I’ve picked up a new job, as you may have heard. Friday, May 21 2010 

I am happily employed now two days per week (Saturdays and Mondays) at Saint Louis Cellars. I also work special events there in the evenings for them, when they need me; for example, this past week I poured wine at a wine tasting event for the Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater St. Louis—a very nice group of very powerful lawyers and judges and top-tier law school students.

The Saint Louis Cellars Web page says it all:

“Saint Louis Cellars is the newest, hippest wine store in town bringing a myriad of fab offerings with its friendly atmosphere, cool labels, and wine tastings. In addition to selling wines ‘by the taste’—Cool, Mellow, Rich, Sweet, etc.—Saint Louis Cellars has event space that is available for everything from intimate wine dinners to large charity parties.  Every bottle leaves the store “Packaged for a Party.” Saint Louis Cellars is located just north of Manchester Rd. on Big Bend in Maplewood.”

On Saturdays I work on the sales floor there, greeting customers, answering questions, rotating stock, and pouring wine at the free wine tasting we do each week. It’s a lot of fun—I keep chuckling and thinking, “Yeah: I am getting paid for this!”

On Mondays I write a post for a new blog they have called “The Crush Pad.” It’s a lay person’s guide to understanding and enjoying wine. Perfect for me to write, since I’m not an expert on the vino (yet—but I’m learning.) On Mondays, I get to sit at the Mac laptop in the store and write the blog. If the shop gets busy, I jump in and work with customers.

I have been learning a lot about wine, wineries, grape varietals, countries that grow grapes, how climatic conditions generally and weather conditions in a particular year effect a vintage, fermentation processes, storage, bottle closure methods, alternative packaging, and other good stuff.

I have the opportunity to research these things when I work on the blog, but I also read a lot on my own time. I have been joking that I read “the bible” every day now—The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeill, which, by the way, we sell at Saint Louis Cellars. I’ve also learned to get out of my rut and try a few things besides Chardonnay!

So, I have been posting less often to this site lately (at least not as often as I had been when I first started it), not because I was bored with doing it, but because I was doing some soul searching, researching and networking in my quest for something new to do for employment.

I’ve been at my job in public relations with a local “building design, development & planning firm” for 10.5+ years. There’s not much opportunity for me to move up, at this point, and I’m not a status-quo person. I wondered what else I might do for a living.

I had some time to reflect on all this, too, because that “building…firm” cut back my hours from full time to part time (24 hrs./week) on February 28, 2009, due to economic conditions. That was when I began this blog, and as I talked to so many other “creatives” through interaction here about their job searches, my cognitive wheels started turning about my own situation.

So, how did I find my new job at Saint Louis Cellars? Through Facebook!

Just goes to show that social media is a powerful networking tool, if you know how to use it. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that the whole hiring process right now totally sucks—that it’s impossible to speak to a human, nobody gets back about resumes received, about an applicant’s status after an interview, etc. Well, social media goes around those “official channel” roadblocks; learn to use it, if you’re encountering those kinds of problems.

Another complaint I hear regularly is people saying they’re “old,” which I take to mean they are “over 40,” since that’s when Equal Employment Opportunity Laws begin to cover us for age discrimination in the workplace; I hear that complaint coupled with this being the worst economy since the 1930s.

Well, automation in the hiring problem is a hurdle, no doubt about it. There is age discrimination in hiring, too. And, yes, this is a frighteningly bad and long-running “bear market,” as they say on Wall Street; however, I’m older than all of you reading this, I’m sure, and I found a job in this same bad economy doing something in which I have no true, primary expertise (i.e., depth of knowledge of wine.)

What I do have is up-to-date technical skills, enthusiasm out the yin-yang, and something in me that says, “Of course I can do that!”

So, I spent six hours over the New Year’s holiday mapping out transferable skills that I might use in “the wine trade.” My plan was to attend the premiere St. Louis food-and-wine trade show the last weekend of January at the Chase Park Plaza—I was going to paper that place with copies of my resume! Nobody was going to leave there without one!

I also had been following a few wine-related companies (and people in that trade) on Twitter and Facebook. One local business really stood out to me: Saint Louis Cellars. I took a chance and, early one Tuesday afternoon, the week before the shindig at the Chase, I sent my resume to one of the co-owners, whom I’d been following on Facebook. By lunch time the next day, I had a call from him saying he’d like to talk to me.

So, that’s how found a new job in a new field in the worst economy in seven decades—and yes, I am over 40; heck, I’m over 50. If I can do it, you can do it, too. Get creative, stay motivated, and if you want a copy of the successful resume I put together for this job search, leave a comment so I have your e-mail address.

BIM: The Next Generation Wednesday, Aug 26 2009 

Earlier this year I wrote on this blog about $100,000 the AIA St. Louis set aside for as scholarship pool for local architects “displaced” by the ailing economy.  Some of you wrote to ask more about it, and I posted a link to the application form.

This post is an update on how some of that money was used. I first learned about the specific project in the story linked here from Kelly Dawson Duepner, a Facebook friend of mine, who is one of the architects who has benefitted from the AIA’s funds with a BIM project applied to the Bevo Mill (Bevo Mill Modeling Project.)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story on it last Friday (8/21/09) and, as Kelly puts it, “It’s gone viral on the Web.” Here’s a > link < to the story in the Post that was picked up by Architectural Record.

Nice job, Kelly!

So, how is everyone doing these days? Tuesday, Aug 11 2009 

Has anyone’s work circumstances changed for the better? I haven’t heard from anyone for a while, so I don’t know if things are worse, better, or status quo. I’m still on a reduced work-week, myself. Let us hear from you.

Now HiringAs a thank-you-in-advance, I’m posting this > link < to a Monster.com job fair that’s coming to St. Louis.

8-25-09 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sheraton St. Louis City Center — Hotel and Suites | 400 South 14th Street

So if you are still looking for work, spruce up your resume, upload it and pre-register for this event.

PS — Follow Monster.com on Twitter and Facebook. Uh, you do you have your accounts set on those by now, right?

Careers column reporter for online Wall Street Journal asks, Should Over-50 Job Hunters Join Facebook? Friday, May 29 2009 

Read the whole story > here < and join in the conversation with your comment at the http://online.WSJ.com site, or leave a comment here for your colleagues.

online_mom-300x199I wonder how many people reading this of any age have a Facebook page that they use for professional networking (including job hunting.)  I have an account, but I have not completed any of the information yet.

man_mobile_phoneI plan on doing it soon, and to get the most out of it, I need to tie it in to the other accounts I have, i.e., Twitter, LinkedIn, and these two blogs. So far the blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn keep me pretty busy.

Share your questions, successful practices, comments, etc., here!

Images from nielsen.com via the Web

Social Media Strategies Sunday, Apr 5 2009 

rocketship-bubblesandballoonsAre you riding the social media rocket-ship yet?

My dad (rest his soul) was a techno-geek, and following in his footsteps, I have found technology in general, and social media technology, specifically, to be absolutely fascinating. I have three blogs (two that I claim), and I have my LinkedIn profile. I put most of my time on-line into these three things to keep them updated, which is one of the keys to using social media successfully for whatever is your purpose.

twitter-logoI also have a Twitter account that I opened a year ago, and only recently have I begun to have people ask to follow me. Funny, how it took the general population months to discover it, and now the terms “Twitter,” and “tweet” are everywhere. I haven’t incorporated Twitter into my active social media strategy yet, but I will do that in the next month or so and pass along what I learn to you. As always, I’m glad to hear what you know about it and your experience with it, too. I don’t want this blog to be just what I know (heaven help us!), but feel welcome to add what you know, as well.

Friends-of-Friends on MySpace

Friends-of-Friends on MySpace

I also have a FaceBook account, but I haven’t developed that yet. I have had a MySpaceaccount for a couple of years, which I have let languish. I actually cut my teeth, in terms of social media, on MySpace, but I had some issues with it, including the messy, confusing layout, and the fact that anyone who connected to me automatically brought their “friends” with them, some of whom who were not helpful to the image I was trying to build. I have transferred the content I had on Myspace to a blog (> St. Louis Chinese Corner <), and I think I will just use the MySpace account to refer people to my blogs. I’m still thinking through the best uses for myself of MySpace and FaceBook.

"chiclet"

"chiclet"

I subscribe to several blogs and on-line newsletters on the subject of social media. It’s easy to subscribe to blogs. How do you do that? If you see a “chiclet,” which is a little graphic that says FeedBlitz or FeedBurner or something similar on it on a blog, click on it. It will likely bring up a page that allows you to put in your e-mail address and get updates to the blog as new content is added. Isn’t that sweet? If you are not a subscriber to my blog, look for the FeedBlitz chiclet in my sidebar and subscribe. You can always unsubscribe easily by following the simple instructions at the bottom of any e-mail update you receive. You can unsubscribe, but I aim to keep my content fresh and interesting, so I don’t lose subscribers.

meat-roy-lichtensteinOne of the blogs to which I subscribe is called “Social Media Explorer,” written by Jason Finch. His posts are lengthy with lots of good meat, and I enjoy them. There’s so much being written and posted to the Web by so many experts on social media, however, that it can be hard to sort through it and easy to get overwhelmed. If you want to read Jason’s posts first-hand, I will put a link at the end of this for you to sign-up, directly; however, I’m glad to digest and condense some of what he has written and add some of my own thoughts to it for you.

The most recent e-mail I got from “Social Media Explorer” beats the drum for persistence as the essential rhythm for success in any social media strategy. I agree. One of the things that will bring me back to a Web site or blog (or guarantee I won’t return) is whether or not the content is regularly updated. It doesn’t matter if the regular schedule for updates is daily, weekly, or even monthly, but the important thing is that there is a predictability to the schedule of information put forth, and that there is someone seeing that the material is updated approximately as scheduled.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the preponderance of social media options, but my recommendation would be to pick one site, learn about it, maximize your content and keep it up to date. I recommend anyone doing businesss (any kind of business) to start with LinkedIn, because it’s free, it’s geared to adult users looking to make career contacts and develop clients vs. teens talking about who likes whom. LinkedIn is easy to use and has lots of nice features to flesh out your profile and on-line presence. You can list books you’ve read recently, add a PowerPoint presentation, and there’s even a feature that allows you to tell everyone on LinkedIn “what you are doing,” in about 150 characters, like on Twitter. You can really learn a lot about social media just on LinkedIn.

frankensteinHumanize your profile with a photo of yourself. I see profiles with no photo of the person, or, almost as bad, with an illustration of him/herself, and that’s a huge missed opportunity. People like to know to whom they are relating online, and a photo, even a nice, casual one, is better than no photo. Don’t wait until you have the perfect “studio” shot of yourself to put your face on your profile. If you have a nice, casual photo—and that’s all you have—crop it to a head-and-shoulders shot and put it on your profile. It makes a huge difference. You can always update it later.

clooney-erI always recommend that you have someone whose opinion you trust help you objectively evaluate your profile, so it’s actually communicating what you hope it communicates. I have a friend who has 30 years in healthcare, has completed law school and is making a transition into legal work, while studying for his bar exam.

john_cleese_as_a_barristerI looked at his LinkedIn profile, and I would have no idea of this transition. He has emphasized his healthcare work (understandable, with 30 years doing it), and buried his legal credentials in his work history. I gave him some specific ideas for positioning himself in a stronger way for the legal community (and its recruiters) to recognize him as a colleague. His profile made sense to him, but anyone glancing at it (and often all you get is a quick glance) would not understand that he’s on LinkedIn to transition into legal work. He didn’t have a photo, either. He does now!

You can build your profile content slowly; you don’t have to have the entire idea fleshed out to get an account set up, but do get it started. Then develop a discipline about posting something to build your profile and update information.

Look at the groups on LinkedIn, find several that match your career interests, ask to join. Then answer a question from one of your groups, or, if you’re really getting brave, post a question. Every time I do either of these two things, I get private replies asking for more information and/or requests to connect. That’s how you build your contacts.

If you have a LinkedIn account and been using it, let us know if it’s working for you, and if so, what you’ve done to make it work.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, want one and need some help getting stated, let us know.

“One for all, and all for one.”

Editor’s note: Link to >Social Media Explorer<

Image of rocket-ship courtesy bubblesandballoons.com via the Web. Visit bubblesandballoons for “fun prints for kids.”
Imagine of Goths from Wikimedia via the Web.
Image of “Meat” by Roy Lichtenstein, 1962,

Hiring a PR and Social Media Pro Wednesday, Mar 4 2009 

PrintI found this bonafide lead on LinkedIn, so you may need to be signed in to LinkedIn to get to it (and by now, if you’re taking my sage advice, you do have your free LinkedIn account set up!)

Either way, if you are working in public relations, advertising, or any media and expect to continue to do so, you should read the description linked below relative to this job opportunity.

Social Media Cycle

Social Media Cycle

The graphic (by Paramedia Group) that I have included here appears in the linked job ad, and it really illustrates quite well how social media fits into the overall scheme.

It also surely shows many where skills need to be improved. Love it, or hate it, this stuff isn’t going to go away.

I remember when the first memory typewriters started showing up on people’s (i.e., women’s) desks, and many avoided the training that was offered, assuming they would stay employable without it. Then dedicated word-processing equipment showed up, and the typewriters started disappearing all together. In a few years, those were replaced by PCs.

People who tried to ignore the advancements were soon out of work and hopelessly behind the curve. Lessons to be learned in that.

So, let’s stay competitive and keep our skills ever evolving!

The good news is this opportunity is in Maryland Heights, Missouri. Right in our own backyard.

Go for it!
Here’s the > link < to the full description and info.

I am also going to add this company’s blog to my blog roll, so we can find them easily and keep an eye on them!

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