Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Will Your Business Card Say in 5 Years?

Having a 5 year plan is important as it gives you purpose & direction. Remember, knowing you have a plan doesn’t mean that you can’t change it!

I was recently asked the question, “What will your business card say in 5 years?” Now is that a thought provoking question or what? It’s a loaded question for sure!

It brings up all sorts of other questions like:
-          What’s important to you?
-          What’s your passion?
-          What role do you want to play?
-          What work-life balance do you want to have?
-          What direction do you want to take?
-          Are you currently heading in the right direction?

I’m still working through this one and don’t think I will have my future business cards laminated any day soon as think this is a question I will visit often.  I’m putting the question back out to you as I think it brings up a concrete goal and target to shape your planning. I hope it’s as thought provoking for you as it was for me!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Balance Game for New Grads: Degree vs Experience vs Interest. What Matters?

A friend recently connected me to a contact of hers as we had similar degrees (Master in Arts) and her friend wanted to work in the marketing & social media fields (which I work in) and wanted career advice. The conversation centered on how much does your degree vs experience vs interest matter in the job hunt & in being selected for a role. The conversation inspired me to jot down the following thoughts:

Degree – there are absolutely varying opinions on this one and I think the company you are applying for and the hiring manager or recruiter you are working with will dictate this one. What a new grad’s degree is in absolutely plays a part in their fit for a role. With many careers like nursing, engineering, accounting … having the right degree absolutely matters. When we are talking about roles in marketing and social media the lines are more blurry. I am actually an Arts grad myself and did a Masters degree in history but work in talent acquisition and experiential marketing. Does my degree relate to what I do on a daily basis? Not directly; however, I use the SKILLS I learned in my degree all of the time as I do a lot of international marketing & student hiring. My skills in researching, asking the right questions & understanding how culture shapes the present have all come into play when I start working in a new country and understand how to tweak and tailor an existing program based on a culture’s needs. I learned to do my research and ask the right questions. The key for new grads is relating your degree to the job you are applying for. If the connection isn’t obvious, make sure you clearly state it in your cover letter & interview.

Experience – experience is huge! I worked in marketing the entire 6 years of my 2 degrees and thus it was very easy for me to parlay my part time work into a full time career no matter what the focus of my degree was. If you don’t have experience in the field you want to work in, get some! Volunteer, connect with friends, read, research and become well versed in the field. Companies are always looking for volunteers so this is an easy way to get experience in a new field.

Interest – from my point of view, interest is the driving force. If you have interest in a field, then you have passion for it. According to many authors, passion is THE driving force in being successful. If you have passion for a field, you will push yourself further and harder to learn more, do more and be better. Your interest will keep you persevering when the learning curve is steep and you don’t have the basic lingo others with a relevant degree have. You will stay up at night researching and reading, taking courses and getting up to speed. Interest and passion are what keep you going.

The key is in selling others on why you are a fit for a role if your degree isn’t a perfect match for the position. Know that you may not get passed the resume screen if a company has targets based on degree. Positioning yourself in a cover letter is a key part of getting that first interview. Work hard in your resume and cover letter to sell your skills. If you are applying for a social media position and have an arts degree, showcase that you are active in the social media space by putting your blog or twitter handle right in the title. The key to this is actually BEING active in these spaces! Remember, experience matters! Cover letters are also a fantastic place where you can sell yourself and create connections between your degree, experience, & interest to the position.

Good luck in the job hunt new grads!

(By authors talking about passion, I am referring to authors like Richard St John who wrote The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common – see blog post November 2010 called Finding Inspiration - on this topic)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Social Media Recruitment & Engagement Tips for Universities

Being on social media sites for student enrolment/recruitment and then engaging students in your university services is not enough – you have to use the sites in the RIGHT way! I recently spoke at a conference (see the last post) on this topic and to prepare, I completed a quick and dirty audit of the 52 university/colleges that would be present. I found that though most were on social media sites, they weren’t using them the RIGHT way! Here are my quick tips on usage for student recruitment & engagement in student services with the 4 main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & FourSquare.

Everyone knows Facebook is important but few Universities are using it to create engagement & conversation. Instead, very PR messaging is used. Below are a few tips to make better use of your Facebook page:

Facebook Student Recruitment
-    GOAL: Help make my life on campus easier (calendars of events, tips/tricks, photos, etc)
-    Have a page with a Community Manager from career services
-    Get rid of the PR style messaging
-    Every message (even official) are conversational
-    Answer/create dialogue

Facebook Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Adds to campus life. Making student life more fun & connecting me with other like    minded students
-    Separate pages based on interest/audience
-    Teams
-    Faculties
-    Not services – community management sits inside career or community services
-    Community Manager for each page but create a hierarchy of managers/auditing. (Create conversation, contests, photos, events etc)

Though twitter is still growing among the student population, it is important to have a presence on this medium. Get in now, make mistakes and learn while your students aren’t all on it! Here are some good tips for its use:

Twitter Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: Have information available to help perspective students make important decisions & showcase student life on your campus
-    Have an account with a dedicated Community Manager
-    Be available to answer questions
-    Showcase “real” life at your campus
-    Tweet important information via a content calendar to highlight important events/deadlines etc

Twitter Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Create conversation & showcase Q&A
-    Ask Us (twitter widget) on homepage of website to showcase Q&A from students
-    The vehicle for ongoing student support
-    Student says: “Where do I go to get my student card renewed?”
-    Manager tweets answer with link to YouTube video.
-    50% listening to students, 10-20% messages about University, 30-40% engaging
-    No PR style messaging; this is a conversational method

You Tube is an absolutely fantastic medium for having your current student population help you with recruitment. Give them a voice and answer WIIFT (What’s in it for me) by creating contesting on Why They Love XX school and give tuition credits. Then feature these videos on your Prospective Student/Admissions homepage so students can see why your current student’s love your campus.

YouTube Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: Showcasing life at your campus
-    Have a YouTube Channel
-    Showcase videos on “admissions” home page
-    Contesting about why you love XXX campus or want to become a student at XXX
-    Give rewards that are inspiring & make them go viral; driving WOM
-    Video tours of campus
-    Engage influential students  & have them build “day in the life” videos that are unscripted

YouTube Student Engagement:
-    GOAL:  Create school pride & have the message go viral
-    Contesting
-    Challenges within relevant departments
-    Be comfortable with user generated content versus only professionally cut & scripted videos
-    Relevant prizes (ie: tuition credits!)
-    Interview style videos/vlogs

Very few universities are yet using location based services (LBS) – be one of the first! Foursquare or Facebook Places are great ways to build campus pride! The graphic above is big as this is the next BIG thing (LBS)!

Foursquare Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: have information available  for potential students who are into location based sites
-    Check in for campus visits
-    Have reminders in prominent places for visitors to “check in”
-    Add tips to locations where perspective students might be (high schools, malls, transit etc)

Foursquare Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Build campus pride & provide contextually aware advice
-    Tips at every location on campus from the university
-    Tips on where to eat, history of building, interesting info, profs etc
-    School pride badges
-    Earn badges for checking into multiple sports games etc
-    Encourage use of services & educate on services available
-    Tips at stores, malls etc nearby mall about discounts for students

Hopefully these tips help you understand a few quick and easy ways to use social media for recruitment and student engagement purposes! What universities do you think are doing a great job in using these sites?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Canadian University Uses of Social Media for Enrollment & Student Engagement

Universities and colleges are feeling the same pressure as companies in recruiting students & even further pressure to keep them engaged throughout a 4 year degree. It’s about targeting the RIGHT students & engaging them in student services to create a loyalty to the campus. I spoke at the SEMM conference last week put on by Brainstorm Consulting (Strategic Enrolment Marketing & Management) with an audience full of University & College enrolment directors, student service managers etc. It was a fantastic audience here in Toronto & I’m looking forward to presenting in Calgary on May 6th in just a few weeks.  I spoke on the topic of using social media to recruit & create connections with students.  This blog post will be a 1 of 2 series as the below outlines what universities are currently doing in the social media space and post 2 will outline what they SHOULD be doing.

As this was a new topic for me (I typically speak on how to use social media for company student/new grad recruiting vs college recruitment/engagement), I spent a full day doing an audit of the 52 schools in attendance. I looked at the following things:

-     Did they have social media links on their home page (Were they “above the fold” – meaning, did I have to scroll down the page to find them?)
-     Where there social media links on the admissions page where prospective students can learn about university life on that campus?
-     Did the school use widgets to feature Twitter feeds, Facebook updates or YouTube videos?
-     Was the school present on social media sites (even if not listed on their website) in terms of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, did they have a Blog?
-     If present, what where they doing right & what were they doing not so right?
-     Did I get a sense of the uniqueness of this campus via their social media efforts?

This was truly a quick & dirty audit as I spent about 10 minutes per school to understand what they are doing in the social media space.  Here is a quick summary of my findings:
-     77% of the schools had social media links on their home page or admissions page
o   Note: Most of these links opened in the same window (losing the audience) versus opening in a new browser
-     Though most schools were on the main social media sites (Facebook, Twitter), not all were listed on their sites
-     Only 1 school was on Foursquare (a location based platform)
-     Most of the schools did not use widgets to showcase social media efforts & most links were “below the fold” meaning I had to scroll & look for them
o   Ie: Did not have a twitter feed or have videos with campus or dorm tours right in their website but instead I had to go into YouTube to see them (risk of losing your audience to YouTube recommended videos is very high!)
-     Over 90% of the messaging on social media sites was PR orientated, which is against the nature of these platforms
-     At the conference, I polled the room and though 100% of the attendee schools were on social media only 10% of the attendees actually had a social media policy (SCARY!)

So, what do universities need to do? Stay posted for my blog post on Wednesday with Tips & Tricks for how universities/colleges should be using social media for recruiting & engagement purposes.

Are you involved with your University or Campus Enrolment or Student Engagement? Join me at the SEMM Calgary May 6th conference:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Art of Listening

In a managers hope to guide and support their direct reports, they often forget the power of listening! I think that managers often want to stop their employees from making similar learning mistakes they made – but is this the right thing to do? Isn’t self realization more powerful than being told what to do!? Let’s just think back to a parent-teenager moment and when told what you do, you (the angry teenager) likely acted in the opposite way!  Let’s learn from the past & learn the art of Active Listening.

As a manager, asking the right open ended probing questions and guiding a direct report in a certain direction is a better technique than just directing. However, asking & listening is a WAY more difficult skill than just telling. As those who know me well, I’m a bit of a total talker so my natural premonition is just to TELL. I have to push back this part of my nature and instead focus on active listening traits I have nurtured like asking, clarifying, & confirming. By asking, being comfortable with silence (and not feeling the need to fill those silent moments) and being fully present (versus thinking of the million things on my to do list etc), I can be a better manager.

A few inspirational ideas & quotes:
-          Think of an 80-20 rule in terms of the ratio to listening versus talking in a coaching/management moment
-          To listen well, is as powerful a means of include as to talk well, and is an essential to all true conversation.” – Chinese proverb
-          "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" – Steven Covey
-          "I can't hear the words you speak for your actions are deafening" - Unknown

How do you practice active listening? What are the best questions you use as a manager? Alternatively, what are the best questions one of your favourite managers has asked you to take a different perspective on a tough matter?