The Power of Nedworking

Issue Date: Daily Dog – 2006-2007

The Power of Nedworking: JOTW Founder Ned Lundquist Tops 10,000 Members, Wins Kudos — and Shares Job Hunting Advice for Senior Execs

This week's profile: Edward H. Lundquist, Founder and Editor, “Job of the Week” Email Network

By Brian Pittman

“The secret of finding a job you're happy with lies in being challenged and appreciated,” says Ned Lundquist, ABC, who supports the Navy's Surface Warfare Directorate as a strategic communications consultant while serving as a senior science advisor for Alion Science and Technology. “A large part of it also involves having the tools and resources you need to be effective at work. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they're constantly running into a brick wall to make good things happen,” says Lundquist, who also serves on the Accreditation Council for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). “That's one of the biggest reasons people in this industry look for new jobs in the first place.”

He should know. In addition to his day job (which he's plenty happy with, thank you), Lundquist is known to 10,145 PR practitioners as the founder and force behind the “Job of the Week” (JOTW) email newsletter network to which they subscribe. Created in 2001, the program was built through word of mouth and continues to be delivered as a text-only email often featuring 75 or more senior level communications and PR jobs each week — all of which are contributed by its members.

And just this month, JOTW received an award of merit by the Society for New Communications and its program honoring innovative organizations and professionals pioneering the use of social media like blogs, wikis or podcasts, and other forms of participatory communications.

“I was happy JOTW was recognized — not for me, but because more people might hear about it and benefit from it,” says Lundquist, whose 20 years of public affairs and communications experience in military, private association and corporate service includes assignments as commanding officer of the 450 men and women of the Naval Media Center, special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for visual information, and Pentagon spokesman for Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Middle East.

Here, Lundquist reveals what makes his low-tech online network more successful than so many of today's HTML-heavy, wiki-fied online networking or social media efforts — while offering his insight on the current job market for communicators and practical advice for landing “the job of a lifetime”:

Where did the idea for JOTW come from — why'd you start it?

I started it with a very selfish motive. It began in January of 2001, when I was out of work. It was my New Year's resolution to become the center of a network. So I asked 38 of my Outlook contacts to share anything they heard about when it came to jobs — and I told them that I'd return the favor and pass what I heard along to them.

So did you land a job that way?

It resulted in really decent leads. They weren't all for me, and I shared them. Two of them, however, turned into job offers after about two months. I took the first one, with the National Defense University. Then one came up with the National Rural Elective Cooperation. I took that and referred other readers to the first job. One of them took the job and is now the assistant VP for university relations there. This person is a “network node” and close friend — someone I've stayed in touch with.

Do you have a website?

I don't.�But CornerBarPR posts it online at http://www.CornerBarPR.com/JOTW/jotw.cfm.

How did JOTW grow to over 10,000 members?

Part of it has to do with the content — there are a lot of jobs in there. Part of it has to do with the fact that subscribers trust the network and its source. By October of 2001, ten months after I started it, JOTW had 700 subscribers — all people who had opted in. It kept growing because of viral marketing. I call it “word of mouse.” The first people were people I knew, and then the referrals started flowing in. Other people began to get into the circle and it had a huge ripple effect.

What lessons can communicators take from JOTW's success?

Well, you could say it's not a huge success because it only reaches 10,000 people. But for me, this is a significant group of influential professionals, and it's global. It ranges from communicators, to college professors to broadcasters to investor relations people — they're all there. What I've found is that this network is very willing and capable of helping one another. So that's what's gratifying, and it's also what makes it a true success — that communicators are helping other communicators. If the network had too many members just reviewing it voyeuristically with no intention of contributing — it would lose its value.

Somebody once told me I should sell my list and business. I said that it wouldn't be me then. It would be Monster.com or something else and it would lose its value, because there's a real sense of editorial judgment and people trust what gets put up there — not just because it's through me, however. Remember, these jobs come from the group as a whole.

Why stick with text in your email?

I don't have the time to do any kind of formatting. Somebody sends me a job listing. I strip it into a Word document each morning. It grows through the week and by the next Monday, I send it out. I'd be open to easier ways — but don't want to get hung up on how it looks or how it's delivered. Its success isn't about that. It's about the strength of the content.

Are you going to have a website of your own soon?

I'm still keeping it simple for the moment. I use Topica for my listserv, and people can read issues back to April, 2001. Rich Barger with CornerBarPR posts it as part of their content. I'd like to think it's his most popular content. But, sure, I'd like to have a website of my own soon.

What are your plans for growth — what's next for JOTW?

Aside from thinking about a website, I'd love some way of generating revenue.

Could that include asking members to pay for JOTW?

I did a survey and a thousand members said they would pay $25. Maybe they could do that and also get a premium level of service from this — but that is probably not a direction I'd like to take this. That's not its true value to me — or to the members. The bottom line is that there is some real power in this. I already have a day job, so the real agenda here is to grow this so it can benefit more people. That's why sponsorships might be a more appropriate way to go.

What networking techniques learned through JOTW can you share?

Much of it comes down to keeping in contact with people. A weekly newsletter did that for me initially — it kept people thinking of me when I was looking for a job. A simple tip, but one that works, is to go to lunch once a week with someone in the industry. Split the tab. Start at the top of your contacts lists and go through it just to stay current. You can accomplish more face to face, even though many in PR think they're too busy for that.

Another tip, if you're a job seeker, is to engage in the “informational interview.” This isn't a job interview. You don't call and ask for the job. You call and say, “Brian, I'd like a job at Bulldog some day. I'd like to talk to you about what you do. Perhaps you could take a look at my resume and give me some feedback on my career and ideas for growth.” This makes a huge difference. What happens is you will sit down and learn a lot. Then if that person hears something over the next 72 hours, he'll pass along a card or job information for you. But these things are really only good for 72 hours. After that, you're out of site out of mind — that's why you have to meet with many people regularly. Also, do these meetings and lunches with higher-ups in organizations. They shouldn't be in your peer group.

Another thing I've learned is to attend things like PRSA and IABC conferences. But don't just go to them to generate business. Instead, get involved at the conference level. That means, go ask the chairman of volunteers which committees could use your help. Or be a judge for an awards program. Substitute as a speaker. That way, people will get to know you and your situation — and people will genuinely help you if they have gotten to know you personally.

Why do you continue to build the JOTW network — what drives you ?

What drives me is this: You don't reach out to touch people just because you want something. You must do it because you want to make meaningful connections. Reach out and help. It's a karma thing. I call it selfish altruism. If it feels good and something good will come out of it for others — do it. That's why the newsletter and network continues to exist. It's dedicated to unintended, positive consequences of what some people have started to call 'Nedworking.'

What are the elements of “Nedworking” — how would you define it?

It's about sharing, making connections, not asking for anything while offering things instead, and making deep, meaningful connections. Everyone is a real person. We all want to be treated that way and we can all help each other along with our work, goals and careers.

Another part of this is seeing communications as two-way. That's a big component of what's going on in new media, too. Communicators can no longer be about just posting something. It's about generating conversation, feedback, reactions, disagreement — you know: true communication.

That's what I think the industry can take from the success of JOTW and the idea of “Nedworking” — that we are a community, that you can't just transmit messages, but must also hear them, and that we should be sharing best practices. For example, I see that a lot of IABC events, where corporate communicators share ideas instead of being secretive and competitive. I think there's more of the latter with agencies, who you tend to see more of at PRSA events. I don't think you'll often get the heads of the nation's top three agencies together where they'll share everything they're doing. But I have seen that at IABC — where you'll see people from Sprint, Lucent and AT&T sharing and collaborating.

Are you a PRSA member?

I'm not. But my limited experience with them supports my sense that they seem to be more protective and clustered by agencies. The point I'm trying to make, however, is that we all need to make connections. If we do that — something greater than we expected will be the end result. That's why I continue to do this. I don't know what will ultimately come out of it — but I do know in my heart that it will be for a greater good.

What's the #1 mistake you see with resumes crossing the transom?

It's hard to say, since I'm not reading resumes to see if people fit particular jobs. But I do see a lot of them and know what hiring managers are looking for. That said, one thing that is bothersome is having other people prepare your resume for you. The problem with this is that resumes really should be tailored to the job and buzzwords HR directors may be looking for in a particular posting. That means you need to personalize and customize each application so you can get the interview. Sending out cookie cutter resumes that somebody else created for you isn't going to work — at least, not at the higher levels.

Also, I'm hearing more people say that “more is better” when it comes to breadth or length of resumes. The more senior you are, the longer your resume can afford to be. Scope and magnitude are good to convey. Again, this flies in the face of applying through things like Monster, where you can apply for a dozen jobs in one hour.

How is applying for that “perfect” job like pitching the media?

It boils down to writing a personalized cover letter and customized resume that's the perfect fit for the job — not responding to every single post. In that way, applying for a job that qualifies as the “job of a lifetime” — which implies a perfect fit — is a lot like sending out a pitch to targeted media. Blanket outreach doesn't get you in at the top levels. What does get you in are: targeting, exclusivity and building relationships through your network.

What have you learned about the PR job market and turnover through JOTW?

I do see jobs coming back over and over again. These are companies with high turnover. They have a hard time filling jobs or are just putting people in seats to survive. This happens a lot, it seems, in the sports apparel industry on the agency side. There's a lot of turnover there. There's also a lot of turnover at not-for-profits, where jobs will stay open for a long time.

But overall, I wouldn't necessarily say there's an inordinate amount of turnover in this industry. Also, people don't leave jobs just because they're unhappy. It's not always that the industry or company is a problem. Sometimes they're good and happy — yet they still move on. I ask them why and they say that it's just time for a change. I admire that. There's nothing wrong refusing to stagnate.

What's your parting career-building advice for readers?

Sign up for “Job of the Week” by sending a blank email to jotw-subscribe@topica.com.

http://www.bulldogreporter.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=8DDA9EA3260B4C43A5D8841269C50306&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=53D88D74A99849C185183B336A3F3B02&tier=4&id=04A1122751FD451988429037785D4BB7

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