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How Technology is Changing American Business Practices

The Technology of Business

Businesses that once relied exclusively on face-to-face, physical communication are turning to digital technology to make their services more accessible to customers. From small retail storefronts to medical professionals to technology firms that host client operations in the cloud, it’s difficult to find any business not using digital technology to communicate with their audiences.

The interactivity of mobile applications, websites and other technology holds too much potential for businesses to ignore.

Business in the Cloud

The cloud is a virtual space to share and store information. A host of companies provide cloud infrastructure and management services for businesses, and customer interaction management services like Zipwire are becoming more popular for small- and medium-sized companies. Using the cloud to hold and secure company communications is a major benefit, considering that many companies either lack the information technology acumen or staff to handle it themselves. Using the cloud helps reduce the stress on internal IT systems and saves from overspending on IT maintenance.

Doctors See the Benefit of Online

Anyone who’s struggled to find a doctor or book an appointment needs to know about ZocDoc. The free online healthcare-booking company developed mobile applications that let patients search for doctors and book appointments from the palm of their hand.

ZocDoc also lets patients register ahead of time to save time filling out a half-hour’s worth of forms at the office. The app aggregates available appointments from thousands of doctor’s offices, identifying slots that become available due to cancellations. Some users say they’ve been able to book an appointment, map themselves to the office and walk right into their appointment.

ZocDoc claims its objective is to provide easier access to qualified doctors, reviews of medical practices, wellness advice, and information about how people can maximize their healthcare benefits. Not sure if the doctor accepts your insurance? ZocDoc solves that problem, too.

Drones for Delivery

A bag of fresh socks. A couple of paperback books. A chew toy for the dog. In the era of online shopping, not everything needs lengthy shipping schedules or visits to the post office. Why bother, when a robot can deliver it for you?

Amazon, Google and UPS are among the companies that have announced plans to develop door-to-door drone delivery services. The idea is to use small unmanned aircrafts, about the size of a toy helicopter, to deliver small items from shipping centers directly to customers’ homes or businesses.

In some metro areas, it’s completely possible, especially with America’s appetite for instant online shopping gratification. Amazon unveiled its plans for AmazonAir in December, though it hasn’t yet been launched. It will soon.

It’s not “A Brave New World.” This is the business world we live in today.

PriceBlink Ensures You Score the Lowest Prices When Shopping Online

PriceBlink

Did you know that where you live – and what sites you visit – can affect the price you pay when shopping online? Retail sites are tailored to swap out prices, modify wording and change up products based on your history, without you knowing.

PriceBlink, a free browser add-on, can help. PriceBlink acts like a online personal shopping assistant that automatically helps you find the lowest possible price for whatever you want to buy. It offers three main functions:

  1. Price Comparison: If you can purchase that very same product on another site for less, PriceBlink lets you know.
  2. Coupon alerts: If the site you’re on offers any coupon codes, free shipping, or any other deals, PriceBlink lets you know.
  3. User Reviews: If the site you’re on doesn’t have any user ratings/reviews for the product you’re looking for, but the same product is reviewed on other sites, PriceBlink lets you know.

PriceBlink is a free download that, on average, saves users 15-20 percent every time they shop at one of the more than 6,000 compatible websites. See how it works in the video below, then download it today.

How to Write the 7 Most Awkward Job-Related Emails

Writing Emails

It’s not what you say but how you say it.

In Boston this spring, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation proved that statement when it turned a mundane road sign into a viral sensation.

Rather than tell motorists to “Use Your Turn Signals,” the department took a more familiar approach with locals:

Now go “Pahk the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd.”

MassDOT officials realize to catch the attention of drivers, they need to connect with their audience in a thick Boston accent.

The takeaway for our careers? People will listen to – and act on – what we ask of them, but we need to use the right language in the right ways. Frankly, that’s a huge reason young professionals struggle to land jobs.

Below are instructions for how to write the seven most awkward job-related emails. You know, the kind of emails where you think “Umm, how do I say this exactly?”

1. How to respond when you don’t get the job but still want to stay on the company’s radar

“Hi _____

Thanks a lot for the response. I’m sorry I did not land the job but appreciate your email to let me know.

All the best,

-You

Note: Then, when they least suspect it, you also send a handwritten note and thank the person for the opportunity to interview. Why? Check out this comment from an NTLB post republished on Ragan, a communications resource: “I sent a thank you note after I bombed a technical interview where I was clearly not qualified for the job, and a couple weeks later they called me with an opening that was a perfect fit because my note had made them remember me.”

2. How to network with someone who’s really important

“Hi _____

My name is _______, and I am [how you know this person]. I saw [your connecting person] the other day, mentioned what I’m up to and she suggested I connect with you.

[2-3 sentences on “what you’re up to” and in this section, clearly explain why you’d like to network with this person. What do you want from him/her? Be direct.]

I know you’re busy, and I would really appreciate a few minutes of your time. If you have a few minutes, we can meet in person somewhere convenient for you or talk over the phone.

Thanks in advance, and please let me know what works.

- You”

Notes: It’s important to tell the person 1) your connection to him/her 2) what you need/want and 3) you understand he/she is super busy and you want to be respectful and not take a lot of time. Important people move fast, especially in big cities.

3. Networking email to someone you sorta kinda know at a company where you want to work

“Hi _____,

My name is _______. A while back, you and I [give the reason you two know each other; be as descriptive as possible so the person will know right away]. I hope you’re doing well!

I was on your company website and see your team is hiring for [specific name of the position]. I am well qualified for the job and have a good deal of experience. [Give one solid example to back up your claim; no longer than 1-2 sentences.]

If I send along my resume, do you think you can pass it to the right person? If you need me to provide any other information that would help, I’m happy to do so.

Thanks so much, and I hope to hear from you.

- You”

Notes: Details. Details. Details. Be clear who you are, how you know the person and what you need that person to do. And don’t make this mistake with your job application.

4. Email two weeks after a job interview and you’ve heard nothing

“Hi ______,

My name is _______, and two weeks ago I interviewed at your office for the position of _______. I want to follow up and check on the status of the job opening. If you need more information from me, please let me know.

Thanks so much,

- You”

5. Bothering someone important who said he/she would pass along your resume but hasn’t yet

“Hi _____,

I hope you’re doing well!

I am ______, and I [remind the person how you two became acquainted]. I want to follow up about my resume as you mentioned you could pass it along to [the person who you want to see it]. Again, it would be great if you’re still able to do that.

And if you can send along the resume, please remind [the person who you want to see it] that [1-2 lines on why you are the best person for the position; give your networker a bit of ammo he/she can use].

Again, I know you’re busy so I appreciate your willingness to help me.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks,

- You

Notes: Always overcommunicate the small details. Never assume people remember you or what you need from them.

6. How to ask for a letter of recommendation from someone you haven’t talked to in five years

“Hi _____,

This is [your name], your student from [names the class(es), the year(s) and the school]. I know it’s been a while since we last spoke, and I hope you’re doing great.

[If you feel comfortable enough, ask a question or two about the person. For example: “How’s college life still treating you?” or “How’s your family?”]

I am [the reason you need the letter of recommendation]. I would appreciate a recommendation from you if you have the time. If you need me to send along any biographical information or remind you of the work I did in your classes, I am happy to do that.

Thanks so much, and I hope to hear from you soon.

- You

Notes: Offer to provide additional information, make absolutely sure the person will remember who you are and, in general, be accommodating. You have 17 other challenges to worry about in the real world. Avoid a snag here.

7. How to write an email to set up the “I’m leaving” conversation with your boss

“Hi _____,

Do you have a few minutes at the end of the day? I’d like to talk with you about something.

Thanks,

- You”

Notes: No easy way to start this conversation, but it’s best to leave the details to the in-person meeting.

(This content was originally posted at News to Live By.)

Report: Yahoo Looking to Emphasize Search Once Again

Yahoo

According to numerous sources inside Yahoo, CEO Marissa Mayer has ordered up two under-the-radar initiatives – well, not to me and now you! – that could potentially get the company back into algorithmic search as well as search advertising. The internal code names for the efforts – which are not actually being done together, though they are in tandem – are borrowed from sports. In this case, basketball and baseball: Projects Fast Break and Curveball, respectively. Sources said the plan is being done as part of a contemplation of how Yahoo can accelerate the end of – or actually end – its longterm search and advertising partnership with Microsoft. Currently, Yahoo only has control over the search experience, but Mayer clearly wants more purview over the business.

Read the full story at re/code.

Answering Seven LinkedIn Job Search Questions

LinkedIn

I took advantage of a recent lunch with fellow MENG member Jan Wallen (you can check out her website here), an expert on selling online who literally wrote the book on using LinkedIn, to ask her LinkedIn job search questions relating to how executives should use this social networking site.

Following are Jan’s answers to the LinkedIn job search questions I’ve been asked most often following my “How to Write an Effective Resume” webinar.

Today’s Seven LinkedIn Job Search Questions

1. Can you quickly give me a few key thoughts about using LinkedIn in my job search?

About 80 percent of companies look on LinkedIn first to find candidates. It’s critical to have your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and optimized and to be sure it represents you well.

When you’re conducting a job search, you’re selling yourself, and your profile is your marketing brochure. It’s not meant to be your life story or a long, chronological list of accomplishments. When it’s optimized with keywords, it’s more likely to come up when companies and recruiters search on LinkedIn. There’s SEO and now there’s LinkedIn profile optimization.

It’s very important that your profile is written to showcase your expertise because a junior person in a company may be looking on LinkedIn first to do the initial screening. They’re making a short-list of candidates to be interviewed, and they may not have the business depth to grasp that your profile fits the job description they’ve been given.

2. Under my name, should I focus on SEO or positioning myself?

This LinkedIn job search question relates to your Professional Headline which is below your name on your LinkedIn profile. Many people put a job title there. It’s much better to position yourself with a tagline or headline that shows your expertise and what you’re known for.

LinkedIn has a search algorithm which they change periodically, the same as the search engines. All sections of your profile are searched. When companies and recruiters search LinkedIn and your profile comes up in a list, it sets you apart in a positive way when your Professional Headline stands out from all the rest. Therefore, it’s best if you can position yourself and also have keywords in your headline.

3. Is a premium package worth the cost?

The premium accounts are getting a lot of attention now, and LinkedIn is encouraging members to upgrade to the premium levels. The recent changes that LinkedIn has made mean that premium account members receive more information and more detail than those who haven’t upgraded.

LinkedIn has recently made changes to the features that are available in the free basic account and those available in the premium level accounts. It doesn’t make sense to pay for something if it doesn’t give you value. The best way to decide whether one of the premium accounts is best for you is to check their Comparison Matrix. You’ll see line-by-line the features that each premium level gives you.

To see the Comparison Matrix, go to the black menu bar in LinkedIn and click on Upgrade. You’ll see the matrix and can compare each account level.

Some of the differences that may make it worth it for you to upgrade include:

  • InMails-Are LinkedIn’s special messages, and they’re available when you have a premium level account. Of course, you can always send a message to your connections. If you’re not connected, premium accounts allow you to send InMails. My guideline is that if you look up profiles and they say Send InMail 50% of the time or more, it may make sense to upgrade.
  • Who’s Viewed My Profile-You’ll see more details if you have the premium level accounts.
  • Advanced Searches-You’ll be able to search based on more criteria with the premium level accounts. For example, you can specify a list of companies by size and if they’re a part of Fortune 500 when you have the premium level accounts, which could be important to a LinkedIn job search.

4. How do I show accomplishments?

Your accomplishments are very important to show on your profile. Show the size and scope of your accomplishments as appropriate. At the same time, remember that your profile is a public document. Do not show any confidential or proprietary numbers in your profile. Use words like “double-digit” growth rather than specific numbers.

Keep your accomplishments to one industry, area of expertise or theme as much as possible. If you list too many areas, it can be interpreted as unfocused or vague, or have less credibility. I’ve found that describing what I call your “Expertise DNA”-what sets you apart and are known for-is the best way to show your accomplishments for LinkedIn job search.

5. How do I handle consulting?

This is another good LinkedIn job search question and has several answers, including, unfortunately, “It depends.” Depending on your situation and goals, doing consulting while you’re conducting a job search can be perceived in a positive or a negative way.

If your social media profiles show you started a consulting business shortly after leaving a company, people who read your profiles may perceive that as you’re pursuing consulting full time and not conducting a job search. If you want people to see that you’re conducting a job search or pursuing a search for your next business opportunity full time, I would not update your profiles with the consulting business. Simply pursue your consulting business-and not list it on your social media profiles.

6. How do I handle being out of work?

It’s best to show a strong positive approach on your social media profiles. For example, show in your profile that you’re searching for your next opportunity and not “in transition” or conducting a job search. Then describe briefly what type of opportunity you’re looking for, your relevant skills and expertise, and most importantly-what you can do to add value to the company.

Use LinkedIn for job searches and also to network to find out what opportunities are out there. There may be opportunities that are not specifically listed as LinkedIn job search opportunities. Invite people to connect and reconnect with people you know. Tell them what you’re looking for in your next opportunity, and ask if they know someone you can talk to. Many jobs are found as a result of this networking and the right person being introduced into the company by someone who’s already there.

7. How do I write my profile if I’m looking for more than one job function in more than one industry?

This is an especially relevant LinkedIn job search question. Right now, companies want someone who has done the specific thing they’re looking for and have done it their entire career. I know few careers that look like that. However, companies are risk-averse.

When you’re a senior level executive with an outstanding track record, you’ve most likely worked in more than one job function and more than one industry. You’re multitalented.

The dilemma comes when the person searching on LinkedIn searches for skills in their job description and then read your profile. Your skills may match. If they see that you’ve worked in many industries and job functions, they may think you’re unfocused and vague. They think that because most people are not multitalented, and they don’t understand that people can master more than one skill and industry. Also, many times a junior person is doing the initial LinkedIn job search. They don’t have the business depth or experience to understand that the skills and qualities they see on your LinkedIn profile fit the job description they been given.

My recommendation: Go through the professional branding process and identify what I call your “Expertise DNA.” That is, the combination of skills, experience, and expertise that are uniquely you-your professional brand-and sets you apart from other executives. Think of your “Expertise DNA” as an umbrella that encompasses all of your skills and talents. When you talk about your “Expertise DNA” rather than a long list of skills, you’re perceived as focused in one area.

Your profile is not a place to list all of your skills and accomplishments in a long chronological list. Your profile is your handshake and the way to get in the door. Interviews and conversations are the places to talk more in-depth.

(This content was originally posted at MENG online. While we hope Jan’s answers are helpful, we’re only halfway done. We’ll have more LinkedIn job search Q&A in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out Jan’s website here.)

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