Larry BraunerI launched my own LinkedIn group, Larry Brauner and Friends, as an experiment early last year. The group has since grown to over 800 members. We’ve explored a wide range of subjects and have hopefully demonstrated the feasibility of using a LinkedIn group for personal branding.

From the outset, I had in mind that when the time was ripe, I would begin conducting live interviews in the group with individuals who were thought leaders in their respective fields. Readers would be able to pose questions regarding a particular response or relevant to the overall conversation, simply by adding a comment. That time has finally come. :-D

Debugging Your Information Technology Job SearchI shall be interviewing over a number of weeks Janice Weinberg, a Westport, Connecticut career consultant and author of career books for IT professionals and managers. Her latest book, Debugging Your Information Technology Job Search, contains many innovative ideas for IT managers and executives through the CIO and CTO level who are seeking new jobs. The book also guides readers in identifying and correcting problems that are preventing them from generating interviews or — if they are obtaining interviews — impeding their ability to receive offers.

My questions to Janice will cover resume-writing, guidance in identifying employers likely to have suitable openings, and techniques for presenting oneself as a strong candidate in interviews. In providing her responses, Janice will draw upon her experience assisting IT managers* in obtaining computer operations, network operations center (NOC), service delivery, helpdesk, application development, program management, technology risk, and IT marketing/sales positions, as well as CTO and CIO jobs.

If you’d like to help your friends who are seeking management jobs, you may want to direct them to the interview: Advice for Managerial Job Seekers From Career Book Author

*Please note that although the emphasis in this author interview will be on providing guidance to IT managers, managers who are not seeking computer-related jobs can also expect to learn novel ideas to help them find more rewarding employment, since some topics I plan to cover will relate to general search strategies applicable to all managers.

Before you go, subscribe to Online Social Networking and “like” Larry Brauner on Facebook. :-)

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Larry BraunerI work at a watch company for which social media and web marketing are key tools for accelerating its business expansion.

As Social Media Director, I flew with our team to Basel, Switzerland in March to attend Baselworld, the grandest and most important watch and jewelry event of the  year.

Social Media Help Wanted

Haurex 1K374UNN INK Collections Featuring Aluminum and Rubber as Announced at Baselworld 2011I explained in My Social Media Mission Abroad that I was visiting at Baselworld 2011 with the dozens of watch brands we represent to discuss social media collaboration and ideas for future projects.

I realized, of course, that I’d need substantial help to carry out the social media plans made in Basel.

Besides freelance writers who can appreciate and blog about luxury, fashion and watches, I’m also looking locally in the Greater New York area for an art director, PR expert and advertising specialist.

New Social Media Profit Centers

For decades, I’ve been intrapreneurial. Now, in addition to leveraging our Internet properties to promote our firm and its many watch brands, it’s my intention, as well, to turn these websites into profit centers and totally new income streams.

So far we have several work-at-home bloggers and a few candidates for the in-house positions. To recommend someone or apply yourself for any of these opportunities, check out my Connect page.

Social Media Watch

I’ll keep you informed about our social media moves and their effectiveness. Please subscribe and join me on Facebook — and don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. ;-)

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Larry BraunerI received a free review copy of the newly published book, The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers by success coach Jim Randel. However, every opinion expressed in this article is completely my own.

Not Your Typical Business Networking Book

The Skinny on Networking is not like other business networking books I’ve read. The Skinny on Networking is unique in at least five ways:

  1. The Skinny on Networking is written as a short entertaining story, and all of the book’s characters (including author Jim Randel) are adorable (skinny) stick figures.
  2. While The Skinny on Networking is a how-to book, its mission is to illuminate basic business networking principles rather than to serve as a comprehensive business networking guide.
  3. You can read The Skinny on Networking in about an hour and obtain a quick business networking overview. Then, each subsequent rereading will help deepen your appreciation of business networking concepts and plant them more firmly in your mind.
  4. The Skinny on Networking draws from the works and expertise of such business networking masters as Harvey Mackay and Ivan R. Misner, who are frequently quoted.
  5. The Skinny on Networking explores both offline and online business networking and the connection between the two.

The Skinny on Networking Story

The Skinny on Networking by Jim RandelThe main characters in The Skinny on Networking are Billy, a high school history teacher who’d much prefer to teach music at a college, his wife Beth, a lawyer hoping to find new clients despite her shyness, and Jim Randel, their savvy business networking coach.

Jim teaches networking to Billy and Beth and helps them step-by-step to overcome obstacles and advance in their careers.

Business Networking Concepts

The Skinny on Networking develops and illustrates the application of many business networking concepts, which include the power of numbers, diversifying contacts, maintaining a long-term perspective, creating and using social capital, and the importance of reciprocity.

My favorite is social capital, “the strength of a relationship you have with another person,” as defined by Jim, who adds, “You create social capital by building on a relationship.”

In the past, I’ve thought of social capital as accumulated goodwill.  The social capital you have determines what you can reasonably expect to request from another person without damaging your relationship.

The Skinny on The Skinny on Networking

If you’re looking to achieve greater business networking success and open to new networking ideas, I strongly recommend that you read The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers by Jim Randel.

I look forward to networking with you on my new Ning business network, Small Business Networking.

Hope to see you there. :-)

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Larry Brauner

Home Business Survival Crash Course

People launch all types of businesses every day.

Despite enormous investment and months or years of preparation most new businesses fail. Their once well lit storefronts and offices are now dark, and their employees are searching for new jobs.

I don’t have precise statistics for a home based business. I estimate that perhaps 98% of new home businesses never earn a dime. If my estimate is too high, it can’t be too high by much. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

My first home business with Excel Communications lost money for five years before finally turning a profit. I have since embarked on other ventures. Some have worked out well, and others not.

Let’s discuss why home based businesses usually fail and what you might be able to do to succeed. First I’ll share my thoughts about this, and then you’ll have a turn to express your point of view.

Reasons for Failure

The following list of causes for failure is arranged with readability in mind, rather than the relative importance of the contributing factors:

  1. YOURSELF - You have an uphill battle if you lack internal motivation, commitment, relevant skills (such as organization, communication, sales, marketing, online social networking or prospecting), proper training, posture, preparation, productivity, or some combination of these.
  2. Others - Other people can lack all of the above. Sadly, they can also lack integrity. I believe that people not doing as they say they will is very disappointing and the greatest business obstacle. Read the story of Orovo and Network Success Builders for a good example of this.
  3. Hype - Exaggeration and misrepresentation of products, services and business opportunities are all too common today as people try desperately to differentiate themselves from their competition in an over-crowded marketplace.
  4. Company Affiliations - Your success is likely to be tied to the success of a parent company. New companies are unstable and inherently risky to do business with. However, old companies tend to have insufficient momentum.
  5. Wrong Side of the Marketing Equation - Your cost per acquisition or sale exceeds the value of the sale. The more you sell, the more money you lose. Every business, even a major corporation, can find itself on the wrong side of the marketing equation.
  6. Over-Reliance on Systems - Your business depends on a system, and when that system stops working, just as systems usually do, your business also stops working. People who preach that people don’t duplicate but systems do are lying big time. Do not fall for this one! What is the truth? Please read on.

Work on Number One

You are #1. Your long term business success hinges upon your mastery of life and business skills and upon your growth as a person. Read books such as biographies, business books and books on personal development. Read blogs, watch videos and associate with successful people. You will improve your chances of succeeding in your personal life and your business endeavors.

Check Out People and Companies

Do the best you can to check people’s backgrounds. Request references.

Look up companies at the Better Business Bureau, and see if they belong to the Direct Selling Association — even though neither guarantees a company’s legitimacy!

Google people and companies alike, and don’t stop after page one or two. Keep going. Try adding in keywords such as scam, rip-off, accused, alleged, cheated, lied, stole, swindled, cheated, convicted, etc.

Limit the extent to which your success depends on people and organizations doing exactly as they say they will. Try to diversify your business so that it doesn’t collapse if a single person or company flakes or rips you off.

If you’re honest like I am, you’ll tend to place too much trust in others. Trusting people is good, but be sure to limit that trust and the damage that any single person or business can inflict on you.

Don’t Fall for Hype

Do you believe everything you hear? Then I know somebody who will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Old New York joke, but I can assure you that the joke doesn’t date back to before 1883.

All kidding aside, there are people out there who will say just about anything to get you to buy from them or to recruit you into something.

Do your homework. Use common sense. If something sounds not quite right or too good to be true, assume that it is until you believe that you’re proven wrong.

Consider getting a second opinion from a highly knowledgeable independent third party. Don’t ask Uncle Harry, your neighbor or your accountant. Ask an expert. You will probably have to pay for the advice you get, but the time and money you can save by avoiding a scam or jumping into a business with the wrong expectations may far exceed the cost of a qualified consultant.

Old vs. New Companies

Mange your risk.

Younger people can assume more risk than older people, because they have more time to recover from setbacks. A startup business will best suit a young person. High risks, high rewards.

Older people ought to be more conservative and choose a business with a proven track record.

If you are middle aged or older, here’s another option for you. Spend part of your time and energy on a new business that’s just launching and the rest of your time and energy building something safer.

Even a young entrepreneur can use this strategy, but it does have a drawback. It’s harder to focus on two ventures than on one.

Business Analysis 101

If you’re math phobic, this one is going to be difficult, but help is available.

Your cost per acquisition should be less than the net present value of your expected future profits from the acquisition, also called the customer lifetime value.

CPA < NPV

In plain English, don’t let your cost per sale (in both time and out-of-pocket dollars) wipe out your profit. You can never make it up in volume.

If you cannot figure this one out, get help from a business analyst or a qualified accountant. You’ll have to do your part. You will need to track your sales and your expenses very carefully in order to reach a correct conclusion.

If the basic marketing equation (CPA < NPV) doesn’t balance in your favor, consider using an ethical funded proposal to fix the problem.

Sell another more profitable product or service to “get the customer in the door”. Then sell your main product, service or business opportunity to the customer on the back end.

Systems Don’t Work

Last but not least, despite all the hype about the SpiderWeb System and the Reverse Funnel, systems don’t duplicate. They don’t work for long. In the home business world these systems produce a bunch of clones that run around competing with each other. Believe me, that’s not a pretty sight.

Unfortunately people don’t duplicate either. We know this from the childhood game of Telephone. The message always gets distorted. Any person can become a weak link in the duplication process.

Now, the one thing that does duplicate…

Leadership

Leadership does duplicate. Leaders will get the job done. If more leaders are needed, they will find them.

How do you find leaders?

Be one! Leaders attract leaders.

Now It’s Your Turn

Be a leader. Write a comment.

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Larry Brauner

I cannot be everything to everybody.

I know I can’t.

I realized that a long time ago. I’ve learned to choose who I want to be to the people who matter most to me.

Business Analysis Example

I’m a business analyst. There are lots of business analysts in the world, but how many of them specialize in marketing and customer analysis like I do? Very few indeed.

And how many rely as heavily on intuition and instinct as I do? Even fewer.

Looking for somebody to do your P&L analyses? Not me. Go talk to a finance type. There are tons of them with MBA degrees waiting to hear from you.

Want to assess a takeover target? Again, not me. Go find somebody who’s into merger and acquisitions to help.

Need to track your marketing or determine how much your customers are worth? Now that is me. Give me a call, and I’ll talk your head off for hours about customer acquisition and customer retention, because that’s definitely my thing.

Network Marketing Example

I admit it. I’m also a network marketer.

I have lots of expertise in online social networking at social networking sites, blog marketing and search engine optimization. I was networking online way before it was cool, and I’m continuously sharpening my blogging and SEO skills.

Do I know the three foot rule? Of course I do, but so does everybody else in the network marketing business.

Can I make a list of family, friends and acquaintances? You bet I can — I’ve done it more than once — but is there one successful networker who can’t?

On the other hand, how many network marketers are Internet savvy? How many of them prospect and network online and enjoy it as I do?

Breaking Away from the Pack

I like to learn from teachers such as Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard, because they too have broken away from the pack. As Diane often says, “When people are zigging, you have to zag.” She’s a lady I want to get to know much better. That’s a big reason why I joined My Private Classroom.

By the way, if you would like to develop strong social networking, social marketing and personal branding skills, read My Private Classroom Opens to Public.

Blogging Example

A reader recently complained that my articles were neither timely nor did they provide information she couldn’t have found elsewhere online.

I basically told her that intelligent and thought-provoking were more important to me than timely. Here too I’ve chosen a focus that works for me.

My Personal Brand Management Approach

The point of this post is that I’ve narrowed my focus, so that I could escape the crowds and stand out more readily. I’ve defined my market, so that I can dominate it.

I prefer to be a leader in my carefully selected fields rather than an also-ran in larger more broadly defined competitive categories.

Avis might have been #2 in the car rental industry, but when they said, “we try harder”, they re-positioned themselves as #1 in car rental customer service.

Redefine Your Market

Do you sell mortgages? Travel? Nutritional products?

Here’s some food for thought. How can you position yourself so that people will see you and think of you as a leader in your market and remember you when they are ready to buy?

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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But One with Ample Resources to Help You Meet the Challenge

by Janice Weinberg

While some people make the decision to switch careers after relatively brief experience in the workplace, if my clients are representative of the universe of career changers, most people make the decision after 10-15 years in their first career. What’s interesting about this is that virtually all of these people told me that they were never satisfied with their occupational choices.

Why is there a significant lapse between the time people become aware of their dissatisfaction and the point at which they take action to remedy the situation?

My theory: All of these clients had bachelor’s degrees, with many having earned master’s and JD degrees. Rather than face the disappointing reality of having invested the time and money toward acquiring credentials that qualified them for a career they found unfulfilling, they kept putting off the decision, often thinking, wishfully, that merely changing employers – rather than careers – would dispel their discontent. But at some point, they realized that – contemplating an employment horizon of 20 or more years – the moment of truth had arrived: they had to make a change.

Delaying the Decision May Limit Your Options

While the task of pinpointing a suitable alternative career is always a challenge, that challenge is compounded to the extent that one has postponed the decision. The reason: The older you are, the greater your financial obligations will likely be, which, in turn, will limit your career options.

For one thing, it could prevent you from undertaking an educational program required to enter an occupation that promises greater gratification.

And, even if you gravitate toward a field that’s feasible to enter without further education, at the very least, you may have to accept a reduction in compensation – which could deter you from making the move.

Women Re-entering the Workplace

Many women who want to resume their careers formerly held professional positions in such industries as financial services, retailing, information technology, and packaged goods. But now, they are fairly flexible in their choice of a career – their overriding goal is to get reestablished in the professional workplace.

One of the challenges unique to this group is the need to identify positions that – while not necessarily high-paying – will be steppingstones to increasingly higher positions, along with a concomitant growth in compensation. At the same time, many women seek part-time work as their initial reentry point in the workplace so they can retain some flexibility in their schedules. While these two requirements – gaining a position on a professional career track and doing so initially on a part-time basis – may seem antithetical, they need not be – depending, of course, on one’s skills and interests.

A Plethora of Useful Resources

With the Internet, books, the placement offices of one’s alma mater, and an abundance of advice available from friends and colleagues, no one who desires a career change will lack for information. If anything, the sheer volume of resources may overwhelm people looking for a new career, such that they are at a loss as to what their first step should be.

Many people turn to vocational testing for guidance, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on such services. Fortunately, the Self-Directed Search, a highly regarded interest test, can be taken online for a nominal charge. You may find that completing the test provides you with the direction you need to identify a suitable alternative career.

Because vocational testing is a multifaceted subject that merits a more extensive discussion, in my next post, I’ll discuss the differences between interest and aptitude tests, as well as which type of test is most appropriate for particular categories of career changers.

Copyright © 2008 Janice Weinberg. All rights reserved worldwide.

Debugging Your Information Technology™ CareerJanice Weinberg is the founder of Career Solutions, a Westport, Connecticut-based consultancy that serves an international clientele, and the author of How to Win the Job You Really Want (Henry Holt & Co.). Her latest book, Debugging Your Information Technology™ Career (Elegant Fix Press, LLC), describes 20 careers that represent excellent alternatives for those seeking a career change from IT because computer proficiency is a strong asset in both entering and succeeding in these fields.

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Larry Brauner

I am happy to announce that my dear friend Janice Weinberg will contribute regular articles on changing careers and on mothers re-entering the job market to this blog beginning some time this month.

Janice is a successful consultant, lecturer, author and founder of Career Solutions. Her book, How to Win the Job You Really Want, was published in 1995. Her newer book, Debugging Your Information Technology™ Career, became available very recently.

Janice will discuss a number of fascinating and relevant topics that you will enjoy and find beneficial. If you have a specific issue you would like her to address, please post it here as a comment. Unfortunately I cannot guarantee that Janice will respond to each and every question, but I do promise to pass every one on to her.

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Larry Brauner

This is my first post to address alternative careers

Many people who entered the workplace 10, 20, or more years ago are reconsidering their career choices.

In some cases, the decision to seek a new occupation is motivated by the desire for a change. In other instances, external factors are forcing people who enjoy their work to turn to alternative occupations.

Case in point: The information technology profession has been greatly affected by offshore outsourcing which – despite generating a fraction of the media coverage it received several years ago – continues to be used by companies as a cost control measure … and at a rate that is only increasing.

Thousands of computer professionals affected by offshoring have already switched to teaching, nursing and other occupations they believe will protect them from the practice. And those who remain in the IT field continue to be concerned about offshoring’s potential impact on the security of their jobs.

However, to the extent that computer professionals feel threatened by offshoring – or have already made 180-degree career changes – it may reflect their lack of information about the importance of computer knowledge in occupations that are not on the traditional IT career path.

A new book, Debugging Your Information Technology Career, addresses this lack of information. The author, Janice Weinberg, a friend for more than 20 years, is a Connecticut career consultant who was formerly a computer professional at IBM and GE.

If you know a computer professional – or someone who is considering becoming one – you may want to tell them about this book, which I believe they’ll find both enlightening and encouraging.

More information about Debugging Your Information Technology Career is available at Janice’s Career Solutions website.

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