Welcome to Greenville

If you have recently moved to the area and you are either seeking employment or looking to further your career, the last advice you want to hear is to get out and begin to foster relationships with people you do not know, aka network. Yet that is exactly what you need to be spending the vast majority of your time and effort on. There is so much research out there claiming that the best strategy to find and build your career or business is to build connections with other people.

I got the pleasure of speaking with two gentlemen this week who have recently moved into the area. When I got into my ways-to-job-search spiel, their response was how can we meet people when we are new and don’t know anyone. The odd coincidence is that the majority of people here is not native and was at one time new to the area. This is not Charleston where you are a newcomer if you do not have generations of ancestors from the Holy City.  Greenville’s citizens are very mobile and, with the movement of new companies into the area, newcomers are continually finding Woodruff Road for the first time.

I help facilitate a class of job seekers for Greenville County Workforce Development. In one class of eight adults, we encountered this very hurdle. We began to go around the room and found that only two of the people were originally from this area. This has become a regular activity and subsequent classes have usually shown the same results.

So Tim, what are some ways you would suggest that I use to meet other like-minded professionals?

There are a couple of ways that I would suggest that should work in any area you find yourself.  First, I would look at social media. Facebook is a great avenue to connect with people and also to find where people of your interests are planning to meet. Downtown Greenville and City of Greenville are just two of many pages that can connect you to fellow enthusiasts.

LinkedIn can be used to find companies in the area. LI also has groups that are for this area: New Carolina, Greenville Area Development Corporation (great information on new companies and companies that are adding improvements in the area), Greenville Working, Today in Greenville, and …well, you get the idea. Groups enable you to see where they are meeting, what they are discussing and get involved in the discussions, and identify people you can contact to meet one-on-one.

Twitter is also a great way to follow companies and people and learn where they are planning an event. As you can see, these do not have to be exclusively business. Why do you think so many deals are done on the golf course?

Another suggestion is to see if there are any associations that meet in your area. The Kidder Group, Inc. has a great list on their website (http://www.thekiddergroup.com/images/t.jpg) of about seventy different groups and when and where they meet. Associations are one way to show your involvement within your profession and allow you to meet with and have a connection with people in your industry.

Another website that I am becoming more involved in is meetup.com. No, I am not having marital issues. This is a great website to publicize times and locations for gatherings with other people with your interests. Some of these are based on social as well as fitness interests.

The Newcomers Club of Greater Greenville’s main purpose is to welcome people who have recently moved into the area and to help smooth your transistion.

Most of the suggestions I have given you are free. But it still requires us to face two of our biggest fears: meeting new people and putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations. Both of these are tough for me. But you will find that unfamiliar situations begin to feel more familiar. And some of your best friends were once new.



Greenville Exports Increase In 2012

Living in the Greenville area, one realizes how much our economy is tied to manufacturing. We have been hearing for the last few years how manufacturing has declined, if not died, in America. We are up in arms at all the jobs we have lost to cheaper markets overseas, notably China. When we drive through the local hills, which I love to do on weekend, our eyes are often accosted by huge, empty plants and warehouses that are just wasting away. It is sad to see how quickly these buildings can go into disrepair. It will be huge asset if we can find uses for all of these buildings.

Last month, Greenville got an encouraging report on the state of manufacturing in the area. The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s report listed the Greenville area as the 25th largest export market in the United States. We had exports of $11.7 billion. That compares with Charleston, SC at $2.3 billion dollars.  This seems to affirm the feeling that Greenville is currently seeing a large influx of manufacturing companies moving into the area currently and in the near future. If you follow the GADC (Greenville Area Development Corporation) you will see that it seems weekly they are making an announcement of a large manufacturing plant or company moving into the area. Drawing companies to your area is a highly competitive business and Greenville seems to be more than holding its own. For it to be 25th in the nation, really says something.

Looking closer the area we are speaking of is Greenville, Mauldin, and Easley. This shows an increase of 34% between 2010 and 2011.

The reason that these manufacturing jobs are so important is that the jobs supported by exports are often better paying jobs than others, often by as much as 18%. Our fear during the downturn was that if we could replace the jobs we lost they would be at a lesser scale. Hopefully, with the resurgence in manufacturing in the area, we will also see the local household income rebound.

It is interesting to see where our exports are going: Germany, Canada, China, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. We have to remember when we see the companies on the labels of the products that they are also the companies who buy our products. The people who shout about closing our borders and only buying America, may want to take a step back and rethink their position.

Conferences and Certifications

I just got back from a National Resume Writer Association (NRWA) Conference that was held in Charleston, SC. I love Charleston: the gardens, the history, the food, the beach and harbor. The shrimp and grits, spanish moss, sweetgrass baskets, andcamellias. All these make Charleston one of my favorite places.

But that is not what I want to discuss. I really enjoyed going to the conference. We had sessions Wednesday through Saturday, and I have to admit my brain was full. The sessions covered topics that I am very interested in and applied directly to the job seekers that I work with. Conferences provide an opportunity to learn up-to-date strategies and best practices that other people in the field are using. They also provide you a chance to hear from experts that you are not likely to meet or hear from in other ways.

But the biggest reason I enjoyed the conference was the people that I met. We were able to discuss at the table how our work and lives are going with others who really understand. There were also opportunities to interact with each other between and after the workshops. I found these discussions to be very valuable and revealing into the industry. It is one thing to read about what someone does, it is another to speak with others who do the work you desire.

It is interesting to see how different the peoples’ jobs and employers were. Many writers were self-employed or worked for small companies. Some worked for government agencies. But usually there was a desire to help people, sometimes even at the detriment of the business.

Resume writers are a diverse group with wide differences in ability, experience and professionalism. Being a member of an association does not guarantee expertise, but is does usually suggest a high degree of caring about doing their best.

A new development that we are beginning to see with conferences is that some are going to be virtual. They will be like a series of webinars or group chat rooms where you can attend from the comfort of your home. Since travel and gas cost are rising, as well as our lives seem to be getting busier, having conferences on line is a very attractive idea.

I do see some negatives. First, we are already having less face-to-face contact with other people, especially peers. Many resume writers work from home and often interact with their clients online. There is a big advantage to interactive with people who share an interest.

Another negative is that by going to another location you can better separate yourself from the distractions that bombard us. Yes, most of the attendees were still tethered to their smart phones /notebooks / laptops, but they were still better able to focus on their reasons for coming.

I hope that we can take advantage of both types of conferences. Seeing the virtual conference as a way to complement the conferences that are more costly and inconvenient can allow us to increase our knowledge and best practices.

I strongly advise you to find an association in your industry and become a part of it. Many of them allow you to earn a certification that will provide additional training and verify your abilities to your clients. It is important to do your research; all certifications are not the same. I found that a good way to determine which certification to get is look at your peers and see what they have. Then ask them (Yes, actually speak with them. Okay, you CAN email them but since my whole post is about meeting people, who don’s expect me to advocate email, do you?) if the certification was worth it.

We are in a period where who you know and what you know are both important.  Our jobs, technology, and our world are all changing at an ever increasing pace. Conferences and certifications are two ways we can stay up to date in our fields. Good luck in your growth.