Everyone works for themselves, right?

With the idea that we are changing jobs every 3-5 years, doesn’t it make sense that we have some kind of agent that represents us? This would be someone that makes sure that we know the right people (and they know us), go to the right meetings and conferences, dress right, have the proper image, communicate appropriately, and the bottom line: minimize our downtime.

Truth is, not many people have their own agent to do this. Its like paying the bills – I gotta do it on my own, and so do you. So if no one else is going to watch out for you, like an agent should, then you better learn the game. This, my friends, is what I’ve been referring to as “career management.”

By no means is this a complete post on career management – actually, if you are interested in that I suggest you subscribe to this blog (see the little box in the top right corner? Just put your e-mail address there and click “go”). I think that its more of a slow, paradigm-shifting process rather than “read one article and I’m there.” There’s just too much that goes into being your own agent, and a daily dose of career messages will help in this shift.

I just wanted to share some things that I’ve come acrossed that might be little messages that touch one person or another… here goes:

Steve Levy posted a sweet list of 25 Ways to Climb the Career Ladder. This applies to everyone, whether you are a student or preparing for retirement, whether you are a cubicle junkie or you work at home… even if you are the business owner! Basic stuff, but lots of times I find myself so deep in the trenches that I forget about the basic stuff. Spend 2 minutes and go read this one.

I’m not the only one talking about networking, but here’s a piece on Networking for Introverts from BusinessPundit.com. Look, networking isn’t a technique only for Type A personalities. Its not about who’s most popular, or suave. Anyone can network and everyone should network. Read this article on networking for introverts (or Pam Slim’s follow-up here), and if you still think its not for you then think of it as relationship building. You don’t have to do it with hundreds of people… don’t be intimidated by the folks that have thousands of people in their “network.” The key is to develop meaningful relationships with others, and as I’ve mentioned before, it just starts with a “hi.”

Speaking of relationships, building a network is more than just having a piece of paper (or spreadsheet) with names and contact info. I challenge you to find the most network savvy person you know and ask him to describe the relationships he has with his contacts. My experience is that too many people focus on how powerful that contact is but disregard the strength of the relationship! I just read somewhere (can’t remember where) that the test is “would they do a you a favor when you ask them?” This can be taken many ways but he idea is that (a) they know who you are and (b) they would take action to help. Lots of ways to get to this point, the biggest is to give, give, give and add value to their life!

Going back to the agent thing – as you develop these relationships you need to keep track of them. Birthday reminders, ranking the relationships, having goals to ensure you are actively improving the relationships, logging important phone calls or whatever, creating action items… these are all things that you can do with JibberJobber! Its not just for a job search, its for career management.

I get asked by non-job seekers if they could use JibberJobber for their own business. The question usually goes like this: ” I am not looking for a job exactly, but wonder how JibberJobber might work as a contact manager for my potential referral sources and clients.” Now I know that my JibberJobber users are snickering at this question, but let me explain:

If you take the idea of “job search” out of JibberJobber you have a pretty nice relationship manager. All of the things that I just mentioned to manage a relationship is included. In the free version you can manage 250 relationships (well, 325 if you count the 75 contacts for the free companies!) The person that asked this is typical of the small business owner – I’ve had this question from lawyers, accountants and other business owners. Its all about the relationships – and JibberJobber is a great alternative to other CRM tools. Here’s why:

Salesforce.com is a great system. I can’t really discount anything they do. For many people it is too pricey and too complex. JibberJobber doesn’t have all the cool reports and stuff that SalesForce has, but you also don’t need to go to 3 day training sessions to learn how to use it.

Goldmine and ACT! are great systems that you can install on your server or PC, and buying a copy is cheaper than the lifetime membership to JibberJobber. But here are the problems, in my experience as an IT manager having to support stuff like this:

  1. You have the same lingo issues (that is, nomenclature… jargon… language that a sales guy is familiar with but might make no sense to you). JibberJobber was designed with job search and relationship management in mind… so you won’t see all the cool, sophisticated tools for sales quotas and all of that… which is a good thing for many people.
  2. You have to buy it, install it and configure it. Not a big deal but many of you may have had your IT team do this :p I don’t dislike software that you have to install… but if you move computers you gotta do it again. To “setup” JibberJobber just go create a free account – it should take like 2 minutes.
  3. Upgrades – you’ll likely be prompted every year or three to upgrade… for a fee of course, or else you’ll be living with software from the Barney Rubble days. With JibberJobber, all new releases are automatically available to you. And if you are a premium subscriber then you get all of the new premium updates at no extra cost! How cool is that.
  4. Backups – do you backup your PC now? Do you backup your e-mail? I don’t either! What in the world makes you think that you are going to backup your system after you get the software loaded? I thought so. JibberJobber is backed up regularly for you – so you don’t have to think about it.
  5. Access – I’m a pretty mobile guy – I’ll be on at least 2 computers from my home, and travel a little bit. I love to get access to my contacts while I’m on the road (at a friend’s, relative’s or just the library). You can’t do this from a PC-based application, but JibberJobber allows you to have access from any computer that is web-enabled.

In my opinion, and with my experience supporting software for corporate environments, JibberJobber is an appropriate tool for your personal relationship management needs. If you are using your corporate Outlook to do this, think about what will happen when you get terminated (hint: they probably won’t let you take your Outlook file with you). If you own a small business, determine what your needs are and perhaps JibberJobber can fill them.

Remember, you are your own agent – its time to seriously look at how you’ll manage your relationships – JibberJobber will be a great tool for you, no matter who you are. Whether you are a recruiter, business owner, regular person, student, or whatever, signup for a free account today and begin to manage the relationships, not the phone numbers!

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