5 Modern Networking Tools For Millennials to Get Ahead

As a millennial, take advantage of the fact that you love trying out new methods, apps, and technologies for just about everything, especially for your career and professional life. Let’s face it, we spend a majority of our lives working, so we might as well utilize new technologies that let us work in creative ways and make our professional lives simpler.

Networking is a great opportunity to use new technology that will help you connect with professionals easier and stand out against the stack of resumes they’re digging through. The goal of networking is to connect with others, offer value, and see if you can create a win-win situation with your potential business partner. This will always be the goal no matter what happens with technology.

What we care about is HOW to connect with colleagues in a modern, unique, fun, but still professional way. Here are 5 underutilized tools to make you stand out as a young professional and network effectively.

1. Instagram

I already know what you’re thinking… “Instagram? You mean just try to get followers or follow professionals?”… Not exactly.

As of right now, you can direct message any person on Instagram without having to follow or send a request ahead of time. Reaching out to someone you want to build a relationship with on Instagram direct messaging shows them that you are up to date with modern technologies and different. A nice little personalized message to get your foot in the door would more likely get noticed than another email in a sea of unopened emails.

Here are some more tips for how to network with Instagram from Gary Vaynerchuk, an industry leader in digital and social media marketing.

2. Linkedin

I’m sure you already know the importance of Linkedin. Build an amazing profile, show off your talents, experience, and credentials, and then build your network. Linkedin is essentially today’s version of a resume, and it’s much easier to point to your Linkedin page instead of having to tailor a bunch of different resumes for different people with different needs.

Start connecting with people in your industry on Linkedin to learn more about their work, interests, and educational history. That way, when you reach out to message them, you have plenty of talking points from their profile.

3. Shapr

Shapr is the Tinder of networking. Yes, you heard me right. Shapr connects you with professionals in your area based on location, common interests, and fields of work. Check out their profile and swipe right to “meet” the person or left to pass. If you both swipe right, you can start a conversation right in the app.

It’s really easy to sign up because you can link your account to your Linkedin profile. Once the account is linked, just add a short bio and choose a few interests, skills, and industry keywords to find relevant matches looking for you!

4. Email Hunter/GMass

Even if a lot of professional people’s inboxes get loaded with messages, networking through email can still be effective. Now that Gmail categorizes our mail with spam, promotions, and social, there’s a lot more room in the inbox for your message to at least be seen. And almost everyone checks their email daily.

Use GMass and Email Hunter chrome extensions to dominate and automate the email process. Email Hunter is a nifty little tool that scrubs someone’s website for an email address, and shows you the sources where they found the email address. The best strategy is to use the extension on your future partner’s Linkedin page.

Then once you have a nice list of email addresses to reach out to, use GMass to schedule and mail merge emails that will get their attention.

You can effortlessly integrate GMass with Gmail, Google sheets, docs and Google Drive. Set up emails as either a brand new email or as a reply to a previous thread, and draft up to 8 automatic follow-ups that you can set and forget. It is an incredible tool that can save you time, energy, and stress!

5. Vistaprint

No matter how advanced we get with networking technologies, nothing will ever beat the personal touch of strong eye contact and a firm handshake. You should always be planning to go to networking events, even if you are still new in your field.

Vistaprint is a great place to make clean, well-designed and professional-looking business cards. They have plenty of templates and designs to choose from, or you can start with your logo, upload a design for them to print, or let their designers take over for you. In addition to business cards, you can also get marketing materials like flyers, brochures, and door hangers, or larger signs like banners, yard signs, and posters. It’s definitely the one stop shop for putting your designs on paper.

Be Above the Herd

With so much competition for people’s attention in today’s world, it’s important that you are staying ahead of the pack to stand out and be noticed. These tools are a great for building your professional network, finding a new job, or getting your first client.

What are some of your favorite online tools that make your life easier in all areas?

Drew Klebine: Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, Musician

Drew Klebine is a Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, and Musician from Pittsburgh, PA. His writings focus on modern marketing practices, software reviews, upcoming technologies, brand and product promotion, health, self-actualization, religion, and existential philosophy.

Lead writer and co-owner of uxax.org, writer and marketer for Inspectlet, InMotion, and HER Realtors.

3 Signs It’s Time To Quit Your Job

In today’s job market securing a position before leaving is crucial and job-hopping is the new norm.

But how do you know it’s time to start looking elsewhere when the grass isn’t always greener on the other side?

Financial need should be one of the main criteria, but logic aside, here are some telltale signs the end is near:

1. You Dread Going To Work

Emotions are like the check engine light on your car dashboard. They indicate when something is wrong. For some lack of alignment with the vision of the company can be the deal breaker, while passion is the widely used qualitative measurement (on a scale of 1 – 10 how much do you love the company you work for?) As I wrote in an earlier post, you either drink the Kool-Aid or you don’t. If you score a 6 or below it may be a matter of when, not if you leave.

2. You Don’t Feel Valued

Value comes in different forms: respect, appreciation, compensation, etc. Being fairly paid is self-explanatory (and normally tied to your self-worth), but the “feeling” is tied to your direct manager. People leave managers, not companies. True story.

You may interact with your co-workers more frequently, but how you are treated by your boss is the thermometer. Feeling respected is being heard. Don’t expect all your ideas to be implemented, but if they’re all discarded you simply stop caring. Using the car analogy, value is the emotional fuel you run on at work.

When full, it’s easy to brush off apparent challenges.

When running on empty, minor offenses can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Value determines longevity.

3. No Growth Opportunities 

Professional development ranked higher than pay for Millennials in job surveys. That’s because the corporate ladder has been turned sideways where lateral movement to another company can be more attractive than promotion.

Culture is the driver for individual growth. Using Zappos as an example, it’s the core values that shape behaviors, not mission statements. Investment in employees can be risky because they can leave, but without it you have little chance of people staying past a year. Smart companies use both internal and external resources to champion this cause. If Human Resources is overloaded, hiring an outside trainer or consultant who specializes in learning and development can be the better route. Establishing a connection then challenging comfort zones is the intersection of growth.

Moving on has more to do with how you feel treated than it does anything rational. Life is too short to settle for mediocrity. If you care about making an impact you’ll look outside your current organization for more attractive options. Remember, the best candidates are employed and there’s never anything wrong with looking for something better.

Why Kool Aid Determines Your Career Path

Your career situation lies on one question: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

kool_aid_man_wavingThere are two groups of people at every company: those who drink the Kool and those who don’t.

Translation: you’re either “sold out” (all-in) or not.

There are exceptions; those who may not fully engage in the vision, but are satisfied enough to take the good with the bad. To me, that sounds like complacency, but to everyone their own.

In order to stay at a company for a long period of time you have to believe in the mission. Purpose is still a magnetic trait that companies have. If you don’t bleed for what a company stands for it’s not a matter of if, but when you exit.

For those who reject the Kool Aid, it’s revealed in the language they use.

Mainly “I” vs. “We.” Subtle, but very powerful.

“I” statements separate from the greater whole, while “we” statements identify with the organization.

It’s not as simple as making a language change…

The determining factor is how much you buy-in. That doesn’t mean you agree with every detail or decision made, but you’re willing to associate with the team more than your opinion.

Some say entrepreneurs escape Corporate America for freedom, but most do it for a dream.

Business comes down to two types of dreams: yours and others.

Owning a business supports yours and working for a company supports theirs.

Your job is to choose whose dream you’re on board with.

Millennials in particular live for making a greater impact. Job hopping is as much about identifying with a greater mission as it is about getting bored. Adding value is as much feeling valued as it is contributing to it.

In your current role, you will eventually have to make the same decision sooner or later: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

It may not be as simple as “yes” and “no” when it becomes part of your financial livelihood, but the bigger question is how long can you deny it?

Life is too short to support a dream you’re not in agreement with. Social impact draws new followers daily because of alignment of personal and corporate values.

If a company has a high turnover rate it’s probably a Kool Aid issue.

So in your current position do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

The answer to that question shapes your career path.

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

hi-five

One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

student-with-mentor-on-computer

    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

woman-holding-money

    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

unicorn

Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

The Darkside Of Tech: Why You Should Be A Softie

soft skills

Technology has not only changed the way we live, but also marginalized our skill set.

If you’re older than a Millennial, you’ll remember taking speech in school.

Although a dreaded class, it teaches one of the most crucial skills to succeed in your career: communication.

Ironically in a tech-dominated economy, want to know what employers are looking for more of?

Soft skills.

In fact, this Wall Street Journal article states it’s what’s being searched for on LinkedIn Profiles everywhere.

Schools like General Assembly have wisely capitalized on teaching skills that are actually marketable.

The problem is unless you plan on working in a silo, you need to talk to people. Albeit a stereotype, most engineers can’t communicate better than the average rock. As brilliant as your tech skills may be, there still needs to be conversation taking place within the chain of command (even in a flat organization).

This is great news to people like me, who don’t have the patience or the desire to learn how to code. True, I’ll probably never make as much money as techies, but I can add value in other ways.

Like our economy, shifts in skills that are valued over time fluctuate. When the recession hit in 2008, services like training were stripped because they were deemed as a “luxury.” Guess what? Today, on-boarding, career development and soft skills workshops are rampant.

Why? Because when there is an over-saturation of a particular skill set, it’s what’s different and needed that becomes more valuable.

In an on-demand, instant gratification, push-button world, orators still rule. If you’re lacking in that area start networking, do more public speaking or join toastmasters.

Technology is wonderful. I couldn’t live without it.

But scarcity breeds value. Every tech star out there needs a partner to compliment him/her.

That’s why you should be a softie.

The Unemployed Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur_Shirt

Want to know the real motivation behind current entrepreneurs?

Being broke.

As a business owner each day you wake up needing to sell.

You either make money that day or you don’t.

Nothing is given to you. You have to fight for everything a.k.a. the daily grind.

Signing up as an entrepreneur basically makes you a sales person. Even though you’re the boss, you’re 100% responsible for selling. It’s tough work, not for the faint at heart. In fact, you become so accustomed to rejection you think you’re dating her.

But chasing your dreams does have a tremendous upside. Complete freedom is one of the best feelings you can experience and once you’ve been the boss, it’s tremendously hard to go back to working for someone else. In the right situation it’s possible, but chances are while you’re working, you’re strategizing how you can improve the process on your own.

The reason entrepreneurship is down with Millennials is because it’s too big of a risk. Chasing your dreams doesn’t pay well. If you like supplemental income for travel, dining out and adventures put that on hold. Considering starting a family? One of you better have a stable job with benefits or suffer a drop in quality of lifestyle.

Possibly a larger factor than a big, scalable idea is timing. Forget age, what life stage are you in: single and career driven or in a relationship and starting a family? The answer to that question will give you clarity on whether or not to pursue your dreams. Starting a business takes more of an investment in time than money, so your current level of responsibility will give you clarity on pulling the trigger.

Take it from someone whose priorities changed drastically over the past several years. What was a good decision before, isn’t the best decision now. Pride aside, your life goals change which calls for a life pivot.

Entrepreneurship can be for everyone, but think about the lifestyle you want to maintain and decide from there.

Pitch Perfect: You

pitch-perfect

Recently I read a great article, Founders: Pitch the Promised Land, and it got me thinking…

Why don’t we pitch what we do more aspirational?

Fear. Fraud. Failure. Those are the voices in our head, but aren’t dreams what motivate us?

Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur: you’re offering a product or service right?

Pitch their dreams.

Take your elevator pitch as an example. Try selling yourself to a stranger in 30 seconds or less; it’s challenging to say the least. That doesn’t include the fact rarely does anyone buy anything on the first impression.

But if someone is “shopping,” your goal is to deliver an answer as clear as possible. Why?

Because without clarity (a.k.a. confusion), the answer to your sales pitch is “no.”

The best stories are the ones that get you thinking. In this case, it caused my own self-evaluation.

Here’s my answer to the question, “So what do you do?

Before: “I help small to mid-sized companies retain and train their Millennials.”

After: “Millennial Mastery.”

My initial answer is clear and straight to the point, but the revised statement paints an image (or at least causes you to ponder for a moment).

It is possible? How’s it done? What’s the cost?

The goal of a pitch shouldn’t be to get an immediate answer. It should be to get customers to want more.

Engagement in the workplace is talked about constantly, but it should also be integrated with sales pitches too.

So the next time you’re asked the question, “what do you do?” Answer in future-tense.

Pokemon: Gotta Catch ‘Em Millennials

pokemon-go

Driving or walking down the street, you’re bound to see groups of people staring at their phones…

And chances are they’re playing Pokemon Go, a recent craze amongst Millennials. An estimated 80% of players are between the ages of 18-34.

So how did this app go viral so fast? Here’s 3 reasons why:

1. Nostalgia – Pokemon reached it’s peak in the late 90’s, when most Millennials were in their childhood. For the same reason Transformers connects with men who grew up in the 80’s, Pokemon Go has struck a chord with Millennials. Nintendo is brilliant for bringing this fad back. But Pokemon has capitalized on much more than childhood memories. They’ve used gamification to engage the most influential generation yet.

2. Social Community – Rarely will you find Millennials playing Pokemon Go alone. Instead groups of people move in drones trying to catch the different characters. Local businesses would be smart to offer “lures” or incentives to entice the increased foot traffic. An article in Forbes dubs it “a flash mob organized by a gaming company.” Other generations may look down upon the craze, but there’s definitely something there and can be a huge opportunity to businesses who take advantage of the trend.

3. Activity – One of the most overlooked aspects of Pokemon Go is the mobility factor. There have been extreme incidents of people getting out of their cars during traffic, but for the most part it gets you out and about on your feet. This is not Crossfit or extreme cardio by any means, but it has a similar effect as FitBit. As an observer it looks comical to see groups aimlessly scour around town, but at least it provides a path to exercise. With obesity at an all time high, Pokemon Go helps, doesn’t hurt the cause against lethargy.

As with most trends with Millennials, you have a choice: frown upon or take advantage of it. Understanding why something is appealing is the best place to start. Millennials are an influential, peer-based consuming machine. Catching their attention is difficult, but Pokemon Go may have given us a peek into what makes them tick.

3 Millennial Travel Trends & The Workplace Impact

Millennial-Traveler

Millennials love to travel. Timing (having less responsibilities) and adventure-seeking are the two biggest motivators, but their tendencies shed light on how Corporate America should market to them.

Here are 3 ways:

Culture – When Millennials travel they want to immerse themselves in the local culture. Touristy spots aren’t a given, instead planning ahead and leaving room for exploration is the preferred method. In the workplace, diversity and the ability to connect with co-workers matters. Entrepreneurship is down amongst Millennials because it’s riskier than working for an established company. Travel destinations are usually known for at least one thing, what is your company known for? The answer defines your culture which is your brand.

Peer Recommendations – Travel sites are only appealing to Millennials if they contain reviews. Want to know where Millennials vacation? Ask their friends. Travel agents are basically instinct because part of going on an adventure is planning it yourself. Millennials are strong brand influencers, so if your company is labeled as a “cool place to work” applicants will come knocking on your door (not a bad recruiting strategy right?) The purpose of offering perks shouldn’t just be to attract Millennials, but at a deeper level tie into their desired lifestyle. For example, providing yoga classes and organic food on-site is a wellness perk. Millennials who desire that type of lifestyle become your company’s brand ambassadors to prospective candidates. Get your younger worker’s buy-in because Millennials trust their friend’s recommendations over expert’s.

Shareable Experiences – Where social media thrives visually is through beautifully taken photos and videos. Great design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also shareable. Instagram and Snapchat have exploded with Millennials because of sharing. Forward-thinking companies take photos/videos of everyday life at work. Not stock images that are orchestrated, but a peek into a day in the life at your company. Similar to hotel websites, Millennials check your company’s digital footprint across different platforms to get a feel for your brand. We spend more than 50% of our waking hours at work, so hopefully it’s share-worthy. User-generated content can be one of your company’s biggest recruiting tools, but only if you’re intentional about it.

Retaining Millennials starts with understanding Millennials. Since work-life integration has become the norm questioning “why” Millennials make specific decisions matters. Use travel trends as insight into engaging your Millennial workforce. Companies are starting to offer unlimited vacation (hmm, I wonder why) for increased customization of schedule. Smart companies will use market research such as travel trends to recruit, retain and optimize the best Millennial workers out there. Will you?