Networking Tip: Don’t Act Your Age.

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When we were young some of us heard the reprimand “You don’t act your age.”  Probably more boys heard it than girls. It would float out in the air in classrooms, malls, restaurants, perfect vacation hotels.  You get the picture. You just need to have an ear that hears things.

I always thought it was a compliment in a strange way. I was always pretty happy that I saw life that way.  Why would any young kid want to be an adult? Continue reading

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Networking Tip: Build Your Own Community

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Oh no. Not another networking article from Hank Blank. Oh I know by now most people have read lots of networking articles.  Many were read with great interest by those in transition during the Great Recession. When those people landed they read less and networked even less unless things changed on them. Corporate change moves faster than technology some times.  Then they become networking believers again.

I think that some people have encountered networking fatigue because many are doing the same things over and over again. Going to the same events, talking to the same people.  That type of activity is no longer networking.  It’s socializing and it doesn’t build a community you can mine. Continue reading

Networking In Buenos Aires.

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I just came back from my 6th visit to Buenos Aires.  I first went to Argentina in 2005.  The country had had a recent financial haircut in 2001 when everybody woke us and found out that their personal worth had been cut dramatically.  The country offered great value and talent.

My interactive partner Dante Fiorini is in Argentina. I met him in person on our first trip.  I call him most days on a local OC area code and stay connected.   It’s the New Normal.

I was in Buenos Aires again in early September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed and almost everyone in the U.S. got their haircut.  In fact many of us continue to have buzz cuts as the recovery has not favored all proportionately. It was kind of strange to be so far away and watch the world melt in another language.

Networking is a little bit different in Argentina.  I first find the people very gregarious.  It is tough not to think that when you meet a person for the first time and they give you a kiss on the check. People talk to each other in Argentina.  We took a shuttle from Dante’s place in Mar del Plata (surfing capital)  to Buenos Aires.  People were dropped off at various places in the cities.  As they walked to the door they said “Ciao” to everybody on the bus they passed.  They just wanted to acknowledge that we shared the experience of a bus ride and had successfully arrived.  We said Ciao to everyone we passed as we left as well.

We had coffee one morning at Josephina’s Café.  It is a very nice place near DDB.  I visited with the Managing Director during my last trip.  An obvious regular came in.  She kissed all three waiters on the check and then sat down.  Try that at your favorite Starbucks.  It seems a little bit more sincere that the obviously scripted “How’s your day going so far?”

I didn’t see too many smartphones in Buenos Aires.  Mostly because they cost a lot.  This has some advantages.  People talk to each other and are not slaves to their screens.  Even those people who have Smart phones do not seem obsessed at checking them constantly as if their phones were their umbilical cords.  Phones are still just something that ring from time to time while you talk to people, read a paper, a book or maybe just stare off into thin air and do nothing.

Maybe I am wrong but I think the people in other countries understand that your phone doesn’t tell you if your heart is beating. Your life does.

When we were leaving at the airport there was a family of four sitting together at the same table. They were obviously Americans and all had sat there staring at their iPhone screens.  Alone together naturally.

I am planning my next trip.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Connect with me on Facebook and see some photos of Buenos Aires.

Watch a Video on How to Create A Job.

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Networking And Career Tips For The New Normal

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The New Normal was created in the fall of 2008 when the global financial crisis took place. I was in Argentina which had its melt down a few years earlier. All of a sudden my American Express card didn’t work. When the clerk gave me the card in confusion I saw that it said I had been a valued customer for a long time.

All of us have felt its repercussions especially if you were put into transition, had a line of credit, had to work more with fewer resources and do more work. Received 2% annual raises or none at all. I could go on.

Those who felt the impact of the New Normal the least were the financial institutions that created it and the elected officials who were in charge of preventing it. Everybody knows the song says but the song also says it’s all forgotten.

Networking accelerated dramatically in the New Normal because people needed some place to go when they got up on Monday and their routines were out of whack. I know because in August 2008 Laguna Niguel Connectors was created and over 100 people showed up within a few months. But then again 700,000 a month were losing their jobs as the world melted and we watched and worried.

I have been networking actively since at least the .com bust if not before.  I know a lot of people, I see a lot of people, I get e mails from a lot of people and I have spoken on networking to a lot of people.

So here are some networking and career tips for the New Normal.

Build your own network instead of using other people’s networks. It will pay off.  There will be many New Normals. Build up the networking resources to emerge and grow from them. Remember today is the first day of your networking life. Where do you want to be in five years?

Be patient when looking for a deal to close or to be hired. Time in the New Normal doesn’t follow your clock. I know. I got here before you. Sorry but those decisions don’t move as fast as you text. The clock of the New Normal runs in slow motion for these decisions and hyper motion for technology and change.

Companies will become commodities if you are a coveted and needed resource.  What’s the best bet for advancement?  Having a communications degree or being a Java Developer?  If you aren’t specialized, digital, or reinvented you will be entering the work world through the eye of the needle.

Be realistic. Targeting is the basis of marketing success. No company is going to hire somebody with 10 years’ experience for an entry-level job.  Trust me. Applying for any job is not getting your name out there.  It is just a waste of your time and time is too valuable to waste.

Networkers aren’t Rasputin or Svengalis. They can’t solve your problems or your wishful thinking.

If you want to make a career change start your own company. Companies don’t take too many hiring risks in the New Normal.

Don’t give away other people. If people come to you to help them don’t just give them the names of other people to help them. Invest your own time with the people who reach out to you. Walking in their shoes will be good for your soul.

Expand your personal brand constantly. The more Google loves you the more marketable you will be.

Lose the paper. Don’t come to meetings with your CV, your resume, your list of target companies. What do you think happens to that paper? If you are looking for a job you need to have your own website.

I still can’t believe how many people in transition still have lousy business cards. Weak business cards are akin to food stains on your tie. Want to save money? Cut your cable bill not your financial investment in yourself.  Personal marketing 101.

Network with Strays. They will help you in unique ways.

The world is not fixed.  A lot of people still need help. Help one person once a week.

You harvest what your so in networking. That has never changed and won’t.  Sowing requires personal sacrifice and patience. No farmer has ever harvested in the same month what he has planted.

If you stop networking in the New Normal you will be a ghost.

Don’t give your children career advice but teach your children to Network well.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Read: How I Went From UWO to California

Watch: Power of Networking.

Why Young People Shouldn’t Try to Find A Job

Networking With French Canadians In the OC.

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When I was a student at the University of Western Ontario I spent a couple of summers taking French Immersion Courses in Trois-Pistoles  Quebec That’s a long way from the OC but it would come back to the OC.

The Canadian Government wanted everybody to be bilingual so they paid for most of the cost. As a starving student how could I say no? I went the first year and had a great time.  I learned that mostly girls learned French so I went back for a second year.

We received a lot of exposure to Quebecois culture.  I remember seeing one singer called Renee Claude. She sang a song called Le Monde est Fou.  Nothing much has changed.

Now when I speak French I pretty much say things like thank you very large but overall my French knowledge has served me well.

A few years ago I went to a networking meeting at APAOC.  I remember it because I won the speed networking contest.   I met somebody who was Canadian and from Quebec.  That led to many people saying “Wow what a coincidence”. I have heard that many times over my networking life.  I don’t consider it a coincidence. I believe that coincidences align your networking journey and that you can create coincidences.  I do it all the time.

In a past life I used to have a place in the Laurentians an hour North of Montreal. I didn’t have the place in my life for long but I went their often even though I lived on the other side of the country.   Nearby was a famous Ashram  that was founded 50 years ago.  I didn’t know much about yoga when I had the place but when I left I took my first yoga lesson there.  The instructor started the session by repeatedly repeating “Quiet the Mind. Quiet the Mind”.  That mantra has served me well in the New Normal. It became an anecdote to worry and I have seen plenty of worry in the new Normal.

When I met my friend at APAOC for some reason the Ashram came up. She shared with me that her parents had helped build the Ashram. She shared her own personal story that there was the large pool that she and her  little sister would play around and squish ants till Swami Vishnuvenanda squatted down one day and told them  that ants are living creatures to and have a right to live equally as all living creatures do.  She hasn’t been able to kill any bugs since then.

I don’t practice yoga much anymore but I still feel its alignment.  I still network every day.  I have learned that coincidences don’t happen if you aren’t there.  That life is more important than watching reality TV.

Around the same time that I met my friend I attended another networking event.  The VP of Marketing for an automobile company was speaking in the OC. She was born in Minneapolis but her family was from Quebec.  They lived in a town about 15 km from my place in Quebec.  Soon she became the first woman President of a car manufacturer in the States. I went up to her after her presentation and said hello.  I used my poor French.  I told her I liked her presentation very large.  We connected and became friends.

A year or so later I gave a presentation on networking to a number of the company’s dealers in Cabo San Lucas. They flew me down and paid me.  That didn’t come from winning the networking contest.  It came from going up and talking to somebody that I didn’t know and introducing myself or did it?

I recently helped a Global company in OC find a customer service rep in Quebec.  I found one but they declined the job.  I found another one and they accepted and I got paid for my efforts.  They weren’t on LinkedIn and hardly spoke English.  I hardly speak French but we found some bonds.  Hockey is a good place to start.

Recently they had a great rail tragedy in Quebec in Lac-Megantic .  It is a small town of around 5900.  Fifty people are missing or deceased, The story was covered on NRP and I read about it in the OC Register where I live. The accident happened at 2 in the morning near the town taverne which was full.  If I lived there I would have been there as well as I often was when I was learning French in Trois-Pistoles. I hope that many of the people were living Leonard Cohen’s song Closing Time. Maybe I am networking with them now.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

Read How I Went From UWO to California

Watch the Power of Networking.

Life in the New Normal is Just Like Playing Hopscotch.

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This is a recent blog that I wrote for Marketing Executives Network Group or MENG.

Remember playing hopscotch? It was easy to play.  All you needed was some chalk. Maybe you stole it from school.

Life in the New Normal is very much the same game.

Just like hopscotch it all depends when tile you land on.

Just like in hopscotch in the New Normal many people have one foot tied behind their backs. A balancing act of intention and resolve but precariousness.

Some companies are hiring and some companies are still firing.

It all depends on what tile you step on.

Stepping on the getting hired tile can be very difficult especially if you are over 50.  Some are younger than Baby Boomers yet many people think they are out of the game.  I am glad that I stopped looking for work in the Old Normal way a decade ago.  I learned new games.

I always thought that getting through the eye of the needle was a tough parable.

Getting hired if you are a long term person in transition is even harder.

The irony is that the companies that fire people hire people slowly but they want you to like them on Facebook instantly. Please like me they say.  Here is a contest.  Here is a game you can play to win a gift certificate. Here is how you connect with us.

Many companies are sitting on piles of cash because you buy their products.

Companies don’t look too often into the firing mirror.  Some wouldn’t see a reflection.

In the New Normal I hear from people that are killer on social media.  They teach on how to harness its power.

However they send out emails saying they need work.  They aren’t landing on the right tiles.

In the depth of the melting of the world in the fall of 2008 as the financial markets crumbled I would be travelling to speak on Networking Your Way to New Business.  I could have been in Des Moines, Duluth, or Oklahoma City.  The world melted on the coasts first and not in those parts of the world. Business was tough. I came home and told my personal witch I felt like a fraud. “We teach what we need to know,” she said.  That is why she is my personal witch. I have lent her from time to time to other people who need a little brain alignment.

I spoke recently at a local college about how on why people shouldn’t find a job.  I had a follow up coffee in my hood with a young chap who was born on the other side of the globe.  My sister was born in Beirut.  He had some friends in Dubai and was heading there. He was younger than my kids.  He asked me to connect him with somebody in my LinkedIn network from that part of the world.  I never met her but she reads my blogs from time to time.  She connected him with another contact  in her LinkedIn  game and he got a job with a Multinational Agency in her part of the world.   He is probably 23.That is how Hopscotch is played today in the New Normal. Some people have one hand tied behind their backs and some people are free and growing.

It’s your turn to hop in the New Normal.

You can connect with Hank Blank on Linkedin.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

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Watch Surviving the Great Recession.

Surviving the Great Recession

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I was at Starbucks the other day. Starbucks is the official office of the New Normal. It is filled by people who are working all day long without paying rent. There’s free Wi-Fi as well. I walked by a fellow who was talking to some colleagues. The words that came out of his mouth amplified for me in the air. “We survived,” he said. You could see his journey in the crevices of his brow.

I could imagine his conversation: “We survived, but we came out different. We had to make some major changes. Many of our competitors didn’t come out of it.” All true. I have heard it many times. I am often at Starbucks. The great recession changed everybody, everything and most values.

Do you trust your bank? Your mortgage company? Your employer? Your boss? Politicians? Oil companies? Your athletic heroes? Where do you shop now? Do people who drive $150,000 cars look successful to you? Do you buy your kids hoodies at a surf shop or Target? What companies do your children admire? Do you worry less or more? Has what’s important to you changed during the great recession?

Many companies didn’t survive the great recession. Where is New Century? Where is Mervyns? Many logos on office towers have changed many times where I live. I worked at JWT Chicago for 4 years, on the 27th floor of the John Hancock building. It was the show.  JWT Chicago opened in 1891, and closed during the great recession. “The times they are a changing,” a prophet sang.

A whole class of people has been marginalized. They reach out to me. They lost good jobs during the great recession that they can’t replace. Generally, they are 50 plus years of age. They are not in a position to retire. There are probably millions of them out there who have tried everything to get picked, but are continually overlooked. Feeling like the last kid picked in the game of Red Rover – The New Normal’s Lost Generation.

Some can create a job by starting a consulting career, but others don’t know how to productize their knowledge and turn it into a business. One of the jobs that I had in the past with an agency probably doesn’t exist anymore, or there are much fewer of them.

Look into the future. Do you think that they position that you are in will be around in 5 years? If not, then today is the first day of your life. You can become marginalized because of your cost which often increases with age.  You can become marginalized because of your skills. If you let that happen, that is your choice. You have to change as fast as technology. That’s today’s bench mark.

When kids were young, we sometimes told them to act their age. When you are older you have to reflect the age of relevance. Doesn’t make you bullet proof, but it does provide a vest.

You see in the New Normal many things don’t align with the Old Normal. Companies are cash rich, the stock market sings, but hiring lags. Some months the news is all happy and the next month not so much.

In the New Normal you have to be ready for the next change and it will happen.  Hopefully not for a long time but I still remember the dotcom bust of a decade ago.  Some don’t because they weren’t alive in the workforce or maybe because the pain was short lived.

So, where are you today?

Are you ready to be fired?

When is the late time you reinvented yourself?

How have you made yourself smarter today?

How large is your network?

How have you made yourself more marketable today?

There is a train coming down the track. It hasn’t hit us yet, but sometime in the distant future it will. It always has in the past.

 

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on Twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

 

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Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand

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