Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Working Unexpectedly From The Road
March 30, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Thoughts

I am starting a new position on Wednesday, working as a Talent Attraction Manager with AT&T and Chris Hoyt‘s awesome team of sourcers. Before starting my gig however, I decided to take a little low-key trip to visit some friends in various places. While heading home on Sunday night, my flight ended up being over-booked, and we were asked if anyone would volunteer to take a later flight. As I’m still technically on vacation, I decided to give up my seat since I figured there were some folks with little kids or people who had to be at work the next day. What a Good Samaritan 🙂 haha! As a result, I was given a voucher for a free round-trip ticket anywhere in the continental US, got bumped to first class for my flight today, and was provided a nice hotel, breakfast, and dinner at no cost to me. I think in this case being nice was certainly to my advantage!

I was comfortable doing this because I have been involuntarily stuck in a few cities overnight in the past, and having learned from experience, I always fly prepared for one additional day of being wherever I’m flying from. Preparing yourself for unexpected layovers is a smart thing to do, as airlines today are overbooking a lot in expectation of some travelers canceling at the last minute or not showing up, and they want to ensure full flights and maximum profitability.

So, from this personal experience, I wanted to share a couple of things I’ve learned over the last few years of traveling about preparing yourself to work on the road when you’re unexpectedly delayed in getting home.

  • Bring a functional carry-on. I bought a Wenger SwissGear backpack last fall and I absolutely love it. It’s got a place for my laptop, a middle compartment for personal gear, and several front pockets to stash a ton of stuff. I’m amazed at how much I can carry in it. Computer cases are nice, but many of them don’t have extra room to carry much of anything else.
  • Pack your carry-on with overnight essentials. Some airlines will provide you with a little emergency bag if you get delayed overnight due to weather, or if you voluntarily give up your seat on an overbooked flight. But this doesn’t have all the things you’ll need – for example, I wear contacts and there’s never a lens case or saline solution in those bags. Here are some things you should consider packing for an unexpected overnight:
    • An extra set of clothes – at the very least, a shirt and underwear
    • Stuff to shower and clean up with – makeup, shampoo, shaving essentials, etc.
    • Dollars and loose change – this is for vending machines and tipping airport shuttles for helping you out in a jam. Remember – being in a less-than-desirable situation doesn’t excuse lack of human courtesy. It’s not the shuttle driver’s fault!
    • With your laptop – a travel plug and adapters to sync your phone (if you sync w/ your phone) – just in case one or the other runs out of juice!
  • Wear comfortable clothes when you travel. I know many of you who travel for work have to dress professionally when you fly. If you have to do so, make sure you wear your most comfortable suit/dress suit. Sitting for hours in an itchy uncomfortable outfit only magnifies the suckiness of getting stuck somewhere. If you can, wear pants you wouldn’t mind wearing for 2 days in a row in a pinch. Also, wear layers because you never know if the temperature where you’re at will plummet or warm up suddenly. 
  • Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. I got stuck in Atlanta once when I was wearing a cute pair of black leather boots, and by the time I got home they hit the trash because I’d rubbed up some monstrous blisters in them from all the extra walking I had to do. Now, I almost always wear sneakers that have been broken in, or if I have to dress nicely, I have a pair of heels that cost a little more but were designed for comfort. Having sore feet is the worst when you’ve been stranded.
  • Back up your laptop before you leave. I have an external hard drive that I use to back up my laptop about once a week. However, before I travel I always back it up before leaving. Got forbid anything happen to my laptop, but as a safety precaution it’s good to have an up-to-date backup just in case.
  • Be prepared with your work when you travel. When coming back from a conference in San Francisco a couple of years ago, I got stuck in the Denver airport for 6 hours. Thankfully, I had my laptop and phone with me and didn’t miss a beat of work. In addition, almost all the tools and resources I used were web-based, so they weren’t tied to desktop applications that would only work if I was using a certain computer. This whole ‘cloud computing‘ or ‘cloud recruiting‘ thing comes in real handy when you find yourself in a location that is not your normal work space. One additional thought here as well: I keep all of my calendar appointments synced on my phone, so I always know where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing, even if I don’t have my computer with me. And finally…
  • BE FLEXIBLE. This especially applies to weather delays. I’ve been stuck overnight in Atlanta three times to date due to weather. Each time, there were always a couple of people who huffed and puffed and acted like the airline was at fault for the bad weather. If you ever find yourself in this spot, don’t be that guy. You’re all in the same boat and no one is going to get preferential treatment in a situation like that, so you might as well suck it up and deal with it. I always try to make the most of experiences like that – find an interesting place to go eat, or have a nice conversation with some of your fellow travelers. When I was delayed for 4 hours in Chicago over Christmas, I befriended the Army guy who had been sitting next to me and we still stay in touch. Had it not been for the snow, I might not have made that new friend!

Listen, it’s easy to keep yourself productive at work when unexpected travel delays occur. You just have to prepare yourself. Opportunities to exercise this present themselves to us every single day in all different forms. I recently wrote a post on how I feel about luck. If you keep yourself prepared daily for the unexpected, you’ll find tons of “luck” everywhere you go, even when you get stranded!


Responsibility and Resolution With Social Media
March 26, 2009, 5:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Thoughts

I love the ease of communication today via social media. But a wise man once said that with great power comes great responsibility. I’ve grown sick and tired of the lack of personal responsibility when it comes to social media today. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point – myself included as well – and we’ve got to quit using the “I didn’t know it was wrong” excuse for everything.

I recently read an article that talked about a man who was in process of interviewing with Cisco, and upon receiving a job offer, tweeted about the “fatty paycheck” and his mental dilemma of doing work he didn’t like. This, unfortunately, is not an uncommon occurrence. I see tweets day in and day out similar to this – people talking about their bosses, their place of employment, their coworkers, etc. With the growing popularity of social media, private matters simply aren’t private any more. And guess what everyone – we’re the reason for the demise of our own online privacy. So let’s start taking some responsibility for ourselves.

When you post something through Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc., it’s now archived via the Internet. This means that it will be searchable for as long as the Internet continues to exist. Even if you’re posting on a password-protected site, people who are connected to you there can still search. So put some thought into the things you write. My own personal rule is this: I NEVER tweet, post, or respond to emails when I’m angry without first waiting 24 hours. The knee-jerk reaction to something that ruffled your feathers could come back and hurt you later on. I actually have 2 or 3 blog posts that I wrote in the heat of the moment that I’ve never published because after waiting 24 hours, I re-read them and thought to myself “This is not a good idea…” and thus saved myself from certain digital death.

It’s a bit of a paradox that we’re developing more and more ways to stay intimately connected to each other, yet there are more and more growing concerns about privacy, particularly online. My answer to this is simple: if you don’t want someone, ANYone, to know something about you, then for Heaven’s sake don’t post it or talk about it anywhere online. Filter things through a brain cell first, and consider the ripple effects of the things you say and do, and then make publicly known via your social networks.

The best case for this is when you are job hunting. If you are looking for a job, clean up your act. Take down your questionable photos from that frat party or from spring break in Cancun. We all know how much fun you had there – some of us also partied in Cancun for spring break when we were in college – but your potential employers are going to be looking for you online. Perception is reality in this case, whether it’s right or not. Don’t give people any more ammunition to use against you than is already out there.

Here’s another thing that irks me about social media communication today: hiding behind your digital presence. So much of the context of a conversation is potentially lost when you’re having a heated debate or a fight with someone via email/text/IM/Twitter. Nothing bugs me more than when I see people trying to settle an argument, miscommunication, or misconception using any of these methods. Nothing gets accomplished here, and my brother refers to people who argue and taunt in this manner as having “virtual balls” – meaning they’d never say or do those things in person. I picked up a thing or two about appropriate communication while working in the PR industry, and what I learned is that when you’re trying to resolve an issue with someone, pick up the phone and talk to them, or better yet, do it in person. Don’t post nasty little notes on Facebook or send snarky text messages. Also take the 24 hour rule into consideration – and be responsible about your relationships.

Put some common sense into your communication and your online presence. Would you say that to someone’s face? Would you show your boss those pictures? Would you communicate in that method if your job depended on it? The problem is that we’re so ready to point our fingers at everyone else but ourselves to explain and excuse our bad decisions (‘Facebook made me do it’, ‘Well they shouldn’t be looking at my profile to begin with’,  ‘I have the right to express myself’) and we’re not thinking about the (dis)comfort of anyone around us. It’s like the girl who wears skimpy clothes and then gets offended when people stare – you put those clothes on, no one forced you to do so, and people are going to stare so you’d best be prepared for the consequences of your actions. No one is to blame but you. When you don’t put any thought into the things you post to your social networks, you are putting yourself in the same situation. You have every right to do so if you want – but you don’t have the right to complain. Quit whining, grow up and take some responsibility for your own actions.

Cool Tool Alert: Contxts
March 15, 2009, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Cool Tool Alert, Networking/Social Media, Research, Technology

While monitoring the NCAA Tournament Selection Show this afternoon on Twitter, I saw a passing tweet from Pete Cashmore (@mashable) of Mashable fame mentioning a website called Contxts. I was curious so I went to check it out, and I think this is a really neat tool that we as sourcing professionals can utilize from a social media / Cloud Recruiting standpoint!

Some info on Contxts:

Contxts is so much more than a professional social network. It’s a way to make meaningful connections while out and about. Business cards are so 2007. What with the environment in shambles do you really want to be that guy who is handing out chopped up pieces of bleached trees? We here at think that our site will solve this problem and more. By using SMS, built into every mobile phone, you can easily and rapidly distribute your credentials.

  • Exchange all of your professional information with a single text message
  • Keep all of your professional contacts organized in one place
  • It’s eco-friendly (txt messages don’t kill polar bears)
  • Rid yourself of “old school” business cards
  • Link with other professionals

Essentially, this is a Twitter-like SMS business card. You’re given 140 characters to share whatever information you’d like with those who request it. You can put your name, your email, your blog URL, a phone number, a message, pretty much whatever you want. Colleagues can either send you a request by texting your unique username to 50500, or you can send it to individuals by texting the message “SEND 1234567890” (recipient’s phone #) to 50500.

Even cooler, Contxts will store all the information on those who request your SMS business card. So it builds you a contact list, and for those contacts who have also registered on Contxts, you will have first and last names, phone number, and email address.

Psst….as an added bonus, those of you with smartphones will appreciate this: When someone requests your information, you can quickly either add them to your Contacts list on your phone, or find them. I have an iPhone and it instantly tells me who has requested my info. So – instead of having to hunt down the information, the combination smartphone and SMS business card makes for quick contact list recognition/building for your mobile.

How can this be a helpful tool for recruiting? Well, considering you can make your “business card” say whatever you want, imagine the possibilities! You can use this to engage your online communities in a simple “text me for more info” manner. For example: let’s say that right now your biggest priority is finding a PR Manager in Chicago. You can request interested parties to text your unique username to express their interest, and Contxts gathers their information for you while sending them a customized message on your opportunity. You could also run contests by using your SMS business card as a way to register contestants, or by sending a message with a URL to the prize site. The possibilities are virtually endless. PLUS – IT’S FREE!! (outside of your standard text messaging rates)

Sounds pretty neat, huh? As someone who doesn’t readily like to share her phone number, I think this is a fantastic way to connect without having to pass out my digits. I decided to test this out and registered myself. To get my SMS card, send “researchgoddess” (without the quotes) to 50500 from your mobile phone and see for yourself. Go ahead – I dare ya! (maybe there’s a special message…)

Next Cincy Tweetup – April 8th (New and Improved!)
March 11, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Tweetups

jelly-cincinnatiA couple of changes will be made to our Tweetups from this point on. Several folks have said that calling our gatherings “tweetups” is confusing, as most tweetups, according to Krista Neher, “are at bars and involve drinking beers.” So – to make things less confusing, from this point forward, we’ll be calling these get-togethers “Jelly Cincinnati” or “Jelly Cincinnati Tweetup” or something like that – reverting back to the original Jelly concept of the meetup I held in November 2007 that failed miserably 🙂 Let’s hope the second time around is better! Check out the new Jelly Cincinnati Wiki page – we’ll post updates there as well as having event registration available through Eventbrite.

The next date we’ll be co-working is Wednesday, April 8th. It seems like each date we’ve had a birthday, and the birthday person has brought in cupcakes to celebrate their happy day with the rest of us. So – next month I’ll be bringing the goods, as my 30th birthday is that Friday, April 10th. So, please join us and join me in taking a big leap into my 30s 🙂

Join other Cincinnati area telecommuters for a day of working in a collaborative environment. We’ll meet at Crossroads Community Church – the church graciously offers free wifi and coffee during the week for the local community. The idea here is to have folks who work in many different job functions working together in an open environment. The expectation is that creative juices will flow and new friendships will be forged. Hope to see you there!

Register to attend the Jelly Cincinnati Tweetup here.

When: Wednesday, April 8th
Where: Crossroads Community Church
3500 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45209

The Social Media Geeks NCAA Tournament Pool
March 9, 2009, 8:30 am
Filed under: Contests

Once again, it’s March Madness time – and I’m hosting a Tournament Pool again for all you geeks out there who want to participate! Get ready – March 17th is approaching quickly!

Sadly, doesn’t look like my beloved Gators will last long this year, but at least they’re (most likely) invited to the Dance.

So, if you’d like to participate, you can sign up here – the group ID is 30220 and the password for the group is twitterrules. The buy-in is only $10 and winnings will be distributed to the top 3 brackets: 50% to the 1st place bracket, 30% to 2nd, and 20% to 3rd. Please notify me when you’ve registered your bracket to pay for your buy-in. I will be accepting PayPal payments for this.

Who’s your top pick this year? Will Pitt keep being a big spoiler, or will they be stopped by this year’s Cinderella team? Hope to see you in the Social Media Geeks tournament pool!

New Opportunity For Me
March 6, 2009, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Recruiting, Research, Thoughts

I wanted to share some really exciting news with everyone! After March, I’ll be taking on a new position working with AT&T’s talent attraction team. I’m super sad to be leaving Waggener, but this opportunity is a perfect fit for my vision of social media strategy in sourcing and recruiting. Plus… I’m going to get to work with my buddy Chris Hoyt – aka The Recruiter Guy – and I’m totally stoked about that! I will still be working remotely so I’ll be staying here in Cincinnati.

I am still planning to stay intimately connected to the world of PR, even though I won’t be working directly in it at this point. I have found over the last 18 months so many connections and similarities between PR and recruiting, and I know that gaining this knowledge is going to help me tremendously in my new role. So, for all of you who have taken the time to talk with me and share your knowledge with me, I am ever so grateful and appreciative.

I have loved my time with Waggener! It was truly a family to me, and I hope that all those whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know there will stay in touch. Changing companies to me doesn’t mean changing friends – it just means that we’ll have to try a little harder to stay connected 🙂 Thanks for all the good times!

Of course, I will continue to blog here and be a (loud and opinionated?) voice within my online communities. I am eager to see where this new chapter will lead. Thank you all for sharing in my excitement!

Blellow – Testing The Beta
March 5, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Article Reviews, Cool Tool Alert, Networking/Social Media

I saw a tweet about Blellow‘s new beta site from Mandi Leman a few days ago, announcing a prize of a free SXSWi pass and a VIP pass to Mash*Bash on March 16th. Since I’d do just about anything to go to SXSW (anyone wanna sponsor me? LOL) I figured I would participate in this beta and check out this new community.

So, for starters – what exactly IS Blellow? According to their website, “Blellow is a San Antonio based bootstrapped start-up” and they believe that “while there are many tools for learning, our best resources are each other.” Basically, this seems to be a community site that encourages its users to post questions and topics and engage other community members to share their expertise on various topics. Sounds OK so far.

So, I registered and set about trying to make my way around this community and check it out. The Groups seem to have a Twitter-esque feel to them. You can attribute  a message to a group or groups by adding a % in front of the group name (sorta like using #hashtags). And replies are designated by placing an @ in front of the username. There are a variety of topic areas, such as Education, Social Media, Business, and Non-Profit, and I started a group called Career Advice – hey, who isn’t looking for a tip on how to land a job these days?

So, having snooped around a little, here are some of the pro’s I’ve found:

  • The design of the site encourages users to solve each other’s problems, which is great for getting people to interact with each other
  • Threading of messages: when you write a question or statement, you can then actually see the thread of responses
  • picture-9You can give people kudos for helping out on a query, and it visibly shows how ‘helpful’ an individual user is by displaying the number of kudos they’ve been awarded. (I have zero; I haven’t been too helpful just yet :))

Now, for the areas of improvement:

  • It’s still quit buggy – when I first signed on, I tried to search for groups and kept getting an error page. However, I notified Mandi of this on Twitter and within an hour, the issue was fixed. So, I’ll put expedient (and pleasant!) customer service under the pro’s as well! 🙂
  • There is no people search function – you can’t search for people unless you click on their av’s within a group. I pointed this out again, and Mandi told me this was a feature that was in the works. Good!
  • When looking at the Group listings, there isn’t anything to visually indicate to you if you’re already a member of a group or not.
  • I would love a splash or preview on mouse-over w/ vital stats on each user, instead of having to click through each profile to learn about someone.
  • I would also love email and/or text updates for replies and/or private messages. I hate having to constantly refresh my browser in order to see what’s new.

That said, I would opine that Blellow, while still a little beta-buggy, has some potential. As it seems to be predominantly driven by user contribution, ultimately the users will make or break this community. That could be its biggest victory or its hardest struggle. If the community is mostly people seeking answers, but not contributing, it won’t work. If it ends up being mostly people throwing their opinions and “recommendations” around but not asking questions, it’s going to be full of a lot of hot air and big egos. Hopefully, it will find a happy medium between the two! Good luck, Blellow – and I hope I win your contest and get to hang out in Austin. My only challenge would be actually getting there 🙂

And on that note – if any one wants a respected blogger to cover SXSW for them, I’m open to sponsorship 🙂 Seriously. Inquire here!