December 19, 2009

The Gift of Networking

It isn't just what you know, and it isn't just who you know. It's actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.
--- Bob Burg

No cost. No pollution. No limits. Networking makes a perfect gift. As with gardening, you harvest what you plant and nurture.

Are you committed?

Our son wanted a pet chinchilla when he was three. We got him a Tamagotchi (a digital dog on a keychain). Like a real animal, this pet required food, cleaning, rest and attention. Too much work for him. The digital dog soon died of neglect. Lesson learned. No pet.

It's easy to start networking online
  1. join: pick LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, your choice
  2. lurk: see what others do so you'll blend in
  3. participate: help your network now and into the future
The challenge is sticking with it.

Like an Elephant
Like an elephant, the Internet never forgets. Your online activity leaves a permanent trace. So you're wise to think of the implications of your messages
  • don't say something that would offend you, a family member, a potential client or a potential employer
  • don't send something unless you're in a proper frame of mind; it's too easy to misinterpret others and too easy to be misinterpreted
When You Mess up
Despite your best efforts, you'll make mistakes. Some people go out of their way to find ways to get offended. If you've established a history, you'll have credibility with the rest. They'll be more forgiving. Plus the volume of your activity will bury the inappropriate statements.

The Science of Giving
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.
--- Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
Give for the sake of giving. Give to make the world better. Your generosity will change you forever. If that's not reward enough, give because your network will reciprocate if you need help. Is that hard to believe?

Dr. Robert Cialdini explains why reciprocity works:
It becomes possible for one individual to give resources to another without giving them away. What you get instead is a credit. When you need something, you can call on other members of the group who you have helped in the past and they are very willing — in fact, they are waiting — to help because the saddle of obligation weighs heavy on us.
We want to repay our debts. We want to give back to others who have given to us.
--- Dr. Robert Cialdini
Caution: Build Then Invite
How would you feel if you visited a new store with empty shelves? Build your destination before opening the doors. On Twitter, this means having several tweets. On LinkedIn or Facebook, have a reasonably complete profile with your photo and the basics about you. Be sure to add the details later. You'll now make a stronger impression when it matters most: the first time.

Now find out who else you may know on the network. This is easy. Just upload your contacts and inform suitable ones. If they don't respond, be patient. You gain nothing by pestering them or feeling offended.

The best way to network is to start. Now. You don't need to wait for spring.

Final Post of 2009
The best to you and yours during the holidays.
May 2010 give you what you yen!

Podcast Episode 48 (4:46)

December 12, 2009

The Three Ways to Make Money (Without Winning a Lottery)

You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.
--- Tennessee Williams

There's more to life than money but money is an important part of life. How can you make more?

Here are the three ways
  1. be efficient (catch more fish)
  2. be effective (catch bigger fish)
  3. be creative (keep more of each fish)
We'll explore each.

Be Efficient
A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
--- WC Fields
Do more of what you're already doing and you'll get more of what you're already getting. Picture an assembly line.

You can work more hours. Your rewards won't grow in exact proportion but will improve until you're not getting enough sleep or spending enough time with your family. If you're on salary, you can still work longer but won't get much for it. Would you get better returns by investing the extra time in improving yourself?

You can also do more with less. Maybe you can reduce your costs by using more technology. Picture Wal-Mart.

Be Effective
Money can't buy happiness, but neither can poverty.
--- Leo Rosten
You can specialize. You target specific markets and discard what doesn't fit since those are distractions. Your costs may increase but your revenue goes up even more. If you're after a particular kind of fish, you must return other fish, no matter how they tempt you.

Think of Ghostbusters. Who you gonna call when only the best will do?

When you invest in yourself, you multiply your financial rewards when you push through the dip and apply the 10,000 hour rule.

Each of the approaches above has merits. One is not better than the other. Each works alone or together.

Be Creative

Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.

--- Groucho Marx
Keep more of each fish. Reduce wastage. Can you keep more of each dollar you earn? Financial literacy and tax planning helps. You can't change the tax rates but maybe you can increase your tax deductions to achieve the same result.

Podcast Episode 47 (3:12)

December 5, 2009

The Power of Redundancy

It looks like being a busy weekend on the ferries, particularly Saturday and Sunday.
--- Peter Powell

Go see it and see for yourself why you shouldn't go see it.
--- Samuel Goldwyn

What do you do when things break? Without a "Plan B", you're stuck or subject to expensive rush repairs. Even if you buy extended warranties, you'll pay in time lost. Enter redundancy.

These days you can get cheap peace of mind by having an extra fridge (mini or full-size). You may not have an extra washing machine but can use a laundromat. If your dryer breaks down, you can air dry your clothing. If the microwave oven breaks, you can use a regular stove --- if you remember how.

What about technology? Let's look at your phone, Internet access and computer. How can you reduce the stress of them breaking down?

Your Phone
If the wire-to-your-home phone line doesn't work, you can use your mobile phone. Even kids have them these days. If you're single, you may not even have a home phone. What happens if your mobile phone breaks or gets lost? I feel you shudder. Have you got your contacts backed up?

Maybe you can redirect calls to voicemail or another number. Skype can help you make calls. For $2.95 US a month, Skype Unlimited gives you 10,000 minutes of calls to phones in the US or Canada (landline or mobile). There's a limit of 360 minutes per day. This is also a cheap long distance plan.

Internet Access
We just cancelled our cable since we watch so little TV. We don't have satellite either. Last time we did this, Jeevan was about six years old and the service ended abruptly during a rerun of Scooby Doo. He was so angry. Tears poured and fists flew. This time, no one cared.

We wouldn't dare cancel Internet service. If anything, we'll upgrade from 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps. Maybe even to 50 Mbps.

If your Internet service stops working, what do you do once you stop convulsing and colour returns to your cheeks? You wait. Maybe you can get by with Internet access on your mobile phone. For a home office, that won't do. We had WiMax as a backup. More recently, we switched to a mobile Internet stick from a different provider. That's double redundancy.

Your Computer
When you get a new computer, why not keep the old one? The old equipment can easily handle simple tasks like accessing the Internet. You can even use different computers for different purposes. Here's my setup using notebook computers:
  1. work (14"): to be replaced
  2. home (17"): workhorse
  3. mobility (10" netbook): go anywhere and for most email
Older computers can be cascaded to other family members. An older 12" notebook is used for web surfing.

With all this equipment, there's plenty of redundancy. We're functional if anything breaks down. Data is backed up on a home LAN, encrypted portable hard drives and now online too.

Rather than worry about breakdowns, you can get cheap insurance by having extras. After all, you probably have more than one slotted screwdriver.

Podcast Episode 46 (4:15)

direct download | Internet Archive page