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Five ways to secure talent for your start-up on a tiny budget

Five ways to secure talent for your start-up on a tiny budget
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Imagine you’re managing a complex web project, requiring hundreds of new pages and serious coding and creative work, and you’re facing a tight deadline. Your in-house team is already at full capacity on other tasks. And, just to tie the other hand behind your back, you don’t have the budget to bring on more full-time staff. Would you know where to go, how to find the right people, the smartest approaches to vet them, and the best ways to get them started quickly?

If not–and if you knew her–you’d probably call Wendy Campanella. She’s been called a “Start-up Marine,” and entrepreneurs call on her regularly to help with tricky business problems. One of her secrets, which she’ll share with you below, is building top-quality “flex teams” quickly–even with a very limited budget and tight timeline.

Wendy has leveraged her flex-team strategy to launch the first all-online tradeshow for the semiconductor industry (back in the Internet’s pre-crash days) and the first in-flight Internet portal to let passengers access the web on a commercial flight. Currently she’s building another first-of-its-kind web service, ImpressMe.com, a video-centric product comparison site for consumers in the research phase of a purchase.

In each case, Wendy has managed to create a successful product, within the timeframe allotted, within or even under her budget. How the heck does she do that? Good question! Here is her first secret:

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I like to iterate between the high-level vision and the execution. I develop a concept of the execution strategy, then test the details, adjusting to what’s working and what’s not. This means that my talent requirements change a lot, especially at the start.

As I refine my strategy, I incorporate critical or exceptional talent into my core team, mating it with my ‘flex team,’ for which I place very descriptive requests for proposals on the right talent sites. The right resource is out there, but connecting with it can be a challenge.”

Here Wendy tells us the five resources she uses most often to build effective flex teams quickly.

1. GetFriday

This India-based outsourcing firm bills itself as a “remote executive assistant service.”

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I’ve had great luck using GetFriday for relatively simple ongoing processes like data mining and web research.

When a project involves tasks that need to be done over and over–such as tracking down product data sheets across many companies, when that information is entirely decentralized and takes real digital shoe-leather–GetFriday is an excellent resource.

They can help you with ongoing tasks, like gathering data on your customers or competitors, for example, and organizing that data into an actionable format. Once you’ve educated them on what you need, they’re very strong at executing–and also at training their own staff on what you need, if they need to assign new personnel to your account.”

2. oDesk

This freelance job site offers talent in a number of disciplines–coders, designers, writers and even virtual assistants similar to the service offered by GetFriday.

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I use oDesk primarily for their web-development talent, and I have had great experiences with them. You can search for talent by specific skills–Python or PHP, for example–and by geography, if language is a concern.

And here’s a useful tip: If you’re not a developer yourself, make sure you include your development team in the selection and management of this outside resource. They’ll get you to the best talent much faster.”

3. eLance

Like oDesk, eLance is a freelance job site, although with a broader range of freelance talent–including creatives and developers, but also financial, legal and customer service resources.

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I’ve had a lot of luck finding writing talent on eLance. What I do is look for writers with a passion for the subject matter. With 250,000 freelance writers listed on the site, I can always find people who can write well and who really know and care about the topic on which I’m looking for content.”

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4. Fiverr

Describing itself as “the world’s largest marketplace for services, starting at five dollars,” Fiverr offers freelance talent that is extremely inexpensive.

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “Fiverr is a great testing resource. If I think I want to outsource some sort of content creation —  articles, video scripts, voice-over talent, info graphics and even icon development — I start here. I quickly learn what works and what doesn’t before I spend a lot of money acquiring ongoing talent. Sometimes I get a few useful gems in the process. And even if it falls short, it hasn’t cost me more than a few dollars to try.”

5. Interns

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “This is perhaps my favorite resource, particularly for the video talent I’m using to build our product-comparison service, ImpressMe. Here’s why.

If you have a business or project that requires creatives–especially video, but also other skills like writing or graphic design–it’s important to keep in mind that the colleges and universities that teach these skills often require internships to graduate.

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Film schools, for example, often require hundreds of hours of interning at a business. These students have real video skills, and they come to you with high-end equipment from their schools that would cost you a small fortune to buy yourself. And the best part: They want to do a great job for you, because they’re graded in part on your review of their work. Everybody wins!”

Featured photo credit: Navy SEALS/Rennett Stowe via flickr.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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