Saturday, April 23, 2011

Business Development Series: Never Have to Look For a Job

Marketing, Money and More (Issue 15)

Take this Job and...

As I've been posting my thoughts on business development, sales and marketing, I've been thinking on how what I'm posting can apply to anyone and everyone. Really, adding sales and marketing to your professional bag of tricks makes you more "marketable" in your career. I think back to every office manager I worked with. Seemingly, if that person didn't have an "above and beyond" work ethic, that position was not hard to replace, but if that person was responsible for referring in $20,000 worth of business every year, then they are truly irreplaceable or at least much more costly to replace. See what I am getting at...

As I write this post, the unemployment rate in the US is holding steady at 9.3% (Closer to 14% in Nevada where I live; click here to see your state). I believe I can help those in the job market looking for a career opportunity, fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran with what I am about to say. In retrospect, I've spoken to many people recently who, years ago, would fight me on joining associations, keeping a growing list of contacts and engaging in social/professional networking (online & offline). When the economy was booming and businesses were in short supply of workers, it was OK to be a paycheck player and fly through your work unnoticed by your peers. Today is the polar opposite with employers looking for team members that can provide value well beyond their job description....

You Don't Need It Til You Need It

Waiting until you are out of work or in a position to look for another opportunity to build up your social media persona, get involved in associations, start volunteering with community organizations and networking in the real world is a hazardous way to manage your career. This philosophy can be compared to waiting til you've acquired diabetes to take control of your diet and exercise. The point is if you are in your comfort zone in your current professional role and don't see the need for any of what was just mentioned, well, you are wrong. I'm going to stress how your value to your company goes beyond how well you do the tasks required of you in your position.

The first step is understanding your value to your employer. Are you easily replaced? Do you bring more value to your emp
loyer than just the responsibilities outlined in your job description? Do you bring unique skills or expertise to the table? Are you considered valuable by your industry peers?

The first step is understanding your perceived value right no

Professional Branding

Knowing the answer to these questions is the key to beginning a process of building a professional pers
ona. This is your brand for your career. This is something that needs to be managed and groomed to give you the most benefit... Those benefits can be anything from desired salary, to job title, to just having the creative freedom in your career to really do what you love and have others pay you well for it. The main elements of your professional persona (at least from my point of view) are:
  1. Internal/Employee Reputation
  2. Industry Professional Reputation
  3. Industry Social Reputation
We all have a reputation.... Ask your boss, your peers and people in your industry what they think of you professionally and socially (or maybe have someone else do this). I am willing to bet, if they are truthful, that you hear some pretty interesting opinions. The worst opinion is for them to not have one. You can control this and here's how.

One Part Social, Two Parts Professional

There are some out there that put a very solid wall between their work life and their social life. There is good reason for some, but this can be a detriment to your career. People help the people they like. They like the people that socialize with them. This can be your boss, your co-worker, an investor, an industry thought leader or whoever. If you are not open to friendships with your professional contacts, then you can't expect friendly help from them. I'm going to explain the path I chose and I what I do that ensures I will never have to be a piece of paper in a stack of resumes.

In 2007, I created my online persona. I wanted to own the search for "Darren Withers" on Google. It took time, I won't lie, but the end result is something to be proud of. I spent two weeks on my couch in December 2006. I didn't shave or do much else. I spent hours inputting information into every relevant social media site I could. I drafted a boiler plate for all the "about me" sections, updated my professional skills, researched and began to Search Engine Optimize myself. The sites I started with were:

  1. Linkedin
  2. Twitter
  3. MySpace
  4. Facebook
  5. Youtube
  6. ZoomInfo
  7. AgencyScoop
  8. Jigsaw
  9. 123People
  10. Live
  11. Yahoo!
  12. AOL
  13. Google
  14. Bebo
  15. Flickr
  16. Photobucket

I began to link the different profiles together to make sure there was only good information that I wanted out there. Once this process was completed, within a few weeks I was very happy with the search term results for "Darren Withers." I had taken control of what others would see if they were to research who I was.

As time went on, I added to my online activities. I also launched this blog in 2007. I was aiming to become a thought-leader as I moved toward launching my own consulting business. I won't go through too much about this blog since you must be here reading this post, so you can see how long it's been up. I write about things relevant to the marketing industry but I do add a bit of my own personality by sharing some personal stories as well. I feel like someone reading all of my posts might not just get some value out of it, but might even be able to connect with me as a person.

Taking control of your online persona is the first step to building your network database. This is the step that will make you look that much better to employers as they see that you are utilizing social channels that could ultimately help them and their business. Recognizing the tools that you have available to you and how they can be helpful in driving up your value to a company is critical to achieving your career goals. I'll follow up this post with more on social networking and then what to do with your database of contacts. Please feel free to jump back to the first of the Business Development Series: Where the Network Begins. It's a pretty good how-to on networking at events and how to be the most effective. Make sure you online persona is in place before networking out in the real world.

The post is dedicated to someone I'm trying to help get their career shoes on. "Let's blow it up!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Value of Time

Marketing, Money and More (Issue 14)


I'm kind of a geek at heart. I watch more Discovery Channel programming than "normal" shows. One thing that always fascinates me is the concept of "time.". Time is the 4th dimension. If you believe in the concept of String Theory, then you know that we operate in an 11 dimension universe in a vast multiverse of universes. Before I go into a mind-blowing rant, I'm going to explain (or at least try to explain) my views on time. Time as it stands today is experienced by each person differently. In moments of high-stress where your adrenaline is pumping hard, your perception of time is changed allowing your brain to process more information.

Experiments have been done showing this is true. A display on a perceptual chronometer was used to flash numbers on a screen that in normal circumstances could not be read by a person. When time is slowed or our ability to take in more visual information per second is increased, the numbers on the screen are revealed. Check it out the video (Click Here).

It is also true that gravity and velocity affect time. Astronauts in outer space are experiencing time differently than those of us on earth. Although only milliseconds of a difference, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) actually age slower than we do on earth (.007 seconds slower to be exact).

What Is My Time Worth?

Now that I've gone over the science of time and how crazy time really is, we begin to think of our own time, who values it, how we value it and what our daily activities say about how we value our time. Having worked int he advertising industry, I used to sell "time." I know. How do you sell "time?" I had rate sheets for processes involved in the creative process. "Concepting" might be billed at a rate of $125 per hour while "copywriting" was billed at $90 per hour. If it takes 50 hours of billable "time" to create a sales kit, then I would factor in all of the different rates and hours and build an estimate. Is someone's time really worth $125, $200, $250 or even $1? Clients never felt like they were buying "time". They felt like they were buying an "end-product" which would ultimately be the sales kit.

My time is divided by my personal activities and my work time. Essentially I sold 40 hours of my weekly time to my employer, mobileStorm (and happily in case my CEO is reading this.) That time is worth more to mobileStorm than what it is worth to me, economically speaking. mobileStorm also invests in my knowledge of digital marketing, increasing the value of my time as it is used to consult for clients. The more my time can be sold for, the value of my time goes up.

Opportunity costs play a big role. I just recently moved. I wanted to save time and money. Unfortunately I couldn't save both. I chose to save money and move all of my belongings myself. I took my personal time and my work time to move all of my stuff. I've hired movers in the past to the tune of $100 per hour. If the time I'd save equals 20 hours by hiring movers for 5 hours, then I need to make $25 an hour or more for this to make sense financially. Fortunately for me, it did make financial sense to get movers. This was also great because moving is one of my top 3 most horrible things I can do next to cutting myself and getting cavities filled.

Older, Wiser and Less Time to Waste

As I've gotten older and more mature in my career, I've begun to value time much more highly. As I've worked in multiple roles from owning my own consulting business, to working for other people, I had my time valued anywhere from $10 per hour to $250 per hour. In my personal life, friends and family don't pay for my time (although sometimes I wish I could charge.) That time is beyond monetary value, but somewhere in my mind when I prioritize family and friends above work I must have made some calculation.

I have had people ask for free advice or a favor or to help a nonprofit. I rarely have turned down requests for such things and I have become known for being dependable and someone that can be counted on to help. My views are changing now and I have made a conscious effort to turn down more of these opportunities to give away my time. I believe my past generosity was necessary to prove myself, my willingness, my general work ethic and to just be a good friend and human being. In order for me to raise my value and the value of my time, I have to pull back on my inventory of hours and make sure that opportunities to sell my time are very carefully calculated.

Time to Change

Thinking like this can make you feel cold, heartless and make everything into a money comparison. I am not saying that you shouldn't visit your mom and dad for Christmas because your time is worth too much. I'm saying that being aware or what your time is currently valued at and what you would like to be paid for your time. Take the time to come up with a dollar value for what you would like to earn and apply that to the total hours you would be willing to commit to your professional activities. If your current earnings per hour worked are not inline with what you value your time at, then it is "time" to look at increasing your professional value. Take comparative salaries of others and see what those people have in terms of experience, schooling or abilities. The goal should be to acquire the skills and experience necessary to achieve your ideal hourly value. Obviously financial situations change and I think we have all taken less than would have liked to do a task or project because we needed the income. If you are in a stable position and you can inch up your professional hourly value year by year, then you can get closer and closer to having your time valued very highly by others.... earning more and having your priceless personal time to do what makes you happy.

Alternatively you could build your business on the ISS and charge more per Earth hour than any other business on the Planet! I invested time in sharing my thoughts in this blog and I hope to one day have it pay off in the form of a published book. We'll see as this is my testing ground. I'd love to hear some feedback on how you feel about your time.