Jed Cohen

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Syndication

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Shortly after I first started blogging, I started broadcasting my content to a variety of websites. Because I figured, why not? The costs of setting up syndication are low. Most blogging tools have RSS built in, and a lot of websites accept RSS feeds. StumbleUpon and Technorati are two examples of what I’m talking about here.

Then there’s the sites that contain some kind of profile but also allow for sharing content – generally through some kind of “widget.” LinkedIn, Brazen Careerist, and Careerealism’s private Ning network all fall under this category (we can analyze why these are all career focused later). Here too the initial costs are low, so why not set up syndication? Especially in light of the fact that many people already have profiles on at least one or two websites with this feature.

The third kind of syndication is link sharing websites. Digg, Delicious, and so on. These require slightly more effort in terms of setting up individual links to individual content. Which changes the dynamic a bit; as an example, Digg requires that the community like what you’ve submitted in order to give it any kind of recognition.

And let’s not start on ways to share your contributions from one network to another automatically.  While you can easily share content across platforms this way, you can also blur the lines between what you keep public and what you keep private.

Are more places to go for the same content ideal?  Perhaps not.  There is a balance, I think, between promotion and overextension.  I believe that brands should customize their message to the platform they’re using; why don’t I do that?  I suppose that part of it is because of my desire to reserve my username across a variety of sites – if I’m setting up an account, why not take a minute to add a link here or there?

Will I change how I (don’t) use the sites I’ve listed above now that I’ve written this?  Probably not.  Perhaps there is some kind of opt-in/opt-out psychology at work here.  Or maybe I just don’t want to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Written by Jed

October 20th, 2009 at 9:15 am

Virtual Internships in the Wall Street Journal

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I was quoted (dare I say featured?) in an article in the Wall Street Journal about virtual internships yesterday.  It mentions my experiences working as a virtual intern for both Careerealism and Squidoo.  Both have been amazing experiences that have taught me quite a bit and also put me in touch with a whole bunch of people across the globe.

More on my overall thoughts on virtual internships later; just wanted to post this for now.

Written by Jed

September 30th, 2009 at 10:22 am

Biased Negotiations

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I’ve already written about how I am a virtual intern for CAREEREALISM, a a blog/discussion forum focused on offering advice concerning the shifting concept of “career.”  Well, I have a guest post up at CAREEREALISM today called “Negotiating with Employers – It’s Not As Bad As You Think.”

The post came about because I started writing the following piece on some common mental biases that occur during negotiation.  As I was writing, I realized that I needed to provide a whole bunch of background information to make sense of what I talk about.  So I wrote a bit on integrative negotiation and realized that it was right up CAREEREALISM’s alley.  I sent it to JT O’Donnell, who graciously agreed to post it and made it CAREEREALISM friendly.

So go and check it out!  And then come back and read the rest of this – my original post on negotiation biases (you can just read the rest of this without visiting CAREEREALISM, but I do use a few terms that are defined there and not here).  So without further ado….

Biased Negotiations

Negotiations can be highly charged affairs.  People tend to get emotionally invested, and reason can often go right out the window.  So it can help to have a grasp of some common psychological traps that can harm you during the course of a negotiation.  We’re going to look at three here:

  • The agreement bias
  • The anchoring and adjustment heuristic
  • Framing

The agreement bias

This is exactly what it sounds like – being biased in favor of reaching an agreement.  The problem here is that people fail consider their alternatives!  If the offer on the table is worse than your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), it’s up to you to recognize it and take the appropriate action (that would be to turn the offer down, in case you were wondering).  Just be sure not to do the opposite, which is to walk away from the table when the deal is good.

Anchoring and adjustment heuristic

The second tendency is the anchoring and adjustment heuristic.  If you haven’t heard of the term before, a heuristic is a basic guide to decision-making during complex situations.  It’s kind of a mental shortcut, and a good portion of the time these basic psychological rules will give you the right answer.  This is one of those times when it is not your friend.  The anchoring and adjustment heuristic says that when primed with an initial reference point, we start there and move towards our end goal.  But we don’t move enough.  (Want to learn more?  Read Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman’s original paper on heuristics).

Anchoring and adjustment tells us that when you walk into a negotiation, you want to be focused on your target price and not your reservation price.  Why?  Because if you start out primed with a low set of numbers, you’re not going to move as far up as if you started high and moved down.  Keep this in mind when considering numbers thrown out by the other party – they can anchor you just as well as your own needs and wants.  Anchoring and adjustment can also be used to your benefit though; making the opening move can anchor the other party as well.  Just be aware of overstepping your bounds based upon the social dynamic between you and the other party.

Framing

Framing is all about context.  The way we are exposed to a deal can impact how we approach it.  The effect of framing can be summed up as “losses loom larger than gains.”  In other words, if I position something in terms of what you gain from accepting my terms, you’re more likely to avoid risk than if I position something in terms of what you loose by not accepting.  This can be tricky during negotiations, as the way you perceive a proposal can influence your willingness to take risk.

Overcoming your own mind

Hey, I never said this would be easy.  Or simple – negotiating is complicated.  But you’ve actually taken the first step towards overcoming biases during negotiations – you’ve read this.  Now that you know about these mental quirks, you can watch your own behavior for them and work on overcoming them.

Which is why the best advice I can give you is this: practice.  Remember the old cliche “practice makes perfect?”  While you’ll never be perfect at negotiation, practicing can make you more comfortable and provide you with feedback that you can use to improve.  The more you try negotiating, the more comfortable you’ll be with your own style, and the better you’ll understand the highs and the lows.

Written by Jed

August 10th, 2009 at 8:28 am

How Do You Do, Squidoo?

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One of the pretty very interesting people I follow on Twitter is Susan Villas Lewis.  I started following her because someone (I forget who) tweeted about her job search.  Instead of going out and submitting resumes, Susan decided to hire a boss.  Which I think is awesome.  It’s an amazing, creative spin on the often frustrating job hunt and something I wish I had thought of myself – although I don’t have anywhere near the kind of qualifications Susan has.  Anyway, a few days ago she tweeted about this internship at Squidoo with Megan Casey, the Squidoo Editor-in-Chief.  Seeing as to how my internship with Careerealism is ending soon, I’ve decided to go ahead and apply.

You know, it’s kind of funny that through my college career, when people often intern everywhere, I basically worked in one place.  Now that I’ve graduated, I’m applying for internships even with a full time job.

But that’s beside the point.  The point is that the application process is to create a Squidoo lens featuring what you’ve done.  So I did.  It’s all about my undergraduate degree, and it’s kind of a chronological walk through my experience at Gallatin.  Check it out (although some of the content was featured here, so it may be a bit of a repeat).

I’ve been working on it for the last few days, and it was an interesting experience.  Any Squidoo lens consists of a series of modules, and you can mix and match modules to create the layout you want.  It’s an interesting system, kind of a mixture of blogging and outside sources of content.  I was able to tie in videos, photos, and Amazon listings into the lens, and it’s that last bit that is particularly interesting.

Squidoo’s revenue is split, 45% to the company, 5% to charity, and 50% to the writer.  And it’s across your lens, so it includes Amazon referrals and Google ad revenue.  I like that they let you donate everything to charity (which is what I’ve done).  I also see the potential for spam – don’t you?

Overall, creating the lens was quite a fascinating and reflective experience, even if I’m not selected for the internship.  I also wonder how many people have joined Squidoo in hopes of landing a position (by the way, Megan commented on the internship announcement saying they’ve already received 50 submissions, so this ought to be interesting), so from that perspective alone I find this interesting.

Do you use Squidoo?  If so, how?  I’m going to start working on another lens soon, but I need some ideas.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think I should write on!

Written by Jed

August 6th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Twinterns Anonymous

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Hi, my name is Jed, and I’m a twintern.  This is my story.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a lot of posts tagged with #career lately.  No, I haven’t suddenly become an expert on careers (far from it really) – I’m twintering for Careerealism.  Founded by J.T. O’Donnell, Careerealism is a blog/discussion forum focused on offering advice concerning the shifting concept of “career.”  I first came across Careerealism as my graduation was approaching, and I started searching Twitter for career advice.  Careerealism runs a “Twitter Advice Project” that lets a number of career experts answers reader’s questions via Twitter, so that was something I quickly stumbled across.  And as I followed Careerealism’s tweets, I noticed that they were looking for twinterns.

Now I do have a day job.  I’m not going to talk about it here (ever), but as I was thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation, I decided to go ahead and apply for this internship with Careeralism, because, well, why not?  It’s not really something I’d ever done before, and since I am pretty interested in social media, it’s right up my alley.

So what do I do as a twintern?  I tweet.  The whole idea is to help grow Careerealism’s brand awareness and to spread links to and articles on the site.  It’s marketing on Twitter.  J.T. has really embraced social media with the entire program, including in how she communicates with us – meetings occur via Justin.tv and a private Ning network, where we discuss what we’ll be tweeting about during the week, how we’ll be increasing the brand awareness of Careerealism, and also career advice (it wouldn’t be a website about careers if we didn’t).

The twinternship is a ten week program, and we’re about half way through at the moment.  It’s actually quite an interesting experience, because while I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now, it’s always been as an individual.  Tweeting for a brand is…..different.  I’ve already written a bit on how I like to use Twitter, which probably is not how you like to use Twitter (that’s the whole point by the way).  And it’s certainly not how a brand “should” use Twitter.  For example, I started unfollowing people who annoy me recently.  Is that a good thing for a brand?  Probably not, as reciprocity tends to rule the day on Twitter, and as there are a number of services that will follow and unfollow people for you automatically, unfollowing people is a good way to lower your own follower count.  This, of course, is not ideal, so long as we carry traditional advertising metrics like impressions and clickthroughs over to the social media space.  But what if we don’t?  What if we focus instead on the quality of the relationships we build online?

I’d like to thing that building relationships and letting brand awareness and trust build organically is more effective than pushing a brand upon people – I know it is with me.  Then again, I’m not an expert, and I’m pretty new at the whole tweeting for a brand thing (something I hope to write on in greater detail soon).  In the meantime, why don’t you tell me what you think?

Written by Jed

July 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 pm