LinkedIn’s Killer App: Contact Management

Social media properties want to increase the time you spend with them.  They call it ‘engagement’ and it is a key metric that social media sites like to quote when soliciting more VC funds or in the case of Facebook, to make their analysts happy

LinkedIn has been called ‘Facebook for Business’ and for good reason.  They have become the defacto portal that most professionals use to manage their networking.

Social Media EngagementA social media analysis site called Shareaholic compiles a “Social Referrals That Matter” Report that measures user engagement across 200,000 sites. They said:

Although Google+ and LinkedIn drive the fewest social referrals, they bring in some of the best visitors.

What does this mean?  It means that LinkedIn users spend more time (over 2 minutes) on each link they click and view 2.23 pages during each visit.  As you can see from the chart, LinkedIn users spend over two hours there, on average, each month.  This ranks third behind only YouTube and Google+.

User engagement is a valuable metric and allows sites to charge more for advertising.  LinkedIn has built an active user community that is attractive to businesses.  The more engagement goes up, the more attractive their community becomes.

To increase their stickiness and keep you on their site even longer, LinkedIn has been quietly adding new features to their core functionality.  I’m going to show you how you can take advantage of some of these and turn LinkedIn into a free contact management tool. Continue reading LinkedIn’s Killer App: Contact Management

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4 Mistakes that Can Doom Your New Job

If you make listening and observing your occupation, you will gain much more than you will by talking.

— Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the Boy Scouts

A beginning is a very delicate time.”  Starting a new job can be a trying experience.  Especially if you were out of work for a while, moved into a new industry or even an entirely new line of work.  There are a host of unknowns; unfamiliar faces, opaque office politics and where exactly is the bathroom?

If you want to excel in your new job, there are a number of behaviors you should avoid, to make your life easier in your new role  and put yourself in the best position to be successful.  In this article, I discuss four of these mistakes and give you some useful techniques to keep yourself from making them.

Continue reading 4 Mistakes that Can Doom Your New Job

3 Tips to Avoid Worrying About Losing Your Job

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

— George Carlin

Whether you feel like one of the people Carlin is referring to or whether you love your job and would never consider leaving, you can’t escape the fact that job hopping is becoming more common.  Today’s workers stay at a job for around 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This may not sound too bad, however, it is projected that recent college grads could see that average drop even further.

Continue reading 3 Tips to Avoid Worrying About Losing Your Job

Is Your Life Full of Clutter? Organize It with Evernote!

The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.

     — Laura Ingalls Wilder

My daughter, Emma, kills what seems like an entire forest each year writing things down to try and keep herself organized for school. Her desk is littered with papers, notes,  index cards, lists, and reminders that she is constantly misplacing.

Her problem is similar to that of many adults I know, who have trouble organizing themselves at work or at home.

Spending twenty minutes trying to find that note that you’re Pretty Sure Was Really Important by hand is frustrating to say the least.  Fortunately, a host of technology options are available to stay organized and assist with all of the consolidating, categorizing, and arranging that we just do not have time to do.

One of the best and most user-friendly programs that I have found is Evernote.

Continue reading Is Your Life Full of Clutter? Organize It with Evernote!

How to Find Your Sense of Urgency!

“Real urgency … is an emotion. It’s a gut-level determination to get up every day, every single day, and to do something, no matter how small, to push along your capacity to grab the big opportunities or to avoid the big hazards.”  — John Kotter, Change Management Expert

This quote, from Kotter’s book A Sense of Urgency, helps to explain the importance of urgency in the workplace.   Urgency is characterized by a tangible ambition, rather than a feeling about a task you may or may not accomplish someday.No Sense of Urgency

Most consultants understand the meaning of urgency when they start a project because their compensation as well as their reputation depend on being able to deliver faster and more efficiently than in-house resources (in other words, the company’s own employees).

But just knowing the definition of urgency doesn’t explain how to achieve it.

Continue reading How to Find Your Sense of Urgency!

Leaping Into the Future

Imagine that you were put in charge of a company with 55,000 employees and $750 mil in net revenues. The company has a long history of being successful, but you know that the industry is changing rapidly and the competition is growing faster than you. How do you implement revolutionary changes in your business model without tearing the company apart?

In 2005, this was the mission given to Vineet Nayar as the new CEO of HCL Technologies, a global IT services firm based in Noida, India. He pioneered a unique management culture that he calls Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS) that is detailed in an article in the Harvard Business Review (June 2010).

Mirror Mirror Process

Vineet created a methodology for the company to analyze itself from the inside out. He codified the process and decided to call it Mirror Mirror. He had held up a mirror to the company in a new way, forcing people to see the reality of their situation.

Vineet illustrated the movement towards their goal using two points. Point A was the company’s current situation, which Vineet believed required significant structural changes. Point B was where they should land. Finding the exact location of Point B required talking to customers in order to discover where they perceived the company’s value zone to be. Was it their products, services, technologies or employees?

Employee responses to the message could be divided into three groups: 1) Those that sensed no danger and could see only their successful track record, the booming IT services market, and past successes. 2) Those that had no opinion; they wanted to wait and see. 3) Those that believed that the situation was dire and HCL should have changed a long time ago.

Turn the traditional pyramid structure on its head so that senior management- the heads of enabling functions such as human resources and finance and even the CEO- could become accountable to employees.

Collaboratively Develop a Strategy

A series of company-wide meetings were then scheduled in order to facilitate questions, conversation, and discussion. Vineet believes that employee caveats and concerns must be addressed. These are often expressed with sentences that start with “Yes, but..:” These objections are at the very heart of collaboration. If you don’t respond to them, Vineet cautioned, you’ll never get the people who have questions or doubts to play with the team.

The goal of these meetings wasn’t for Vineet to provide answers, offer justifications, or make new suggestions; He wanted alignment to emerge on its own.

Droplets for Change

Transformation requires action, not just words, but Vineet doesn’t believe in large-scale technology initiatives or massive reorganizations. So he decided to use small-scale catalysts, referred to as blue ocean droplets (BODs). This is a phrase he borrowed from the ideas in W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy. He used four BODs at HCL:

1. Sharing financial data extensively, within and across groups. enables employee teams to compare their performance to that of others. goal was to help people better see where we stood and to increase trust by greatly increasing transparency.
2. Online Suggestion Box – allows anyone in the organization to lodge a complaint or make a suggestion. a manager has to respond to every ticket, and the employee who opened the ticket determines whether its resolution is satisfactory. Not only does the system help resolve issues, but it effectively puts managers in the service of frontline employees.
3. The comprehensive 360-degree – I posted the results of my 360-degree appraisal on the intranet for all the company to see. Most managers followed suit. If they didn’t,suggested they had something to hide.
4. Planning via YouTube – managers to make video recordings summarizing their plans and post them on an online portal, where other managers could review them, share feedback, and discuss changes. This made a difference in how managers formulated and communicated ideas. Consequently, plans became more specific and executable.

The approach taken by Vineet relies on convincing employees and bringing them onboard using consensus building and transparency. Research supports his approach and has shown that “successful organizational adaption is increasingly reliant on generating employee support and enthusiasm for proposed changes rather than merely overcoming resistance.” (Academy of Management Review: Rethinking Resistance and Recognizing Ambivalence by Sandy Piderit)

Take the Leap

According to Vineet, many CEOs today are standing on a virtual ledge, unaware or unwilling to admit that their building is on fire. Some are banging at windows, trying to summon help. Others have frozen in place. Only a few are thinking about boldly moving toward the edge and taking that leap out into the unknown.

Vineet Nayar is the CEO of HCl Technologies and the author of Employees First. Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Harvard Business Press 2010).

How Not to Get Fired

“If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”
— Vince Lombardi quotes (American Football Coach, 1913-1970)

What if you were told that based on your job performance on a single day, a decision was being made on whether or not you should stay in your present job?

And what if you were found out that today was that day? What would you do differently? How much harder would you work? Would you finally get around to writing up a few of the new ideas you’ve been sitting on? Would you try to get some face time with your manager to let her know how hard you’ve been working?

While this is only a hypothetical scenario, I’ve found that it can be an excellent tool for focusing your mind and helping you to get back your sense of urgency.

It’s easy to become complacent at work, with your efficiency slowly degrading over time, especially if you’ve been at the same company and in the same position for a number of years. Not to mention all of the everyday distractions, like the Internet, water cooler discussions and outside errands, which steal your time away from productive tasks.

Try this. Every couple weeks or so, take a step back and think to yourself, “what can I do today so that I don’t get fired? If you take this concept seriously, all of your thoughts will coalesce around your most important activities and you will naturally avoid diversions.

This is not something you should be doing every day. The stress alone could probably kill you. But as a regular gut check, it can work wonders for your career.