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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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