Thursday, January 15, 2009

Denver Area SQL Server Users Group

I gave the Modern Resume talk at the Denver SQL Server Users Group for their January meeting. About 20 people attended and it went well, despite the fact that I had to bring my little kids with me. My wife got called out of town that week, so the kids had to come with me. They behaved and my daughter even flipped a few slides. That was a good thing to know since I know I can bring them to other groups if I need to.

The talk went well, a little less interactive than the last one with less people. When I asked about the social networking pieces, surprisingly most people were members of Linked In, but very few used Twitter or Facebook and no one used MySpace. That leads me to lean towards LinkedIn being more of a business tool than I realized. I need to keep track of numbers, but I think it was about 10-12 using Linked In, 2-3 on Twitter, and maybe 4-5 on Facebook.

I'm enjoying this talk more and more and looking forward to giving it to a few other groups this year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Blogger Advice

My advice for new bloggers, meaning someone that has never done it, is to set a reasonable schedule. Pick something no more often than once a week and no less than once a month. Then go get LiveWriter and start writing posts. Set a reminder in Outlook or whatever you use to write something once a week and spend 15-20 minutes working on talking about something you've done at work.

Don't get a blog, don't publish, but see if you can get 5-6 posts done in draft mode. If you can maintain that, if it's not a huge chore, and if you like it, then set up a blog and SCHEDULE these posts out according to your publication schedule.

If you plan to send one out every two weeks, then your 5 posts get you going for 2 1/2 months. That's a long time out, so I might look back at how successful I've been writing. If I could do a post a week, then schedule them out for the next 5 weeks and keep your Outlook reminders going. This way when you go away for vacation you'll still have some articles scheduled and it looks like you're still working along.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Power of Networking

I was contacted recently by someone that was hiring a new employee. They had searched out applicants on the Internet and found that one of them had a blog on my SQLServerCentral site. They sent me a note asking about my interactions with the applicant.
I can’t disclose who it was or what took place, but there are a couple of interesting things to note here:
  1. Social networking matters. The person that contacted me knew me from my twitter posts and felt comfortable asking.
  2. A person’s efforts online were noticed. The blog added something to the person’s application. I know because I asked and this was not an HR person, but another techie. They were interested in the posts.
  3. What you blog about is fair game in the interview. This person said they were going to ask the person about some of their blog posts.
I don’t know if the person got the job, and that’s not really relevant to branding and the Modern Resume. A resume has never gotten you a job, nor will it. You have to stand on your own two feet and present a great employee in the interview, but a brand can help you stand out in these tough times when every position will have dozens of applicants.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Get Ahead of the Game

I write almost every day, but I still can find it hard to keep up with all my commitments. I have really 4 blogs and while I cross post where appropriate, it's still a lot to do.

One of the things I think is important in building your brand online is that you need to show you're making regular progress. You show that you are constantly improving at whatever rate makes sense for you, but that you are making progress in your career.

Blogging is a great way to do this, but it requires that you regularly post. It can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly instead of daily. The important thing is that you actually try and get the posts out there on a fairly regular basis.

There's nothing worse than searching for someone's blog, seeing they posted twice a day for 3 weeks, than 2 more times over the next six months and nothing in the last 2. It shows me a bit of immaturity, a lack of follow through, and the tendency to jump on some bandwagon and then drop out.

I could be way off, but this would definitely raise flags for me in an interview. I usually want people that commit to something and can maintain it. That shows the type of effort that I'd like to see in a hire. I think lots of companies would have a similar feel.

Pick a schedule and stick to it. You would be best to get ahead of the game and schedule posts out for the future rather than publish every time you write something. That way you have a pipeline of content that you can use in case you get busy and can't write.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blogging: Structuring Your Posts

I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning, it's quiet, a relaxing morning away from work and I'm working. Actually I'm trying to catch up on some blogging to be sure that I can publish on a regular basis.

My primary job right now is writing, and so I create editorials, articles, and blogs on a regular basis. My goal is to publish daily (weekdays), and that's something I feel confident in doing since I write every day. Your blogging schedule may be different, but you want to come up with something you can maintan and stick to it.

I tend to try and get 4-5 posts ahead all the time so that I'm never struggling to get things done. That means I typically work on 2-3 at one time and get them done and scheduled for release. I do that a couple times a week and I am then easily a week out for holidays, vacations, etc.

In order to be productive when you're doing that, you have to know what you want to write about, or have a topic that you can expand on. I've been thinking about a few I needed to get done and decided to get going this morning and so I'll share what I'm thinking as I structure these posts.

My topic this morning is my Kindle. That's the e-reader from Amazon that I bought awhile back and I've been using it for work and pleasure, and enjoying it. I've done some reviews, not on the device, but on the experience, and I like to get one out every couple weeks. However since I'm thinking about how I've been using the Kindle, I have noticed a few things:
  • I read a lot more now (I've had it 4 months)
  • I read 4 books at a time, but haven't always
  • I recently read a paper book and enjoyed it.
  • I had a sample that was an older book (early 1900s) and I needed to change the font sizes
  • I returned some gifts to Barnes and Noble recently because I wanted Kindle versions
Using these thoughts, I decided to organize this into 5 posts.

First I wanted to let people know that the experience of paper was nice, I missed it a bit, but the story hooked me and I realized that. I've been hooked by the Kindle as well and not noticed it wasn't paper.

The second post was talking about my reading habits. I started using the Kindle as I had paper books, reading one and moving on. However I found I read more if I switch books often, so I made a note about that.

The third post was looking back at what I've read over the time I've had it. I'm reading more, and so I wanted to list things. This is a time consuming post to get the links in, but it's mindless. I'll save this one for when I watch TV at night and just need to cut and paste a bunch.

The fourth post was on my thoughts about traditional bookstores.

The fifth post, which I've sketched, but not written, was on the power of samples and how I use them.

So one topic, the Kindle, which I could have crammed a bunch of thoughts into one post, was split into 5, giving me a week's worth of entries, or in my case, one a week for 5 weeks.

Steve Jones Speaking History

March 2009 - Colorado Springs SQL Server User Group

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand

12 people attended the March meeting of the group.

March 2009 - Charlotte, NC  SQL Server User Group

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Build Your Brand

This was an online presentation using and delivered to about 80 people that dialed in to listen.

February 2009 - Boulder SQL Server User Group

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand

The February meeting of the Boulder group had only 8 people in attendance. This was a very interactive meeting that included a lot of questions on resumes and job searching as well.

February 2009 - Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand

At this local event on a Saturday, I presented my talk to about 30 people. It was not as interactive as I would have liked, but I did have some interesting questions on blogging.

January 2009 - Denver SQL Server User Group

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand

About 24 people attended the January meeting and I had lots of great questions.

November 2008 - PASS Community Summit

Presentation: Should You Move into Management?

A co-presentation put together by Andy Warren. I assisted him in giving advice and anecdotes based on my experience.

October 2008 - SQL Saturday #8

Presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand

I had about 40 people attend this event and lots of good questions afterwards. This was the first time I delivered this presentation and it was very popular.

October 2008 - Indy Tech Fest

Presentation: Green Computing

An overview of green computing given to about 20 people.

November 2006 - PASS Community Summit

Presentation: Successful Team Management

Co presented this session with Andy Warren talking about ways to manage a team of IT professionals.

November 2003 - PASS Community Summit

Presentation: The Identity Debate

A debate between Brian Knight and myself on the pros and cons of using identity values. We had some good interaction from a couple of Microsoft developers as well.