Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Now that’s what I’m talking about…

The response to LinkedIn’s corporate blog launch (Disclaimer: I’m the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn) has been overwhelmingly positive and also sets the stage for us to now respond to reader expectations appropriately. Here are a couple of articles by prominent bloggers that definitely augurs well for our blog:

1. Mashable — LinkedIn launches corporate blog

The corporate blog will be fully interactive for users, enabling them to use the blog as a sounding board for concerns they may have. Looks like LinkedIn is providing a central location for things such as comments and questions; a great way for LinkedIn to gather pertinent information about their members. Their blog will also be used for offering tips and tricks that users can employ.

Another interesting point that Kristen Nicole noted was:

But unlike many other corporate blogs, you can leave a link in your comments and trackbacks as well.

As I’d mentioned in my earlier post, allowing comments is one of the important questions every company should ask itself before it launches a blog and that would depend on its reasons for starting a blog. I’d have to mention corporate blogs such as Yahoo! (run by Niki Dugan) and Dell (run by Lionel Menchaca, whom I met at the Web 2.0 Expo) allow comments and it’s great to be counted among such stellar examples.

2. Debbie Weil – What a good corporate blog should look like:

My friend Debbie, who has written one of the two definitive books on corporate blogging (the other being “Naked Conversations” by another good friend Shel and Scoble), enumerates 10 things that work on our newly started LinkedIn blog. First off, thanks Debbie.

Debbie cites, Platform, Navigation and Design as important factors and I couldn’t agree more. Also, I’d have to give credit where it’s due – to my colleague Mike Lin who designed the blog and another good friend from LinkedIn, Steve Ganz who worked with me during the launch. These guys are awesome and put together a consistent/simple design and helped launch a corporate blog that’s reminiscent of our overall brand.

One of the important things to remember about your corporate blog is that it’s got to be definitive of your brand. Veer too much into playful territory and it messes the brand. Be too professional and it loses the blogliness or the blogging spirit. Striking a delicate balance is SO important.


Most importantly, I was enthused by over 50 comments that our first post garnered on the very first day with inputs from corporate bloggers such as Niki Dugan (Yahoo!), Tim Jackson (Masiguy), John Ebbert (Context Web), Dave C. (Earthlink). I also did post a question on LinkedIn Answers on comment policy and that alone received an additional 20 answers. I believe one of the important measures to rate the success of a corporate blog is to see the engagement of the community. It’s been a good start thus far, and what this means is that we have to build on the trust that users/readers have given us on account of starting the blog.

Stay tuned to Marketing Nirvana (subscribe to our RSS feed) for exciting tidbits on how we build a strong corporate blog! And, BTW, I’m excited that Marketing Nirvana crossed 700 RSS subscriptions last week! Woohoo!

Filed under: Business Blogging

3 tips before you launch a Corporate Blog…

As most of my readers know, in the recent past I’ve been focusing on corporate blogging and even recommended a few posts on it. This past week, I’ve immersed myself in crafting and launching a corporate blog for LinkedIn! Yes, it’s been as much fun as talking about it, but there’s a lot more details to attend to while launching. But it’s finally live and you can check it out here:

LinkedIn Blog | Subscribe to RSS Feed

Here are three tips for marketing/community managers who’re either contemplating a corporate blog or are in the process of creating one:

1. To blog or not to blog: Before you start work on a corporate blog, I’d recommend careful thought into whether or not your company requires one. Every company has unique needs and you’re better of evaluating its need thoroughly before you start. A great post to get you started would be Nicholas Carr’s — Seven Rules for Corporate Blogging.

2. Getting the team on board: Once you decide on starting one, there are tons of details you need to concentrate on. Let’s start with internal evangelism. A corporate blog is all about a conversation (for lack of a better term), between an organization and it’s users. All organizations are represented by the people who work there, and so it’s important that you have everyone on board, before you start blogging. Also, make it a point to collect internal feedback on every critical element of the blog before you make decisions (couple of examples below).

3. Comments and Privacy: Before you actually get into the specifics of blogging, there are a couple of primary details you’d need to concern yourself before the blog is out the door. The first would be your comments policy. Do you allow comments or not? The second area would be your privacy policy. Most corporate blogs involve many individuals from your company blogging on the company’s behalf. So, it’s essential that you develop a privacy policy before the blog posts are written. Here’s a great example.

3 great examples of corporate blogs:

1. Yahoo!: Yodel Anecdotal

2. Dell: Direct2Dell

3. Facebook: Facebook Blog

I’d encourage you to check out the LinkedIn Blog, subscribe to the RSS feed and feel free to leave a comment or two :)

Filed under: Business Blogging, Miscellaneous

Day 2 at Web 2.0 Expo: Community Roundtable

Quick update: I attended the Community Roundtable earlier today and then I had a chance to meet with Gabe Rivera (TechMeme) and Dave McClure before heading over to the VC 2.0 Panel discussion moderated by Michael Arrington, in one of the most exciting and fun-filled panel discussions I’ve been in a long while.

(Thanks, Dave. Source: Dave’s Flickr Stream)

However. looks like we’ve been struck by the Curse of the Wifi at the Expo. I’m seated right next to Jessica Guynn (SF Chronicle) at the VC 2.0 panel discussion and the laptop is running out of battery and unfortunately there are NO power outlets in this auditorium and WiFi is erratic to say the least.


(from l-r: 1. Michael Arrington, Panelists, Audience, Panel)

I did check and it looks like many auditoriums within the Moscone Center do NOT have power outlets. So, I’ll try to blog live during the keynotes (Jeff Bezos, Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, Kevin Lynch, and others) IF there’s a power outlet and WiFi. If not, check out the blog tomorrow for the pictures and a summary of today’s sessions.

Well, we’re live… finally. Been running around different sessions, but finally found the right group to participate in.

10: 45 AM: Various community managers and enthusiasts from various groups have assembled at Level 3 of the Web 2.0 Expo to discuss community concepts and ideas. We’re just done with introductions and Tara is currently introducing the session and what the goals of the group are. Stay tuned.

11:00 AM: We’re working out the discussion topics

- A need for simpler guidelines
- However, people are messy
- AND, guidlines are to be loosely interpreted
- online is missing emotional contact
- language is NOT barrierless

The conversation has now veered into OpenID. Here are starting points:

- moving from pages to community sites (microformats). Working on attention data?
- Why openID is disruptive?
- ability to take your online persona wherever you go
- the problem that there will be only one service that aggregates all information
- ease of sharing information will enable openID
- in a perfect world, if one can have a universal username/password
- however, a single user id makes privacy invasions easier to break
- can’t we have a key to unlock the rest of your online personas

Moving into privacy issues:
- flickr is a great model of varying levels of privacy (private vs. public) – offer flexibility
- also paying attention to anonymize data esp. in financial circles/businesses
- balance is the gradient of choice, which should be based on helping the community
- great deal of education is necessary and enable users to make that choice
- what does it MEAN to broadcast yourself in real time BUT does that make it more valuable to a community
- privacy is an illusion
- sierra – locke: someone was able to find all the personal information of sierra’s and published it. So security to one’s data is an illusion
- are americans more open to giving up their privacy? e.g. political social networks, where you publicly announce your affiliations

- let’s be honest about our privacy
- important: need a privacy policy, need terms of service (original yahoo! terms is around 13 simple lines) and community guidelines
- the debate between doing the legal things vs. doing the right thing
- attention data/attention trust: all the data that’s collected by your online actions, look at it as web stats for your life.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Summary: Day 1 at the Web 2.0 Expo 2007


(Source: My Flickr coverage)

Quick Update: Looks like Jeremiah is headed over to the event right now (4/16; 8 PST), and I’ll be following shortly. A little unsure of schedules at the moment, but I’ll be live blogging (text) the panel discussions I attend starting 10 PST. Check out Jeremiah’s video stream for live video coverage.


Even thought I’ve only attended the first half of the opening day of Web 2.0 Expo 2007, I feel like it’s a precursor of similar learning experiences over the next three days. If I were to pick just three salient features of my experience today, it’d have to be the following:

1. Ustream! Live Video Streaming


(Jeremiah testing out his uStream camera on the tripod)

When Jeremiah told me we’d be live streaming video a la Justin.tv, I thought this is cool? Starting at about 7:30 AM, we were live all the time until around 12:45 PM, breaking in between when I live-blogged (text) the community evangelism portion, while Jeremiah made the rounds of the expo corridors, getting feedback from the attendees and allowing for interaction with the chat room attendees, which at one point of time numbered ~50. That’s a great start!

2. Community Evangelism Panel


(from l-r: Deborah Schultz and Anil Dash – the Community Evangelism panel)

3 minute video here. Here’s my live blogging post.

Of course, I wanted to be at the Community Evangelism panel w/ discussion moderated and instigated by Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz. It was quite a roundup of basic concepts, tools, case studies and questions answered by experienced community evangelists. I also had a chance to talk to Deborah about some of my community experiences over the past month and I look forward to continuing the conversation.

3. Meeting fellow evangelists and enthusiasts

Now, the most satisfying part of any conference is meeting friends, like-minded peers and one such community manager I had a chance to meet in addition to Deborah and Anil was Michael Rubin, Director of Customer Experience at Netflix.


(w/ Michael Rubin, Director of Community Experience @ Netflix)

Michael and I had a great time talking about the many community leaning initiatives and features one can expect to see from Netflix as well as some of my own endeavors at LinkedIn. I did recreate to him, my past history of raves, rants, belief, and evangelism on my favorite online DVD store and the power of it’s community! I’d definitely keep updating you on my conversations w/ Michael.

,
I also had a chance to meet with Mike Doeff, whom I’d met at a recent Photowalking show, and Yulia Smirnova, a business graduate student with expertise in marketing.


(from l-r: Mike Doeff and Yulia Smirnova)

It’s definitely exciting to meet individuals who are so passionate about their area of expertise, that not only do they have blogs but also venture out on a Sunday morning to catch the first panel discussion on the first day of a educative web 2.0 show.

Nice start to a show…The next three days are going to be exciting.


Kudos to my friend Dave McClure and the other organizers, who’ve pulled off such a humongous event with great finesse. I did read Zoli Erdos’ post on Expo Cal and the opening day… I’ve got to say, both Jeremiah and I, did not have the registration problem (5 minute video here) nor the power outlet issues. But, I’d definitely be bummed out if I were stuck without a power outlet.

Tomorrow’s going to be another crazy day of panel discussion, one after the other, culminating in a series of parties, ALL of which you will hear about. So for the latest scoop on the Web 2.0 Expo, come back to the blog tomorrow! And if you’re reading this, do check in throughout the day for a live video stream of the program, seen through the eyes of Jeremiah and me.

Same blogs (Mario & Jeremiah) + video stream, Different time (Tentatively starting 11:00 AM PST). Also, both the above video captures, courtesy of Jeremiah’s friend from Hawaii.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Live from Web 2.0 Expo: Community Evangelism w/ Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz

So, I finally got here w/ Jeremiah. We streamed live all the way from Jeremiah’s place as we drove over from the peninsula. We got here a half hour back and finally are seated here while the panel (Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz) gets ready for the show. We’re still streaming live, check out Jeremiah’s stream over here or head over to Jeremiah’s live feed.

Keep checking back this post, here since I’ll live blog as the conversation on this panel continues.

Live streaming video of the “community evangelism” panel discussion can be accessed here. Stand by, while the discussion starts. Here are details on the panel I’m currently attending.

Will be live blogging in a few minutes… Stand by… We’re live now at 9:45 AM:

INTRODUCTION

9:49 AM: Anil just started the conversation. Here are the topics he’d like to cover, primary the technical aspects behind evangelism. Both Anil and Deborah would like the discussion to be conversational.

9:50 AM: The concept of evangelism is easily understood by youth of the world, as opposed to days of the past.

9:52 AM: Very few use direct mail and email newsletters as opposed to social media in the audience. Things are changing rapidly in the world. Key feature of new media, is persistence. What kind of communication do you find meaningful to you. Information that is being virally transmitted is not necessarily the new content but rather persistent meaningful content that people find useful, much like a book. Blog media is also similar to a book as opposed to just the latest and greatest.

9:56 AM: Comparison of the web w/ physical stores like IKEA where they control everywhere you go, whatever you see. Users all over the web are “busting through the walls”, as opposed to old-school media.

9:58 AM: What’s missing from old company websites that are designed as an IKEA website. When you’ve a datestamp on content, it shows the promise that you’ll update that content and this is what you see on permalink on blogs. “A date stamp is a social contract”

10:00 AM: “I’ll stay in touch”. How many of us keep the promise of staying in touch. It’s more so in business. We intend to, but we don’t do it. How do we turn this promise into a relationship where we’re actually having a conversation. It’s key to a relationship that you fulfil that promise.

10:03 AM: Movies, books are really meaningful and portray an emotional connection, even if we don’t consume that media. And the promise and goal is we can experience and relive a great website as we do with movies and books. We can convey and communicate a personal message via websites as well. Business communication should aspire to the same level.

STARTING POINT

1. Awareness: Twitter is an example of informational overload. The balance is to understand, what needs to be presented to the audience at what time and with what immediacy. Sifting through the information to decide what’s important, appropriate and time sensitive.

2. Control: TiVo and iPod gives additional control over your audience’s mindshare. The Wii gives you this physical level of control on how you play games. How do we translate that level of control over web experience. Of course, it’s the feed and 95% of the crowd raised their hands as having used RSS feeds!

If you combine the awareness with persistence = relationship. But how do we translate that into a business setting. Irrespective of the bar charts, pie charts, etc… what’s the goal of evangelism — to maintain the relationship over the web! That’s so true…

How do we use web 2.0 to build relationship? Deborah is going to start talking about Concepts…

CONCEPTS

1. How do we define the role of a community evangelist

The role of an evangelist is a tough one, yet very rewarding. He’s a customer advocate. To be both out to the customer and most importantly from the customer back to the company. That’s exactly what I thought! Check out my video where I spoke of the same.

Anil: Should be among the people. The advocate should be a native among the people who use the technology. And be respectful of it. The role of evangelist is NOT a sales role, started with blogs and is now a 3-dimensional role both online and offline. Evangelists seems to be from marketing, community, public office, user design, product, customer service. I couldn’t agree more, since my new role entails my interfacing with product, customer support, and management, which is exactly what Anil is talking about.

Externally facing you’ve got to be a company’s biggest fan and internally the biggest critic.

2. The Human Skills of Evangelism:

Listener, Connector, Critic, Partial Geek, Detective (?), Catalyst, Diplomat, Juggler, Driven by relationships, Approachable, Intuitive and Inquisitive.

3. Relationship Economy:

“Transactions are the by-products of a healthy relationships. Sometimes transactions don’t matter” – Jerry Michalski

4. Key Concepts:

Democratization of tools and access, the live web, decentralization, amateur culture, increased individual influence, control is out of control, let the seller beware, people are the message. Talking about Nike from Wikipedia. The seller ought to beware, since the Wikipedia page talks more about the controversies and not the hundreds of products they’ve released since their conception. Deborah, talks about how the evangelist is the connector and curator when it comes to content about your product/service.

EVANGELISM? THE TITLE

Anil has a problem with the title evangelism, he feels the really accurate title is WITNESS. The goal of an evangelist is to be a witness. Couldn’t agree more with him. That’s what I’ve mentioned earlier that every evangelist is to be a customer evangelist! A witness!

Be where your audience is?

You’ve to be wherever your audience is, irrespective of how inappropriate their location is

It’s 10:40 AM — Time for a break. Will be back, LIVE at 11:00 AM.

We’re back on and Anil is going to be talking about tools of the trade.

TOOLS

11:05 AM: Numerous social media tools out there. Most in the audience have obviously heard about most of these tools out there. The ecosystem is all about YOU and how you represent yourself in the ecosystem.

11:07 AM: Toolkit — has three different buckets

a. On your site (enable blog, rss, forums, email, etc…)

b. Out at the edges (blogosphere, social networks, photo and video sites and may I add, discussion forums)

c. Offline (events, meetups, conferences, dinner)

Anil adds that one should try out each of these different media and then use the ones that work best for you. Pick and choose little places, see how it works and then expand your presence on the web. The goal is to go out there and be a part of the conference that’s out there and more importantly where your groups reside. Wherever they are, you should be.

11:11 AM: Choose the tools that work for you (from the toolkit), which entails blogs, podcasts, RSS, video, wikis, social networks, chat, email lists, and groups/forums. A brief discussion on the various pros and cons of using one tool vs. the other. A lot of these tools self-correct over time. There are NO RULES as far as the choice of tools or methods of implementation. Also, another good point was adding new social media tools to existing methods. Like adding your newsletter content to a newly created blog. What’s interesting is that in a blog you get search engine optimization that you don’t have with an email newsletter and it also affords an opportunity to have a conversation. Gave an example of Boeing’s blog, which was one of the Top 10 in my Top 10 Corporate Blog rankings.

11:22 AM: Still talking about various tools. Currently we’re hearing about the various tools for podcasting and videocasting. And, now we’re on wikis. Most of these slides talk about the very definition of these tools and a few examples. I’m sure that most of my audience that knows about them, so I’m not going to be repetitive. Wikis are also a good tool for internal evangelism and “infinitely less scary inside an organization”. Anil is now discussing tips on feed reading.

Important Tip: If you’re using various blogs (employee blogs), corporate blog, flickr accounts, etc… do add common tags and bookmarks so you can be found easily in search engine results.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF:

… a community evangelist. Anil Dash is the evangelist for Six Apart and all his customers have a blog! Imagine a best-case scenario where ALL your customers have a blog! The expectations are very high. Their customers are across different countries, and on a daily basis there are around 600 – 10, 000 posts to respond to, for all their customers.

Icerocket, technorati, sphere, yahoo blog search, google blog search are the various tools that Anil uses to keep tab on his company products. He then searches for specific product terms, and then searches for them on different firefox tabs, on a daily basis. It’s very similar to what I do on a daily basis – I use Google Reader to add these feeds and helps me monitor search terms for LinkedIn.

After eliminating all spam, you’ll stumble upon blog posts/feeds that talks about

1. Hey, I’m trying out this product newly
2. I’m thinking about trying out your product

Here are the groups of users you’ll find:

1. Happy users/New Users: The easiest group to deal with :)

2. Moderately disgruntled users: Anil’s talking about how to engage with that kind of a user. Under promise and over deliver. Say you’re sorry and mean it! Tell them what you’re doing to fix it and explain to them how it happened.

3. Vocal – really upset population: Could be different reasons. Most people are upset for a plethora of reasons, but it’s your duty to understand, empathize with and respond to that disgruntled user as honestly as possible. Go above and beyond. The people who’re most obnoxious, calm down when you talk to them face to face. Anil leaves his IM or phone number when he hears a very disgruntled user on the web.

Oops! The Wi-Fi network disconnected. So, I lost a bunch of the stuff I was typing! Anyways, I’ll continue where I left off.

INTERNAL EVANGELISM

1. Engage with your colleagues:

2. Play with existing rules:

3. Highlight success stories internally:

Decentralization vs. Centralization

Using qualitative examples vs. quantitative ones. Highlight the conversion stories, which are important heart-warming stories. An important part of the role is story-telling and an emotionally resonant background. As far as centralizing the conversation on one central site. That’s not going to be happen. There’s going to be only way to connect with these different user blogs that are decentralized and link to a corporate blog where you can still continue the conversation.

Should evangelism be a person, role, team, title?

It depends on the company and of course in the DNA of the company itself. The role of the community evangelist depends on the customer service person, but now it has evolved into something that each and every employee has to do. What a community evangelist does is defining process as to what information gets routed to which team within the organization.

Case Study: OpenID

Your identity on the web could be your URL. Created 18 months ago and currently there are 100 million IDs. Bill Gates publicly endorsed Open ID on behalf of Microsoft.

Technorati, Movable Type support it. In the future, Digg will also support Open ID in the near future. Anil is going over the history of OpenID and makes an interesting pitch for OpenID.

Reasons for Open ID’s success:

1. A clear story

2. Mailing lists

3. Community Wiki

4. Face-to-face meetups

5. Frequent popular blog posts

6. Extensive coverage on Digg

7. Trusted, empowered leaders

Just concluded… Stay tuned for more coverage of the marketing and community track at Web 2.0 Expo for the next three days!

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Smarter conversations through the Gaping Void

Just a couple more items to round up what’s been an exciting week, a sign of times to come.

1. Porous Membrane – the Sequel

Hugh Macleod, creator of the Gaping Void, “cartoons on a business card” and the Porous Membrane post, comments on my recent remixing of his theory.

Mario Sundar, the “Community Evangelist” for LinkedIn.com, has another take on “The Porous Membrane”

Microsoft blog watchers, take note.

As you may have read in my earlier posts, customer evangelism is practiced by every passionate user within an organization. And, I see the role of every community evangelist facilitating easier communication between groups of users and the company.

Thanks to Hugh, for continuing to generate smart conversations.

2. While on the topic of successful communities

One such community manager is Scott Wilder, Group Manager for Intuit’s Quick Books Online Community, whom I had a chance to meet with recently. The good news is that he’s recently started a blog, called Community Playbook, which I’ll definitely recommend to anyone interested in learning best practices on community management. The very first post is titled “Don’t kill the press release, change the messenger

Check out his blog here. Subscribe to the blog here.


Let me know if you’re going to be around at the Web 2.0 Expo. The event is going to feature a who’s-who from the world of web 2.0 and even features a separate track on marketing and community.

Have a great weekend!

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Mprofs post: Community has a new side to it…

Well, finally I made it to the front page of MarketingProfs and that’s really cool. Feel free to check out my most recent post on their blog, The Daily Fix, titled the “Three Sides of the Community Coin“. For readers of this blog, you’ll recognize it as a remix of an earlier post of mine. What’s unique on the Daily Fix however is the kinds of conversations you’ll hear — great site, great ideas.

So, feel free to head over there and join the conversation, with other marketers. You can find the post here.

Check out all of my earlier posts on the Daily Fix, here.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

SD Forum event w/ Adam Moise from Palm

I just returned from yet another enlightening and fun-filled event organized by the Marketing Special interest group (SIG) of the Software Developers Forum or SD Forum as it is more commonly known as. The event featured Palm evangelist and Senior Manager, Partner Alliances/Developer Relations – Adam Moise.

The reason I called Adam, an evangelist, is because even though his title doesn’t say so, he’s a natural when it comes to infectious enthusiasm of the product he talks about. Harking back to a very interesting research study done by Frederic Lucas-Conwell (GrowthSource, Inc.) for the SDForum Conference last year, my observations seem clearer:

A technology evangelist serves as an ambassador of organizational technologies, interacting with prospects, partners, users, producers and other members of the organization. The position may carry a title; however, many are not formally assigned the position, yet often clearly promote the organization and preach its products.

I’d definitely recommend reading the survey results of that study, which can be found here. Here’s a sneak peek:

What are the salient characteristics of being a technology evangelist?
* Proactive in rapidly connecting with others
* Enthusiastic and persuasive
* Collaborative, comfortable working with others
* Socially informal, etc… (you can read the rest of it here- Source: SD Forum)


(from l-r: Adam Moise, Filomena U, Ed Buckingham)

I also had a chance to meet with Ed Buckingham and Filomena U, co-organizers of the Marketing Special Interest Group at the SD Forum. If you’re interested in considering membership for the SDForum, here’s their events calendar. You can check out their registration page for further details.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

5 steps to let your dream job find you

Quick Update: Adam Darowski initiates the discussion on whether blogs are the new currency of job-hunting? Joshua Porter from Bocardo chimes in with his affirmation that blogs ARE the new resume.

Bokardoan Adam Darowski suggests that the blog is the new resume. I think he’s absolutely right…whenever anyone wants to know anything about me I send them here.

First off, NOT ALL blogs can be considered your resume. However, for those of us interested in maintaining an online presence/identity it can be a worthy and impressive add-on. As I’d mentioned in my post below, the best repository for your online identity is your vanity google search. My online brand a.k.a vanity search yields my blog, my other blog (mprofs – where I contribute), my LinkedIn profile (Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn), my Images (Flickr), Video, Events, etc… Now, that’s a comprehensive identity. Read on…


Just earlier today, I read this interesting piece on the changing face of today’s barrier less digital economy (a la “World is Flat”) on CNN. The article highlights how the CV/resume has evolved over the past few years from a paper based resume to the online version, and made it easier to find you that dream job.

So, let me highlight five steps to announce to your dream job, that you’ve arrived! Gone are the days, when you found the perfect job when you wanted one! The task is made infinitely easier for those who obsess about their favorite topic of interest and have an online brand that defines that.

1. Start networking today — Off line events

What started off as a necessity while I was into business development – networking with fellow marketers, led to a passion towards attending events on topics that enthralled me (web 2.0 related), and slowly towards finding a community of like-minded peers. For e.g. If your primary area of interest is web 2.0 marketing there is no dearth of events that you can attend. Here are probably three primary sources: Upcoming.org, Meetup, and the Web 2.0 Expo.

Although resumes posted on the Internet has increased the job-hunting prowess for many, traditional approaches — such as old-fashioned, off-line networking, is still a powerful job-seeking tool. “You need a blended approach — you can’t put your eggs all in one basket,” Alan Whitford says. (Source: CNN Article “Interactive CVs…” dtd. 4/7/7)

2. Start a blog on your favorite topic — Online presence

In order to find that dream job, let’s face it, you’ve got to have a dream! If you have a dream, you’ve got to announce it from the rooftops and the present-day equivalent of that would be for you to start a blog. For e.g. When I started my blog, I knew I loved marketing but it helped me evolve towards specific topics I closely identify with (such as customer evangelism and community marketing), fueled by friends in that space (Mack, Jeremiah, Damon, and others).

Blogging, I realized was a great way to effectively share thoughts, energize, and converse with my friends. I think an important first step was finding that community of marketers. In my case, I’d have to thank Mack and Ann for welcoming me into the circle of marketers. But trust me, your circle will find you.

3. Engage with those who share your enthusiasm for the topic

Let your “circle of interest” find you. And once they do, the conversations that ensue will be worth all the effort. There are many tools to accentuate that behavior. A case in point: Twitter, which everyone’s been talking about, helps you connect with your audience/circle of hyper passionate individuals you call your online network.

In a recent TIME article, “The Hyperconnected“, Lev Grossman talks of how ubiquitous technology like Twitter and iPhone are going to make things worse or better to engage with your trusted network, depending on how you look at it.

Update: Also, check out my friend, David Armano‘s BusinessWeek piece on the Conversation Economy here.

4. Find a tool to sustain both kinds of networking (online/offline)

Now, when I started off networking, I initially tried out an online networking service and felt handicapped by the fact that most of my friends weren’t on those networks and then I moved to LinkedIn (LI). The good news with LI then was that I was able to establish a virtual connection with my friends from high school, college, professional colleagues, the contacts I’d made networking – offline and online, and I was accumulating them all into one single repository (Disclosure: I’m the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn). Now there could be other online resources that you swear by. It doesn’t matter, just have a single easy-to-use repository of connections, and most importantly a tool that enables conversations. More on LinkedIn (via CNN):

Other user-to-user Web sites have conversely been a boon to job seekers: LinkedIn, a Web site dedicated for networking among job seekers, has gained acclaim for matching people together for business purposes.

“LinkedIn has gone a long way to recreate informal social networks for job seekers,” says Alan Whitford, who has written extensively about online recruitment and runs Abtech Partnership, which consults companies about using online tools for hiring. (Source: CNN Article “Interactive CVs…” dtd. 4/7/7)

5. Craft your online presence around your favorite topic

If you follow the above four rules, I’m sure you’ll definitely find yourself continuously among “birds of a feather” and that’d definitely solidify your presence among your “Circle of Interest”, meaning those who are as passionate about your area of interest as you are.

Whichever way you think of it, a blog or an online professional networking tool is an essential component to your online brand and let’s face it, companies are increasingly searching for you on the web. What’s the easiest way to find you on the web? Yes, just Google yourself and see how your web presence defines you. For e.g. here’s my online brand – here.

After almost a year of blogging and 2 years of being on LinkedIn, here’s how I stack up (in order of search results on the first page of my vanity google search):

a. My blog, focused on customer evangelism and community marketing

b. My blog contribution on MarketingProfs (Thanks, Ann) – on corporate blogging and Top CMO Blogs

c. My LinkedIn Profile

d. My Image (Profile) on Flickr

e. My Events

f. Video announcement of my most recent job

g. MyBlogLog Community

Quick Update: Rohit Bhargava (Ogilvy PR) who pens the influential blog “Influential Interactive Marketing“, has created his social media bio.

What’s a social media bio? Read his thoughts behind the genesis of the social media bio here.

How do YOU define your online presence? Do you have any examples to share?

Filed under: Linkedin

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