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 BraunerYour social media and web strategy necessarily starts from your website, the one place on the the web that you own and control.

Social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are very useful and will likely figure in your online plans. However, the possibility that any given networking site will become unpopular, change its rules, cancel your membership, or even shut down entirely, renders such a website unsuitable as a hub and foundation for your web presence.

GevrilYour website doesn’t need to be intricate, although it can be. I tend to prefer simple websites. The Gevril Group website, for example, which I developed in concert with Ivo Jackson and John Sealander, uses the WordPress content management system, a very basic 3-column theme, an opt-in form and a Facebook widget.

Launched this past December, the Gevril Group website now receives in excess of 8,500 visits per month.

Purple UmpkinOur latest creation, the new Purple Umpkin children’s book website, is even simpler in design and implementation. You can compare it to the original Purple Umpkin website. In my opinion, the new version is easier to use, and it looks and feels more like a venue for a children’s book. What do you think?

Work on a Children’s Books umbrella website is underway employing equally simple design principles.

Every web presence needs a website that attracts and speaks to its visitors. Online, your website is your brand. That website must be secure, and the content on that website must be nothing less than superb.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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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 BraunerWho wouldn’t want the kind of web presence that drives hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors to his or her web site or blog and converts them into customers or followers?

I’ve created that type web presence for myself. However, most businesses that try to build such a web presence fall short of achieving that objective. How about yours?

This a long article that covers a lot of ground. My hope is that this article and those articles and resources it links to will enable you to take a fresh look at your social media and web marketing program.

Over the past few years I’ve identified dozens of factors that contribute to lack of web marketing success, and in this article I discuss 25 of the most important ones:

  1. Failing to Plan - Strategy must precede tactics. Taking action is easy, but will that action help you achieve your objectives? Do you know precisely what those objectives are? It’s imperative that you define your objectives and devise marketing strategies to help you reach them effectively.
  2. A Flawed Plan - Including thinking too big or too small, e.g., with your keywords, quantity of social networking sites you employ or frequency of your blog posting. Be ambitious but realistic. Your time is limited. Make a plan that’s simple but not simplistic. Shama Hyder Kabani’s The Zen of Social Media Marketing provides an excellent overview of the planning process.
  3. Ignoring Your Competition - Developing your plan in a vacuum without any competitive intelligence prevents you from learning from your competitors and identifying optimal marketing strategies and tactics.
  4. Having Unrealistic Expectations - View social media and web marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a substantial amount of time to build credibility with your potential customers and with search engines too.
  5. Not Focusing on Your Niche - The more focused your message, the more it will influence your target audience. Trying to be everything to everybody will make your website look like a patch quilt. I’m sure you’ve been to websites that look like menus at diners or aerial views of battle zones. You hit the back arrow and breathe a sigh of relief. Successful offline marketers know that a highly targeted ad gets the best results, even with those people who aren’t targeted by the ad.
  6. Following the Pack - Don’t do anything solely because it’s trendy. Check new options at your disposal for consistency with your plan and expected return on time invested. You’ll need to rely mostly on intuition, but the more extensive your knowledge, the more reliable your intuition will be.
  7. Not Optimizing Your Web Site - What good is a website that looks great yet is dysfunctional? It doesn’t attract any traffic. Search engines are confused by it. Or it attracts traffic, but that traffic doesn’t convert. The lack of web site results is so wide spread that business owners tend to be very skeptical about the web’s marketing potential. See 10 Easy Way to Improve Your Blog or Website and 10 More Easy Ways to Improve Your Website.
  8. Optimizing for Search Engines Only - Some marketers optimize their web sites for search engines but fail to optimize for humans. The result: traffic that doesn’t convert. Optimizing “user experience” is more important than search engine optimization. SEO is only one of numerous ways to attract visitors to your site. On the other hand, all methods drive traffic to your website, and if that site is weak, your work is in vain.
  9. Your Logo or Flash Dominates Your Website  - A constant battle! A client said he wants his website to have an upscale image similar to that of the fluffy Tiffany site. Will that work for him? He’s trying to build his brand online. The Tiffany brand was powerful before the web even existed. All they really need is a pretty site with product illustrations and a shopping card to help you spend your extra funds on beautiful high-end jewelry. However, let’s be real. If you’re not a Tiffany or an Apple, nobody cares as much about your logo or flash as you do. They want content to digest. They want to know what you can do for them and whether or not they can trust you.
  10. Too Little or Lame Content - They say that content is king. I believe that is true. People are searching online for content. To succeed, feed people great content, such as text, video, pictures, podcasts, etc., and you’ll  gain positive recognition for your brand.
  11. Trying to Spam the Search Engines - Search engines are smarter than you might think. Game them, and you’ll come to regret it. But, feed them lots of solid content, and over time they’ll send your web site thousands and thousands of targeted visitors.
  12. Leaving Everything to Your Web Developers - Web developers are neither experienced marketers nor skilled copywriters. Check out Web Developers Don’t Know Social Media.
  13. Making Bad Money Decisions - How about the following example? You spent tens of thousands to engage top notch social media and web consultants, but you don’t want to spend a couple of thousand on the new website design they recommend. Why not? Because that would imply that the money you spent on the original design was wasted. Am I missing something here? Tell me.
  14. Not Hosting Your Website or Blog Yourself - Your website or blog is the core of your web presence. Should Blogger or Wordpress.com determine its disposition? Invest in a web hosting account — it’s not pricey. Learn how to use the Wordpress.org content management system to create and maintain your website or blog.
  15. Not Building Yourself an Online Community - If you have doubts about social media or the power of your own community, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk will make you a believer. Gary has built a community of wine lovers around his Wine Library TV brand, and his social media efforts have greatly added to the bottom line of his business, the Wine Library.
  16. Not Engaging Your Community - To cultivate and nurture your community of customers and fans is a golden opportunity to connect with the people who matter to your brand.
  17. Not Being Authentic - We live in an age of trust and transparency. Being who you’re not will set you apart from your competitors in a counterproductive way.
  18. Not Integrating Online Marketing with Offline - Relying only on Internet marketing when you can achieve results offline as well, including driving visitors from offline to your website. Marketing offline is not dead.
  19. Never Meeting People Face-to-Face - Nothing builds trust like an in-person meeting. If you’re in the New York area, let’s have coffee or do lunch.
  20. Not Diversifying - Don’t put All Your Social Media Eggs in One Basket — nor all your other eggs.
  21. Not Using an Autoresponder to Build an Email List - Most potential customers need to get to know your brand better before they buy. Keep in touch with them by letting them add themselves to your autoresponder newsletter or blog subscription list — even if you use RSS.
  22. Not Touching Base Frequently with Your Email List - If you don’t stay on people’s minds, they’ll forget you. Then when you do email them, they’ll flag your message as spam. That in turn will hurt your ability to get your email through the filters of the Internet service providers.
  23. Relying on Trial and Error - Keep reading. Keep learning. Trial and error is a luxury you may not be able to afford.
  24. Never Seeking Help - A little help can save you from much trial and error and many hours of spinning your wheels but remaining where you are.
  25. Taking Your Web Marketing Too Seriously - Lighten up. Make friends. Have fun.

Here are social media and web marketing resources you might find useful:

Wishing you success with your web marketing. :-)

Please subscribe, leave a comment, click on some of my Facebook like buttons and share this article with your friends and colleagues.  ;-)

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Larry BraunerIt isn’t too late for entrepreneurs to become early adopters of social media. Use of the social web is still trying to find its way into mainstream business culture.

I first learned about Web 2.0 from Time Magazine’s historic December 2006 cover story, Time’s Person of the Year: You. Then, after much preparation, I launched Online Social Networking in November 2007.

Social Media One Bite at a TimeLooking back and recounting my earlier discovery, I wrote in a March 2009 article, Social Media One Bite at a Time, that “I saw that while I could no longer be one of the earliest adopters of social media, it wasn’t at all too late to position myself at the forefront of an enormous trend.”

I now realize that I was one of the earliest social media adopters, especially within business circles. Entrepreneurs have been very slow to embrace the new media.

Consider two stories both appearing this week in established publications. Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and Is Social Media Worth Your Time? appeared in Inc.

These articles are indications that skepticism and misunderstanding remain pervasive, particularly among small business owners. The key concerns seem to be ROI and the time burden imposed by social media.

I’m not going to confront those issues in this blog post. Instead, I’m helping you see an opportunity. If you’re already sold on the long-term potential of branding yourself and your business using social media, you can get a good head start on most of your competition.

If you’re not already sold, read the two books I mentioned in Are You Building Your Personal Brand and Future Around Your Passion?Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. Before you finish both books, I predict you’ll be a firm believer.

If you’re on your way, or if something is holding you back, in either case, I’d love to hear about it.

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Larry BraunerI’ll share one of my idiosyncrasies with you, but promise you won’t laugh: Most people go to the library to find books — not me. When I accompany my kids to the library, I take my own books with me to read while waiting for them to finish.

Think that’s peculiar? I can assure you that there’s a totally rational explanation: It’s rare to find the trendy business books I like to read at a library. I’m much more likely to find them at a bookstore.

Still, my kids like to tease me about this seemingly odd behavior.

Looking for Trendy Business Books at the LibraryImagine my surprise when on a recent library visit, I found both Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel in the new arrivals section. Finding these books was a fluke, but nevertheless, I do plan to check back in that section in the future. ;-)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Crush It!. The words of @garyvee helped to reinforce and refine my personal approach to business and social media branding. (I’m still in the middle of Six Pixels of Separation and liking it so far.)

Business developers are starting to approach me to explore joint ventures. They tell me how successful they are and then talk to me about changing my path, building a giant email list and making videos.

Gary, on the other hand, talks about building your personal brand through social media by being authentic and “delivering your content by video, podcast, or blog.” Being authentic guarantees to “differentiate you from everybody else, including those who share your niche or business model.”

Gary’s whole book resonated with me. However, his emphasis on building a personal brand around one’s passion got me to stop and reflect for several days about my own passion.

I realized that while I love social media, the web, and data crunching, I have a greater passion for helping people solve difficult problems. Throughout my career, I’ve been happiest when solving business problems has been at the core of my work.

Gary Vaynerchuk writes that loving your family, working super hard and living your passion are the keys to success. What’s your passion, and are you building your personal brand and future around that passion?

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Larry Brauner

Yesterday I was asked how it is that I’ve learned so much so quickly about social media marketing and search engine optimization.

My response was simple.

I learn from reading many books, e-books and blogs, and from speaking frequently with friends and mentors. Having mentors has greatly shortened my learning curve.

I do admit that I am a much more focused learner than the average person. I was able to finish high school math at 15 and by 19 I was one of the top chess players in New York.

As an adult I’ve gone on to acquire skills and expertise in many areas including business analysis, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and online social networking at social networking sites, the original motivation for this site.

One of my greatest teachers and mentors was Eric Marder, founder of Eric Marder Associates and my employer for 23 years. One fundamental thing he taught me about business was that I should always seek the truth.

At 56, I still place a very high priority on continuing education, personal development and masterminding with my mentors and peers. You can ask any of the friends with whom I consult most often, David Alexander, Ivo Jackson, and Tom Long.

Other friends and mentors whom I wish to acknowledge:

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman of My Private Classroom, like myself, offers free tele-seminars and webinars. To receive announcements and invitations to these classes, join my e-mail list at my free social media training site.

I used to recommend the training Bill Arnold offers through Network Success Builders, but came to realize, as I wrote in Orovo and Network Success Builders, that Network Success Builder’s training was mediocre and that Bill Arnold lacked personal and business integrity.

Make a commitment to read at least one business or marketing book each month. Choose mentors to guide you and then set aside time each week to learn something from them.

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Larry BraunerI was away yesterday with my family. About once a month we all spend a day in a group home for multiply handicapped girls. Our hope is that they will enjoy, at least for a brief time, a warm family environment.

When I arrived home I found three pleasant surprises.

  • Another reader had registered as a user of my blog bringing the total to 105.
  • My blog had moved up to #8 in Google for the keywords online social networking. I’m back to #51 today, but it felt good to receive validation, however temporary, from Google.
  • An envelope had arrived by Priority Mail with my very own copy of Mike Dillard’s Building on a Budget.

Today I’m feeling jetlagged from the advance to Daylight Savings Time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve already read Mike’s book cover-to-cover. Here is my feedback.

My book review of Building on a Budget is mixed.

The advertising promises to show network marketers how to leverage a one-time cash outlay of about $500 to acquire new skills and resources and generate a continuous stream of leads without further expense.

Building on a Budget outlines an excellent marketing approach and provides great tips that all marketers could learn from — not just network marketers. The Internet and social media marketing concepts presented in the book are explained very clearly and concisely.

The book discusses one pre-requisite and five marketing strategies which are more effective than the strategies that most marketers currently employ. There’s a chapter each for lead capture pages, Craigslist classified ads, video marketing, press releases, blogging and funded proposals. I feel that these are all excellent choices.

Social networking sites are mentioned but only in passing.

Here are my reservations about Building on a Budget.

I have the knowledge and the resources to implement Mike Dillard’s suggestions. I’m already using several of these techniques in my online marketing, but what about a newbie?

Let’s say that our enthusiastic new marketer decides to follow the book’s instructions. He or she sets up web hosting, domain names and an autoresponder, all absolutely essential tools, and purchases Magnetic Sponsoring, MLM Traffic Formula, Black Belt Recruiting, a camcorder, Camtasia Studio, and one or two other items. The $500 figure can very easily top $1,000, and paid third-party assistance might still be needed.

I have spent much more than that to educate and equip myself to market effectively in today’s environment, and I’m a former IT professional with more than ten years network marketing experience.

I don’t regret it at all.

What I object to is an unrealistic $500 price point established by Building on a Budget. And not only is it unrealistic, the book itself is a powerful sales letter — not an academic marketing text. It’s written to sell information and recruit affiliates. Mike points out that he’s a great copywriter. I totally agree. However, I don’t fault him one bit.

I will make good use of Building on a Budget. It’s a compact reference that I will want at my fingertips. You may find it useful too. However, please be careful about your expectations.

Oh, before I forget to mention it. I will schedule conference calls to help. So if you purchased the book, expect to hear from me.

I welcome questions and comments about the book, but please, keep them upbeat.

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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 promised in my recent post on The Law of Belief that you would hear more from me on the subject of changing beliefs. I said that I would discuss replacing disempowering beliefs with empowering ones.

I’m not ready for a broad treatment of the subject. However, after Robin’s touching comment I feel compelled to write something more without delay.

Robin’s words inspired me to pick up and re-read one of my favorite books, The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want, written by Mike Hernacki in 1982.

What is “the ultimate secret”?

Know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

This is called intention. It is tied in with commitment and is one of the critical success factors.

Please, don’t say “duh” or tell me it’s merely a matter of semantics.

Most people have difficulty with either the “know what you want” part or the “be willing to do whatever it takes” part of the principle, and Hernacki’s book addresses this difficulty. The book also explains how the Law of Attraction comes into play.

The Ultimate Secret has been in and out of print a number of times since its publication in 1982. I suggest you buy it now while it’s available. Over the years I have repeatedly bought and given away copies of this book to my friends. I read it myself over and over again and grow from it each time I do so.

In connection with Robin’s remarks, I want to focus on the “willing” part of the formula.

Mick Hernacki says that we must have a sense or a belief from the outset that we will be able to handle anything that comes our way — “whatever it takes”. All accomplishment stems from this particular form of belief even if we’re not consciously aware of it.

Here’s the good news as I see it.

We don’t have to line up all our beliefs like ducks in a row to be successful. the only belief we need to succeed at something is the belief that we can handle whatever challenge that might arise with respect to that one objective. One empowering belief can bring enormous success even if our overall belief system is far from perfect in other respects.

When I prepared to run the New York City Marathon in 1984 and 1985, I knew precisely what I wanted — to complete the marathon.

I assure you that I didn’t have my act together at all. However, I did have confidence that I’d be able to overcome all obstacles — discouragement from friends, athletic injuries, rain, snow, cold weather, hot weather, lack of sleep, and whatever would come my way.

I did just that.

I even dealt with severe leg cramps both years towards the end of the race.

What a wonderful accomplishment this was! I even have a picture from 1985 which I may very well scan some day and post online for my readers to gawk at.

So my advice to you is to know what you want. Be passionate about it. Be open-minded too. And believe that you will handle whatever challenges lie in your path. Your eventual success is assured.

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