How to make sure that you don’t miss out on opportunities even if you move around:
I am frustrated. I am looking for a chef for a large organization, and I know the perfect candidate, but I can’t fine him. He’s disappeared from the face of the earth. I have his phone number, but he’s moved. His mail bounces, and research, even paid research services only bring up his last place of employment, now closed. I know he’s not dead, because someone I know saw him a couple of months ago. Pity. He’d like to hear about this, but I’ve given up chasing him down.
My lost chef could have kept himself available pretty easily, as can you. Obviously you are not always in search mode – you shouldn’t be – but it would be nice if the ad firm looking for a spokes-chef for their product could find you again. Life is full of bizarre opportunities which you can’t enjoy unless they can reach you. Not all of them are jobs – I was once subcontracted to find a chef as the face of milk. The fees they offered were about $1500/day. Do you want to miss that?
You, or course, are in constant motion, and information globalization apparently makes people foolish enough to leave their information out in the open a target for every kind of scumbucket telemarker or spyware spewing spamscamers, so you are hardly going to show your number on the web or in the yellow pages. Still, it’s nice to be available, and there are ways to do it.
1) Get Google Voice: This super nifty – something Dick Tracy and 007 couldn’t have imagined, and it’s free. Google’s gift is surprisingly unknown so far. You can have a free, permanent phone number anywhere that will forward to your regular phone and allow you to pick up messages on the Internet. (Plus International calling rates for .02 a minute!) When you move from San Diego to Vermont, you merely change the forwarding number with Google voice. What makes it neater: You can pick up your google messages on your computer screen.
2) Don’t change your cell phone number. Long distance doesn’t cost what it used to be.
3) Carry your number with you. It’s a bad idea to rely on a company cell phone, but if you do and move, consider getting your own and transferring your current residential number to that phone.
4) Get a permanent Email address at Gmail or through Hotmail. Use your name in some form, if you can. (chefjoedokes@ joe-dokes-chef@, dokesjoe@.. you get the picture). You can forward them to your regular address, which may change from time to time. This is your business and career address.
5) Keep a blog with your name and a contact form on itIt doesn’t have to be huge. As a matter of fact, it probably shouldn’t be. There are plenty of free options for blogs – you do not need a web site of your own, since Word Press and others offer free space on their servers. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but you can put up your pictures, make notes about things you do in your daily job. Most importantly, you can put up a contact form on it. This may sound intimidating, but the new blogging software is pretty intuitive.
6) Have a website. For about $10 a year you can secure your own Domain with a name like chefjoedokes.com and put up a small, free web site which should include your name and a contact link (using your professional Email rather than your private one). A serious site costs as little as $3 a month. Some come with free email, but that should not replace your permanent Google or Hotmail address.
7) Your own business cards. You probably have a card from your company, but a second card of your own with your Google Voice number, your permanent contact Email and as much or as little information as you wish will give people something to find you with. Consider it a trail of crumbs in the forest. Is should be professionally printed and be easy to read and scan. The art of cards is getting as much necessary information as possible in very little space, so don’t worry about being cute or catchy. You can use a logo, but your picture in whites will help people remember you just as well. We have found and love Red Dog Graphics in San Francisco (who also sets up cards) but there are many good and relatively affordable printers. Once you have them, distribute them liberally.
8) Rethink social networking. Whatever you think of Twitter or Myspace, can be a useful contact tool. Of course people seeking you on these sites will also see any tracks you leave behind (as will people like me, who may feel a little less motivated to contact you after seeing the pictures of your last vodka and marshmallow coed wrestling orgy). The best place to put up a professional profile seems to be LinkedIn, which allows other users to send you a message without revealing your phone or email information.
You don’t have to put up more than your name and profession, if you don’t want to. You decide how much. You needn’t socialize or network, but the page serves as a touchpoint for those who are looking for you. Even if you don’t want to be found, all you have to do is delete the occasional unwelcome message. Your personal information never appears.
Finally, it’s always courteous to update the people on your mailing lists when you change jobs, phone numbers or email addresses. It’s in your best interest for people you trust to be able to find you.