Using Social Media Trends to Help You Get A Job

On November 15th, I am going to be speaking at the University Club of DC on behalf of Syracuse University about how social media is changing the way we network and get jobs.  I participated on a panel back in April on a similar topic at American University’s Social Learning Summit.

About 3 years ago, companies started wising up to using social networks to promote their brand and connect with customers.  These channels opened up a new form of 2 way conversations, whether companies wanted that or not.  The exciting thing about this new way of interacting with customers was that it created entire new teams within companies usually led by someone with the title “Social Media Manager.”

Fast forward 18 months, and these same channels are no longer for B2C companies to connect with customers.  These social channels have given companies or brands the ability to reach customers with offerings, loyalty rewards, even the ability to view job postings.  On the other end of the conversation is you.

When you create a profile on a social network, you in effect are creating a brand.  My Facebook profile, my Tweets, this blog, it is a representation of me and my brand.  Your online brand can work for you or against you, and knowing how and when to use it can greatly improve your chances at making key connections and getting a job.

I can’t wait to share my insights on the tools we use and the trends we see in when it come time to getting a job and networking.  To register for the event click here.  If you can’t make it out to the event, you will be able to follow along on twitter via #SUDCSocialMedia.

A Failure to Fail

On Sunday I was on the closing keynote panel at the Social Learning Summit with 5 others, that included professors, consultants and social media experts.  During the discussion we touched upon tolerance for failure.  Historically, failure was looked upon very negatively in academia as well as corporate America.

I shared that in my experience when your company could not tolerate experimentations that may result in failure, its time to get new management.  I think it is the same in school, and while I am not suggesting every student go out and get ‘Fs’ on their report cards, what I do think we need to alter is that teachers recognize students for experimenting and failing.

Part of the mistake I see in teaching people that it is OK to fail is that they need to learn to “fail fast.”  In business, most of the time we do not have time or money to waste on a project whose outcome is likely to be unknown for years or decades.  This is even more true when it comes to the internet and computer technology.  The key is to know when you are failing, to pivot, change hypothesis, and keep experimenting.

Recognizing when you hit that wall and need to change directions can be challenging, but just getting started is even harder.  In my experiences at AOL we had the opportunity to do a lot of skunk works projects, heck even AIM was a skunk works project when it got started.  The challenge was that our management was not tolerant of failure, and over time discouraged employees from taking chances, experimenting and potentially failing.

The next great idea may be sitting in your head right now, but you have to ask yourself are capable of failing?  Are your professors or your company tolerant of taking chances knowing it may lead to zilch?  If not, perhaps someone failed you or your university/company that encouraging exploration is where the next great product may come from.

You know what’s cool? It’s not 100K registered users.

For years, startups were measured by how many registered users they had.  The company’s valuation was directly tied to this number, and in some cases this key stat was used to calculate a purchase price.  It was amazing that acquirers or VCs did not pay attention to the active users, and startups were pretty coy in trying to hide the active number unless it was a good number.

In today’s world, getting registered users is so easy thanks to things like oAuth and Facebook Connect, that having a registered user count is almost pointless.  The friction to register is so small, that any site can launch today and have a 100K users tomorrow.  Yet, I still see press releases touting registered users in combination with the recent round of funding.

The press still talks about Skype’s registered users (over 600M) but ignored their active user number for years (25M concurrent, ~200M 30 day active).  You know what, I can say that AIM has over 1B registered users, but I am not sure that number indicates how successful the product is.

I am always intrigued by two metrics when I talk with startups.  First, of course, is active users over a 30 day period, if the startup will tell me.  The second number, depending upon the product, is how many users are contributing data to the site.  The first number will of course cut through the BS of registered users and get to the heart of how many users are really using your product.  The second number flushes out how many users are just passive consumers versus how many actually participate in the site.  So at the start you may have a company say they have 100K registered users, but their actives are 30K, and 3000 contribute.

To borrow a fake line from a fake movie and to make it my own, “100K registered users isn’t cool.  You know what’s cool? 100K active users.”