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Finished That Chapter, Starting a New One

January 19, 2010

If you haven’t heard by now, I did land a new position with a great company.  I’m not going launch into the job, the company, etc. in this post.  Some things are still not 100% final.  But since I haven’t posted here in a very long time, and since I anticipate that my future blog writings will likely come from a different site, I did want to talk about what I experienced in this chapter.  And how it finally came to a close.

I got the word that I was ‘being affected by the downsize’ in early May, 2009.  I immediately jumped into a full time job search within HP.  I spent 6 solid weeks applying, sending emails, interviewing and stalking old managers for help.  But it didn’t go anywhere.  Had I been willing to move to the Bay Area, I probably would have found a job at HP.  But that’s not something I could do. 

By early July, I knew HP wasn’t going to pan out for me.  I had had some interviews with one other company external to HP and those were continuing, but I hadn’t done a lot of networking or looking outside of HP, so it was time to shift gears.  However, since we had a big trip to the desert southwest planned – I decided to take most of July off and pick up the job search in August. 

We had a wonderful time.

Grand Canyon

Santa Fe

Points in between

In addition to the southwest trip, we went to Tahoe a few times, we went to Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara, and visited our favorite place in the world – Lakes Basin north of Truckee.  It was a great time.

But then I got to work.  I took advantage of all the services of Lee Hecht Harrison – the awesome outplacement firm/service that HP provided.  I took PMP courses online for free, I joined a job search ‘support group’, I worked on my resume, my summary, my cover letters, my list of target companies.  And I networked like crazy.  Here’s what I did:

1) Contact everyone I could track down that I knew here in the area and tried to have a face to face meeting

2) I used LinkedIn like crazy.  I could use it from the ‘Company A has a posting do I know anyone there” point of view.  I could use it from the “I want to work at Company B – do I know anyone or does anyone I know know someone there.”  Or I could use it from the “where do my friends’ friends work?  Are there any cool opportunities there?”  People in LinkedIn – sometimes total strangers – were all VERY helpful.  The key is to be able to tell them specifically how they can help.  More on that below.  I also signed up for JobAngels and other groups relevant to my background where jobs were often posted.

3) I stayed in touch with people who had tried to help.  As the months wore on, I reconnected and check back in with people periodically.

You can’t just ask people if they know of any jobs – most people don’t.  What you need to is ask people if they know any one in your target companies, if they know any other companies you should look at, and if you have found an opportunity – ask people if they have any contacts that might help you.  Help comes from odd places.  I had one great job opportunity come from a friend at my gym.  Church was a good source of ideas too.  My sister’s neighbors were helpful.  I mean, you have to tell every man, woman, child, dog – whoever you come in contact with that you are looking for a job.

But many people don’t understand what I do or what I would be looking for – so you really need to have your ‘elevator statement’ down – a quick blurb to explain to people what you do. 

At the end of the day, I calculate:

I talked to over 20 people face-to-face

I talked to 15 recruiters

I networked with over 200 people – email, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter

I had close to 20 interviews

At the end of the day, one contact with a supplier that I hired at HP led to a job.  A contact in June, led to a possibility in August, which led to an interview in October, which led to an offer on Christmas Eve, which led to a late January start date.

I need to keep writing.  I enjoy it and it has served me well.  Once I start my job, I’ll write another post.  Maybe by then I’ll decide the fate of my blogging future.

Godspeed to all.

Enterprise Customers as Consumers

December 1, 2009

Last week I was talking with someone at a Fortune 50 company about Social Media.  As is obvious to most people – marketing people, consumers, social media marketing experts (see my previous post/link from Holy Kaw), big companies are not making the most of social media.  There are a number of reasons for this – but here’s what I see as the main ones:

– They don’t have time:  When it became apparent that we needed to moderate the online user forums for my products, no manager was willing to provide resources to do it.  So unhappy, verbal, know-it-all users (customers) filled in and began answering questions for other users.  We didn’t have time or resources to correct statements or police bad-mouthing.  This led to the jobs of the sales people, pre-sales consultants, and marketing people being that much harder.

– They don’t have ‘approval’.  Most large companies closely guard their brand and corporate voice.  The process of getting customer facing blogs approved is generally arduous and arbitrary (hmm…that sounds like the title of a future post).  In my situation, we continued to rely on the old methods of reaching customers – through sales teams.  Sales teams that were overwhelmed, under-trained, and apathetic.

– They don’t see enterprise customers as consumers of social media.  This, I believe is a huge misconception.  As products became more complex and companies outsourced tech support to developing countries, enterprise customers have had no choice but to surf the web for solutions to their problems.  They are using blogs and forums primarily, but are also drifting into Twitter. 

Enterprise customers, while complex and labyrinthine, are still a group of people acting individually.  Technology and service marketers and customer service teams need to create a strong social media presence for a variety of audiences and purposes in order to be taken seriously.

Tell Me Something I Didn’t Already Know

November 18, 2009

Alltop/Holy Kaw article:

Launching a Product

November 12, 2009

rocketJust talked to a recruiter for a software company.  “You need to be able to come in and know all the tactical things that need to be done to launch a new product.”  Oh, yea..I know all about that.  You need to figure out what’s new in the product – not just the techie stuff but the BENEFITs – why should customers care about the new release.  Then you need to line up your collateral – data sheets, white papers, web copy.  You need to prepare your sales training material – and often deliver than training.  You need to brief your PR team – or the press yourself if you are in a smaller company – about what’s coming.  You need to start blogging about the new product, maybe reaching out through other social media outlets.  Make sure everything ready ahead of schedule and out to channel partners in plenty of time. 

Phew!  Well that’s only the 1/2 of it.  You also have to have your strategy story ready in a slide set or briefing paper – because your customers are going to ask you about how this release fits in to the overall strategy for the product.  The product roadmap is a little like reading tea leaves, as you never really know if all the various pieces are going to fall into place as planned.  But you need to have goals, right!

Where Marketing and IT Meet

November 12, 2009

dancersI’ve been playing with Networked Blogs and I decided to call my blog “Where Marketing and IT Meet”.  So much of my experience in marketing and product management – and program management – involves that dance with IT.  Sometimes we are skilled partners working together, other times we are trying to trip each other, other times one is doing the waltz while the other is doing the tango.  Sometimes one partner is doing a solo on stage A while the other is doing a solo on Stage B.  But it’s always fun to watch. 

I’m going to change the title in my heading now.  Woohoo!

Top 5 Things IT and Marketing Fight Over

November 3, 2009

armwrestle#1 – Which is more important getting it out on time or getting it out bug free.  Okay this one differs from org to org, team to team.  I’ve actually argued on both sides of this one.  I argued for just getting the damn thing out when it was 12 months late.  I’ve argued for more testing when the previous two versions of the software were full of bugs.  I mean really…

#2 – Whether or not uses cases have been properly documented.  This gets tedious when you are talking about changing the name of a field or something.  On the other hand, I’ve also had IT point out that if we give the customer ‘feature X’ then ‘feature D’ will work differently.  It’s best to have a good working relationship between IT and product marketing.

#3 – Whether that problem the customer is having is because their environment is ‘jacked’ or because the software has a bug.  Let me tell you – this generally results in a lot of people getting involved in a technology version of ‘he said/she said’.  Generally, I ask my friendly tech support people to try to reproduce the issue on a clean system.  This usually ends the debate.

#4 – Whether a product feature is important or not.  Marketing generally spends a great deal of time vetting features before introducing them to the development team.  Features may be submitted by customers, by sales or vertical market teams, by channel partners, by tech support or by other development teams who have some dependency on the products.  It’s marketing’s job to decide which of these requests are compelling and create a differentiator for the product.  Often marketing will go to great lengths to show the relevance and importance of a feature (or even a new product altogether), only to have IT say “eh – customers don’t really want that.” 

#5 – What the future of the product line holds.  Again, this is an area with a strong relationship between IT and marketing is critical.  Marketing brings to the table industry trends – competition, technology, etc.  IT brings to the table the core technology expertise and the wherewithal to understand what’s coming next that customers will likely want to adopt.  The challenge is to be cutting edge without leaving slow-to-change enterprise customers in the dust.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know – I Still Don’t Know

October 22, 2009

child_learningI don’t mean to pick on Robert Fulghum’s best selling book with a related title, but really – to succeed in the world of business – you have to remember that you are always learning.  Like many people, constant learning is something that makes me get up each day with a zest for life.  I might learn something about my field, something about the burgeoning social media world, something about a company I am interested in, or something about my house, or my body, or my cats.  ;-) 

Sacramento has long been a ‘sleepy little town’ when it comes to the business and technology scene.  But a young dynamic social media evangelist, Alejandro Reyes, has been increasing the collective community knowledge on social media marketing.  Looking for a social media networking group to get involved with, I ran across Alejandro through  (Yes, MeetUp is more than politics!)  Alejandro’s energy and excitement ensured that I got involved and stayed involved in the local social media ‘brain trust.’

So far I have started this blog, began tweeting in earnest – mostly watching for interesting employment trends and the occasional “not tweeted 20 times’ job opportunity, and I created a Facebook Fan page for a non-profit I am associated with.  I’ve also squeezed every ounce out of LinkedIn – connecting with friends of friends, keeping my network apprised of my job search progress, and making sure my ‘brand Amy’ is easy to understand.

At the same time, I’m studying for my Project Management Professional Certification (PMP).  I’ll blog more on that closer to test date, but I am a busy lady!  And I’m energized because I’m learning new stuff EVERY SINGLE DAY (including weekends and holidays.)