Tag Archives: University of Texas

College Alumni

I have said from time to time that the best place to start networking via LinkedIn is with the alumni groups for the colleges you attended. Almost every university of any size has a LinkedIn group. If you attended more than one university (whether you received a degree or not) you should join the group. This will increase your ability to connect with people outside your immediate field of experience.

Keep something in mind. LinkedIn wants to prevent spammers. It would ruin LinkedIn if it became nothing more than a resource for every on-line pharmacy or insurance company or ponzi scheme to blast members with endless emails. LinkedIn safeguards this pretty well by making sure that only people who have a common interest can connect with you. Either they worked at the same company you did (as is determined by their LinkedIn profile), went to the same school, belong to the same group or they know your email address.

This is great at keeping you relatively free of spam but it is also a barrier if you are trying build a new network outside your realm of experience. If you are tired of writing test software for missiles and want to write test software for wind turbines, all your contacts at Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are not going to be very useful in getting you connected to people at Siemens and GE. That is where memberships in groups will be helpful and college alumni groups are among the most inclined to accept an invitation from a complete stranger.

To a certain extent, having gone to a large university has an advantage by having a larger LinkedIn group, but that is not always the case. Both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have current student bodies of approximately 50,000 students. The Texas Exes LinkedIn group as 35,000 members but the Texas A&M Association of Former Students has 14,000 members. You will also need to join the Texas A&M University Alumni group with almost 10,000 members. Considering the rabid school spirit of the Aggies, you would just assume that their LinkedIn group would be one of the largest, but it is not.

My other Alma Mater is the University of North Texas in Denton with a current enrollment of 36,000 students. Once again, another big school, however, they have two LinkedIn groups with only 9,000 and 4,000 members. UNT is largely a commuter school with little school spirit. Despite the fact that they have a significant number of distinguished alumni including Don Henley (The Eagles) and Nora Jones (we can skip the fact that Dr. Phil also went there) plus Pat Boone and Roy Orbison (if you are a bit older), people just do not feel a kinship with other UNT grads. Therefore, you would not expect a large LinkedIn group.

On the other hand, tiny Trinity University in San Antonio has around 2,500 students but a LinkedIn group of 3,500.

You may have attended a community college and feel reluctant to highlight that on your LinkedIn profile. I received 6 hours of credit in Photography from Tarrant County College (back when it was called Tarrant County Jr College or TCJC…or Taco Jaco…) but I did not mention it on anything. In reality, TCC is a large school with 38,000 students in enrollment. However,  their LinkedIn Group contains only 231 members.

In this instance, LinkedIn might not be much help. If you do a keyword search on “Tarrant County College,” you will get over 18,000 results. These are people who took some classes there, mentioned it on their LinkedIn profile, even if they did not care to join the group. My guess is, you are not going to get much of a response if you try to get someone to LinkIn with you based on the fact that you both attended Taco Jaco back in the 1970s.

There are plenty of judgment calls to be made here. You have to size up if there is any benefit to reaching out to someone based on having gone to the same school. In some cases, it will help you a lot. You will find that classmate who is involved in wind turbines at GE and will be able to connect with them. In other instance, you are going to just have to dig a little deeper.

We will get into “deeper digging” in my next post.

Good Luck and Godspeed!

James Snider
Engstrom Trading, LLC
VP Business Development, TFX Nonstick!

What I Learned from House Painting

Photos from a Junkyard by the Artist Makena

From Junkyard: Photography, by Makena

I picked up a small painting job during my job search. It was only a few hundred dollars. I had not painted a room in many years and I seriously underbid the job. I do not think that anyone enjoys painting. It is messy and boring. It can be very tedious and I was starting to grumble a bit as I was getting close to finishing because it was taking so much longer than I’d anticipated.

Additionally, I was feeling a sense of strange defeat. When I was first married, I worked as a carpenter’s apprentice. That title glamorized the job a bit. I swept floors and carried lumber for 8 hours a day. When work slowed down,  I was farmed out to a house painter  for a couple of months. I went on to pick up some painting jobs at night to make ends meet. This spurred me on to go back to college, get a degree in Computer  Science then on to earn an MBA. I’d worked hard to put my past behind me. Now, here I was, painting houses again. All my education and years of experience and I was right back where I started.

Once I’d completed the job, a strange sensation came over me. I was actually going to miss having a job to go to each day. As much as I hated the painting, I loved having something to do that generated  an income, even if it was a meager income.

What did I learn from this?

We need to work. If we are deprived of work, we are miserable. I’ve heard that people do not die because they wear themselves out. We tend to “rust out” through lack of exercise, poor nutrition, alcohol abuse, tobacco and a number of other health damaging behaviors. My grandfather-in-law was an insurance professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He studied longevity and applied statistical proof to what most of us have observed. People who retire, tend to rust out quickly. Their days are full of nothing or nothing important.

So, if you are a job seeker and spending endless hours in front of the computer, sending resumes into the cyber black-hole, let me encourage you to stop! Do something that makes you get dressed and get out of the house and be somewhere at a specific time. Volunteer or go to networking events. Pick up a modest part-time job. Help an elderly neighbor…commit to be there every Friday at 9:00 AM to mow their lawn. Do something that yields an accomplishment you can see, even if that accomplishment is a small paycheck or weeded flowerbed.

But most of all, learn something. Keep your brain growing. Take a class at a community college (there are cheap or free classes for job seekers in the Dallas – Fort Worth area). Go to MeetUp.com to see what groups are meeting in your geographic area. Take classes on Social Media Marketing from Hubspot (they are on-line, self-paced and FREE). Take free on-line classes from Harvard. Or learn how to use social media and do it right. Get your LinkedIn profile at 100%. Make your Twitter micro-blogs interesting . Start a blog and invite me to read it. Figure out how to create your own webpage by using some of the free services.

Stretch and exercise your brain. You’re going to need it for the rest of your life.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

Increasing Blog Traffic with LinkedIn

OK, here is the secret sauce. I mean, you know, already, that I am suggesting that you start discussions on LinkedIn groups with the goal of getting people to click-through to your blog. That is not a mystery. Plenty of people do that. As long as your blog is worth reading, most people do not mind.

If you, however, take people to a web page that does nothing more than promote your paid service or promote your 30 minute webinar coming up in a few days or requires people to give you name, email and password to gain access, you are going to irritate at least a few people (me, for one).

Follow the rule of social media…despite the fact that you will see vultures violating the rule every day. Social media is about sharing and sharing something worth receiving. Deceiving me into thinking that you are going to provide me with “the 10 hottest trends in social media today” only to take me to a website promoting your e-book, The 10 Hottest Trends in Social Media Today, is going to make me more than just a little bit peeved.

I am not going to bite the next time you dangle the bait.

So, go to the LinkedIn group that is the most related to the subject of your blog. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s use my recent blog on how to find a job using Twitter. Some groups do not care if you simply say, “Here is how to find a job on Twitter.” My college alumni groups, for example, are OK with that. They are more social in nature with relaxed rules.

However, there are some groups (and I will leave the guilty “nameless”) will bust you every single time….and then kick you out of the group (after repeat offenses). American Society for Quality (I am not a member of this group…so do not know the rules) might be less interested in this sort of post. They want to talk about Six Sigma certification and the Malcolm Baldridge Award and stuff.

However, the Social Media Club might be interested in discussions about Twitter and might require you to put your post in the form of a question (after all, this is supposed to be a discussion) which will encourage comments and not just click-throughs. You might need to change  your comment to, “What are the best ways to find a job using Twitter?” and then you can put the link to your blog in the “Add News” box under your discussion question.

And, of course, most job seeker groups will usually welcome any posts to help other job seekers. I will give one caveat. For a short time, I belonged to a job seeker group which stated clearly that the group was “ONLY for posting job leads.” I was called out a couple of times for posting helpful hints. My posts were not “job leads” so I dropped the group.

Read the rules. If you get in trouble, say you are sorry and don’t do it again. Leave the group if it is not helpful.

Next time we will talk about the best LinkedIn groups to use in promoting your blog.

James Snider
B2B Business Development Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

Contact Me LinkedinWordpressBloggerTwitterFacebookBloggerYoutube

Using Twitter to get a Job?

From time to time, I come across an article that just does it all. Social media maven, David Swinney, just shared a great article from LifeHacker written by Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., Director of Liberal Arts Career Services at one of my alma maters, The University of Texas at Austin. When you can’t say it any better, you need to be quiet and point people to the better article. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you How to Use Twitter to Help You Find a New Job.

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

Contact Me LinkedinWordpressBloggerTwitterFacebookBloggerYoutube

Blame it on The Plague

My wife took a course called “The History of the English Language” at the University of Texas. It served to meet some part of her degree requirement. Whenever I tell this story, my friends from outside the Republic of Texas usually ask me if it was to fulfill a “Foreign Language” requirement. Actually, no…but I will assure you, she did not take it just for the fun of it. At the time, we thought it had to be the most boring class imaginable.

Since it was her final semester and we could not marry until she graduated, I was motivated to help her complete the course. I discovered that my two years of college German were very helpful in deciphering sections of Middle English. I became a frequent “drop in” to the class as we struggled to understand the ramblings of her professor.

As time went by, I found myself thinking back on the things we learned. It explained much about the language we speak and why it is so frustrating with all its peculiar spellings.

English got started when the Celts migrated to what is now England, during the Iron Age. The Romans invaded them around the time of Christ which brought Latin to England and introduced a lot of new words. Things went along passably well for the Celts, as the Romans had a lot to offer (roads, peace, pillows and wine to name a few). Then things started to get dicey in the Roman Empire. The Romans pulled out in 395 AD, leaving the Celtic-Roman mixed people to the mercy of the Angles and Saxons who came over from Germany….which is where that strong German influence came from.

For around 400 years, things were OK until the Vikings took over in 787 AD, bringing yet another language; Norse.  What we now call, “Old English”  (chances are that you never call anything “Old English”….but stick with me here…)  is a mutt language of Anglo-Saxon and Norse.

Then the Normans come along in 1066 and brought French to the British island. French became the language of the elite, with Old English relegated to the working, lower class. French might have replaced English in England had it not been for the Great Plague. With one-third of the population dead, social order began to break down and the classes started to mix. French and Old English began to mix together, yielding “Middle English” ….yet another dialect with its own set of peculiar spellings.

Between 1300 and 1600, we had the Renaissance and another wave of problems for weak spellers. Knowledge from ancient Rome and Greece were rediscovered. With the growth in “all things cultural,” there was also a great increase in new words. 12,000 new words entered the English language in the 16th century alone …and a great many of these words were derived from Latin.

During the first part of the Renaissance, rules for spelling and grammar were largely absent. For example, if you were to read the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales, for example) in the original language (Middle English) you would see words spelled in many different ways. Sometimes, different spellings of the same word were used in the same sentence. It was all dependent on how the word sounded to the writer. That leads me to ponder why one word would sound different ways to Chaucer in the same sentence…but questions like that are not very much appreciated in the average college class.

As you might suspect, spelling words “just any old way” made the written language challenging to read.  With the introduction of the printing press around 1440, standardized spelling started to take form. This would be largely dictated by the spelling preferences of the printer, by popular books (such as the King James Bible) or by popular authors (such as Shakespeare).

About this time, the semester ended and this is all I know about the history of the English Language.

What does this have to do with using Social Media in the Job Search? Give me a couple of days….I will come up with something. In the meantime, I will elaborate on this topic just a bit more in my next post.

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

Contact Me LinkedinWordpressBloggerTwitterFacebookBloggerYoutube