Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marketing Yourself: Your Online Collateral - LinkedIn

There are currently so many ways to Market yourself online that I decided to address them one at a time. The first, and for people in business the most important, is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a free online service that allows you to build a resume online. Once the resume is built you can begin to connect with everyone you've ever worked with, gone to school with, etc. This is the ultimate networking tool.

Once you begin to connect with people you can see the lists of people they are connected to and continue to expand your network. In my LinkedIn account - which is currently at 366 connections - I am connected to people from both undergrad and grad school and almost every job I've ever had. But LinkedIn is about more than networking, it is a job hunting tool.

Here is a simple example. If I am looking for a job and I see that company has posted a position for a Director of Marketing - I can search my connections to see who I know that either works at that company or who knows someone at that company who can introduce me. When I find someone I can send them my resume and ask them to forward it or I can request an introduction to the person they know. With that often comes the opportunity for my connection to recommend me for the position. It's that simple.

LinkedIn is also expanding its features to include groups - interest groups, ex-company groups, college groups, I'm even in my high school alum group.

Is it worth the time? Absolutely. You can use LinkedIn to promote events, get general questions answered, make connections, keep up with old friends and find jobs.

So what are my suggestions to make LinkedIn work for you:

1. List every job you've ever had in Linked In with the correct company name. You'll get suggestions of others who worked at the company available so you can re-connect with even more of your past networks.

2. Get recommendations. You can have co-workers, customers, bosses (old and new), friends, etc write you recommendations on LinkedIn. I currently have 19. I wasn't sure if it was worth it until a current co-worker told me that when she was checking my references she looked at my LinkedIn references as well. The fact that so many of my references talked about high energy, cheerful, team player and got things done - all helped me get the job.

3. When you meet someone new - Link with them.

4. Spend 10-15 minutes a week scanning the contacts from past companies and sending invites. You don't need to spend days on LinkedIn. Once you do connect try and drop notes to check in on people once in a while.

5. Never write a recommendation for somone you don't recommend. Your reputation becomes tied to the reputations of people you recommend. If you're put in the awkward position of having to do a recommendation because the person is a current co-worker or even a friend that you love but would never want to work with - make the recommendation very specific. Everyone has their strengths - focus on those. For example if someone is a terrible manager but an excellent writer - only talk about their writing. If someone is great at people skills but terrible at delivering on projects - then talk about their ability to connect with people. Never give a strong broad endorsement unless you truly mean it.

6. Do fill out the profile completely. Some people only put their current job on LinkedIn. That's not using the service to its fullest extent.

7. Do help other people get jobs. You never know when you'll be the one out looking.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marketing Yourself: Your Collateral

I have rebranded many companies during my career. And central to that process are two things - the website and the collateral that you develop. Those are often the primary means of communicating to customers. The web is a topic I'll address in a future post - but your personal collateral is today's topic.

For non marketers the question arises what is collateral? I think of collateral as any leave behind materials. For a business those include datasheets, brochures, case studies, product descriptions, diagrams, photography, presentations, videos, etc. They are a representation of what your company is and tell the story of your product when you are not physically present.

So what is your personal collateral? What represents you to a recruiter, a hiring manager, an HR person, an interviewer? There are several items that can be included - your resume, listings of your publications, your portfolio (though these should never be left behind unless you have copies of everything and are willing to lose it), and your references.

When you develop collateral you need to think about several things. The first is the overall look and feel of the piece - the colors, the fonts, the design style, the length. You should do this with a resume too. You will most likely do your resume submissions on line but you will also want to print out the resume too. It never hurts when you walk into an interview with multiple clean printed copies of the resume - preferably on a nice piece of stationary. It makes it stand out from all the copies mass printed on copier paper.

Make sure the resume is done in a nice readable font. Be sure to make the font size big enough to be seen. Make sure you have a nice balance of white space and dark print (do not put your print in anything but black - you want it to stand out on the page). And be sure that when you print out the resume that it all fits well on the page and that it doesn't look like a solid mass of print. You want to make it easy for people to scan quickly and find the key points. Do use bold - but sparingly - bold is to be used to highlight items. I personally do not like underlining on a page - I find it distracting.

The length for a business resume should be no more than two pages. Yes, yes, I know - but whoever is screening resumes is seldom going to read that third page. All the most important information should be on the first page.

And what is that important information? If you've ever read product literature it is all about features and benefits. What are features and benefits? Features are the things that remain unchanged about a product - it's functions, description (size, speed, capability). Benefits are what that product can do for the user.

Your resume is your product literature - you are the product. You can design your resume by thinking this way - you have a set of skills, experience and expertise, as well as your job history and academic background. This is what you are capable of doing. These must be in the resume. And while everyone wants to make sure you have all the features (see every job description - it is a list of the features they want in the person they hire), it is the benefits that make people select you.

How do you convey benefits in a resume? Those are the bulleted items under each job in your resume that shows how you took the features and made a positive impact on you. If you were buying a toothpaste you would look on that has fluoride - that's a feature. If the toothpaste says it has fluoride and use of the toothpaste has been shown to reduce cavities by 98% - that's the benefit. So people want features but they buy on benefits.

So let's take myself for example - I know how to create collateral, design web pages, develop and implement PR campaigns, and a host of other things. I put all of those at the top of my resume in my skills section - these are the things I know how to do. The check list. If I were a developer I'd write about all the types of systems and code I know how to work with. Then under each job - i.e. Director of Marketing, Anita Borg Institute - I show how I used those skills to positively impact my organization. For example

  • Implemented PR Campaign to support research study deployment; achieved media coverage in Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and an additional 40 major publications.

The reader of the resume says hey I need someone who can do PR campaigns and I want to be in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Or say they want someone who can create a newsletter:

  • Edited and published two newsletters monthly and increased circulation of newsletter by 98% in first year.

So yes I met the checklist item with my yes I can do a newsletter but they're saying - wow she increased circulation. And I don't go into the weeds - I don't tell them how I did it - I save that info for the interview.

The same can be done for any job. Think about how your work impacts the product you are working on as well as the company.

Also, remember to highlight what you did on a resume. Women especially like to say we did this or the team did this. Be sure to highlight your individual contributions on your resume and note the impact overall.

Remember your resume is not a laundry list of everything you've ever done. Be sure to make sure you put your strongest results into the resume. And don't be afraid to tweak the resume before you send it in for a specific job. I always read the job description carefully and review my resume to make sure it meets most of the points the hiring firm is looking for. Just keep track of what version you send out.

If you have experience with a specific industry don't be afraid to namedrop. I once got an interview for a voice mail product marketing position. My experience was with voice mail systems and I listed all the manufacturers I had worked with. It turned out they were hiring for someone to deal with three of those manufacturers on my list. It would have been a great fit. And I would have gotten the job if I hadn't asked what had happened to my predecessor. The interviewer told me in graphic detail how she'd become so unhappy and overstressed in the job she'd killed herself. I was horrified and it showed. Especially since his next question was how well did I deal with stress. Ack!

Most importantly - never present something on your resume that you did not do. I can't tell you how many times I've heard interviewers say - great resume but it was clear they did not do the work themselves. As things have become more competitive and hiring restrictions grow tighter you have an increased chance of being interviewed by multiple people who will ask you about everything on your resume.

I'll be writing more about your personal collateral in the coming days. One final note - be sure to have someone proofread your resume who is very good at the language the resume is written in. If you have a friend who's an English major, English professor, super speller - have them read it. There are things spellcheck will not find for you and trust me someone will notice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Marketing Yourself in Tough Economic Times

As the economy continues it's downward trend and more and more of my friends are laid off I find myself spending a lot of time - both personally and at work - thinking about how to help people find jobs. I'll be writing a series of posts over the next few weeks about this topic since I'm in the process of putting together materials for the Anita Borg Institute's newest event - Savvy Geek Chix : Weathering the Economic Storm. The event is a combination of networking, a resume clinic and a panel discussion by some very Savvy Geek Chix on what to do while you have a job, how to prepare for a coming layoff and what to do when you are laid off.

I have been through several layoffs and I can tell you - it's never easy. But the most important thing to remember once a layoff happens is that your single most important job after that is to find another job. And that everything you do once the layoff happens is about marketing yourself. Your new job is to market yourself as a product that your potential new employer will hire. You are launching a new start up and you are that startup.

So what's the first thing you do when launching a startup? Create an image, a brand. You need to decide who you are going to be and what you want to do at your next company. Avoid the desire to spray and pray - I'll be anything for anyone who'll hire me. That's one way to guarantee that no one will want you. You are now packaging your expertise as a product to be purchased so think about who you are, what you do, what you are good at and where your expertise is. And be sure to think about what you like to do, what makes you happy. You'll bring real energy to any job that you really enjoy doing.

Next time: Creating your personal collateral

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Sunday

It's always interesting to read about the strategies around promoting an Oscar nominee. Will anyone forget the year that Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan? Or that one of the biggest movies of all time, The Dark Knight, didn't get nominated for Best Picture; while the Reader - which no one saw did? But none of that matters to me on Oscar night.

I love movies and the Oscars is my Superbowl. I hunker down and hardly move my eyes throughout - feasting on the sight of all the celebrities trying not to look upset when they lose and wondering if anyone is going to just pop right out of their dress (yes you Sarah Jessica Parker).

This year I found myself in an odd position. I had hardly seen any of the nominated movies. Slumdog Millionaire I'd skipped because everyone who would see it had seen it without me and many people weren't that interested. I assumed I'd catch it on Netflix - never thinking that such a tiny underdog of a movie with no celebrities and mostly in Hindi would win. I was wrong. The Reader I skipped because I'd read the book and I'd figured out the secret in the first 20 pages. I spent most of the book wondering how stupid all the characters were for not figuring it out sooner. The Wrestler I was warned off of by my boyfriend since he knows I do not like movies that involve anything sharp coming into contact with people's faces - no staplers, no razors - Ick. And Frost/Nixon just didn't capture my attention - I'd seen the real interviews so seeing them re-enacted was not of interest. I did see Milk and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button - and I rooted for Curious the whole evening.

The overall broadcast was quite fun - though the medley of songs in the middle was just a mess. I'd rather hear a whole song than lots of tiny bits of ones. And while I love John Legend, I would much rather have heard Peter Gabriel sing his nominated song than just hear bits of it mixed in with the other two Best Song nominees. The best part of the broadcast were the actor and actress awards when past winners came out - each to honor one of the nominees. The looks on each nominees face as they were praised were priceless. The look on Anne Hathaways face, Meryl Streep's glow, Robert DeNiro's joke - were all priceless. In this one instance it was just enough to be a nominee.

So I give Hugh Jackman a big thumbs up and I appreciate the Oscars for honoring the whole year in movies - from the highlights of various film genres throughout the evening to the great opening number with Anne Hathaway. And it was nice that for once it was only 3 1/2 hours long as opposed to 5 hours. However my number one question of the evening went unanswered - did Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie ever encounter each other in the ladies room and did Jennifer finally clock Angelina?

Friday, February 20, 2009

CAMINOS Event Honoring Anita Borg Institute

Last night was a terrific one for the Anita Borg Institute. The Institute, along with the organization Latinas in Computing, were honored by CAMINOS at their 10 anniversary event - Digital Decade for Latinas. We were honored for having played an important role in increasing access to technology for Latinas and minorities over the past 10 years. CAMINOS works in San Francisco's Mission District providing basic to advanced computer literacy and training courses to Latina immigrants. Their work enables these women to find better paying jobs and through their low cost computer service repair shop they make computing more affordable to low-income members of the San Francisco Latino Community.

The event was lovely. I attended along with my co-workers Jody Mahoney, Kim McLeod and BJ Wishinsky and by our CEO, Telle Whitney. Telle also delivered the keynote address. Her keynote address rocked and actually brought tears to my eyes as she shared the words of one of our past Grace Hopper Celebration scholarship winners who spoke about what it meant to her to attend our event.

The highlight of the evening is that we were awarded a Certificate of Honor signed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for our work with technical women. It was big honor.

So, what does all this have to do with marketing you might ask. Quite a bit actually - being asked to attend the event was only the first step in the process. When CAMINOS contacted us I engaged with them in helping support the event. We published two articles they created in our newsletters to help them promote the event. Caroline Simard and I also acted as editors of their report "Latina Immigrants and Technology in San Francisco's Mission District (1999-2009) A Case Study on CAMINOS-Pathways Learning Center. And ultimately - my final role was as speech editor and advisor to Telle as she crafted her keynote address. And now, the day after -I'm writing an article for our newsletter about the event and the great honor we received.

Have a great weekend everybody. Look for my Oscar review on Monday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Review: The International

For those who don't know it, I am a huge Clive Owen fan. I'm one of those people who say that you could do a whole movie of just a closeup of him and I'd be happy. The International made me very happy. Not only is it Clive Owens' movie but the whole first minute is just a close-up of Clive Owens. And it gets better from there.

I think The International is the first intelligent thriller of the year. The globe trotting movie has splendid scenery and a great story about a large multinational bank that is working to control the world's supply of small arms, the kind used in 98% of the ongoing skirmishes throughout the globe, and the small group of law enforcement personnel who are working to stop the bank. The bankers are suitably loathsome and cut throat, with their own personal assassin on call.

The movie avoids the usual cliches of the investigator and beautiful woman on the run and in love in amongst all the shootouts. Instead you see Clive Owens as an Interpol agent, and how long has it been since Interpol has been mentioned in a thriller?, and Naomi Watts as a New York District Attorney. The two work well together and care for each other as colleagues but Naomi has a perfectly lovely family at home - this is a woman with work/life balance worked out. They manage to retain their jobs through most of the movie so you get to see several scenes of employee and boss clashing about their work objectives.

The movie has several thrilling scenes - I won't ruin it but I may never go to the Guggenheim Museum again since it seems to have no emergency exits which is not a good thing - and a wonderful chase through the streets of Milan. The violence is very realistic and graphic but that adds to the tension in the movie. It also has a great twisty ending. Here's hoping for the International 2.

The movie is definitely not one to take the kids to. But if you like the Bourne movies only without all the jiggly camera work and confusing abrupt cuts and you are really hating on banks right now - this is the movie for you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Movie Review: He's Just Not That Into You

For those who don't know about this movie, it's actually based on an expression that was first used in a Sex and the City episode. Carrie's then boyfriend Berger (my least favorite of any of the men she dated) listened to Carrie and Miranda going through a complicated justification of why a guy had not called Miranda after the first date. Berger's simple solution - he's just not that into you. And so it went from there.

The movie, written by the same Sex and the City writer who coined the phrase and wrote the book, follows the lives of a group of interconnected attractive people living in Baltimore. I chose this as our Valentine's movie date because a romantic comedy seemed the thing and Mike would have run screaming after the first ten minutes of Confessions of a Shopaholic. He refuses to see all movies where a major subplot revolves around shoes.

Overall, I found the movie interesting, it certainly held my attention and got a few chuckles and a few oh no's from me as well. Mike pointed out afterwards that to him the whole movie was just one long incredibly awkward moment. I can see his point - when the women in this movie interact with the men in their lives more often than not it was something painful. At least until the last 20-30 minutes in which everything was wrapped up to a degree.

For me the movie raised some questions - why did Jennifer Aniston seem so surprised that Ben Affleck, a professed skeptic and non believer in marriage, didn't want to marry her? But then I've known many women in the same situation. There is always that hope that maybe he'll change his mind, sometime. And why was Jennifer Connelly so obsessed with her husband's possible smoking when she really needed to be concerned that he was sneaking around behind her back with Scarlett Johanssen. And how did Scarlett Johanssen and Drew Barrymore come to the conclusion that it is ok to go after a married man and try and destroy his marriage? You had to wonder about things like that.

However, I'm not panning this movie - I don't think it was worth $10 each - I would have been a bit more satisfied if it had been a matinee - but I did enjoy watching all the pretty people and the movie does have some funny moments. And while much of it seemed absurd and over exaggerated, much of it rung true for me. I've had too many friendswho have angsted over guys who are just not that into us and dealt with predatory women pursuing the men they were with. So the happy endings, though a bit contrived, did actually make me happy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Social Media and Non Profits

I attended a webinar this week on fundraising for non profits through social media -specifically blogs, facebook and twitter. The information was not as useful as I had hoped since the basic message was you should devote time to social media but not too much time but we can't tell you how much time that is. The other advice was to use these tools as a way to build rapport and support from your audience and to engage people.

I was fascinated by the numbers - there are 150 million bloggers and 1 million tweeters. But what was really interesting were the numbers from the mini survey of the attendees - more than half of the non profits on the call were using no social media, many were doing one of the three and only 4% of the call attendees were using all three - blogs, facebook and twitter. The Anita Borg Institute is using all three so we are part of that 4%. Currently we have a twitter account, soon to be adding another for myself to do ABI public relations twitter. It seems that some reporters now refuse to receive any pitches except via twitter. If you can't say it in 140 characters I guess it's not worth saying. But that means it is time to start tweeting PR. We have multiple blogs - one for ABI, one on Fast Company for our CEO and Director of Research and one for GHC bloggers. And for Facebook - we're all over that with pages and event pages and groups, etc.

So what keeps most non profits from investing in social media? That ephemeral thing called ROI - when you are underfunded and your staff is overworked how do you take someone off of helping a hungry child to go and tweet about it? And with the inability to prove the ROI of social media - few facebook fundraisers are truly effective, yet. And the operative room is yet. It takes a good amount of time to build up Facebook pages and blog and twitter followers. And as a member of the ABI team I can tell you it is totally worth it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Selling The Economic Recovery Package - Make it Personal

I listened last night with great interest to Barack Obama's first press conference as President. He did a great job. His opening statement was strong but beyond that he was able to take something almost incomprehensible - the current financial economic meltdown and the 800 Billion Dollar recovery plan and make it instantly relatable to everyone. He did it using Elkhart Indiana as his case study. Elkhart has felt the impact of the economic downturn even more than the rest of the country with an unemployment rate of 15% and more bad times on the way. Obama's ability to take a global crisis and bring it down to an understandable level was phenomenal. He was everyone's dream spokesperson - he was clear, concise, honest and impactful. I had tears in my eyes as he told the story of Elkhart.

And when he related that in the last month we lost as many jobs as there are in the entire state of Maine - wow. I could immediately relate to that - I've been to Maine several times - the thought of all those people out of work - it was shocking.

I also admire his ability to stay on message throughout the questioning. Even more exciting - he did actually answer every question - something we haven't seen for about 8 years. Of course there's always the oddball question - the A-Rod question of steroids. And in that he did a nice reversal - taking a small personal story and relating it to a national lesson for children everywhere.

Now is the time for civility and rational thought - lead on Obama.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Tarnished Idol

I've watched with interest the tarnishing of a relatively new American idol this week - Michael Phelps. It is an interesting example of how one slip can have a major ripple effect. I found it interesting that Kellogg's has positioned themselves as no longer being a sponsor did so in the same month Michael Phelps contract with them was expiring anyway. They get to promote their wholesome American values at a cost to no one but Phelps, the contract was expiring anyway. I'm sure the marketing team at Kellogg's was thrilled.

Notice that his other sponsors have not withdrawn - but then their contracts are still in place and I'm sure the a public legal case attempting to terminate a contract would be much more costly than putting their heads down and waiting out the scandal.

Do I think Michael Phelps will recover? Yes. He is one of the great Olympic athletes of our time. And 2012 is coming and I'm sure the US will rally behind him again. He's handling this well with an appropriate amount of public shame and remorse. I'm just sad that all those lovely shiny gold medals are now just tinged with a little tarnish.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Ads: Which ones do I remember?

I wouldn't be a marketing person if I didn't write a blog about the Superbowl commercials from yesterday. I haven't seen or read any of the reviews of the commercials - I understand the news last night was actually offering reviews but Mike was so upset about Pittsburgh's win we ended up watching House Hunters on HGTV to avoid all discussion of the game.

So which commercials did I like? The Clydesdale commercials. I know I know - it's a beer commercial - but I really love the horses. They were my favorite, I especially liked the one where the horse wanted the treat and retrieved the log. The look on the dalmatian's face was classic.

I also loved Pixar's preview for UP. Something to look forward to this summer.

I happened to go to the grocery store yesterday and discovered at the checkout 3D glasses which were required for a commercial at the end of the second quarter. So I brought home a set of 4, even though only two of us were watching, carefully cut and punched them out and had them waiting. Thank goodness they gave us repeated warnings that the commercial was coming. So at last they announced the commercial was starting and Mike and I put on our glasses and watched. Our conclusion - Monsters and Aliens looks so/so - might be good, hard to tell from the commercial - but not much of the commercial was in 3D - though something did pop out at one point. It may have been a case of too much hype - the commercial was inevitably going to be a let down. So those of you without 3D glasses - you didn't miss much.

The new Star Trek movie looks fine though the clips at the end of the commercial were a bit muddled so hard to tell; the new Julia Roberts/Clive Owen is a must see - it looks like a sort of Mr & Mrs Smith type movie - rival spies fall in love - but I want to see it because I honestly think it's the first time I've seen Clive Owen ever smile. Must be worth a bit.

The rest of the commercials were of the forgettable sort. I hope no one spent their last marketing dollar. I noticed the only car companies really advertising were Hyundai and Toyota - no American car companies to be seen. Thank goodness they aren't spending our tax dollars on Superbowl commercials.

Of course my favorite part of the whole event was Bruce Springstein - I'm a Jersey girl and we love our Bruce. Excellent songs until the next to last about Dreams. We were both like what the hell is this? I was demanding Glory Days and thank goodness Bruce heard me and switched into that for his final song. Very cool. And how fun is it to see Steve Van Zandt not playing in the Soprano's but rocking out once again.

So who was the big winner in last night's Superbowl? The Boss of course.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's always nice to see you - the advantages of a personal touch in marketing

Yesterday I attended the 50th Anniversary of the Mount Holyoke College Peninsula Club. In years past I was president of this group and we actually had an array of past (and present) presidents at the event. It was great to see so many friends - and to forge some deeper relationships wtih people I knew only slightly in my early days with the club.

As an added benefit to the afternoon event (and the delicious anniversary cake) Mount Holyoke sent along the new Executive Director of the alumnae association and the President of the Alum Assoc as well. It was an excellent marketing decision by the College to send the two women west.

The new Executive Director, this was her 30th day, was charming and made everyone feel comfortable that the association would be in good hands. The trials of a few years ago when the association seemed to be at war with the College is not something any of us want to see repeated. The rival direct mail letters alone were enough to make many say, I think I'll keep my checkbook closed that year.

The President of the Association did a fabulous job. She was incredibly knowledgeable about every aspect of the college - from the state of the endowment, what's going on with the faculty, how they are addressing students with financial issues and the new dorm (which remains nameless). She answered every question, validated every member for their input and inserted a few blatant and a few subtle pleas for contributions. She reminded everyone how urgent it is for everyone to make their annual donations and pleaded for contributions to the scholarship fund. I have a lot of respect for someone who can ask for money and not make everyone uncomfortable.

The afternoon ended well and I look forward to seeing more of both these women in the future.