I’ve helped a couple of people who are early in their careers find jobs recently. Well, I hate the word job, so lets say projects or startups where they only have 1 large customer (their employer).
The first thing I asked them is what their digital foot print looks like. While these ‘kids’ are digital natives, you’d be surprised at how many of them haven’t invested their digital knowledge into creating their personal brand on-line. I then remind them of the new amazing automatic CV generator. A lot of people haven’t heard of it, but it’s really cool. Most employers use it these days. If you want to see it in action, just click on this link – and type in your name.
Ok – so you see where I am going with this. And the simple truth is that your CV is what you say it is, not what your past employer or past job title says it is. It’s what you say it is, but if you choose to own your digital footprint. In fact the most important stuff you’ll do in your career these days, is the crazy projects that show you ‘get’ we are living through a revolution and that you want to be part of the revolution. The tools are all here, the tools are all free, all you need to do is allocated some of your daily 24 hours to them and create our own path. The cool part about creating your footprint is that the internet doesn’t care what school you went to, what your SAT score was or what club your are a member of. It only cares about what you create – or better put, co-create. The audience will do the judging, not some gate keeper. Smart employers and investors are more interested in your side projects than how you have earned a living. Your side projects say so much more about you and your capabilities. They do this because there are no barriers or permission requirements to what you can do in this arena. it’s a simple combination of your ideas, desire, work ethic and ability to connect with others who share your type of interest. It is all up to you, and democratized technology means you don’t have to be a genius.
I like to practice what I preach. And so I always make sure I’m doing stuff which differentiates me from the crowd. Stuff which google will like and let bubble to the top, stuff which shows I’m thankful for the resources gifted upon me in this digital revolution, stuff which gives to the community and helps others first. But mostly these are simple tasks which are more about regular effort than unreasonable effort. My homepage, this blog, my startups, my twitter account,my crazy projects, youtube videos, Op-Ed journalism and public speaking engagements are a few such outputs. The sad part is that it’s not that hard to do, but most people don’t bother.
My digital footprint I regard as a financial investment. I see it as a conduit to my current and future earning potential in all realms. And probably a better investment than a post graduate degree in today’s era.
Seth Godin recently advertised on his blog for a new staff member for Squidoo. What he asked applicants to provide was enlightening. Here are some (not all) of the information requests he made when looking for help:
- Point to your personal website
- Show us some of the projects you’ve led that have shipped and made an impact
- Are you restless? What do you make or do in your spare time that leaves a trail and makes an impact?
- Four book covers you think are both effective and beautiful
- Find a particularly lame example of UX on the web and fix it into something better than good
- What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Steve Krug or Steve McConnell?
- Point to a blog post that changed the way you think about connecting with people online (not by Seth!)
- Show us a Squidoo lens that you’ve built
- Have you created anything worth watching on Vimeo or YouTube?
- In four bullet points, tell us how you’d change the Surface (or some website) to make it spread virally
- Whose picture is this? How did you find out? Why does she matter?
- Where do you work now? What’s great about it?
It’s a pretty clear indication of what matters today and not one mention about formal education. It’s none of the stuff that mattered yesterday, and excitingly it’s stuff we can choose to create with a little effort.
Most Seinfeld fans are in raptures about the new series by Jerry Seinfeld – Comedians in cars getting coffee.
It’s so good on so many levels. But it’s not the just humour that is worth commenting on, it’s the way the series has been presented to the market place. It has been launched on it’s own website comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com and hosted by video sharing website Crackle.com (which is owned by Sony). It’s a classic example of the strength of personal branding (admittedly there is possibly non bigger than Jerry) and the hacker approach the web brings to those with a brand strong enough to self publish. Going direct to fans not only enables one maintain creative integrity and control, but invents all sorts of monetization possibilities.
At this stage I can’t see where the financial win is for Jerry or Crackle (Crackle is free with little evidence of advertising?), while the deal between the 2 parties is also unclear. One thing for sure, is that this model is one we are going to see far more often – big stars and micro entrepreneurs going direct to market – to create the art and projects they want to create. Another comedian who did a great job of this approach was Louis CK who also decided to sell tickets to his fans direct from his website. This all reminds me of one of the great visionary talks from Garry V who predicted this a few years ago.
Smart brands and people are now going straight the web. It’s not about asking how we can ‘also use the web’ but it is a simple web first or maybe even web only mentality. Controlling our own distribution channels matters more than ever. The fact is it works better for most people to do business directly and it allows fans and content creators (or sellers) to have the direct relationship they’ve always wanted.
I was asked to answer a few questions at a talk I gave last week at the Nationwide Networking Event. It was aimed at Small businesses with the topic about new media and the advantages of being small. I thought it was a nice snippet of ideas worth sharing here.
Q: What type of changes can we expect from media in 2010 and how do we need to prepare for it as business professionals?
A: Media will fragment further, it’s increasingly like fashion with new ideas appearing daily. The art of value, like with fashion is by going with the classics and choosing the right style for the brand you want to build. Match your environment, by being involved in the right channels.
Q: Where do you see the role of the blog in the future?
A: Increasingly important. Blogs are a trusted source, because bloggers become, or are an expert on their topic of choice. This is because all good blogs are topic specific. And people want to deal with experts.
Q: What can we expect from the evolution of twitter and our capacity to use it as a marketing medium?
A: If we use it as a marketing medium we’ve already lost. It’s a conversation…. Conversation can turn into business, but it is primarily a conversation. First we need to be a resource. A resource to others, from which we can build trust and valued relationships. These may eventually lead a business relationship.
Q: What trends are coming from America that we need to be aware of?
A: Trends are global now. We don’t have to look overseas to see it. Things arrive simultaneously. It’s not like it was 20 years ago where our friends return from sojourns overseas to tell us all about the cool things they saw, and we have to wait for them to appear in our market a few years later. Now it’s on our desktop the day it happens. This is been further facilitated by web tools such as Springwise, Twitter and Youtube.
Q: How do we (small business people) benefit from the changes in the media landscape?
A: Barriers to entry have been removed so anyone can play. But it requires a long term consistent effort. New media requires a low financial investment, and large human capital input. Where as old media requires a large financial investment with little human effort. At least now we have to choice. In addition large companies have been (so far) pretty bad at using new media. It creates an advantage for us.
Q: How can we better utilize technology tor reduce our costs and increase our profits?
A: Shift from being doers, to becoming project managers. Outsource where ever possible. It’s easier now with all the tools we have at our disposal like elance and skype. Why do we even need an office? Is it because we need to, or because we don’t trust the people we work with?
Q: Your blog has 50,000 readers a month, how did you do that?
Q: What is the meaning of micro brand building and how would it be relevant to soloprenuers?
A: Build your personal brand first. That’s the first part of micro branding, becoming known for something. Having a skill you can share with others. Then eventually cross fertilize to your business brand.
Q: What are the simplest things we can do to build a micro brand?
A: Have a tight focus area of interest. Share our lessons honestly and openly. Frequency of output.
Q: How do we protect our brands?
A: Not with IP and legal stuff…. Most of that is a simple waste of money. We protect it with customers, innovation and reliability.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to those of us that need clients and need them quickly?
A: Cold call. Not on the phone, but turn up and talk.
Q: What books have influenced you?
Q: What marketers / speakers have influenced you?
A: Steven Wright (comedian) he taught me how to flip my perspective for alternative solutions.