Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era: Sources

As part of a webinar for B2B editors on September 23, 2010, I’m speaking on “Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era.” (The webinar, “Enhancing Your Career in the B2B Press,” is sponsored by the American Society of Business Press Editors.)

Since the webinar format isn’t particularly conducive to embedded links, I’ve listed here the main sources cited in my talk. I’ve included key quotes from most of the sources below in the hopes that even if you haven’t heard my presentation, you’ll be interested in exploring the originals on your own.

Future of news: Insider Dave Morgan touts new media

“Tomorrow’s companies will build empires based on the value that they deliver to their users and advertisers every day, not on their ability to finance and manage scarce bandwidth or expensive printing presses or exclusive distribution networks.”

“No longer is the media world one of a publishers-top editor-section editor-subeditor-journalist hierarchy. Today, audiences are in charge and they want direct access to, and interaction with, journalists.”

What Would Google Do?, by Jeff Jarvis

“Even if the Wall Street Journal reports a scoop behind its paywall, once that information comes out—quoted, linked, blogged, aggregated, remixed, and e-mailed all over—it’s no longer exclusive and rare.”

Gary Hamel: Hierarchy of Employee Traits for the Creative Economy

In discussing the employee traits valued by old media and new media respectively, I invoke Hamel’s “commodity” traits of obedience, diligence, and intellect and his “creative economy” traits of initiative, creativity, and passion.

The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model

“‘You can take something that is thought of as a creative process and turn it into a manufacturing process.’”

Can Robots Run the News?

“To the chagrin of sports reporters everywhere, a team from Northwestern University’s engineering and journalism schools has created a program that automatically generates sports news stories. Stats Monkey uses the box score and play-by-play—even quotes, if they’re available online—to compile articles that follow one of the system’s pre-defined narrative arcs.”

Paul Conley: The seasons, they go round and round

“My working life is now completely consumed by content marketing. As recently as December, most of my income derived from traditional publishers practicing traditional B2B journalism (although mostly on the Web, rather than print.) That is no longer true.”

Crush It!, by Gary Vaynerchuk.

“Everyone—EVERYONE—needs to start thinking of themselves as a brand. It is no longer an option; it is a necessity.” “Your latest tweet and comment on Facebook and most recent blog post? That’s your résumé now.”

Joe Pulizzi’s Blog: Seven Ways to Position Yourself for Unlimited Work

“I don’t hire anyone that doesn’t blog.”

A Brief Guide to World Domination, by Chris Guillebeau (PDF here)

I cited Guillebeau’s personal manifesto as an example of one kind of e-book B2B editors could aspire to.

Book Notes: An Interview with Seth Godin.  (On the publication of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?.)

“Cogs see a job, linchpins see a platform. Every interaction, every assignment is a chance to make a change, a chance to delight or surprise or to touch someone.”

Advice to the Re-Employed: Think Freelance

Imagine for a moment (and this may not be a stretch for many readers) that you’ve been self-employed for a year or so after a layoff put you out on the streets. You’ve put a decent freelance or consulting career together, gotten hip to the value of personal branding, and learned or relearned the enormous value of autonomy in your work life.

Now, though, you’ve had a tempting job offer you’d be crazy not to take, so you do.

Do you stop thinking like a freelancer and start acting like an employee? Twenty years ago, your answer probably would have been yes. Certainly that would have been your new employer’s expectation.

Today, though, there’s a good chance you would take your free-agent mentality into your new job, and with your new boss’s blessing.

Two blog posts today brought this to mind, one from the employee’s point of view, the other from management’s.

Seth Godin’s challenge to the employed is not to realize that you work for yourself—which you should know by now—but to start acting like it. As he reminds us, “the idea that you are a faceless cog in a benevolent system that cares about you and can’t tell particularly whether you are worth a day’s pay or not, is, like it or not, over.”

And Dan Pink, in a fantastic animated presentation highlighted today by Adam Tinworth, tells management that what motivates employees isn’t money, but three key personal factors: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. As he shows, the self-directed employee is the most productive and creative.

So if you find yourself in this scenario, think of your new job as an extended self-employment gig. In both good ways and bad, that may be exactly what your new employer is expecting.

Hire Your Future Competitor

On his excellent B2B Blog last Friday, Chris Koch reflected on Forrester’s recent decision to make all its analysts move their blogs into Forrester’s web site.

Forrester claims the move was made to protect its intellectual property. Koch’s view, though, is that Forrester’s motivation is to do the very thing it urges clients not to do: exert control over the way its employees use social media.

Though he doesn’t cite it specifically, I have to wonder if a related motivation isn’t to avoid creating competitors. As Koch notes, “The most powerful example of one of these personally branded blogs is Web Strategy by Jeremiah, by Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst who left Forrester prior to the policy change.”

While Forrester obviously wants its analysts to be well-known, it probably doesn’t want them to become so well known that they don’t need their employer anymore. The corporate brand wants to dominate its personal brands.

That might have been a smart business attitude for a content company once, but it’s dead wrong now.

In the publishing world, it used to be that when you interviewed editors and writers, you looked for evidence that the candidate would stay with you long-term. Likewise, most candidates wanted a chance to build a career within your company.

For the employer, it meant minimizing your hiring and training costs and benefiting from the ever-increasing experience of staff. For the employee, it meant not just job security, but continuing opportunities in experience and career advancement. It was, of course, a pairing of unequals, a master-servant relationship. But in the publishing world of old, it was the only way for the individual to gain access to the machinery needed to do the work.

That relationship has changed dramatically in the last decade. In the new-media world, individuals no longer need employers to build and maintain a publishing career. With the tools necessary for online publishing now essentially free, the employee has become, in terms of production, the equal of the employer. As Jeff Jarvis put it four years ago, “The empowered individual can create a media company, using blog software; create a manufacturing company, using somebody else’s factory and somebody else’s distribution; create a multinational enterprise, using nothing more than a Skype line.”

In such an environment, it makes no sense to hire people because they are likely to stay put. What you want is just the opposite: people who are likely to burst through personal and professional boundaries, to innovate, to try out new and untested ideas and technologies, and to build up their personal brands. In other words, you want editorial and journalistic entrepreneurs.

The best employees in the new-media world are those who have the potential to become the employer’s strongest competitors. As an employer, your goal should be not to repress, but to nurture their competitive instincts. If you don’t, you won’t be maximizing your own competitive potential.

A Wake-Up Call for Old-Media Professionals

A couple of blog commentaries today by B2B icons highlight two industry transformations that just aren’t happening fast enough.

In one post, reflecting on today’s bankruptcy filing of Penton Media,  Paul Conley laments that traditional publishers have been too slow to die off.

In the other, Joe Pulizzi worries that media professionals have been too slow to build their personal brands.

Taken together, these posts offer a much-needed wake-up call to those “lucky” people who still hold down old-media jobs.

For Conley, the likelihood that Chapter 11 will keep Penton going for at least a while longer isn’t good news, but bad. The complete demise of companies like Penton would be the best outcome, he suggests.

But instead, “these print-legacy, bond-selling dinosaurs get back on their feet and just lumber on . . . holding on to valuable properties that could actually grow if they were owned by people with more vision and less debt.”

The too-slow death of these behemoths is bad for the industry and worse for the people they employ. Conley notes that “Penton, like many of its peers, employs some talented people who produce some valuable material.” But talent alone is not enough. As ex-Pentonite Pulizzi observes, it has not saved many of his former colleagues from long periods of unemployment.

Yet they may be better off than those who have so far kept their jobs with the old-media dinosaurs. Far from being the lucky few, these are the people who, when their employers eventually collapse for good, are most at risk of falling behind in the new-media age.

It’s those employees that Pulizzi most urgently addresses in his post, offering them “Seven Ways to Position Yourself for Unlimited Work.”  If anyone is paying particular attention to his excellent advice,  it is surely the unemployed among us. It may be later than they like, but at least many of them are getting the message.

By contrast, the employed are not paying much attention, and so risk coming last to the new-media party. It’s for those people that Pulizzi reserves his most impassioned words:

“I’m urging you, especially if you have a full-time job that you feel is secure, to start doing this NOW. I can share hundreds (yes, hundreds) of examples of people who thought they were secure, didn’t do the work above, and are now taking unemployment.”

Between them, Conley and Pulizzi make it clear. The days of traditional B2B media jobs are numbered. The only job security you can count on now is what you build through your personal brand. If you aren’t doing that already, you need to catch up—and quick.