Now that many of us are content creators, we are directly exposed to the conversation that is the marketplace. Thanks to our use of social media tools, what others say of their experience of us is gaining importance in our personal press kit. Links and authority are both quite subtle and difficult to gage vis-a-vis why we would hire an individual.
The Old Ways in New Media
The resume as a recording of the accomplishments and results we have contributed is not going to disappear any time soon. That is because it's a universal format that helps everyone - including the majority of the population that is not online. Note the key words I used there: accomplishments and results.
It's a good idea to focus the story that is your cv on how all of the things you know and have done contributed to the growth of a business, made it better, had an impact on your customers - internal and external. To do that, you center your exposition on where and how the business makes money.
That has not changed with new media tools. If anything, with microblogging tools such as Twitter, we are now learning to cut to the chase more quickly. Brian Solis wrote a post recently on the escalator pitch. I'd like to add emphasis on the quality and content of your focus vs. brevity, and knowing at which stage of the pitch you are. Writes Solis:
It's about saying and demonstrating the things that will continually escalate your opportunity to the next level to say and demonstrate more - earning believers, evangelists, investors, stakeholders, customers, and partners along the way.Pitches are micro-stories that contain enough information for the listener to decide whether they will give you permission to continue the conversation, or they should. A recommendation is the pitch best friend. It's a vehicle where someone else says: pay attention to this individual, they can benefit you in "x" way(s).
Stories About Others
That is why a recommendation as a short story about another should also be focused. It needs to provide specific information to introduce someone in a way that benefits the group or person to whom they are being introduced - and honor the skills/talent/ability to problem-solve of the individual who is being introduced.
For an example of a targeted verbal recommendation: I recently spoke about blogging on a panel at a Chamber of Commerce event. In my talk, as I do on such occasions, I mentioned that I am from Italy. Among the audience was an entrepreneur who is also an astute business networker. A few days later as he attended another event with the Italy America Chamber of Commerce he remember that detail. He then followed up with me to gage my interest in speaking at one of their events.
When he introduced me to that Chamber, he presented the story about me as: uses social media by sharing practical "how to" lessons, speaks Italian and has many business connections in Italy. This was enough of an entree for generating interest in further conversations around the Chamber's topical needs and how I can help them directly and through my network.
Which brings us to the "how to" part of this post.
You'd Hire Him/Her Because
Say a friend or business colleague asks you to write a recommendation for their services. You are comfortable doing that because you have worked together. There are several options open to you. You can:
- Tell a story of how "Steve" saved the day and helped your company earn new customers - this is a popular format in case studies and testimonials. The narrative begins with a delineation of the problem and continues with what the individual did specifically to solve it.
- Summarize the skills and attitude that most impressed you about "Sara" with an eye to the audience who will be reading about her. Here it helps to ask yourself the imaginary questions: why would you hire Sara as community manager? What does she bring to the table that is unique? For example: she has "x" years of experience doing that; she did a magnificent job at company "z"; our community benefited from her work.
- Define the problem someone is seeking to solve in greater detail and support how the individual has true experience and a reputation for contributing results. As an example, I will use a recommendation I wrote recently on LinkedIn for Gianluca of Frozenfrogs:
For a recommendation to be useful in a practical way to both the individual recommended and the potential buyer/employer, it needs to answer one main question first: why? Why would you hire him/her instead of someone else? Why would you engage his/her services? It's because... tell them exactly why. Part of the answer depends on context, of course.“In today's marketplace where the term 'conversation' can and does mean a better match of customers' needs and wants with companies' products and services, emerging technologies are helping humanize the point of contact and harnessing the force of the collective. Yet, they are mere tools that need to be grounded in a solid business strategy to yield results. Gianluca is fluent in both the language of business and that of new media. He is a keen listener and a passionate implementer. Give him a call and see for yourself.”
What are some of the best (most useful to you) recommendations you have seen? Why?