Why Google+ will replace ice cream

The Boy eating ice cream with two spoonsDisclosure: Post title is fatuous linkbait.

I was on vacation last week when Google+ happened. I kept my email inbox in pretty good shape when I was away, but when I returned I felt like I was a week behind on creating circles and +1’ing and learning all the new stuff. Some folks dove in head first. Chris Brogan, for instance, is all over Google+ and has even replaced his Facebook icon with a Google+ logo with the phrase, “I have moved,” and unless I’m missing something, he’s shut down his personal Facebook wall. He really has moved.

I’ve seen lots of useful how-to articles, and lots of posts from people pondering the significance of Google+ for social media in general, business in particular and, inevitably, whether or not Google+ will replace Facebook. That’s a big, thorny question. So I’m going to ignore it.

I’ve joined quite a few new social networks over the last decade and a half, starting with a (pre-WWW) forum on the old Delphi network (a competitor of AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe) called “The UK American Connection.” It consisted mostly of Yanks asking Brits questions like, “I watched Cracker last night. What the hell does ‘naff’ mean?”

I joined Friendster just in time for my girlfriend (now The Mrs) to tell me it was dead. I joined Twitter in May of 2008. I still remember the first person who followed me (former colleague Jeff Batte), and pondering my next follower, an American journalist living in Germany. I spent hours trying to work out how I knew him and why he would follow me.

My point, if there is one, is that I have yet to see a new social network take off as quickly as Google+. I’m sure there are statistics that either support or refute that, but for me it seems that my nerd friends (and I have created a circle for you called “Nerds”) are taking to Google+ extremely quickly. (Cynical Girl and Pixie of the Apocalypse Laurie Ruettimann linked on Facebook earlier today to a Mashable post that said Google+ was about to hit 10 million users, so as you can see, I’ve done my research.)

It takes me a while to work out how I feel about a new network or online tool, and I’m the kind of person the slow, dull-witted “how to” videos were created for. Unlike Brogan, who within minutes had written a post outlining 50 ways Google+ could be used, I have to be shown it, and shown it again. And again. Then I will become a violent convert.

So far I think Google+ has tremendous potential to unite messaging, photo sharing, video calling, chat, document sharing and other features. This may be the locus that brings the value of Google’s various services and applications into one place. But here’s why I think it’s gotten so popular so fast:

This morning I was flipping back and forth between Facebook and Google+. I have lots of good friends on Facebook, but also a lot of people I’ve accepted as friends who I don’t actually know, or know very well. I accepted some of those out of politeness, and I haven’t taken the time to hide or unfriend the people or companies who clutter up my stream. I scroll for a while before I come to an update from someone I really want to keep in touch with, or something I really want to read.

My Google+ stream, on the other hand, has been filled with interesting posts and long, enjoyable comment-thread discussions with clever people. It feels the way I’ve heard other people describe the early days of Twitter. Everyone I’ve added to my circles so far is someone who I know personally or have built an online relationship with.

So maybe we like Google+ so far because we haven’t cluttered it up yet, and because it’s easier to keep tidy? Time will tell. Just like Twitter, it will be months (years?) before we know the real value.

Should you join now? You don’t have to (and Doug Haslam has posted a cogent argument in favor of Google+ patience), but so far it’s fun. And if you’re a marketer or communicator, I suspect it will become mandatory before too long. Google’s previous attempts at social networking (Orkut, Buzz, Wave) didn’t take off, but Google+ is so much more than even the sum of all three.

image by me

Five pieces of advice for job seekers

Laurie Ruettimann of the Punk Rock HR blog is seeking your best advice for jobseekers. Despite all the articles, books and blog posts out there telling people how to land their dream job, people still miss some fundamental things. Plus, as we all know, it’s a tough market. If you’ve got some good advice, go contribute at Laurie’s blog.

Ironically, I’m writing this post in a coffee shop in Raleigh, sitting next to a woman who has been conducting interviews all morning. One piece of advice gleaned from eavesdropping: If the interviewer asks if you consider yourself a people person, she is expecting the answer “yes.”

Here are the first few pieces of advice that came to my mind:

1. Start (or revive, or continue) a blog and write as though you were already a valued member of the profession where you want to work. Make it part of your daily job search routine. I don’t mean be pretentious and tell everybody how smart you are; I mean write about topics in your industry and contribute what you can. Don’t just write daily about the fact that you want a job and can’t find one. Try to write posts that would make a prospective employer think, “Damn, I wish she was writing this on our blog.”

Hopefully it goes without saying that you should be following the influential bloggers in your field, both nationally and locally.

2. Make sure you have a professional email address, like firstname.lastname@gmail.com. I’ve been put off in the past by jobseekers with immature-sounding email addresses. “SurferGrrlll@hotmail.com” tells me you’d rather be surfing than working. I won’t necessarily hold that against you once I get to know you, but don’t lead off with it.

3. Set up a Twitter account (again, I suggest FirstnameLastname) and follow everyone you can in the field where you want to work, or better yet, at the companies where you want to work. Use it to learn from them and communicate with them where appropriate, but don’t stalk them. Follow the people they follow.

4. Do the same thing with LinkedIn. Use it as the valuable source of information it is, but again not as a stalking tool. If you go into an interview knowing the groups your prospective manager belongs to and the conferences she’s going to this year, don’t you think that will make you sound like you understand the industry?

5. Take phone interviews from a landline phone in a quiet place, not a mobile phone. Don’t make the interviewer work to understand you. And when the interviewer calls you, answer the phone professionally, the way you would if you had the job: “Hello, this is Jenny Jobseeker.” I’ve conducted dozens of phone interviews, and it’s very annoying when you have to go through this every time:

“Hi, this is Dave Thomas, may I speak to Jenny Jobseeker please?”
“This is Jenny.”

By that point I just want to say, “Weren’t you expecting my call?” It makes you sound surprised and unprepared.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog