There was an error in this gadget

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Transitions and networking

The last two years have been a search for me. Changing careers is challenging, to put it mildly. You feel a range of emotions- bewilderment, hope, excitement, frustration, and just panic sometimes.
But each step you take and each dead end you reach, makes the journey that much closer.
I like to think it's not about how long it takes, but how each day you wake up, you're one day closer to where you want to be.
And getting there is so exciting because the more you search, the more new people you are likely to meet and the more other ideas you discover along the way.
This is what's been happening to me over the last little while.
I spent some time training in knowledge management and keeping abreast of the latest developments in the field, particularly in social media and Web 2.0.
To do this I spent the better part of last year networking and meeting up with some of the directors in knowledge management in the law firms in Toronto.Admittedly it was intimidating to start on this course, being of an introverted type of personality. But all it takes is that first little baby step and the desire to succeed. (What also helped was reading a few books on how to network! After all many others have done this before, right, so you need not repeat mistakes that have already been made).

After a few meetings you begin to refine your approach and learn to make the most economical use of your time. I learned much from these directors, particularly about the state of maturity of knowledge management in the legal industry in Toronto. And I met a VERY wide variety of personalities. Must say, everyone I met was extremely open and generous with their time.
Networking like this certainly builds your confidence as well as your knowledge of your industry of interest.Interacting on a one on one basis gives you more opportunity to get to know the person you're dealing with. It's interesting to note how chemistry operates between people. There are some for whom you have an immediate affinity, that you click with, and others less so.
If you're interested in learning how to network, I recommend you start first of all with Richard Bolles:
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

I wish I had known about this book years ago. It helped me look at career changing in a whole new way and gave me the tools , a system, to work with. It taught me about how to find what  I was good at and how to go about finding the industries within which I would be happiest. When  you are seeking a change in your life you don't want to go back to doing the same old because you've been there, done that . But at the same time you have this wealth of skills, training and experience that all went into making you the unique individual you are.So you want to marry that with doing the new thing that is going to make you leap out of bed in the morning to go and do it. Some of us just can't continue in the same old track even though it pays the bills very well and takes us on great vacations and fine restaurants. You take a risk and lose all that security  because you trust that if you dare to close one door that the next doorway you step through opens a whole world of possibilities.

Here's another great book I used to help me through the actual mechanics of networking. It's The $100,000 career by John Davies.He explains "The Law of 100" which entails leveraging the power of the networks of the people you meet. So it's not just about the people you know personally, but the people they know who can also refer you to others in their network. It's like  linkedin.com in a book!


My journey into social media and knowledge management also took me to into a whole new direction in the world of business development, something, together with leadership development, that has been of great interest to me for about 10 years now.

Next post, I'll tell you what I am learning about ''Design thinking", so stay tuned!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Ride to the Beaches

Today I saw a remarkable sight while on my way to the library in the Beach in Toronto.
As I entered the streetcar downtown, the driver called out 'Hi' cheerily , to each embarking passenger. Now that is not at all unusual as there are many very pleasant men and women in that hideous shade of maroon. But this guy kept up a running conversation with the passengers up front who cared to participate. The surprising thing was that many of them did choose to chime in. Conversations ranged from TTC fares, the inadequacy of the transfer ticket system in the city, to what it was like to live in New York City. I could have closed my eyes and felt I was back on a maxi-taxi in the Caribbean although the accents were miles apart. The similarity came not from the accent, but from the vitality of the conversations. Strangers were talking to each other and sharing jokes in a most un-Canadian manner. And it was all at the instigation of that cheery driver.
I know because when he got off at Connaught, where the shift changes occur, there was a noticeable decline in the camaraderie in the car. With Cheery Driver, EVERY one who got off, wished him goodbye. After the new shift got on, the first two passengers to leave up front said 'bye' to those around them and after that the normal quietness set in.
And this is a first- when Cheery got off he turned to face us and announced loudly to the car, ''Bye folks, have a great a afternoon!" Now that was a first for me. It is no surprise that several passengers, including me called back 'Bye'.
You know, I think the man was American (well the gist of his conversation suggested that).

This reminds me very vividly of a similar story that Dan Goleman related in his book  Social Intelligence. You can find a link to some sample pages on Amazon here

We are 'wired to connect' and emotions are contagious. As Goleman relates:

Take for example the cashier at a local supermarket whose upbeat chatter infects each
of his customers in turn.He's always getting people to laugh-even the most doleful  people
leave smiling. People like that cashier act as the emotional equivalents of zietgebers, those
emotional forces in nature that entrain our biological rhythms to their own pace.
 (Wish I could have found the story of the American taxi driver for you but only found this one instead).
But I'll return to this another time.

Have you ever observed how making direct eye contact and giving a smile and 'hi' to a perfect stranger in the street, elicits an (albeit) surprised 'hi' in response?
Try it out today and let me know if it works...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Me on Twitter

You can find me on twitter here:
http://twitter.com/sweetsadie

I tweet a diverse array of topics, whatever  I find interesting.
That includes Ugly Betty as well as tech news items, social media, emergent design and business development etc etc.

The Living Resume

I looked at some visual resumes on flickr.
See examples of them  at http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=visual+resume
(Thanks again Nish , for the reference).

This is a wonderful idea for people in the design and creative industries and I for one would be more impressed  with such a representation of a person's talent.

However I get the distinct impression (from experience), that in the traditional business world, such a resume might cause some confusion and even fear!
How many times have I encountered fear of the unknown, of the 'different', in my corporate life.
I can see such resumes working against a job applicant in an industry where conformity to business procedure is required. I have worked in such environments. It is not unknown for some hiring managers to weed out the creative types who display a penchant for asking questions, as possible disruption of the smooth running of the company ship.

But if you are a hiring manager in a traditional industry ( say legal or finance for example) or the person with the decision-making power, would you not want to know what manner of beast you might be bringing into your workplace. In Canada many employers use the 'reference' system where they reward current staff who refer people they know, to the application process. It makes sense in cases where there are huge numbers of applicants and most have the same level of skills, training and experience. Most employers would know from experience  that a well written resume is no guarantee of the applicant's fit for their organisation. People pay other people to write resumes after all.
So a reference from an employee that is known and trusted, gives an advantage to Jane Smith, unknown person, over the other faceless names.

After looking at the visual resumes on flickr (above), it occured to me that my blog should be my Living Resume. How great a way to get to know a personality!
You have a chance to peep into someone's mind, and get a sense of how they think, and how they may possibly react in certain situations. Of course employers have been looking at people's Facebook and LinkedIn pages for a while now, and countless articles have warned of controlling the content that's available publicly, from the eyes of peeping bosses. I observed that over the last couple years, giddy partyers have got wise and restricted public access to their Facebook pages.

But coming back to my blog, Yes!!, this will be my Living Resume for all the world to see.
Not that that was the intention of having an integrated personal and professional blog in the first place. Here is the place where I can think out loud, wonder about things, and express how I see the world. It's a diary and a soapbox. I hope to connect with you, whoever and wherever you are. I think people wonder about the same things and have different takes on the same matters. And I would love to connect with you on that basis.

Next post coming up!

And the gates are open...

It is with some trepidation that I start my first blog which I hope to finally publish up here.
I did publish a couple posts before but eventually deleted them because I thought they had no real value.
But after some deep thinking I've decided that I really do have some things to share after all.
We all have things to share. So I am excited about this new beginning.

Thanks to Nish at Collide Labs for motivating me to start this blog and get my '2 cents' on virtual paper.
Check out his website at   http://www.collidelabs.com/

I was giving some thought over the weekend, about the form and content of this blog and decided that I don't necessarily want to separate the professional from the personal. I am not a certified expert on the matters I wish to share views on. I am just a regular person who is passionate about emerging trends in social forms of collaboration. And I like sharing my online discoveries. There are some who even think I talk too much...
But I do jog and (try to do regular) yoga and my biggest social passion is salsa dancing. I believe in eating healthy and living a balanced lifestyle. And I also believe in the anti oxidant properties of red wine.

There's way too much information out there for any one person to take it all in. Google helps extract some gems out of the morass. But there is a noticeable trend in the way that information is spread over the internet.
If you look at twitter and the blogoshpere you see that certain persons find info of a certain ilk and send these out in tweets and blogs. So you may choose to follow those people who find the trending or even off-key stories on the topics that matter to you.
Yeah, some of us spend a lot of time on here, sifting out the stories that matter and put them all together for you to read. That's 'citizenship google'!

And were you wondering about the title of this blog?
Well for the visually challenged of us, it's about my 2 cents of ideas and 'sensemaking' of the world around me. And for the really dense, there's a pun in there.

I will put up the link to my twitter account here in case you want to check that out, just as soon as I figure out the @ thing.