Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to LinkedIn IMHO

Mel Kleiman, CSP asked an interesting question on LinkedIn that I responded to this evening. Mel's question was "If there was one piece of advice you would give someone who was new to LinkedIn or had not really been effective at using it. What would you tell them or show them?"

Here is how I responded:

The "one" piece of advice I would offer is to use it fully, which has many subtasks, some of which follow:

1) Fill out your profile completely. LinkedIn will tell you when you hit 100% completeness.
2) Use the Contact list integration so you connect quickly to everyone you know who is on. Connect only with people you truly know. The value of the service gets watered down quickly for everyone when people just invite people they have zero real-world connection to.
3) Raid your connections' connection lists for other people you know and have worked with. You'll notice that you can simply add people in your friends' lists. Be judicious. ONLY add those people you actually know.
4) Join Groups either by seeing what your colleagues have joined, or by searching in the Groups area. ONLY join groups in which you have some actual reason to be there. The goal is not to have the most groups possible, but the most appropriate selection of groups. In particular, join alumni groups for organizations you've worked with.
5) Update your home page to include portlets for categories of Q&A that you are interested in/expert in. Link your blog, maybe post your reading list.
6) Participate regularly in Q&A to demonstrate your expertise. Be genuinely helpful to those asking questions, without any thought of direct transactional reciprocity. Think of your answer as a way of sending good professional karma.
7) Update your status fairly regularly to talk about what you're working on. Now that LinkedIn has added commenting on statuses, it gives your friends something to respond to.
8) When your home page flashes a message that an old colleague has taken a new position, send them an inbox message to congratulate them and ask about their new gig. Only do this if you're genuinely interested.
9) Ask a question in the Q&A about a specific topic related to your area of expertise. If you work at a car dealership, for example, ask "What kind of incentives are you most interested in right now when it comes to buying a new car?" When you get responses, thank the respondents personally with an inbox message. Let them know you would be happy to help them if they should ever need your services. Select one of the respondents as "Best Answer" -- it will give their LinkedIn reputation a boost.
10) Last, but far from least... All those connections you've made? Some of those people are people you merely got acquainted with, but some of them saved your day, project, career, life... Give them something back by proactively sending them a Recommendation. It will enhance their LinkedIn reputation.

If you're wondering how any of this directly leads to new business, a new job for yourself, that next sale? It doesn't lead directly, and that's the whole point. LinkedIn does not, in and of itself, create opportunities. But, when opportunities arise, the time and energy you spent building and maintaining a healthy, thriving network will be there to support you in seizing them.

Best of luck to you!


Mel's question originally appeared on LinkedIn.com, the leading professional networking website. Click "Mel's question" at the beginning of this post to respond to Mel yourself.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Can your professional services organization step up to the plate as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks?

This morning, I read this terrific article by Jon Birger in the current Fortune magazine. By taking the subject out of the context of the technology and hard business world, I think it shines a light on some fundamental principles of outstanding customer service, and hints at ways you should rethink what you and your business are doing during these tough economic times to make sure you keep your customers engaged, thrilled with your offerings, and how you keep your organization focused on providing a fabulous customer experience despite more limited resources.

Enjoy!

http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/18/magazines/fortune/birger_baseball.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009021905


This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your thoughts and feedback are welcome!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nevada, Utah, Washington, D.C. to Get Larger Shares of Jobs from Stimulus Package

This article in the Salt Lake Tribune cites White House sources saying that the top 10 districts in terms of job retention/creation will be in Nevada, Utah, Washington, D.C., and others.

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_11734647

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Handy Guide to IT-related Services to be Procured Under the Stimulus Package

Washington Technology offers this summary of spending provisions in the Stimulus package as they pertain to the IT services spectrum.

http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/02/04/it-stimulus.aspx

Sharpen Your Pencils! Stimulus projects will need to be fixed-price!

Washington Technology is reporting that the stimulus package highlights a strong preference for fixed price contracts against RFP'd opportunities.

http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/02/17/stimulus-bill-requires-fixed-price-contracts.aspx?s=wtdaily_180209

The unfortunate downside of this is that the government will likely end up paying for projected risk up front, whereas with T&M there may be more options for reducing cost as the project moves forward and the value picture becomes more clear.

That doesn't mean I think T&M would be any sort of cost-savings panacea. Certainly not, but at least having the option available offers the Project Manager for the party buying the services the opportunity to make thoughtful judgments throughout the project lifecycle, rather than accepting all the risk, and the accompanying price tag, at the outset.

That said, contractors better get used to living within that original contracted price.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback and thoughts are welcome!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More insight into what's coming in the next release of SharePoint -- enhanced Enterprise Search!

A couple weeks ago, I posted about PerformancePoint being folded into the SharePoint juggernaut in the next release. In this Information Week article by J. Nicholas Hoover
http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/search/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=213402535, Hoover discusses another new feature being rolled into the next SharePoint release (part of Microsoft Office 14, apparently planned for 2010).

In this case, it is improved Enterprise Search, built upon the acquired Fast Search and Transfer.

Why is this exciting? Two reasons, function, and cost.

As for function, says Hoover, "Fast's advanced features [include] the ability to extract concepts from data and to assess relationships among data sets."

And as for cost, the article quotes Microsoft as claiming 'SharePoint customers will save "well over 50%" when using Fast Search for SharePoint in lieu of competing products."

What is on your wish list for the next release of SharePoint and Office? Post your feedback at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com

To make yourself an IT survivor, InfoWorld suggests "people-oriented" business skills as increasingly important

This article from InfoWorld touches on a number of key areas where technology people should be focusing for long-term job security and growth.

In particular, what sticks out strongly for me, a Senior Business Analyst in the Hosting & Application Services division of one of the largest and best-known telecommunications corporations in the world, "business skills... are increasingly important. Many of these are people-oriented skills."

The article cites a 2007 Microsoft-commissioned survey of 500 U.K.-based board-level executives that "found that 61 percent said that interpersonal and teamwork skills were more important than IT skills."

While it is obviously vital that you and your peers possess the necessary technical skills to get the job done right, I completely agree that it is the people skills that put you ahead of the pack when working with clients who have a choice of vendors. The ability to relate complex topics and concepts to people who haven't gone through the education, years of work experience, crunch times before go-live, and all those rounds of debugging, is what is going to put you and your organization first in your Clients' minds.

So, bring the technical chops, but bring your empathy, humility, integrity, humor and humanity along too. You and your clients will benefit tremendously.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback and personal experiences are welcome.

Washington Technology magazine reports up to $4.5 billion in new state and local tech spending stems from Stimulus package

This article in Washington Technology http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/02/13/stimulus-to-generate-new-state-and-local-tech-spending.aspx?s=wtdaily_170209 provides analysis by Input Inc., indicating that up to $4.5 billion in new state and local tech spending is on the way due to the Stimulus package that President Obama is signing into law today.

Given the tough economic times across all sectors, this represents a tremendous opportunity for the IT community.

Though competition will be hot for these opportunities given the challenging economic climate, it would be great to see state and local governments awarding contracts to those IT organizations who provide win-win responses: cost-effective solutions that incorporate not only best-of-breed products and solutions but also consulting and professional services from proverbial "dream teams" of strategic alliances among U.S.-based tech companies, including local IT shops, so the rising tide of spending helps to "lift all boats" so to speak.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your opinion and feedback are welcome.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On Retaining H-1Bs While Laying Off Qualified American Workers

In this Washington Technology article,

Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, makes a very good point regarding the effect of the economic downturn and the need for labor reductions as it pertains to the H-1B Visa program and especially Microsoft, as well as other high tech companies.

Quoting the article, “'It is imperative that in implementing its layoff plan, Microsoft ensures that American workers have priority in keeping their jobs over foreign workers on visa programs,' Grassley wrote Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer on Jan. 22.

“'The purpose of the H-1B program is to help companies hire foreign guest workers on a temporary basis when there is not a sufficient qualified American workforce to meet those needs,' Grassley said in a statement. 'However, the program is not intended to replace qualified American workers.'”

While I have had the great pleasure of working with a large number of mostly Indian colleagues working in the U.S. on H-1B visas, many of whom have become good friends, and whose work and ingenuity I deeply respect, I do have to agree that the economic downturn can not be used as an excuse to eliminate the jobs of QUALIFIED American workers while temporary guest workers remain on the payroll.

It seems to me that companies considering reductions in force for U.S.-based technology workers should be prepared to present evidence that the jobs being cut are not equivalent to jobs still being held by H-1B workers, and that the jobs of any remaining H-1B visa workers can not be adequately performed by QUALIFIED American workers, perhaps with some retraining, who would otherwise be laid off.



This post originally appeared in http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome.