How Effective is Your Professional Network?

Maybe it's time to reevaluate the effectiveness of your professional network. Some think of a network as similar to a Board of Advisers. Others, view it more informally. Regardless, networking is critical to career growth.

What is networking? In short, it's a process through which you create and sustain relationships to exchange information. It's best when built on mutual benefit. Just a few reminders as you refresh your networking efforts.

  1. Develop your 30 second elevator speech--talk about what makes you unique and what career-related aspriations you have.
  2. Create a list of people with whom you have already developed relationships. Do they have a copy of your latest resume? When was the last time you spoke with them?
  3. Reconnect. Talk about their education, experience, work activities and working condition. Ask them to recommend others to help build your network.
  4. Follow-up. Don't forget to thank people when they help you. And keep in touch.

Are Python, JavaScript and SQL Among Your Skill Sets?

It's hard to believe... but a new report from the firm Burning Glass and Oracle Academy suggests nearly one half of high-paying jobs now require applicants to have some computer coding knowledge or skills. Part of the reason for this requirement is the large number of technology jobs that require some coding knowledge. But many employers who are not in the technology field believe that coding knowledge helps employees work more effectively-- for example, with tech and engineering teams and website developers.

What do you want to learn? There are many options for those who want to acquire these skills. What are you waiting for?

Ace Your Interview

Let's think about your preparation for interviews. I encourage you to be ready to answer the question, " Tell me about yourself." I suggest two steps: Write your answer--short and interesting--two or three sentences; Practice answering the question out loud. Use this as an opportunity to convey that you are confident,friendly,and composed.

In addition, I encourage you to prepare for some questions that may have nothing to do with the actual job description. These questions are intended to see how you think, how you solve problems, and what motivates you to do the work that you do, and how the job potentially fits into the goals you have for yourself.

" Tell me about the relationships you have developed through work."
" Tell me about your worst boss."
" Tell me about your worst job."

Your Linkedin Photo--Part of Your Brand

Do you have a photo on Linkedin? Caroline Fairchild, the New Economy Editor for Linkedin, says if you do have one you are more than 12 times likely to meet a recruiter through the website than those who do not. Ms. Fairchild made these remarks at a recent conference sponsored by Duke University. The conference focused on establishing and growing a professional network as one of many items on the "to do" list when planning a career change.

Okay, so now you have registered and placed a professional photo of yourself on the site. Step two is equally important, says Ms. Fairchild. She suggests publishing a "post". But "posting" what? The idea is to share your thoughts/insights on issues pertaining to your work experiences or related to career growth. In addition to work-related content, you could consider sharing your thoughts on some of your other interests--volunteering, coaching basketball, tutoring. In other words, this is a way for you to say to your readers "Here is what I'm thinking about today..." Of course, when writing keep your audience in mind. Posting gives you an opportunity for others to get to know you better...make it count.

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?

This question can be posed to individuals seeking career advice or founders of start-ups looking to innovate. It is the question that begins many of my conversations with clients. This blog continues that conversation and provides readers with tips, how-tos, and other tools to help them reach their goals. Drawing on my work at River City Writing, the focus is on career planning and small business development.

I begin with a "tip"... "The 2-Hour Job Seach: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster." The author is Program Director for Daytime Career Services at Duke's buiness school. Unlike many job-search manuals that encourage job-seekers to leverage their relationships (still very important since two-thirds of jobs are found through personal referrals), author Steve Dalton suggests a methodology that relies on strangers. Take a look and let me know what you think.