While it has been close to two years since I opened a Twitter account, it has been about a year since I have been active on Twitter.   I love Twitter!  It is the fastest, most effective way I have found to browse information that interests me and connect with other professionals.  Twitter has been an instrumental resource in elevating my passion and understanding of my profession to a whole new level.  Thank you Twitter!

I must say, however, that one of the most difficult things for me to grasp about Twitter was the #hashtag.  Trying to figure out what #FF means is a day I will not forget.  I was so confused, but once I learned the concept and how to effectively use hashtags, I was off to the races.  In my work, I have found two major areas in which hashtags have helped the most. 

(1)  Network and learn what is happening in your profession:  Along with dozens of other attendees of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) National Conference last week, I tweeted what I learned from speakers and colleagues throughout the event using the #NACE11 hashtag. Twitter and the hashtag brought the conference to those who could not attend the event, and I found great use in the hashtag search in learning what others were hearing.  This hashtag alone strengthened my connection with fellow Tweeters and those not attending.  My grade for the #NACE11 hashtag is an A+!

(2)  Join others in chats on the jobsearch:  Some of the best trending hashtags for job seekers include:  #career, #jobsearch, #jobseeker, #resume, #coverletters and the list goes on and on.  However, you can also find the best job search discussions with hashtags for professional chats.  Some of my favorite chats to follow include:  #internchat, #tchat, #hfchat and #careerchat. 

Using hashtags to get connected to conversations and information also helps you identify key people and organizations to follow.  Professional activity with Twitter and the use of hashtags can have a positive domino effect in your professional development and increase your business network.  Try it—you’ll like it.  Trust me!

My favorite time of the year of professional development is upon me.  I am getting ready to attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) National Conference in Dallas next week.  What a great time to connect with current friends and colleagues and meet new ones in both the career services and college recruiting family.  I return home from this conference every year with great new contacts, pages of notes, tons of energy and somehow a great sense of relaxation as well.   As you prepare for any professional development conferences this year, please follow these 6 musts:

1.  Join pre-conference conversations through the organization website or Twitter.  Start connecting with those who are attending the conference which builds energy for the event and offers opportunities to schedule side-meetings as well.  I also love that Twitter allows non-attendees a way to stay connected to the event.  In today’s economy, many organizations are tightening financial belts and Twitter has helped keep those not attending as connected as possible. 

2.  Plan your schedule.  Research the keynote presenters and know which breakout sessions and receptions you will be attending.  By planning your schedule, you have an idea what your expected outcome will be for the event.  You have heard the saying “plan your work and work your plan” so make sure you know what you are doing to do during the conference and then go do it.   

3. Never Eat Alone:  Not to steal the title of Keith Ferrazzi’s best-selling book, but this concept should be the first commandment of attending conferences.  Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone else attending the conference.  I even suggest you split your dining time between current and new colleagues. 

4. Followup with people after the conference:  Warren Barhorst, author of Game Plan, talks about acting within 72 hours of learning something new.  Either send emails or handwritten notes within 72 hours of returning home from a conference.  Collecting business cards does not do a bit of good if you are only going to take them back your office and stuff them into a drawer. Take the time to connect with the person you met or a colleague you hadn’t seen in a long time.  

5.  Send thank you notes to the organizers and speakers.  If you have ever planned an event or spoken at a conference, you know the amount of time put into producing the product.  Send notes to those who invested so much in making sure your experience was fulfilling. 

6.  Share what you learned with your co-workers and fellow members who could not attend.  Chances are, you gather some amazing nuggets of information and innovative ideas at your conference.  Bring it home and share.  Ask you coworkers to have lunch with you on your first day back to the office when your energy is high so you can share what you learned.  Tweet or blog about what you learned so that those who couldn’t attend or potential new members to the organization can grasp a piece of the experience.     

The purpose of professional conferences is to share information.  Make the most of your experience and do the same.

I often hear introverts say that they are poor networkers.  I completely disagree.  Introverts are some of the best networkers because they usually spend more time listening to what is being said in a conversation rather than waiting to interject his or her thoughts. 

Great relationships whether they are personal or professional stem from getting to know one another and building rapport. We, as people, want to be heard.  We trust people who hear us. I wrote a blog last year titled “Be Interested, Not Interesting” which proves my point in this blog.  If I’m intent on being interesting, I am concentrating on the wrong person in the conversation.  If I’m interested, then I’m focused on the right person because I’m listening. 

The reason introverts are so good at listening is that they are typically not the type of people to wait for the person talking to take a breath to interject with a story of their own.  Great listeners focus on the person talking and answer with questions about the story at hand rather than trying to trump that story with one of their own. 

How often have you talked with someone who focused on you and your story then walk away thinking you had a great conversation?  Of course you have.  On the flip side, have you ever talked with someone only to walk away thinking to yourself, “That person never shut up!”  Don’t be that person.  Use your listening skills to build your network in these three easy steps: 

  1. The next time you attend an event, focus your conversations on listening to what other people have to say and only respond with comments or questions directed to the person talking and not about yourself. 
  2. Send the person or people you met an email or hand written note the very next day and mention something discussed in your conversation as opposed to something about you. and….
  3. STAY IN TOUCH!  Don’t drop this potential contact.    

Be a great listener, and you will a trusted and respected colleague and friend.

My blog today is all about thanking five great career experts and bloggers I follow.  This is my #FollowSundaythroughSaturday list.   

1. Debra Wheatman @debrawheatman  The career coaching reputation Deb has created with http://careersDoneWrite.com is inspiring to say the very least.   Her blog is no nonsense, and her enthusiasm for coaching great people towards great careers is contagious.   

2. JT O’Donnell @jtodonnell and @careerealism  This career management guru’s energy amazes me.  She works with the very best in career experts, and if you can’t find the answers at www.careerealism.com, then I would bet you are asking the wrong question. This is simply the one-stop shop of career resources.  I read her daily updates every morning before I read the morning newspaper.  You must join her email newsletter list my friends.

3. Brent Peterson @interviewangel Look for Brent’s work at www.interviewangel.com.  I had the pleasure of hearing Brent speak at the National Association of Colleges and Employers National Conference last summer in Orlando, FL and am looking forward to meeting Brent again next month in Dallas.   I always look forward to Brent’s blog and Twitter updates. 

4. Kirk Baumann @kbaumann  Kirk and I have many common interests such as helping the next generation of college graduates find their career passion, Students in Free Enterprise and FOOTBALL!  Kirk is exactly what he notes on his Twitter bio:  a Social Media Enthusiast.  If Kirk doesn’t know someone, I would bet he knows someone who knows that person.  This guy is CONNECTED!  His blog at http://campus-to-career.com is a must add to your blogroll. 

5. Diane Gottsman @dianegottsman  Diane’s Protocol School of Texas http://protocolschooloftexas.com is sharing etiquette wisdom with every age group of life.  She receives rave reviews from her work with children to college students to business executives.  I was so honored to have Diane here at Texas A&M speaking to the Mays Business School Fulltime MBA Program last fall.  The company tag line says it best:  A Better Way to a Better You.

This might be a short list of must-follows, but it is a most powerful one.  Please follow these experts, and I promised you be inspired and find yourself looking to learn more.

I have friends and family who live for Black Friday.  They love getting up at 2:00 a.m. and fighting the crowds for those amazing sales.  I don’t know about you, but I am still in my Turkey coma at that time and want to sleep.   For me, this experience rates right above my dislike for rush hour traffic and grocery shopping after work.  CROWDS!  I want to shop when the stores are quiet, the selection is great, and the odds of me receiving great service are high. 

If you are anything like me when it comes to shopping, then ask yourself if you prefer the same experience in your job search? 

Job boards are great, but think of the volume of people sitting in the comfort of their homes surfing the Internet and applying for jobs?  It’s mind-boggling.  And be sure to not forget about the number of people applying for these jobs who aren’t even qualified. 

Serious job seekers are shopping for something very targeted and want great service—they want to be noticed.  How do you expect to be noticed in the crowded database of applicants if all you do is just apply for jobs online? 

The solution for a high selection and high service job search experience is to do it the old fashioned way:  personal interaction.  Talk to people, and I mean real people with your voice.  In our technology age of texting, this concept might seem a bit foreign, but it’s tried and true.  Pick up the telephone, share a cup of coffee with a subject matter expert, attend a reception, it doesn’t matter.  Just get in front of people. 

Online resources should primarily be used as a research tool when it comes to seeking employment. Speaking with people and building relationships render the best job selection and best service. 

Quality, Service, Selection = Time, Relationships, Networking = Succesful Job Search Experience.

I just returned from the Page Family reunion in Ohio this past weekend. I’m just going to say it, “I love my family.”  While my grandparents from both sides of my family have passed on now, each side (Page andFlournoy) still gets together as often as possible.  It’s a true honor to my grandparents. 

While spending time with my Ohio family this weekend, I couldn’t help but remember all of my amazing memories of Vinnie and James Page.  To raise their six children, both of my grandparents worked outside of the home.   My grandmother earned her paycheck as a cook for several years while my grandfather spent his life working in the West Virginia coal mines and then at the Ohio Reformatory (watch The Shawshank Redemption to get a look at the place). 

They worked hard and with an amazing work ethic while at work and home.  These two people never had to take a class on ethics.  It was instilled in their souls.   Their work ethic throughout both of their lives was superior to say the very least.  I remember my grandpa telling me once that no matter what job I was given to do, do it right and do it with pride.  That’s a simple statement, but it’s probably one of the most impactful in my life. 

I challenge all of  us whether we are entering the workforce for the first time, re-entering after returning to school or just plain in the middle of your career to read that statement and apply  it to your life and career.  Whatever job you are given to do, do it right and do it with pride.  Take pride in every job you are given.  Never job is too small. 

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for your words of wisdom.

~Cindy

I remember when I was a kid, I would see others my age reading for pleasure.  I was NOT one of those kids.  There, I admit it.  I couldn’t stand reading for pleasure. B-O-R-I-N-G!  It wasn’t until I got out of college that I started reading, and I think I’m trying to catch up for lost time.  I now LOVE to read.  I read every chance I get.

This time of year, bookstores display tables for “summer/beach reading” recommendations.  Summer reading especially while at the beach or relaxing in a mountain cabin is just heavenly.  I’m very happy to be visiting both this summer and have already enjoyed my beach time. I’m getting ready to head to the mountains in two days and already have my books ready to pack.  Now mind you, I also have a Nook.  E-readers are just the best folks.  If you do not have one, put it on your wish list today. 

What do I read?  Everything.  From romance novels to mysteries in fiction along with a wide variety of nonfiction offerings fill my library.  However, it’s this time of year in my career that I work to recharge my professional batteries and dig into some great career related titles.  My current favorite is Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi.  If you have not read it, I strongly suggest you run out and buy it today along with his previous best seller Never Eat Alone.  AMAZING BOOKS! 

If you have not started a professional library, start getting recommendations from your colleagues today.  Take the time to get out of your own mind through the joy of reading, and I promise you will find yourself newly charged by the final page.