Monday, August 22, 2005

Every connection is a chess piece

A career is like a game of chess. With one big exception: you can make as many moves as you wish!

If your closest career competitor is making ONE career move per week, and you make 50 moves a week, then you are winning the game.

A "move" can be
  1. inviting someone to your LinkedIn network
  2. improving your LinkedIn profile (content, style, etc.)
  3. posting a useful entry on your career blog
  4. distributing your business cards
  5. creating your Odeo account, so as to record your knowledge (in segments of 3 minutes each) and invite friends/allies to listen to your podcasts. Note: use this super-easy-to-use podcasting service to share your valuable professional knowledge, NOT your life's story -- leave that to your biographer! :-)

Most importantly, every connection you have is a chess piece, and the more you communicate with your connections and find out exactly where they are on the "chessboard", the more you can use them AND help them.

Friday, August 19, 2005

199. Should you hide your connections?

I noticed that some of my connections have hidden their connections. In other words, you can't see the identity of their connections.


It seems strange, since the very purpose of LinkedIn is to enable people to link in to people they might not have known before.

Of course, there are several good reasons for hiding your connections: you might have extremely political connections, or even diplomatic connections, with whom you can build highly lucrative brokering businesses overseas.

I guess some people have calculated that hiding their connections will yield greater benefits to themselves than revealing their connections.

Perhaps a good compromise is to hide your connections, while continually reviewing your social network and informing the right people of opportunities to connect to one another. At the same time, this seems to be very time-consuming!

Why not let your connections browse through your connections, and find opportunities themselves?

In my opinion, people should show their connections. LinkedIn is all about transparency, helping other people, opening up new horizons and creating new opportunities.

Are your friends helping you?

Friendship is a very subjective concept. Some people rely on friends for emotional support, others rely on friends for their connections. But no matter how you define friendship, the "trust" component is always there.

Yet even "trust" is a broad concept. If you trust a friend, does it means that:
  • he/she will never hurt you (or make you feel bad)
  • OR he/she will always help you

Sometimes, saying the truth can hurt your friend, yet he/she might desperately need to hear the objective truth in order to know reality and plan effectively for the future.

For example, if you've invited friends to your network, yet you notice that they don't make any effort to invite THEIR friends and co-workers, then how do you tell them the truth? How do you tell them that you've opened up your social network to help them, yet they don't reciprocate?

I think the best (and most compassionate) policy is just to lead by example, and to keep inviting people while also mentioning opportunities to your friends. Eventually, they will see the value of social networking and begin to build their network.

The World is Flat

Thomas Friedman's best-seller, The World is Flat, doesn't mention LinkedIn, yet I think it is social networking software like LinkedIn that will ultimately make the world "flatter."

(Friedman says "flat world" to refer to the fact that any worker from any country can now complete, via Internet and Web-based technologies, with any other worker anywhere on the planet).

It means, concretely, that if you're the best at what you do, you can use LinkedIn to reach ANY employer and get any job (provided you are the best person for the job).

LinkedIn as ideal entrepreneurial platform?

Assuming that people with complementary skills can find each other on LinkedIn and team up to create marketable value that they deliver to worldwide markets, and get paid via PayPal, then perhaps LinkedIn is not so much for finding a job as it is for detecting and profitably developing lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

194. Career as a business

If a career is like a business, in the sense that it has:
  • a client (the employer)
  • a product (whatever you send to you boss regularly, like a report)
  • and a payment scheme (the holy paycheck)

then I submit that the more you learn about business, the better equipped you are to manage your career for maximum satisfaction and profitability.

LinkedIn is a highway system

Somebody today asked me a lot of questions about LinkedIn, and at one point, I mentioned that there are only TWO important things to consider to make the best use of LinkedIn:
  1. Your unique value proposition (UPV)
  2. Your strategy for promoting and delivering it via your LinkedIn connections

(CEOs will instantly notice the similarity to the master business equation: return = profit margin X velocity).

The UPV is basically a crystal-clear statement of WHY a company should hire you. In other words, what is the busines justification for hiring you? How will you impact the bottom line?

Your promotion/delivery strategy basically has to do with how you intend to multiply options that will enable you to APPLY your unique value and skill set to benefit clients and employers.

For example, that strategy might involve determining the 20% of the people you know who will create 80% of the career results you want.

In the end, LinkedIn is like a highway system: you can't use it directly, you have to create "career vehicles" in order to ride on that highway and get to where you want to be.

Who's the best person to connect to?

I'm venturing an educated guess that the best (most useful or valuable) person to connect to is someone:
  • that you trust, and who trusts you
  • who is very well networked

The best-seller The Tipping Point actually talks about such a person: the Connector. This is the person who seems to be connected to everybody in town.

(The other two important types of people mentioned by Gladwell in his book, is the Salesperson (who can promote effectively a person or a cause) and the Maven (who has lots of detailed information about many topics).

191. LinkedIn as your supportive career IT infrastructure

The "supportive IT strategy" that Don Tapscott talks about (see posting below) can actually be provided by LinkedIn, for managing one's career.

Indeed, it seems that just as corporations have to be honest and truthful about information, people also have to be truthful about their careers.

It's pretty hard to lie on LinkedIn: you can't make up the number of connections you have, or force people to write shining endorsements of your personality and work ethic!

Note: see for more info on Tapscott's work.

190. Careers, like corporations, work best when transparent

Why do some people show their email address beside their name?

You're only supposed to see the email address of your first-degree connections. Yet there are people who may be your second- or third-degree connections who actually show their email address.


It's probable that these people make a living by relying on connections (headhunters, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, etc.).

Should you also display your email beside your name, so that your second- or third-degree connections can contact you directly?

I think so. It's not so much that doing so will help you NOW, but that there are so many opportunities to sell products and services to your connections in the near future.

More about that later.

Monday, August 08, 2005

LinkedIn as World Wide We application!

It means that we can use LinkedIn beyond geographical and national boundaries to work together to achieve our individual goals.

The "WEB", minus the "B" (which stands for "business" or "corporation"), becomes the "WE."

What if the Internet was invented to truly empower people, and not companies?

What if Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff ( was right, that we are indeed shifting from an enterprise-centric economy to a people-centric economy?

We the Connected People

I feel LinkedIn is almost a democratic innovation, because it links people and, as a result, gives them information, opportunity and power.

A revised version of the Constitution might read like this: "We the Connected People..."

Indeed, the more we use LinkedIn, the more we realize that the adage "information is power" should perhaps be updated to "people is power."

People is power, because only people can make decisions. Only people can influence decisions. And only people can recommend other people.

184. Network-Augmented Professionalism (NAP)

This concept refers to the fact that if you build a network, then this network of people can be leveraged profitably to promote your professional services.

This will dramatically reduce your marketing costs.

For example, let's say that I have a good dentist, and that he asked me to refer clients to him if I am satisfied with his service.

I could then just gently mention his clinic to the 28 LinkedIn connections I have, and ask them to forward (as they wish) to their 4300 connections.

In addition to promoting my good dentist, I could also promote myself, as a copywriter.

This would be a "push" promotional approach, as opposed to the "pull" approach whereby you ask a common connection to introduce you to a targeted person.

The key behind NAP is that you REALLY have to be an outstanding professional. Most people are usually happy to promote or recommend a professional who has worked hard to achieve a certain superior level of expertise and capability.

What are you building in your career?

In Post 162, I wrote about the "scariest career question of all."

What are you building in your career?

It's a scary question because most people simply don't have an answer, or a clear answer, to that question.

Most of us just do what our job description says we should do, and we pick up the paycheck. No questions asked.

Very few people actually think about what they are trying to build in their career. Here are some of the things people are trying to build:
  • expertise (e.g. a lawyer will try to specialize in a field, like intellectual property)
  • experience (e.g. a surgeon will try various patient cases in order to broaden his/her experience)
  • reputation (e.g. a consultant will give presentations and seminars to build his reputation)
  • credibility and credentials (e.g. a project manager will progressively seek bigger and bigger projects)

In general, it is fair to say that if you produce an important document every now and then, then you can say that you are building a career. For example, if you produce:

  • marketing plans
  • business plans
  • procedures
  • methodologies
  • quality assurance systems
  • new product process documentation
  • workflow systems
  • databases (Oracle, Access, etc.)
  • speeches
  • brochures
  • websites

Obviously, all these documents should be posted on your career blog, the URL of which should appear on your LinkedIn profile.

Career Power

In his book PowerShift, Alvin Toffler talks about three sources of power:
  • force (military, guns, etc.)
  • money (GDP, cash, etc.)
  • knowledge
He then repeatedly writes that knowledge is the most versatile form of power, since it can often replace the other two. Think of how the CIA, for example, uses information and intelligence to preempt a competitor in political or economic competitions between the U.S. and other nations.

Through LinkedIn and other such software, ordinary people like you and me are about to taste the real power of knowledge.

Indeed, as citizens, we were fairly uninformed and, therefore, did not have power before the arrival of LinkedIn. (Some people may say that they keep informed through TV news or CNN. Oh, please.)

Now, especially for those who use LinkedIn in a premeditated manner and with strategic goals in mind, we can gain power by organizing our network of contacts so that they brief us on matters that matter to us. (Of course, we have to first inform them about what really matters to us and our career/business).

In many ways, this is not different from the news clipping service that most executives subscribe to, at a cost of $10,000 per year. They tell the clipping agency what they want to track, and the agency sends them relevant news articles culled from hundreds of publications.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

180. Art of Diplomacy

Most people (including me) have not been trained in the art of diplomacy. This being said, a good book to read is probably The Art of Worldly Wisdom, by Baltasar Gracian. I just love that book. The author writes in such mysterious prose that you never know exactly what he means, but you get the message nevertheless. And every time you read it, it's a different message! It's fantastically weird...

To use LinkedIn well requires diplomatic skills, such as how to initiate and sustain goodwill and friendly relations. The word "diplomatic" here is not too strong, because it is no longer about merely managing one's "social" relations. Diplomatic relations are different from social relations, in that there are political aspects involved, and any LinkedIn power user immediately understands the political nature of all social and professional relations.

Yet diplomatic relations share with social relations certain common aspects, such as being considerate about others and trying to help whenever possible.

It is important to keep in mind that diplomacy is of utmost importance, more important than the mere "information management" aspects of LinkedIn (e.g. number of connections, endorsements, etc.).

Indeed, since LinkedIn is an information technology, there is the risk that users will jump on the bandwagon and start using it like as if it were a huge database that must be populated as fast as possible with connections.

I admit that it does look impressive to see that a person has over 1,000 connections.

But that doesn't mean much if you're not getting exactly what you want out of LinkedIn.

Pursuing one's goals and achieving them requires strategic foresight and execution abilities.

LinkedIn is a fantastic tool, and I'm a big fan, but it's still just a tool to serve a goal.

LinkedIn is useless...

... if you don't know what you want to get, or what you want to give away.

Some people may want to get:
  • a job
  • a better job
  • a very specific job in a specific industry
  • a consulting contract with a specific company

Other people may want to give away:
  • their experience and wisdom
  • their professional expertise
  • their political connections

Of course, the above does not preclude benefits that a person can get via serendipity.

But it's always better to have a clear goal, and LinkedIn doesn't seem different from any other tool: success depends on knowing what we want to achieve, and then using the tool specifically to achieve precisely that.

Networking etiquette

It seems that as more and more people use LinkedIn and other such software applications, there will be a need for learning about networking etiquette.

One of Stephen Covey's 7 habits seems appropriate here, namely: First, seek to understand the other person.

I interpret it, in the networking context, as meaning: First, seek to understand what the other person is trying to achieve. That is, find out about his/her career goal.

Covey also offered a piece of advice that sounds good to me: treat a relationship as an "emotional bank account": you have to make deposits before you can withdraw.

If everybody acted thus, I think LinkedIn could become a wonderful place to develop one's career and enrich one's professional life!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus

Personally, I'm not quite sure which planet I'm on exactly!

But it does seem that the new economy will somehow favor women and the qualities we traditionally associate with femininity: building relationships, verbalizing one's feelings, making sure everyone on the team feels "okay" about a decision, nurturing, etc.

Actually, the more I think about the qualities required to succeed in the new economy, the more I feel like a male dinosaur about to collapse any time now.

Fortunately, since I'm smarter than most males (or at least, that's what I vigorously claim to be, and my mother will back me up on this one), I have partnered with my sister Zoonie and have launched a business while closely observing her use of language and how she kindly treats people.

Should LinkedIn have country managers?

Idea: If LinkedIn appointed a country manager for each country, that person could act as a champion of social networking and help his/her country to multiply socioprofessional connections that help everyone while boosting the country's GDP.


I think it would be great if LinkedIn somehow appointed or recruited people to be Country Managers, to serve as advocates who would encourage people from their own country to get "linked in."

Over the years, I've built a network of over 100 people in Canada yet not one of them invited me to LinkedIn. Why? They did not know LinkedIn existed.

It was an American friend of mine who invited me.

I really believe that with country managers (for Canada, France, European countries, or any English-speaking country), LinkedIn can get more members while members can benefit from getting connected to interesting people from other cultures.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

170. LinkedIn is like the fax system (so invite all the people you know!)

The more people join the network, the more useful it becomes to everyone else who is already using the network.

It's like the story of the fax machine. The first person who bought a fax machine, probably got a bad deal, because he couldn't send a fax nor receive one from anybody!

Yet, as more and more people bought fax machines, then fax communications became an easy, convenient and effective means of communicating with others.

Nothing succeeds like success

I think that adage is true. Companies tend to hire people who have already proven to be successful in the past.

The key, then, is to write a LinkedIn profile that highlights specifically how you succeeded in past positions. The way to do this is to provide numbers and facts, such as how much business you brought in or how you were able to reduce costs for your department, etc.

Just listing previous positions without clearly stating how you actually performed in those positions, might be less convincing and not do you justice.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

166. Yearning precedes earning

Yearning precedes earning in the sense that the more you WANT something, the more likely you will GET it.

I think that one of the main messages of the (great) book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, is that to succeed, you GOTTA WANNA.

You have to WANT to win. Desire must be there, before a man or woman can win, whatever his/her field of competition.

Anyone who joins LinkedIn, I believe, is basically saying: "Yes, I want to see what it can do for me. I want to use all the resources available to help me advance in my career and in life."

If a person can't even take 3 minutes to fill out a form and put his/her name out there, as a reliable and trustworthy professional, well, with all due respect, that seems to me like a severe lack of ambition!

However, I think the real problem is that people have not been educated about the value of networking.

The overwhelming majority of people are involved in a job where they mostly sit in an office, facing a computer. Their daily duties do not involve meeting people and "networking".

At the same time, networking is now so critical to strategic career development that you are sure to fall behind if you don't network and access opportunities available through connections.

165. 9/11 redefines manhood

So much has been written about 9/11 that I can hardly add anything new. But perhaps there is one aspect that deserves further elaboration: what is the net effect of the 9/11 attack on the Western male psyche?

Of course, I can't speak for other men, but personally, I feel that 9/11 redefines manhood.

What does it mean, after 9/11, to be a "man"? Obviously, most men want to do something to stop these atrocities (which have continued with the bombing in Madrid and, more recently, in London).

But what can civilians like us do to help the effort to achieve peace? We can't really go to war, we're not trained for that.

Personally, if you give me a Kalashnikov (the Russian rifle that Osama bin Laden is often seen holding) or any kind of firearm, there will be a high likelihood that I will shoot myself in the foot by accident!

But then, I thought about something. All the people (all 3.2 million of them) who are using LinkedIn, are actually doing something. They are doing the exact OPPOSITE of what terrorists are doing:
  • They show themselves and what they stand for; they do not operate in the dark, under the cowardly veil of secrecy
  • They invite friends and contacts to join their network and benefit from their social connections
  • They state what they've been up to in the last few years, and show the work that they actually did to create value
  • Most importantly, they write the truth about themselves

From all the above, we can see clearly that LinkedIn users, whether consciously or not, are basically telling the world that our capitalist system works. That the right way to live is to be honest and sincere, and to ask for help according to one's needs while providing help to others according to one's abilities.

Sure, some readers might say, "Well, Peter, you might be reading too much into what LinkedIn users are doing... Aren't they just doing it for their own sake, out of self-interest?"

I would agree with that, but I would also say that LinkedIn somehow encourages -- actually incentivizes -- honesty and good behavior.

If you weren't honest with people, you wouldn't have many connections. And if you weren't behaving properly and doing good work, you wouldn't have endorsements.

So basically, I'm saying that the more people who use LinkedIn, the more ordinary people like us can promote democracy and, hopefully, show to those who tend to resort to violent means that there IS a way to work together to achieve our goals.

That violence -- and certainly terrorism -- is not the answer. That collaboration and honesty are the answers to create a more peaceful world.

Monday, August 01, 2005

159. Socioprofessional infrastructure

LinkedIn is basically a socioprofessional infrastructure.

It is much more useful than the Internet, because any dumb computer can connect to the Net whereas you have to be a smart and well-connected (that is, trusted) professional to be able to join LinkedIn and get benefits from it.

Some users are obviously very smart; you can see it from their profile and their past work experiences.

Other users are very well connected; you can see it from the number of connections they have.

Success with LinkedIn requires that you be very smart AND very connected. One without the other just won't cut it.

For example, a smart person who's not well connected, is the case of the person who is "all dressed but has nowhere to go."

The user who's not smart, but is very well connected, is the case of the person who goes everywhere without being noticed by anyone important.

The first step, then, is to make sure you are visibly smart. That is, you must make sure other people can CLEARLY SEE how smart you are.

This requires savvy personal knowledge management, which we'll discuss in a future posting.

156. How much would you sell your career for?

In the course of your career, you've accumulated a lot of useful and valuable knowledge.

If you could package all that knowledge onto a CD disk, how much would you sell it for?

More to the point, how much would a junior person starting out in your field, be willing to pay you to get that CD disk?

This is a very tough, complicated yet critical question to answer, I believe.

Because unless you can put a price tag on your current knowledge, there is no way you can begin to effectively manage your career.


155. Isaac Asimov's secret

He actually wrote and published 300 books, fiction and non-fiction.

(Just thinking about this amount of books written by a single person, makes me feel like feinting!).

But Asimov himself revealed the secret in one of his books. He said that he wrote as simply as possible, the way he thought or talked.

If we apply his "secret" to networking on LinkedIn, what do we get?

Well, for one thing, we might begin to understand that LinkedIn may be for people who are natural writers and can easily create a personal profile that accurately describes who they are and what they do.

Also, LinkedIn may be for people who are natural networkers, so it serves basically as a contact management software.

However, is it possible that one day, LinkedIn and other such software will CHANGE the way we feel about writing or networking?

What would be required for such a wholesale sociological shift in perception and behavior?

Not much, I suspect. It's like the StarBucks story: it's just a matter of providing people with a quick payoff that almost everybody can easily afford ($3).


153. My hero: Dr. Edward de Bono

It would be a crime for me to hide the fact that Dr. de Bono's books have had a HUGE influence on my thinking and, by extension, on my life.

I discovered his first book, The Mechanism of Mind, by pure accident, in the early 90's. I loved the book so much that I proceeded, soon thereafter, to read ALL of Dr. de Bono's books!

If you've been skipping all my previous postings, don't worry, I forgive you. But for your own sake, PLEASE believe me when I say that anyone who has not read a book by Dr. de Bono is really missing out on the enormous power that his/her brain can unleash, when used properly according to the principles and techniques described by Dr. de Bono.


152. Opportunityisnowhere

There are two ways of reading the above sentence.

Similarly, there are basically two reactions that a person can have, regarding social networking software like LinkedIn: either you think it will really help your career, or you think it won't make much of a difference to your career or earnings.

Henry Ford once said: "Whether you think you can do it or not, you are 100% right."

My point, in case there's a soul out there who's actually reading this blog, is that people who BELIEVE, usually PERCEIVE sooner than other people, and are able to capitalize on opportunities that most other people will miss.


151. Career = Ongoing business concern

"Investment is most intelligent when it is most businesslike." - Benjamin Graham

Those precise 9 words constitute the most important lesson that Benjamin Graham taught Warren Buffett, according to the latter.

Buffett reiterated the same idea when he said that one should not own a piece of paper (share); rather one should own the actual business.

What he meant was, you can only truly own what you truly understand.

If you consider your career as a business (which makes sense, since there are inputs, outputs, a customer, a set of processes, etc.), then perhaps you owe it to yourself to thoroughly understand everything that is going on in your career.

What is going on in your job, is only part of it.

I included a picture of the Balanced Scorecard, which is often used to help companies to better measure their performance.

It can apply also to managing one's career. More in the next posting.