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Blellow: A New Kind of Career Site

Blellow: A New Kind of Career Site

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    Combining social networking and your career isn’t exactly a new idea. LinkedIn launched in 2003. But the idea of using microblogging to support your job hunt or freelancing career is relatively new. This week, Blellow launched; the social networking site uses a microblogging interface familiar to anyone who has checked out Twitter to create some impressive tools for your career.

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    Helpful Microblogging

    Making use of Blellow is just a matter of typing a few words and posting them. Those words are meant to be a response to the question, “What are you working on?” but can easily become much more. When you post to Blellow, you have two possible choices categorizing your post: “I feel like sharing this” or “I’m looking for help.” The general idea is that you can easily get help, answers to questions or share resources with other Blellow users — and so far it seems to be working. At a glance, people are posting documents (and getting replies about how to improve them), sharing usability tips and even offering up advice about patent law.

    In practice, there are a few minor differences between Blellow’s interface and other microblogging sites. For one thing, you get a little more room than the standard 140 characters to share thoughts and ask questions. In fact, you get 300 characters — and the ability to attach files. You can also switch easily between viewing posts as a list or as threaded messages, as well as switch between reading the posts of everyone on Blellow, specific groups and your own network.

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    But microblogging isn’t the only allure of Blellow.

    Jobs & Projects

    In addition to providing a community where anyone can talk about what they’re working on and get some feedback, Blellow also offers opportunities to find more work. You won’t just find full-time jobs listed on Blellow, either. The site’s ‘Jobs’ page is broken down into full-time and freelance listings — and there’s also a ‘Projects’ list which offers both paid and pro bono work. While the pro bono work may not get a lot of attention, there are a few interesting projects listed — which may provide an opportunity for someone wanting to break into a new field or get a couple of portfolio pieces.

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    There is an emphasis on work that can be handled remotely (design, development and writing), although Blellow does offer an ‘other’ category. You’ll find individuals working in those areas (whether freelancing, full-time or some combination of the two) are also more prevalent in posting to Blellow, as well as in creating groups. From the way some project and freelance listings are written, I think Blellow may be a venue for finding clients for a small business or a consultant in the future as well as for freelancers.

    Community & Networks

    On top of the ability to share short posts, Blellow offers many opportunities to connect with the other folks using the site. At the most basic level, you can respond to posts or privately message back and forth — not unlike a simple microblogging service. However, you can also find and join a wide variety of groups on Blellow: these groups are especially useful if you’re looking for help with a specific problem but they also are a chance to connect with others in your field, check out who is headed to a particular event or find resources on a given topic. You can also create new groups of your own if you don’t see a particular group you’d be interested in.

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    There’s also a real-world element to Blellow. Meetups — as in events that you actually leave your house to attend — can be listed on Blellow and shared. You have the option of browsing through those in your immediate area (as indicated by the location in your profile), those in your state or all of the meetups listed on Blellow. At the moment, pickings are a little sparse — but I’m pretty sure they’ll grow after everyone gets past SXSW. The Blellow team has an official launch planned for the site during SXSW and considering how well it’s done during the limited beta, it seems likely that the official launch will be big.

    One More Social Networking Site

    Trying to decide just what social networking sites you’re willing to spend some time on can be difficult. Personally, I tend not to mess with more than three or so at a time. However, I’m adding Blellow into the mix because it’s shaping up as a solid resource — especially for individuals whose work is done primarily online. There’s a good mix, so far, of freelancers as well as full-time employees, which makes for a useful network to be involved in. The fact that it’s got a narrow niche — especially compared to other microblogging sites — makes it an especially useful choice in my mind.

    Blellow brings a lot of elements into its mix, incorporating the best of microblogging, meetups and more. It isn’t trying to be the only social networking site you every spend time on. Instead, it’s creating a very targeted network involving people that who can help one another in their work. The only drawback I see at this point is that users are limited to email and actually visiting the site to get updates. I’m hoping for RSS in the future, personally.

    If you try out Blellow, please let us know what you think about it in the comments.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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