. My customer's and friends can always find me!

Also, book at the conference hotel if possible! At last year's NADA show I stayed at the Hilton next to the convention and took full advantage of the proximity and convenience of my choice.


My feet are killing me from standing all day long. I can't wait to get home.

Thursday

Marketing Me! My New Phone


I ordered this phone the other day and am quite excited about it.

My phone.

What started this was a recent trip I took a few weekends ago with my son. We went camping with his Y troop and naturally, were in the middle of nowhere.

Our guide had a T-Mobile phone and service like me. We had no signal to speak of. Checking the network, I found a Cingular network, but could not register my phone.

Another camper had an ATT phone which could connect to the Cingular network. He let me borrow his phone to call home the first night.

The next day, I borrowed one of three Blackberries from other fellow campers. All were using Verizon and all had excellent coverage and capabilities including Internet access.

I was sold.

When I returned home, I researched the options and made my choice. My new phone is on the way as we speak.

Marketing Me! Arguments with customers, bosses and interviewers

We all like to be right. And none of us likes to feel wrong when we know we are right.

Most of all, as competitors, none of us like to walk away thinking we let the other person win. Especially when we know we were right.

Here are some examples of when to just let the other person win.

Customers
You cannot win an argument with a customer and expect them to feel good about buying from you again.
If a customer says you did something wrong, listen. Try hard to understand what the customer is saying and feeling. If an apology works for the customer, give it without reservation.

If you need to save face, stick to the point of contention. If the issue is a missing shipment or invoice, ask the customer "You are right. How soon do you need a corrected invoice?". Over deliver and let the customer feel vindicated and good about their decision to do business with you.

Interviews
You cannot win an argument with a prospective employer during an interview. Don't even bother. It makes you look like a problematic candidate.

If the employer brings up a point of contention with you, learn to let it go. If it persists in bothering you, end the interview when possible and leave. if anything, ask for a break, step outside, count to ten and take a deep breath.


Boss
You cannot win a real argument with your boss. Keep documentation which clears your name and let it speak for itself. Don't argue, listen, make your point and shut up.

Your boss could make your life heck if he feels you won an argument at his expense. If you are right and your boss is a moral and ethical person, they will listen to your side and act fairly.

However, most bosses are human. If they are under pressure from customers or investors, they may not listen and may rush to a decision regarding your future with the company, i.e. you are no longer needed. As rash as your bosses' decision may be, they most likely will not recant their decision, ergo, you lose.

Don't argue with the boss with the goal to be right as the only acceptable result. You will lose.

Your spouse
In my case my wife. I can't win an argument with her to save my life!

But seriously folks, arguing may be your passion. Save it for the times and people where it may not take a professional toll on your life.

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Them (slower) vs. Us (faster)

We:
Are connected. We carry laptops, cell phones and Blackberries. We have high speed DSL at home, WiFi accounts for the road and demand fast internet in hotels. Rather than complain about our constant connectivity (and that we are constantly tied to work), we demand whats next and faster.

We:
Work more: We put in long hours at the office and at home. We take one more call, one more meeting and the last flight home. We take calls in the car and home and are willing to sacrifice sleep to get a head start on tomorrow. We don't limit ourselves to work either. We put in just as much time on our families and causes we care about.

We:
Want to go faster and further. We put in time in the gym, the court, the course and in our running shoes. We eat organic, take supplements and avoid the doctor outside of checkups. We boost our endurance with Starbucks and energy drinks. We drown ourselves in bottled water. We train our bodies to go on less sleep yet dream more and bigger.

We:
Maintain a blog, two websites, an email list and check our keywords and web stats daily. We registered our children's names as domains the day they were born and thought nothing of it. We belong to six social networks and publish our thoughts and opinions online.

We:
Think global and live local. We Skype, blog, podcast and eat Thai for lunch, Indian for dinner and drink water from France. Our work forces are world wide and our audience spans the globe.

We:
Want as few restrictions as possible. We limit ourselves only. We can do more and exceed only our own expectations. We learn from failure and accept setbacks as opportunities. We work smarter, faster and think small is the new big.

They:
Want to regress. They want a 1950's style economy of 8 hour days, fixed coffee breaks, lunch pails and lunch hours. They want color-coordinated collars and the segregated work force.

They:
Want a centrally controlled rationed life. A fixed work portion. A mandatory vacation serving. A diet of mediocrity and low expectations. Top the whole thing off with 25 years of service, a gold watch and a pension for dessert.

They:
Want collective bargaining, employment offices, secretarial pools, want ads and guaranteed employment. They want a "lifetime of service" in exchange for unconditional servitude, a cost of living adjustment and rewarded tenure.

They:
Want mile after mile of plain drab factories, office buildings, rows of desks, adding machines, and rotary dial telephones with cords.

They:
Want tariffs, high taxes, a thrifty working class with two rooms and a bath. They furnish their lives with fees, lines, clerks, and endless triplicated forms. They want a government fixed retirement plan and a passbook account.

They:
Want four television channels, AM radio, the corner bar with two beers on tap, meat and potatoes for dinner, a bus pass, one pair of sensible shoes and everything else which is "good enough".

It is an Us versus Them world. We have a choice to make. Should we take the temporarily safe route and step backwards or should we keep going forward?

What will you do and when do, will there be work waiting for you when you get there?

Happy hunting,

Friday

Marketing Me! Screens are for doors!

A friend confessed that he screened every call to his work and cellular phone with voice mail. He never answered the phone when it rang unless the call was from home.

Some calls naturally go to voice mail - we cannot answer them all. However, if your best customers, employers and contacts only talk to your voice mail, you are sending a dangerous message out instead - your call is not important to me.

Use call screening sparingly.

Also, here is another tidbit.

How many times do your customers, employers and contacts here this when they phone:

"I am sorry, he/she is in meeting right now and not available".

Think about it. If YOU were calling and upset, what would your response be? I bet it is along the lines of "well interrupt and drag him outta there, toot sweet!".

If a person is answering your calls, make sure their standard response always is:

"I am sorry, but he/she is with a customer right now. May I have them call you direct when they are finished?"

Nobody minds if you are meeting with the people who pay your salary.

Also, return that call as soon as you complete that meeting!

Happy hunting,

Marketing Me! Screens are for doors!

A friend confessed that he screened every call to his work and cellular phone with voice mail. He never answered the phone when it rang unless the call was from home.

Some calls naturally go to voice mail - we cannot answer them all. However, if your best customers, employers and contacts only talk to your voice mail, you are sending a dangerous message out instead - your call is not important to me.

Use call screening sparingly.

Also, here is another tidbit.

How many times do your customers, employers and contacts here this when they phone:

"I am sorry, he/she is in meeting right now and not available".

Think about it. If YOU were calling and upset, what would your response be? I bet it is along the lines of "well interrupt and drag him outta there, toot sweet!".

If a person is answering your calls, make sure their standard response always is:

"I am sorry, but he/she is with a customer right now. May I have them call you direct when they are finished?"

Nobody minds if you are meeting with the people who pay your salary.

Also, return that call as soon as you complete that meeting!

Happy hunting,

Thursday

Marketing Me! The Termination

You are sitting in your office one day when the boss/supervisor/HR person asks for a moment of your time. They wonder if you can join them in the conference room for a few minutes.

Alert! You are about to get canned/sacked/fired/laid off! Get ready!


Now, this may be something as simple as a warning, or perhaps the meeting is to clear up an issue in the company. Regardless, you will not be able to run away and deal with it after lunch. You need an action plan.

Before you do, scroll down and read the caveats at the end of this blog post. You have been warned!


First, pick up a notebook, pad or paper of some sort and a writing implement.

Lock your computer or workstation.

Take your purse or other personal affects if they are on your desk.

Follow the company representative to their designated meeting place.

Let them talk.

If it goes like this:

"Bob/Jane, I wanted to speak with you today about your performance/a recent development/your work. It seems that you have been lacking/distracted/not doing your job and there are going to be some changes. We have decided to let you go today and wanted to go over the terms of your separation".

At this point, you are probably thinking about your family, car payment, mortgage, kids college, etc. Stop!

You should only be thinking about the following things:

Who is talking to you? Is it only your boss or supervisor? Is anyone else in the room?
(If not, insist that another supervisor or manager be brought in as well as a representative from HR immediately.

Has the person speaking with you provided documentation regarding the termination?
(If not, ask for it. This means a statement which says your job is being terminated, the date and possibly the reason why as well as terms for your serverance).

After the appropriate people and items have been produced, here is my advice as to what to do next.

1) "If you do not want me, I do not want to be here".

If the company wants to get rid of you, then do you really want to fight to stay? Listen to what they have to say. Point out any inaccuracies if appropriate. Then make your statement "Clearly I am not needed here any longer. I do not want to stay where I am not wanted. So now all we have to discuss is my separation terms".

2) "Your offer is not acceptable".

Sometimes, a company will offer a great exit package. Typically, this happens during a mass layoff or cost savings move. A good package may include 3,4 or 6 months salary, retraining, resume and job search assistance, full extended health benefits beyond your last day of employment, bonuses, stock option payouts, and unused vacation time, take them and thank them.

However, if you get a bum deal, call it what it is. This could include a termination package of salary only for hours worked or two weeks pay. Unacceptable in any circumstances short of company bancruptcy.

I submit my suggestion:

"I have been here X amount of time during which I have never been formerly reprimanded. In addition, I have been a top performer and revenue generator for this company. Finally, as you know, my aged mother recently moved in my family. While I appreciate your offer, I feel it is not enough for the service and contribution I have made to this company. My couter offer is six weeks pay, all unused vacation and personal time, my company end of year bonus prorated upon time worked and medical insurance for three additional months after termination".

What is the worse that could happen? They say no? If anything they may negotiate from your vantage rather than start at theirs.

3) "No autographs today"

If your employer will not negotiate any of your requests, you MAY have one more ace up your sleeve. The employer, as part of the exit process, may ask you to sign a waiver absolving them of any future litigation or claims. Depending upon the company position, not signing that form could make their lives slightly miserable. After all, you have just left an unturned stone to deal with down the line. Remember, this is not a suggestion, just a possibility.

YOU MAY WANT TO offer to sign the document conditional upon their delivering some of your requests. It cannot hurt.

Caveats
- If you deserve to get fired, none of the above applies.
- If the company has documentation which backs their case, you will most likely get nothing.
- If you are broke and have bills due, that two week offer may be the best you can afford to take today. All bets are off.
- I am not an attorney and have no idea what the labor laws are like where live. Information here is my point of view, for entertainment purposes only and not meant to be legal advice. Consult a lawyer for more options.
- Terminations vary from location to location, check your local labor laws before applying this or any other unsolicited advice found on the internet.

Marketing Me! Personal branding no brainers

What drives me crazy probably drives you crazy but are you doing the same things that drive other people crazy? (Say that ten times fast!).

Here's some quickies:

If you want to brand yourself, how do I reach you? Why bother selling a product if I cannot buy it!

- Email
Do you use a signature file at the end of EACH email?
Do you use Plaxo or something similar to manage your contact information like email and so other can find your email address?
What is in your signature file? Just your land line number? What about your cellular? What about your email address? How about a URL?

- Web
A company name is not enough. How many companies have the same name? Is your domain name readily available? Have you set up a real web page? Does it reflect your identity? Your company?
Can I find you with Google? Everyone does it. Do you have a keyword optimized website for you and your product?

- Phone
How do I reach you? Only be a land line with voice mail you check once a day? Or may I have your cellular?
Do you answer your phone? Or do you let every call go to voice mail and screen?
When do you answer your phone? Between 9-5? Or later and earlier?
What does your voice mail say? Do you update it daily or weekly or only when you travel?

I cannot buy your brand unless I know where to find you and how to reach you successfully. Please market yourself responsibly!

Happy hunting,

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Personal branding + pay it forward

Networking - Pay it forward before it pays off... read more...

The phone rings. It is a recruiter. Did he get your name from Monster or Career Builder? Maybe Dice?

The phone rings. It is a medium-sized, but growing company who is interested in your product. Did they get your number from the company website?

An email arrives. Someone wants information on a technology related to your product. How did they get your email address?

How did these opportunities come your way? Through your personal network.

Why did members of your network send your revenue and job opportunities? Because you did something for them.

That is the secret to personal and brand marketing - you must pay it forward before it pays off. Your network and the people in it have specific needs and goals. Help them meet them.

Sure, it's tough when you have so many other activities to complete in a day to spend time writing referrals, making introductions and digging up contact information. But it pays for itself over and over again.

When I looked for my last job, I spent a month making calls and sending emails to my network. Most responded quickly where others took their time. Invariably, those who responded fastest were repaying an introduction or opportunity I forwarded them another time.

Today you may be fat and pretty (I know it!) sitting where you are now. But what about tomorrow? Our bags are packed, but who is going to pick you up in the career van? Better start helping your network today - send them referrals, leads, prospects, a new employee, a better customer or a reference. Drive traffic to their product and web site. Blog about them. Link to them. Click them.

Pay everything forward and the returns will be ten fold.

Happy hunting,

Monday

Marketing Me! The Exit Interview

If you have been following the subject here at Marketing Me! we have been covering resignation letters and goodbye emails. Naturally, what follows the resignation is the possibility of an exit interview.

For more background, check out this informative article at Job Search Tech. For the personal branding and self marketing spin, stay tuned here on Marketing Me!

First, I have never, ever done an exit interview. When I leave, I submit my resignation letter, send my goodbye emails to colleagues and customers, and depart taking with me unused vacation and a final check.

I am never in the building long enough for HR to tackle me and put me through the interrogation process of an exit interview.

First, the idea that an exit interview will improve conditions at any workplace is a farce. Most companies know that most jobs are commodities as are the people who fill them. Thus, the value of a soon-to-be-former-employee's thoughts on the rest room and vacation policy is wishful thinking at best. Today's employers simply don't care.

Next, I worry about the liability of an exit interview. Will the employer come after me with competitive clauses? Will they force me to sign documents which limit my ability to make a living or contacting my customers? Will the employer try and trap me into signing away something I have earned such as unused personal time or a commission check?

Finally, if one is truly a valuable employee, the HR department will not be interviewing him or her. Rather, a senior manager, director or even the CEO will be speaking with the soon to be departed. And their goal will be to retain them and that is the real goal for any one self marketing. Desire.

Take the exit interview with a grain of salt. If corralled into the interview, smile, answer politely and avoid incriminating yourself at every turn. If necessary, insist that a supervisor be present at the interview to corroborate any information put forth. Some might even go as far as to reschedule the exit interview at such time that legal council could be present. It's your call.

Until then, happy hunting.

Friday

Marketing Me! The sudden resignation

A business bug out bag, resignation is better than termination, and leaving on your terms, not theirs.. Read more.

It can happen to any one at any time..

The human resource director walks in your office with another member of the staff and asks for a quick meeting. Thinking you are doing a great job and increasing the company revenue, you have no reason to be suspicious.

You follow the HR director to a nearby conference room where, upon seating, are informed your services are no longer needed at the company. Kicked in the gut, you struggle for breath and barely hear the terms of your serverance package explained to you.

Fifteen minutes later, you find yourself shoving personal possessions into an empty copy machine paper box and then being escorted to the front door.

Could this have been avoided? Sure. But get ready...

First, in today's business world, EVERY DAY COULD BE YOUR LAST DAY. Nobody is "safe" any longer. Layoffs, downsizing, cutbacks, all could happen at any time regardless of the health of the company or the market.

Stop thinking you are OK and the other guy is going to get it. Everyone is vulnerable.

Therefore, it is imperitive that you plan for this possibility constantly. In the "end of the world" survival community. members are encouraged to maintain a Bug Out Bag (BOB) at all times. In the business world, you should do the same.

Here are the contents of your BBOB - Business Bug Out Bag.

- Have backups of all correspondence, contracts and emails on a portable device. USB thumb drives are cheap and easy to use.
- Have a complete and current list of all customer and business contacts available. I recommend using a PDA type device such as a Blackberry or Palm Pilot. Update DAILY from your CRM license and you are assured of having the latest and greatest asset available at all times. Purchase the phone and PDA; do not use the company hardware.
- Your own laptop, if possible. Some companies allow employees to use their own computing hardware for work. Do this and save yourself a step or two.
- Copies of company literature of products or services you represented.
- Any intellectual property you created for the company or to drive revenue growth such as mailing lists, web sites, or press releases.

The final piece you should always have on hand is a resignation letter with the date left blank.

Why?

If the company is in trouble or you know the chopping block is looming, leave on your terms, not theirs. A resignation is far better than a termination any day.

The most successful people I know have never been laid off. They left before or during a stressful situation generally to another position they had already lined up and had in place. When the situation at work went south, they prepared their resignation letter and made their exit.

Typically, your resignation letter should be terse and to the point.

An example..

This letter is to inform [Company X] that Tuesday, October 30, 2007 will be my final day. Please make arrangements for my final paycheck and unused accrued holiday time to be paid on that day or an arranged date.

Upon my departure, all correspondence may be sent to my home address at xxxx...

Thank you,


Never put any personal or professional reasons for leaving a company. Your resignation letter will be placed on file and may be used at a future date. Leave no paper trail too large to cover!

Finally, be prepared to explain clearly why you resigned. Make this a 30 second speech (elevator speech) and practice reciting it. An example..

"Yes, I was with [Company X] for several years. However, there were some internal and external changes occuring with the company at the time which helped me in my decision to move on to other opportunities."

Never go into longer explanations about a former company. There is no reason to and to do so could possibly brand you as a complainer and malcontent.

Rather focus on the value you bring to your next company. And if you planned your BBOB correcttly, you will have the evidence and references to back it up.

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Goodbye farewell work email and letters

Since this post a few weeks ago, the traffic on this subject has been higher than ever before.

This leads me to a few observations..

1) More people are changing jobs which precludes the need for an exit email to coworkers. And people changing jobs is right in line with what the experts have been saying for a couple of decades now - "People are changing jobs and careers more frequently".

2) More people are putting some thought into what they say and how they say it.

3) I think more people are trying to "make a statement" about everything in their life and that includes exits.

The sales administrator at my company (How did we let her get away!???) penned an email to a handful of close co-workers on her final day. It was personable, funny and non-offensive. It went something like this...

All,

On my last day, I wanted to let all of you know how much I enjoyed working with you and getting to know each of you. I wish nothing but the best for all of you and the company. Once I get settled in, I will send you my new contact information. And don't worry, I will not be a stranger! Plan on seeing me from time to time for lunch or drinks or whatever! I feel like Dorothy saying goodbye to the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion. Although I am going somewhere good, please know that each of you touched me and helped me grow professionally in your own way. I will miss you.

All the best,


You get the idea.

Now here is the worse thing you can say in a goodbye email at work:

I am outta here! Before the door hits me on the way out, (and don't think it was my idea!), let me pass on a few things to some of you. Those of you who are good, and you know who you are, I love you and hope things go your way someday. This company does not deserve you. (Big shout out to the second shift, btw!). As for Mr. You Know Who, karma is a pain. (Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!). And for you, Miss Busy Body, who you gonna talk about now? Huh? Guess what? We all know about the copy room!

Any how, if any of you make it uptown, stop by [Company] and look me up. We can grab a drink or something and I will let you cry on my shoulder.

On to bigger and better things, my brothers and sisters! Peace out!


Night and day.

You make the call. Like I said earlier, goodbye and farewell emails at work are overrated in my book. Let your work and reputation stand in its place instead.

But if you have to make a farewell address to the troops, do it with some dignity and with your heart in the right place; not on your sleeve.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday

Marketing Me! Personal Brand Network Value

This past week the phone rang with a number of opportunities; a job available and a large product offering. Both were the result of my self marketing and the personal brand awareness campaign now entering its third year.

You know the drill. At Marketing Me! I have been promoting this for nearly three years where YOU market yourself under YOUR brand. There is no sale, no e-book, (not yet at least), no software to buy, no long term contracts and no small print.

You market yourself the best way you know how. Again, here are some pointers and the possible results.

First and foremost, give.
- I work in the wireless hardware industry. Consequently, I have numerous contacts with carriers and service companies. I regularly pass along leads and opportunities to my network without reciprocal requirements. This benefits the industry and spreads my product name.

Promote and evangelize.
- Do not worry about the competition, rather embrace what they are doing and take possession for yourself. For instance, if one of my competitors has a new product which addresses a particular need, I promote the idea behind the product when speaking or writing about the industry or market. I make my competitor's product mine as a further example of my own expertise.

Be open to interviews, even when not looking.
- Not press interviews but job interviews. Be open to discussing opportunities with other companies, it is great practice. It also spreads your name. Remember, companies recruit talent.

Pay back often.
- Repay all who have paid you seven fold. It will be returned.

Marketing Me! Takes time. It cannot be built over a weekend or with a simple blog post. It is a journey of patience and perseverance and most of all, clear focus with particular goals in mind.

Get busy and make the phone ring.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday

Marketing Me! AOL Job Cuts

You probably have heard the news already about American Online cutting jobs - 20% of total headcount last report.

Over in LinkedIn Answers (my new favorite time waster), I posted the following regarding the layoffs:

Having been through layoffs before at other companies I only have one remark - it happens. No business is immune to them anymore.

Because of the service AOL offered (sending HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of expensive unsolicited media disks to unsuspecting mail addresses?), offering dial up Internet access, the writing was on the wall. Eventually other services would eclipse AOL and surpass any product they could ever offer.

I witnessed this in 1994 when early Internet service providers were debuting in the U.S.

AOL was labeled a substandard alternative to "real" Internet access.

Thus businesses and the burgeoning IT culture they created, would never consider AOL anything more than beginner's online access and a service for lonely hearts and seniors.

Internet access would evolve into a commodity and then, a utility.

With utilities, brand no longer matters. There is only the Internet and the need for an IP interface to access it.

Finally, with ubiquitous broadband and endless WiFi networks, AOL seemed to be as relevant as phone cords and packaged software.

I don't think there is a magic bullet which could have saved AOL. It had its time and place and now will reside in the pantheon of companies which once existed in the US landscape.

Enjoy the memories, but refocus on finding the future AOL in your life.


In an unrelated forum, I read that many AOL employees were being given four month severance packages. This is very generous and comes at a good time for obtaining a job. Had these cuts been in December, hiring and interviews would have been few and far between.

I also hope that many AOL'ers took advantage of the potentially huge network of contacts available after having worked at AOL. This alone is the best asset any of them have when determining their career future.

Layoffs stink. I have been through my share of them. However, layoffs are also an opportunity. Leaving a company which is in the midst of a major late-life identity crisis could be the best thing to happen to any person. It opens the doors to a thousand different possibilities all which are better than the last.

One last time "You have mail". Done.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday

Marketing Me! Tuesday marklets

Generally, short pithy posts are saved on blogs for Fridays. But with as busy as I have been lately, we are doing a Tuesday roll out.

LinkedIn Answers - Do you participate? Have you tried? I think Answers is a fine way to build your personal brand name. The more you answer, the higher your profile is ranked and exposed to your fellow LinkedIn'ers.

Another thing I have noticed on your LinkedIn home page the "Who has viewed my profile?" feature? I mentioned this last year as a "want" for my LinkedIn list. This feature, albeit much richer, is available on MyBlogLog and seems like an afterthought for LinkedIn.

But the profile view is a fun tool. Couple of things: I wish we could add photos to LinkedIn (can we? Paging LinkedIn expert Jason Alba at Jibber Jobber). It would also be nice if we could add more than three links to our profile or Answers.

Finally, LinkedIn overkill, do you tag your LI profile with del.icio.us? You should. And StumbleUpon as well.

Speaking of StumbleUpon, do you use it? If so, wouldn't it be nice if SU showed the popularity of channels. I bet Wiccan is not as popular as Business, but we wouldn't know would we? The reason I ask is when I submit my personal brand sites, I would like to know the best channels and keywords to optimize.

I set up a profile on FastPitch but have yet to update it. Besides the emails, what are your thoughts on this service? Is it as good as they say?

Article marketing (submitting self authored articles to directories and web sites for personal brand recognition) is one of my favorite guerrilla methods to Market Me.

Digg is always listed as one of the top submission sites, but take a look at the home page for Digg. Nearly everything is OS, Linux, Mac, IT or politics related. Even the submission channels are limited.

Want to get on the first page of Digg? Submit an article lambasting George Bush for cheating AdSense with a hacked Windows server. Betcha that will put you up front.

My but I had some interesting feedback about the 3 Hour Parent yesterday. If only people would comment instead of emailing. How about some comments on this stuff?

Let's get out and kick it today. Let's bring in that big sale, arrange that meeting or finish that project today. I don't know why it seems urgent today, but the clock is ticking and I want to take it up a notch.

Happy hunting!

Monday

Marketing Me! The 3 Hour Parent

I have three children and consider them my greatest accomplishment. They are more important than the big deal I closed last week, my job title or the promotion I want next year. The investment I make in my children pays off with greater dividends than any "job" ever will. With that in mind and with a great number of anecdotal incidents for reference, I came to know the the 3 Hour Parent.

Of all the social demographics, the greatest increase in population comes from the 3 Hour Parent. Now, you may have never heard this term before, but this person lives in your community, attends your church, has children in your school and may live in your own home today.

The 3 Hour Parent works part-time at the hardest full-time job created; the role of parent. I call them the 3 Hour Parent because this is the average amount of daily time they are exposed to the children.

The 3 Hour Parent can be the mother or the father or both. Besides full time employment outside the home, the 3 Hour Parent fill their waking time with activities such as socializing, sports, leisure activities, travel or shopping.

To the 3 Hour Parent, self-fulfillment is more important than the actual care and raising of their children.

Consider the following activities of a normal 3 Hour Parent. You may recognize someone you know..

- The 3 Hour Parent awakes early. Sometimes as early as 5 or 6 o'clock. They may exersize, then bathe, dress, grab something quick to eat or drink, head for the bus or car and never pause for the children they brought into this world. Other 3 Hour Parents may sleep late and rise only after their child has left for school.

- The 3 Hour Parent works with fervor and commitment at their place of employment or at personal activities. They hold the best positions, always make the wining team and receive high fives and slaps on the back for a job well done. They may be the chairperson of a charity or social event planning committee. Or perhaps they have the best tennis or golf score at the club. Yet the 3 Hour Parent rarely makes an appearance at their child's school whether that be for volunteer work, teacher-parent conferences, fund-raisers or sometimes, even just to drop off or pick up their children.

- The 3 Hour Parent returns home in the evening, complains about how tough their day was, expresses their need to "decompress" and demands "down time" for cocktails, television or quiet reflection all without the noise or interuption of children.

- The 3 Hour Parent takes dinner, if they eat dinner, either alone or with their spouse, only. They desire adult interaction and become annoyed if they have to eat with children and deal with the their spills and rambunctiousness at the table.

- The 3 Hour Parent becomes cranky early in the evening and alerts all in the home that they need their rest because of "a tough week ahead" in the office, or because the demands of house and shopping have become too much for them. Children are sent to bed or to placed in front of the television and ordered to be still and quiet.

- The 3 Hour Parent's weekends are devoted to personal activities such as golfing and shopping on weekends. Saturday night is spent at social functions or with friends. Sunday mornings are for "sleeping in" while the rest of the day is scheduled for watching television or sports. Somewhere along the way, the children and their activities have a lower priority or no priority at all. The children's bicycles, balls, and games collect dust in the garage or closet because their simply isn't time.

- The 3 Hour Parent advocates television and video games for children's unscheduled time because it is more convenient for the parent's schedule.

- The 3 Hour Parent, (who ironically follows fad diets and restrictive eating zealously for themselves), are oblivious to the poor diet and junk food consumption of their own children. "How did the children put on so much weight?" they wonder out loud.

- The 3 Hour Parent often forgets the date of their children's birthday or even their exact age. They rarely witness important childhood occasions such as the loss of a first tooth or first steps. They miss soccer and Little League games, ballet and piano recitals and graduations.

- The 3 Hour Parent heavily depends upon the services of baby sitters, housekeepers and nannies. They also think nothing of leaving the supervision and responsibility of their children to friends, neighbors or relatives.

- When confronted with the actual chore of direct child care, the 3 Hour Parent frantically makes phone calls to grandparents, friends and neighbors for assistance. They stare dumb faced at the little people in front of them, become quickly annoyed and demand immediate relief from any and all available. After all, the 3 Hour Parent's personal life is too consuming or demanding for the trivial care of children.

- And when a crisis occurs with the children, the 3 Hour Parent waves their finger at their spouse, sitter or nanny and places the blame firmly and squarely on them for failing to do their duty.

I know dozens of 3 Hour Parents. In many ways, I think I know more of them than not.

I understand the demands placed upon us in our professional lives. I know the rigors of unreasonable bosses, customers and financial obligations.

I understand the need for relaxation for improved mental concentration and physical health.

But I don't understand parents who have children they don't want.

How can anyone look at the excited, open face of their own child, the child who desperately wants and needs their parent's approval and love and disregard them so easily?

How can any parent feel good about missing nearly every landmark event in their child's life and be able to justify it with tee times, department store sales and meetings?

How can any parent, after investing so little time in their child's life, be so surprised when delinquency, poor grades, disciplinary problems and abuse occur with the same child?

So what can we do?

Whenever I feel the short term anxiousness of the 3 Hour Parent calling, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and imagine the first time I held each of my children after they were born.

I remember the first time they came to me, tottering along, holding a book or toy, wanting my immediate undivided attention.

I remember the first time my child pointed at every person, place or thing and called it a "Ball" "Dog" or "Cat".

I remember the first time they fell asleep in my arms and carrying them to their bed at the end of a long day.

I remember the first time they stood in a soccer field or on a baseball diamond or on a stage searching for me in the crowd just to make sure I was there.

I remember them running to my arms in an airport, after school or when I first walk in the house after work.

I remember the sloppy kisses, the peanut butter on my best suit, the art projects of glue and pop sickle sticks and the finger painted distorted caricatures labeled "DADDY" hanging on the refrigerator door.

I remember the fear on their faces melting into joy when I let go of the bicycle and watched them pedal furiously to stay upright.

I remember the birthdays' Christmases, Halloweens, car trips, Father's Days, kindergarten graduations, pageants and recitals and all the normal days in between.

Then I realize how everyday I received the greatest gift not from my own accomplishments, but from the little lives I created and raised. How can I have been so fortunate and blessed by their presence and how can I repay them?

If you are the 24 Hour Parent - congratulations and welcome to the fight. We now know we are going to win.

If you are a 3 Hour Parent, read this again. It will be our secret I won't tell anyone at the club or office.

But let's make a change today. Let's take off early, get out of that mall and go spend some time with your child today. You won't be disappointed. And you will make a huge difference in the life of the best people you have ever met in your life. Your children.

Happy hunting!

Thursday

Marketing Me! Gitomer and personal branding

I am re-reading Gitomer "Little Red Book of Sales".

First lesson is you should review and read over old material often. I know it sounds crazy, but when ever I get down or feel at loose ends, I dig out a classic like Little Red Book or Never Eat Alone and get back on track.

One of the points Gitomer makes again and again is big sales (and jobs) got to those who market themselves and their personal brand. We have been saying that for years at Marketing Me!

One suggestion he makes is to register your name as a domain name. Jeffrey has at www.gitomer.com. I checked for my name, but someone else grabbed it about a million years ago in internet time, so I registered a few others instead.

I always use GoDaddy for my registrations and so far have registered about a dozen or so domains for different projects I am working on. The name is important because that is how your customers, prospects, employers and contracts will find you.











Make sure no one takes your name!








GoDaddy.com - Home of the $1.99 domain name








There are still many domain names available and getting the right name is not hard. I like using GoDaddy because of their excellent customer service - I mean it's good. They call me after every transaction on their website and constantly offer discounts on renewals and new products.

Once you have your name established, be ready to build a site which reflects you and your product well. I cannot stress how important it is to have the right look and feel to your web site or blog which will attract visitors and regular readers.

I use Linked In, Plaxo and other online networking tools to direct prospects to me rather than my company. Customers buy and companies hire individuals, not corporations!

Network and market yourself constantly for best affect. Pick up Jeffrey's book for a great list of ways to do this effectively!

Happy hunting!

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Goodbye letters and emails

Saw this on Jobacle today. All about goodbye emails at the office.

There are some great points included in this entry and if you are about to leave the present position and are the type to share your thoughts with the department or company at large - please visit this site first!

I have seen my fair share of goodbye emails - fortunately, I never sent one myself. Goodbye emails are sappy emotional outbursts which do more harm than good.

First, you are leaving the company/job. Once gone, you will be remembered, in most cases, for about five minutes after your exit.

Second, a wise man once counselled, "let your reputation grow hair before you brag about it". In other words, let your name become legend amongst former co-workers - if you were worth it.

Next, why are you marketing yourself to former co-workers? After all, sending that goodbye email is exactly what you are trying to do; making sure nobody forgets you or the valuable contributions you made. If you were so valuable, your work speaks for itself.

Finally, don't leave former co-workers with anything which might be misconstrued or could be used against you in the future. A goodbye email fraught with emotion and tears might be remembered as a sign of a demented unstable person. Not the type of referral you had planned on.

Here is the secret. Put in your notice, be pleasant and go away. You will be much more happy if you follow this advice.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday

Marketing Me! How agile are you?

Think you are agile? Think you have what it takes to make those lateral-upward moves in down markets?

Check out my friend Don.

I met Don when he was a technical recruiter in the height of the "dot com" days. Don placed dozens of people with my IT startup during a two year time frame. I had a good idea what he was making per placement so I know he was doing well with the technical placement company he worked for.

So what did he do?

He went solo and for a year and a half made even more money filling key job positions. Rather than do the shotgun approach, he specialized in placing minority candidates with technical companies. He made even more money.

During this time period, Don bought his first house. He saw how the real estate market worked and how home values were rising. He also was considering real estate as an investment strategy for all the money he was making in recruiting.

So, not one to go halfway, Don went to real estate school nights and got his license a few months later.

Don starting selling one or two homes a month on weekends.

Then the "dot bomb" bust happened, so Don went from part time real estate agent to full time.

Don focused on up and coming neighborhoods in older sections of town. Sure enough he hit another home run and until last year was making more sales and more money then ever before.

With the real estate market going the way it is, Don is moving back into recruiting. This time, he is reaching out to all those entry level techs he placed a decade ago and finding many of them are higher ups responsible for hiring.

Don is well placed to start picking up where real estate dropped out.

How about some personality traits of Don?

- Incredibly optimistic. Never a bad word or negative statement from him.
- Energetic and hardworking.
- Higher faith. Don has strong convictions which are reflected in his work.
- Honesty.
- Goal oriented.

Are you cut of the same cloth? Consider your options and see what you are doing to be as "nimble" as Don. Most of us follow the same old, "the company let me go - I wasn't planning on this!" lament.

Don has never waited for this to happen. He keeps his eyes and ears open for opportunity at all times.

If you don't have a similar plan for your life, why not make one today? Why not get busy on figuring your four or five plays and what fits for you?

Happy hunting!

Marketing Me! Jobs, Layoffs, Finding Work, Get excited about your work

And more..

Yes, I have been away for awhile. There are about 30 blogs I subscribe to and about half of those I read religiously.

None of them miss a few days of posting. None miss a week and none miss two weeks like I have done.

Sometimes, blogs of note, use a backup writer to compose and post fresh stories for them. More likely, however, good bloggers write several posts on slow days and save them for busy times like my recent schedule.

So what happened?

First, the third quarter ended and in the real world, quarters ending is the busiest time for me. I have to close deals, upsell an existing client or two and sometimes, have to count on the generosity of a current customer to order something extra for the quarter.

All so the company can make their numbers. That's business.

Next, my wife and I are expecting. Thank you. We are happy about it too. But we have had some complications - nothing serious, thanks for asking, but time consuming complications which have prevented me from getting more outside work done.

Never fear, in a few weeks the blessed event will be upon us and I can get back to full time employees, part time writer/speaker/presenter and full time dad. Wait, those numbers don't add up!

Next, I have been busy undertaking some financial projects which have been a real bear. They always are.

The following posts are entries I have been "head writing" for the past two weeks. Thank you for your patience.

Marketing Me!

Wednesday

Marketing Me! NYT and WSJ abandon subscription model, join twenty-first century

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will/have abandoned the idea of subscriptions to read news off their web sites. Read it here.

I think it is big time funny.

For years, if you wanted to read the NYT on line, you had to subscribe and hand over all kinds of personal information.

Meanwhile, all the other news sites were handing content over in favor of your eyeballs viewing loads of sometimes, very creative ads.

The Times thought that subscribers, the old model, would benefit the Gray Lady better than new-fangled, unreliable, Internet advertising. Great thinking.

Guess who won? Not hard to determine with the Times decision today.

Okay, so how does this apply to Marketing Me?

First, how hard are you making your life to prospective revenue sources? You know people and companies who are willing to pay for your time and talent?

Difficult people require all sorts of protection and firewalls which keep revenue at arm's length.

Freewheelers, people who move fast and rely on personal marketing, remove every barrier possible to making things happen. Further, they find ways to monetize every potential customer opportunity.

Difficult people love certifications, trial periods, apprenticeships, reviews, check boxes and any other roadblocks which makes their life feel worthwhile, yet often, unprofitable.

No different than the Times and their subscription model. Make your best customers go through the ringer in order to protect a short-sighted, old-fashioned, "because we always did it that way" goal.

Got a suggestion for you: Stop making it hard for your customers to give you money.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday

Marketing Me! GM Strikes, Iranian visitors, Cracker Jack and inevitable quarter demise

General Motors Strike

The UAW hosted a labor strike at GM plants around the country on Monday. I can't see why this is big news anymore.

- GM is losing money.
- UAW member and retireee benefits are in serious trouble
- Toyota is gaining market share.

The key word is relevancy. Both sides speak in broad terms and with generalized goals - "return to profitability", "job security" and "health benefits".

GM makes cars. There are two goals that matter: Make cars people want and will buy (key word) and make a profit on the sale.

Everything else is secondary.

Ranting about "quality" and "productivitiy" is a moot point.

In my world, the solution lies with the Big Three becoming the "Small to Medium 300".

Tragically, this all comes at the same time Michigan comes close to shutting down state government operations due to a massive budget shortfall.

Iran

The president of Iran spoke at Columbia yesterday and will speak at the United Nations today.

Who cares?

Why does the media still think that 19th century country borders and their leaders matter any longer?

I would rather read Shoemoney or hear his speech from last week.

Cracker Jacks

I received a bag of "Original" Cracker Jacks today at my children's school.

Hint: Original Cracker Jack was in a skinny box with a platic toy enclosed in the blue stripe packet - (I am too young to remember tin toys, thank you).

This product did not taste like Cracker Jack, had a cruddy prize and not enough of those burned peanuts in the bottom of the bag.

Sort of tee-d me off this morning.

The Quarter is still going to end this week

I tried to push back, but the calendar got in the way.

Friday

Marketing Me! Business 2.0 bites the dust


Business 2.0, the magazine "that could" in my opinion, has announced the next issue will be their last.

Actually, I read it first over on TechCrunch, a wonderful blog BTW, which has had a close relationship with B20 for some time now.

When magazines fold, it often goes unnoticed. Circulation is down, readers are scarce or content is poor. One day they are there, the next day a blank space at the news stand.

Business 2.0 was different. Everyone read it, perhaps only on airplanes, but it was read all the same. Unlike an similarly demised magazine, Fast Company, B2.0 focused on how the internet was changing businesses and business models.

Where as the DotCom boom of the late 20th century focused on traditional leverage or new companies, B2.0 reported on the creative, and generally more successful ways, new businesses were using social networks, blogs and "click" technology to build revenues.

My favorite part of Business 2.0 were the small stories. The paragraph or two about a great idea or product which might not change the world, but would shine some light in one corner of it.

I always read each issue cover to cover (a common comment about B2.0) and walked away inspired and energized to keep this dream of Marketing Me! going.

I will miss Business 2.0 and look forward to the innovator (who shares my passion for this space) who brings us the next revision of a publication created in the same vein.

As I stated over on TechCrunch, buzz me if you want some input or collaboration!

Until then, happy hunting!

Don't forget, Just Sell reminds us: There are only 6 days left in the quarter and month! Get busy!

Monday

Marketing Me! Feeling left out?

Jeffrey Fox in How to Become CEO makes a recommendation about when to know you won't make it due to circumstances beyond your control.

By "make it" I refer to the road block many of us have hit during our career inside of our place of employment - we just can't seem to make it up the ladder.

I recently explained to a group I was speaking to the reasons this happens.

1) History -
Often, the top executives have a long history together of which you were not part. Your company could be the latest of a long string of companies which has bound these executives together and closes you out of the loop.

2) Proximity -
The top team could have attended the same university or MBA program. Or originally hailed from the same region or city. Either way, you started at the wrong place as far as they are concerned.

3) Cultural -
Like it or not, often times top executive team members have a similar cultural background which bars entrance to all others. Call it what you will, it happens and often by those first to call foul in other arenas.

4) Traumatic effect -
This circumstance is overlooked or ignored. Take a group of top team members who have suffered through a common disaster, say a bankruptcy or layoff. That event has bound them together like passengers of a lifeboat and it could be guiding their entire management philosophy - "Green Banana, Inc. will never make the mistakes that Plump Tomato, Inc. made!". Since you were not part of the original disaster, you can't participate.

5) The Profession Factor -
It could be that everyone in top management has an engineering background or some other nearly impossible achievement which you cannot match despite all efforts. If the resumes all read the same, most likely you won't be asked to play.


Remember, when the gate comes down or your career approaches the local glass ceiling, do not take it the wrong way. Recognize the signs, make sure the doors are entirely closed and make plans to move on. Do yourself the favor.

Until next time, happy hunting!

Friday

Marketing Me! Friday snippets

A busy week with work has me struggling for blogging time, but Marketing Me! will not suffer!

LinkedIn - Have you seen Barack Obama question on LinkedIn?

1) It won't matter what your answer was - 1300+ the last time I checked! This was some skillful, but small scale political posturing. Expect to see more of this on other Web 2.0 sites.

2) Several complaints about politics on LinkedIn from users; "Isn't this site for networking and work, only and not politics?" is the general gripe. Haven't heard about anyone canceling their membership though.

Speaking of LinkedIn, check out Jason Alba's new book. Jason runs Jibber Jobber! which is also a neat site.

Things I have learned being in sales..

1) Silence is golden. Listen to your prospects, spouse, friends, etc when they are talking, nothing is more powerful. Also, when "debating" any subject, silence has more power than any argument. Make your point, shut up.

2) Persistence counts. Call, visit and write. Often. People reward persistence and hard work.

3) You don't get anything in life without asking first.

Have a great weekend, and happy hunting!

Tuesday

Marketing Me! Dressing for success

Yesterday, when writing about the Britney Episode, I mentioned dressing and a few rules to follow...

Dress for success - It is far better to be overdressed than under dressed. It is far better to be subdued than over the top. It is always better to be timeless rather then trashy. All common sense points, but all to often forgotten on stage and in the office.

Although most of you have no problem dressing or with your wardrobe, it never fails to amaze me the number of people who still go to work clothed awkwardly and without sense.

Some advice and ideas when one is not sure what to wear for work..

Go classic - khakis, black (slacks, skirts, dresses), grays, blue, whites

Go timeless - Suits rather than sport shirts, dresses rather than slacks

Go traditional - Traditional business clothing (suit, tie, business suit, etc)

Dress up rather than down - Wear coat and tie when meeting with client for instance

Avoid trends or flashy styles - If your favorite hip hop artist, professional athlete or diva is wearing it, you most likely do not want to do the same!

Shorts, sandals, flip flops, t-shirts (especially with witty sayings or pictures), halter and tank tops, anything political or controversial is a no-no.

In 25 years of business, I have never regretted wearing slacks, shoes and pressed shirts to work.

You won't either.

Happy hunting!

Monday

Marketing Me! Lessons from Britney Spears


I am not that big into pop culture - guess that dates me in some circles. But my wife pointed out the awful mess Miss Spears made this weekend.

Marketing Me! is not a celebrity news site. Our position is the celebrity is you. However, many celebrities know quite well how to market themselves successfully and keep their personal brand going long after critics have deemed them "washed up". (Google Billy Ray Cyrus sometime..).

Britney Spears, in case you just dropped in from Mars or recently awoke, Rip Van Winkle style, is a pop singer who attained notoriety about a decade ago at the age of 17. Since that time, her life has had it's fair share of ups and downs as they often do in that tumultuous business called entertainment.

After a long down period in her life, Miss Spears had the opportunity to perform at the Video Music Awards in Las Vegas this past weekend. Put before her, was the chance to redeem her recent foibles and gain back some accolades for the talent which brought her to this point earlier in her life.

Instead, viewers were witness to a dazed, badly dressed (unfortunately under dressed) young woman who clearly needs some help and attention. It was very, very sad.

Lessons learned from this event which we can appreciate in our own professional lives.

1) All the world is a stage - An interview, presentation or speaking engagement gives us one shot to impress or depress our audience. Practice, practice and practice before hand. Get professional and personal feedback on our presentation before hand.

2) Dress for success - It is far better to be overdressed than under dressed. It is far better to be subdued than over the top. It is always better to be timeless rather then trashy. All common sense points, but all to often forgotten on stage and in the office.

3) You are judged on every moment - both fairly and unfairly. Critics call your worse your standard and your best a fluke. Anticipate criticism but offer no fodder to your critics!

4) Don't let your personal life interfere with your talent! Keep it separate always.

5) Your name is your brand, your work your calling card and your resume your testament. Do not let your brand become usurped by others, your calling card to be discarded or your resume misunderstood or unfocused.

Britney Spears is ready for a personal (re)Marketing. Clearly she has talent and can accomplish great things given the right personal direction.

You can too.

Get aware, get busy.

Happy hunting!

Friday

Marketing Me! Sales - Final Quarter!

September marks for some, the last month of the third quarter (Q3) for 2007.

That meas the mad dash to close the final business of the quarter is here!

If you are in sales, where are you for your numbers? I hope you are right on target to meet your personal goals and professional quotas.

If not, here are some quick sales tips to help you close some last minute business. Remember, you still have a couple of weeks left in the quarter!

The Golden Rule of Sales - It is easier to sell to existing customers than to find new ones.

Concentrate on your existing pipeline!


Getting started...

1) How much more did you want to sell this quarter?
Let's say you wanted an additional $100,000.00 in sales this quarter. You have checked your pipeline and there simply is not a single opportunity which will help you make this number.

Consider adding together three or four opportunities to reach your target. It may take seven or eight smaller customers, but the number can be reached if it is broken up.

Which leads us to...

2) What is the current state of your pipeline?
Do you have any customers who consistently order $5000.00 to 20,000.00 at a time yet who are not in this quarter's forecast?

When was the last time they placed an order?

Now is the time to get on the phone to these prospects and line up an unplanned sale for the quarter. That customer who has placed $25,000.00 and 50,000.00 orders might need an additional, but smaller order now. If you can find three or four of these customers, you will be that much closer to your goal!

3) Check your channels; partners, distributors, and resellers.
Where do they stand? Do they have any opportunities which have not closed?
Do they need your help with the final call?
Have your channels optimized any and all leads and prospects sent their way?

Have these team members come in for the final big push and bring some business over the line.

4) How about inventory?
Is there any excess inventory? What about closeouts or end-of-life products?
Get with your company CFO and Operations people and find out what your can clear off the shelves.

These types of sales are generally high-margin or can be sold at a discount.
Remember: Your customers are just like you. Everyone loves a bargain!

5) What about those new prospects?
Sure, they may not be placing production sized orders, but they may be ready to put in that demo or pilot order.

Yes these orders may be small, but it might be the few small ones which push you over your number.

Notice!!!

Before you start with point 1, do the following:

Check your attitude at the door - Anger, depression or bitterness have no place in sales.

Deal with the facts - Summer is traditionally a slow time and credit has been tight in some markets. This may be why you are below your number. Accept it and move on.

You cannot build a pipeline in the last month of the quarter - Pipelines are built over time through careful prospecting and networking. "Last minute, gotta have it, just walked in the door, Big Sales customers" are the stuff of sales legend and myth.

If you sold anything this quarter, 'you done good'. If you sell more, 'you done better'.

Most of all, start building for the fourth quarter which I have always said is a tougher quarter because of the holidays and shorter work time.

Hang in there! Happy hunting!

Thursday

Marketing Me! August was tough!

August was a tough month all the way around.

It started with a bouncy, topsey-turvy stock market.

Then rolled into the wonderful news about the sub-prime housing market.

Then comes the credit/cash crunch. Some businesses lamented that there wasn't a dollar to be found on the street.

And all of this happens in what is traditionally the deadest month of the year for business, not only in the U.S., but worldwide, August.

Could not have happened to a nicer month!

Somehow, someone forgot to mention that little fact. August is "roll up the streets" time in Europe and other parts of the world.

In the States, many take their final vacation of the summer.

For families, work comes second to back to school and the related activities.

Finally, the whole thing ends with ironically and aptly with Labor Day - in other words, "Get back to work day!".

Last week, I heard my final "I am out of the office" voice mail and instead started off with the phone ringing off the hook. Today was no different and I found myself at the office an extra hour this evening just answering calls.

I fully expect next week to be more of the same and so it will continue through the end of October as businesses close out their fiscal year.

November will bring in some additional business and the 2007 business year will come to a grinding halt around the second week of December (for some, not all. I make some great, end-of-year, Yule deals in the final two weeks of the year!).

2008 will be another thing, what with the fallout from the sub-prime market and a presidential election. But that is next year, we only care about what we are going to do tomorrow, right?

I don't know where you stand today or tomorrow. But try not to let August and the summer doldrums get you down. Tomorrow is another day and don't forget, it is Friday!

Until then, happy hunting!

Wednesday

Marketing Me! Are you entitled?

About ten years ago, while managing an IT workforce, I welcomed a new technician to the company. After giving him a tour of our office and outlining our processes, I asked if he had any questions.

His first, "How do I park in the covered parking garage? Do I need a pass?".

"There is limited covered parking and is shared by all the tenants", I replied. "Because of the demand, the cost is prohibitive and we only have a few parking passes included with our rent. Such as it is, most of us park in the open lot out front or around back".

The look on the technician's face suggested that I had suggested he eat dog food for lunch. "You mean I don't get to park in the covered garage?", he responded.

-----

A year or so later, another technician interviewed with our company. Upon viewing his workspace, he requested that the lights above his desk be removed, that he be given a floor lamp, a pad under his rolling chair, a new rolling chair of a certain make and model, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse of a certain model and after hours pay outside of his generous salary.

I showed the prospect the door with the standard, "We will let you know what we have decided".

-----

During the post 2001 dot-com meltdown, an prospect was scheduled for a customary phone interview. After the job description and standard questioning, the prospect informed me that she was interested in the position and would be happy to start the next week. Naturally, she would be working from her home and wanted to know how the arrangements would be made to accommodate her.

I informed the candidate, that the person we were hiring would be required to relocate to our city and would work in the office with the rest of the development team.

The candidate informed me that was unacceptable and was sure the situation could be altered for her specific requirements and that relocation was out of the question; she loved where she lived and would never think about living where our company was headquartered.

I thanked her for her time and ended the call.

------

Was my reaction appropriate with each situation? Should I have been more flexible and understood the requests of the employee or job candidate? Should I have asked more questions and worked with their specific requests?

The right answer(s):

I should have hired the best person for the job and based their employment upon the need of the position and my desire to have that certain person be part of my company. Superstars are not entitled; they earn their "perks" because they are worth the price paid.

The superstar candidates or employee should have had the power to make certain demands and be ready to back them up with proven results and incredible potential. Superstars make superstar requests because they not only talk the talk, they walk it.

Work has changed. But not in all cases. Some positions are such that working from home or in special surroundings is necessary for the RESULTS desired. Results is the keyword. If the candidate can produce the necessary results in the right surroundings than they are worth the price. If they are self entitled or high maintenance, rightfully screen them out.

Where do you stand? Are you entitled? Do you feel so? Does your employer think so? Have you earned it? Could you earn more? Or are you on dangerous ground?

We live in a society which is moving in two directions.

The first sees the writing on the wall - move fast, provide value and set your asking price.

The other sees work as the environment which is obligated to reward tenure and loyalty with the same measure as results and profitability.

Which one is right? More important, which one is right for you?

Happy hunting.

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Tuesday

Marketing Me! From Seth Godin...

Some people (a precious few, so far) are realizing that this temporary recession is the best opportunity that they've ever had. They're working harder than ever -- mentally -- and taking all sorts of emotional and personal risks that are bound to pay off.

- Seth Godin

Wonderful quote. Is it true?

With recession, I see more people rethinking risk and dwelling on mistakes ("I should have opted for that 30-year fixed loan and avoided that ARM!"*).

(Or "I should have stayed with that big stable company in avoided the layoff I just went through!" - DotCom employee, circa 2001.)

But the risk is worth it. It is knowing when the risk is risky and dangerous vs. being rewarding with possibility. It is a hard.

But the risk is worth it.

I am a big believer in part-time risk. Build that website at nights and on weekends. Build an audience. Fill a niche. Find a buyer.

If it fails, try again. Try two or three opportunities at a time. Try, fail, try again.

Keep your day job. Work hard to leave it.

Risk is worth it. Stagnation is death.

Happy hunting.

* The ARM loan is worth it if you take advantage of the 3, 5 or 10 year term and pay down the principal.

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Marketing Me! When is retirement? 56!

I was reading a publication for seniors over the weekend. The featured article was about companies who have curtailed or canceled retirement health plans. Unfortunately, companies which either underfunded their health care plans or have had financial setbacks are cutting back on retirees.

Noted was a retired employee of a Fortune 100 company who was upset that his retiree health plan premiums could potentially increase several hundred dollars. But here's the rub: The retired employee was 56 years old.

56.

Where has this guy been the last 25 years!

Nobody retires at 56 unless they are a professional athlete or have won the lottery.

At 56, a retiree is realistically facing 25 years of retirement. Figure how much you would need to live on for 25 years. I won't even through out any numbers because the cost of retirement in Boston, Mass is far different than that of Beaumont, Texas.

With 25 extended years on a fixed income and savings would have me worrying about my health care premium after I figured out "What will I be eating if I get to eat, and where will I live?".

56.

Who sold this guy the dream he could retire at 56 and would be financially comfortable not to worry about his cost of living increasing? Ask any financial planner and unless one is sitting on a considerable nest egg with zero debt, retiring at 56 would be a no-brainer. It ain't gonna happen!

Consider for instance expected cost increases such as taxes (on property, against social security payments, interest on savings, etc.), food, gasoline and utilities. And now consider the possibility of debilitating illness or injury such as a broken hip. 56 seems like the beginning of a long road towards uncertainty.

By the time I am 56, I most likely will be working for my 20th company or more. And with the state of pension plans, Social "Security" and health insurance, I actually expect be working at 66, 76 and possibly 86 if at all possible.

Once upon a time (1900), the life expectancy of a man was 54 years of age in the U.S. 56 would be considered old age and possibly a suitable time for one to relax and enjoy a few precious months with loved ones and friends.

But this is 2007, not 1907.

The rules changed 25 years ago. Maybe longer, but unlikely more recently.

56 is not the time to retire, but the time to start that second or third career.

I believe a person has so much potential and there are so many great opportunities that is almost seems like a crime to give up and retire at such a young age. Even at the ripe old age of 56.

Happy hunting!

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