Kenny Soto End of 2015

2015 End of The Year Review: The Experiences and Lessons Learned

This blog post is an entry reviewing some of the many experiences I had over the past year and what knowledge I gained from them.


 

First Internship Experience: SCORE

SCORE NYC is a branch of the Small Business Administration (a government entity) that helps small business owners grow their businesses through one-on-one free consultations, workshops, and online webinars.

SCORE NYC was a very special place for me this year for all of the people I was able to meet. I was able to have the opportunity to surround myself with retired business executives who came from industries ranging from corporate law and hedge fund management to digital marketing and construction. I was also able to interact with aspiring entrepreneurs who came to SCORE with questions regarding their businesses and was able to see firsthand the challenges small business owners have to endure just to serve the market. In addition to all of the opportunities to grow and learn that I gained from the people I met, I also learned a lot about two subjects I never really put that much thought into before.

What the heck is the Internet?

The first thing that I learned from my experience at SCORE is that I knew only a small amount of information when it came to what exactly the internet is. Thanks to my mentor, Maurice Bretzfield, I was able to begin to understand the importance of not only knowing the difference between the internet, www, https, FTP, mobile, and wifi but, also identifying the importance of why I should know the differences. The first month studying under him showed me how little formal education had taught me on tools that I use every single day, and it helped me understand why learning about coding, digital design, and digital marketing is vital to how I interact through the internet.

Digital Marketing and what did it have to do with me?

My primary reason for applying for the internship was because under its description it stated that all interns would learn about digital marketing. As a music major, I have learned a lot about song composition, musical theory, and performance methodology, but I did not know how I would survive in the search for a job after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Digital marketing showed me that it’s an essential skill to at least be aware of in today’s information economy. I learned over the eight months I was at SCORE how many people were having issues just getting their businesses to be known by potential customers. Eventually, I saw that the same concerns that these entrepreneurs were facing correlated with the issues myself and some of my friends at my college where dealing with: how do we stand out from the pack? Through my eight months of diligent work, I am now able to say with confidence that I have a good grasp of Digital Marketing overall and a niche part of it – personal branding.

Buying My Name Online

In regards to personal branding, I believe another pivotal point of this past year is when I purchased my URL and built this website. The benefits of using this website are tremendous. I am now able to google myself and what I want people to see is the only thing that is shown. Controlling my online presence was one of the first things that my mentor Maurice, advised me to do. In addition to this, blogging has helped me question my ideas and develop them even more. Without this platform, I would not have been able to gather my thoughts and had others comment and provide feedback on them. I strive to not only use my website to showcase what makes me unique and why I could be of value to teams but also to help a growing community learn with me. The World Wide Web is constantly growing with pools of both high quality and mediocre content, I want to become someone who contributes to the former. Let’s not forget to mention that blogging has also helped me with my writing and grammar. Finally, it’s helping me create connections with others that otherwise wouldn’t happen. I have had the opportunity to not only interview individuals online about their experience working companies such as Google but, also get good advice on what I should do to get a job after college (which in turn provides you, the reader, with valuable content).

Starting my school year as USG President

Many challenges were thrust upon me this semester. As my college experience rapidly comes to an end, I have the privilege to lead an exceptional team as the president of the undergraduate student government at the City College of New York, and it has certainly been a role that has helped me grow as a person. From improving my time management skills, delegating tasks, making sure the entire team is aligned, managing team stress, etc. I have been exposed to a lot of real life situations that I will have to deal with after college. I consider my experience in this role as an accelerated MBA, learning how to manage a team of people and not only serve them but, serve a whole community of people (the student body) as well. I’ll certainly use the skills I am learning as president in the future, and I will be forever grateful to undergo such an incredible growth period in my life.

Reading “Think On These Things” By Jidda Krishnamurti

Think On These Things Krishnamurti

This book changed my views on our current educational system and helped me understand why it’s important to question all information was given to me, and how to integrate that process into my daily life. It was the first time I ever experience a writer pierce through the veil of what should matter most in life, which is not necessarily the answer to questions we have but, instead finding the reasons to the questions themselves first. This book is a useful resource for anyone interested in getting a fresh perspective on what it means to be essentially a creative individual.

 

As the new year begins I will continue to provide as much valuable content to you, the reader, whenever I can. It helps me tremendously if you provide your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below. Let’s have an amazing 2016 everyone.

 

Cheers,

Kenny S.

 

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Job search tips 2016 Kenny Soto

Are You Ready For The 2016 Job Hunt? (12 Min. Read)

The Times Have Changed…. It’s time to fix your job hunting techniques.

The year is almost ending, and it’s time to start thinking about what companies we are going to apply to after graduation. However, there’s one big issue: our resumes just don’t cut it anymore. 93% of all Hiring Managers use resume scanning software to filter candidates from the application pool. I was recently told this by TopResume, a company that reviews resumes to be up to ATS (applicant tracking system)  standards.


What alarmed me the most is that I learned that most companies use these resume scanning software systems. I would love to work for, Apple, Amazon, and Google to name a few. So what is one to do when attempting to apply for a job in a time and age where just this year, college graduates have made up 40% of the unemployment population in the US? As young professionals, we need to change our job hunting strategies and begin using the internet to stand out from the crowd.Why it’s time for a personal brand.

Why it’s time for a personal brand.

There is one thing you need to stop believing and that is that a well-constructed resume will help you get the interview. Although it is still important to develop your work experience and have a crisp resume, you need to know that everyone and their mother has one as well…and she is most likely applying to your dream job as well (here’s a PDF you can read later to see why I say this). The number one way to stand out from the sea of resumes that make it after the dreaded ATS’s scan through everyone else’s is a personal brand! Creating your personal brand online can help your job hunt tremendously, and it doesn’t take that much money to start.

I highly recommend creating a website through a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress or SquareSpace that don’t require any coding skills to enable you to start putting who you are on the internet. The very first thing an employer who sees your resume does is Google you! You need to make sure that you are in control of your digital persona. People will take photos of you and build content about you via social media that you will be indexed for on Google. Either you take control of your image or others will do it for you, and your hiring manager will see it.

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

There are many ways to get started!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ve just spent an all-nighter writing this 10-page essay, I got my B+, now what?” Well, the coolest thing about a blog is that if you don’t have anything to showcase right away, use your old homework (make sure it pertains to what you are interested in doing in the future) and use the content as an article.

The hardest part about building a personal brand and using a blog is creating content but, don’t let that stop you from using old work to kickstart your content creation. If you write about what you’re interested in, it will be enjoyable, just be authentic.

If you don’t have the money right now to set up a website, there are two alternatives you can use! Don’t give yourself an excuse not to do this today:

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

Use the posts option on your LinkedIn and Medium accounts to create a personal website substitute while you save up around $50 to make your personal branding website. You need to begin today to make your job hunt easier in the future.

Up next…drum roll… researching your target companies

The next step as you journey off into creating an awesome personal brand is to begin finding out more about the culture of the companies you want to work for in the future. It can all start with a Tweet or InMail (LinkedIn message) directly to someone in the business you feel may answer you. The secret to increasing your chances to getting a response is to NEVER ASK FOR A JOB REFERRAL, instead ask them:

  • What do they think about the industry?
  • Where do yourself in the company?
  • What do you believe was a contributing to your success in establishing and advancing your career?

There are more questions you can ask but ultimately the reason they will answer you is because you will always begin or end the interaction with, “I wanted to know if you had the time to answer a few questions so I can put the content on my blog to help my viewers.” Or, “…so I can get other ideas to help build new content.” This technique has worked for me and if all else fails on Twitter and LinkedIn, then just use Quora.

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Help

Quora is a platform that allows you to ask anyone in the world any question you may have as well as enable you to answer any question that they have posted. The network on this platform is full of amazing and intelligent people who, when engaged correctly, can also be asked for a short 15-minute phone call or quick conversation over a cup of coffee. This provides you the opportunity for  you to expand your network before applying for jobs. Heck, even if they don’t help you get the job you do three crucial things:

  • Help grow your content on your site.
  • Learn more about the industry you are entering.
  • Increase the size of your professional network.

Speaking of networking for your job hunt…

Kenny Soto Job Hunt Advice

Another resource you can use to help your job hunt is networking websites. It’s not what you know or even who you know, it’s who knows you! What you need to do is take the initiative to actually go out and meet other business professionals if you really want to get the needed connections to help your job hunt. I recommend choosing MeetUp as your main platform for networking. You can search via any topic you want to learn about or any industry you wish to join. At the very minimum, you will expand your knowledge around your particular field and meet new people.

The challenge you need to be aware of as you go into the new year is that a resume is no longer enough. These are a few of the many steps you need to take in order to have a better chance at landing the job you want in the coming year. I hope this was some help and feel free to click in the articles below to learn more about personal branding and job hunt techniques.

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How can college students leverage social media to get interviews at startups? Graham Campbell Kenny Soto

How can college students leverage social media to get interviews at startups?

This question was one I asked via Quora in August of 2015, where several business professionals graced me with their insights. Below is the featured answer to my question that every college student needs to read:

Answer by Graham Campbell, Owner of Moose Media Management specializing in Social Media Services & Training. 

 

As the owner of a Social Media startup & someone that has interviewed & appointed dozens, if not hundreds of people in the past I would say ‘leveraging’ Social Media is going to be an advantage, but not necessarily in ways you would expect. You still need to make sure you apply for any available position using the official channels. If no position is advertised & you are just speculating, I would still consider the following points:

Social Media Across the Board

Make sure your social media profiles are complete, current, interesting & relevant. Concentrate on your big 3 – Facebook, Twitter & most importantly LinkedIn. If you do make direct contact with a potential employer then do it solely via LinkedIn & email. I want to see your professional portfolio & networks; the other channels really just add colour for me at this stage & perhaps give me a better insight into the type of person you are – For example it may jump out of your Facebook profile that you’re dedicated to your family, your Twitter may tell me you are engaging & responsive & Instagram tells me you love going climbing with your mates. That sort of ‘colour’ is very valuable to any potential employer so I’d suggest not having too many closed networks at this stage.

General Rules

Also don’t try & focus all your platforms on ‘leveraging’ your new role. Let LinkedIn be LinkedIn & Facebook be Facebook. I’d be interested in a well-rounded person & an understanding that you utilise these networks in different ways – presenting different ‘faces’ within them is key. Obviously if you need to clean them up – then do it – no-one needs to see your bare heinie on Facebook, not your mates, not your parents & certainly not any potential employer. Don’t be boring, though, if there are pics from the same night which just show that everyone was having a great time then – there’s no harm in that!

It would be good to see Social Media projects you’ve been involved in linked to you, but this isn’t essential. It’s that sort of stuff that would come out at an interview. Therefore don’t flatter yourself too much that any potential employer, even within Social Media, is going to spend more than 5-10 minutes looking at your profiles for an entry level job. You just need to grab attention with your Bios, we aren’t going to trawl for nuggets hidden in the depths of your feeds.

Direct Contact

Most important to me if you contacted me directly (especially if unsolicited) is that you’ve taken the time to find out about the company, you can show that you are genuinely interested in the work that we do (don’t over-use the word passionate, it drives me wild) & that you are aligned with my company’s values & ethos. If you can reference particular projects we’ve been involved in (not always easy I know) that you genuinely found engaging, then all the better, let us know. Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic, however, walk the line between enthusiasm & obsequiousness [inclined or disposed to please], I still want to see a bit of ‘edge’ or spirit.

If you want to do something different think about a video. You must make sure you are good on camera, though, know what you want to say, how to say it concisely & generally be engaging. Practise. Otherwise, it would backfire.

If presentations are a strength then what about:

Follow all the right prospective employers/people on Periscope, create some buzz about your upcoming 5-minute pitch to be their companies next stand-out employee, then nail your live ‘performance’! Hey presto you’ve just effectively interviewed for all the companies you want to work for in one go & got a jump on your fellow graduates (anyone reading this that actually follows this through please let me know & also credit me in your interview) you can have it for free! I suppose the real key is to play to your strengths & align those to the interests of your prospective employers. In other words: don’t be someone or something you’re not in Social Media as in life. It’s never a recipe that succeeds – trust me!

Whatever you do, don’t bombard the company with unsolicited requests & I would certainly advise against using social media ads to ‘get yourself out there’ – I don’t think they are suitable for your situation.

What about a handwritten letter?

Regarding [a] handwritten letter – that’s fine but I’ve seen too many terrible ones, it has to be spot on. If your writing is illegible or even too neat, if you are dyslexic or just rubbish at spelling then don’t do it. To be honest, a well constructed electronic letter may give me some insight into your design proclivities. I’ll judge you by the fonts you use, line spacing, kerning & general design. Sorry, but it’s the truth! Clue – most ‘creatives’ like simplicity (I’m sure you know that).

So I have rambled a bit, it’s been a long week but, I want to leave you with this: it’s a bit of life advice really, but allies to this situation. Live by this & you will go far. It’s a conflict resolution model by Don Miguel Ruiz & it’s at the heart of who I am & the ideals of my company:

  1. Be IMPECCABLE with your word
  2. Don’t make assumptions
  3. Don’t take things personally
  4. ALWAYS do your best

Best of luck in your search.

Author’s note: Hopefully this answer gives you some hope in your job search. Always try new things, you never know until you do it.

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Personal Website Kenny Soto

The 6 Steps to Building a Personal Website

You have to market yourself.


You already understand the importance of a 
personal website if you clicked to read this article (or you’re curious). Minda Zetlin from Inc.com comments on a survey of 300 HR professionals that shows that 30% of them see a personal website as a key advantage for job applicants however, less than 1% actually have one. If you want a leg up on your competition, it’s time to invest in a website.

1. Buying a domain

When setting up your website the first thing the you need to do is compare the pricing options on different domain extensions attached to your first & last name. The best domain extensions to use are .com, .me, or .info for a personal website (the complete list can be found here). Once you’ve decided which extension you’ll be using the next best course of action is to choose from the large list of domain name providers. My suggestion is to either use godaddy.com, namecheap.com or bluehost.com. It is advised that you make your first purchase for owning the website for 2 years because people with your name can bid for your site and put it on hold until your subscription expires and if you mistakenly forget to renew they will grab it.

2. Hosting to go with your domain

After carefully choosing your domain name the next thing you need to purchase is a hosting package. The best ones provide these services:

  • 24/7 Customer service Monthly or Bi-monthly discounts
  • Server space packages
  • Migration services (just in case you need to switch an already owned domain to another provider)
  • Security Services

The main reason why these four aspects should be prioritized over all others is because without these aspects you will have a longer process in setting up your site and you want to avoid as many hiccups as possible to save your time.

3. Can’t code? Use a CMS!

The easiest way to build a unique & well-designed website is to use a content management system such as WordPress & SquareSpace  (these are all in one packages that also provide hosting and domain purchasing). The best one is my opinion is WordPress for its ability to easily manage and customize the backend aspects of your website. For this article, I will be mainly referencing WordPress for adding your plugins and pages to your website.

There really is no reason for anyone not to have a website, regardless of your skills in coding. If you do however want to learn to code from scratch, you can use CodeAcademy for free. For a personal website all you need to know is HTML & CSS.

4. Who are you building it for?

There multiple reasons for you to have a personal website. One thing you must consider is who you are building it for, and not only why. The best thing you can do before beginning the overall design & structure for your site you need to develop a content marketing plan for your intended audience. For example, if you are a law student creating a blog based on general law knowledge you believe people should know, you can then market yourself to law firms (it’s great to have graduate from a great school but, if you don’t graduate from Harvard or Yale, you should consider increasing your edge). If you want to get into creating infographics for your blog, services such as Canva or Vengage can help. Building the website is half of the battle, marketing it is just as important.

5. Essential pages your site should have (after choosing a theme)

You can have multiple web pages on your site however, there are four that you must consider carefully. To save yourself time, make sure all the design planning is done using wireframe and then you implement everything you had in mind about the pages that you want.

The first and most important page is your home page, the one thing that can kill your bounce rate (tips for understanding that here). If you want your visitors to stay, make sure your homepage has content including your current blog posts, site news, or even your social media news feeds. After that, make sure you have a blog page. It is up to you whether you only want your posts or a sidebar/footer for your widgets. Don’t forget that in addition to these pages you should include a professional resume/portfolio. It can be the same information that you provide on your LinkedIn profile. Finally, don’t forget a contact page so people can reach you (you’re doing this to promote yourself after all).

6. Other key elements

You want people to follow you  so social media buttons are vital to your promotional success. If your WordPress theme doesn’t provide this functionality you can use the plugin Shareoholic or AddThis. Having a newsletter to keep people who are interested in you updated is also very important. After creating an opt-in button (could be labeled subscribe here), utilize services such as MailChimp or ConstantContact to design your newsletter emails.

Finally, to truly manage your website effectively I highly recommend learning Google Analytics. Google Analytics will help you to:

  • Manage where people are putting your links
  • Understanding how people interact with your site
  • Know where your audience is located and where they are coming from
  • Know what sites are bringing the most referrals

It will also help you to understand what website elements are working, what colors are working, where you’re not getting clicks, where you are getting clicks, etc. Keep in mind that this is a tool to focus on after building your website; once you begin content development and promotion.

If you have around $50 you can certainly get started today. So many of us use the internet however, we do not use it to truly promote ourselves and gain opportunities to further our success. If you want to continue to learn more about marketing yourself effectively online make sure to subscribe for more articles.

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Kenny Soto 4 areas of Inbound marketing

The Four Areas of Inbound Marketing: The Keys to Online Positioning

Customers have complete power

As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges that you may face promoting your product or services. All companies need to be discoverable in today’s marketplace and inbound marketing is at the core of it all. Today customers have a vast amount of choices for all their consumer needs. Being the company with the best product is not enough anymore. Inbound marketing is the practice of positioning yourself so customers always find you. There are four key areas of focus that are in the heart of this field of marketing.

Search Engine Optimization: Inbound marketing science

Everyone at this point uses Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find out information about everything. If you are selling anything you need to learn how to position yourself at the top of every search query relatable to you. There are many factors that determine how you rank on search pages that are always updated regularly (such as Google Panda). There are both on-page and off page factors that one has to consider to optimize your website’s SEO. For example, the on-page factors include: having a meta description with an excellent call to action that breeds curiosity to learn more about you and your product, doing substantial keyword research (using tools such as SEMRush, Longtailpro and Ubersuggest) to find out with search queries you can target with low-quality content, etc. The off-page factors include (but are not limited to): site history, bounce rate, session rate, ad quotient, location, does the site have shares on social media, spam, broken links, piracy, and much more.

SEO is one of the most important fields of digital technology, marketing, and science to date. No one will ever have a complete understanding and access to any search engine’s crawlers and predictive analysis can only take you so far. At the end of the day, the key component to SEO is user experience. If you cannot provide your customers the information they need exactly when they need it, providing the optimized experience they desire, you not only fail them but, you also fail yourself. Search engine optimization is not something that can be avoided. In addition, simple pay-per-click campaigns through tools such as Google Adwords don’t provide substantial growth models over time. One must consider all facets of SEO that help their business grow, especially since it important for all professionals to know something about the subject.

Blogging never gets old

Blogging, many consumers would say today has become over saturated with useless information. Perhaps this is true, but one thing to consider is that corporations such as Entrepreneur or FastCompany still blog, applications such as: timely, trello, and invision all use blogs because it is an effective way to express thought leadership in your industry (that in addition to infographics makes for very useful displays of your expert insights). Blogging helps show your customers not only that you provide products and services that suit their needs but, that you also share relevant information.

Newsjacking is the act being the number one provider of new and exciting topics in your industry that will determine if users can depend on you for reliable information. “The world of marketing will need more journalists than advertising majors”, was a comment a speaker at my college told a group of students that are aspiring media communication professionals. If you do not have a set of tools, such as Google alerts or Netvibes, that allow you to be the first to see new content on a daily basis, you are surely behind your competition. Lastly, the amount of overall customers that come to your site is relevant to one very important number: the number of guest bloggers you have posting content on your site. The more people you have writing content, the more they share it with members of their own networks which then improves yours.

Social Media (Conversations and Listening)

One thing I have noticed most social media campaign managers not doing is reaching out and contacting the influencers that their followers and potential followers are viewing. If you want to grow your current customer base  on social media it never hurts to contacting other thought leaders in your industry and asking them to share your content (with the bargain that you will do the same). If your content is good enough they will certainly agree and it will boost your reach on your social media platforms.

Another technique (depending on your business model) that works well is having user-generated content on your page. If for example, you are a video hosting service mainly targeting “high schoolers” it would help your business a lot by having users of your product share the content they have made on your social media pages. You could also curate all the content they have and have them share it with each other on a forum page that you create. This works perfectly with businesses whose engines of growth rely on viral marketing (having users attract their friends for you).

Most importantly, focus on one specific platform. Not all social media platforms are built the same and you should be working on developing your customer base to make sure your inbound marketing efforts are rising on in one area. You can then use that social media to transfer your followers onto the other ones. Most businesses that provide business-to-business services would focus on LinkedIn and not Instagram or Pinterest and that is because LinkedIn would naturally provide better results. Inbound marketing requires intense strategy so one must always consider where the majority of their efforts lie on social media.

Being a thought leader: Content Development & Curation 

There is only one thing that can determine that when a customer finds you on the Internet, they will stay and interact with you: content. Content is the only thing that matters to your customers. If you cannot provide them with the content they need at the immediate point of contact they have with you online, they will find someone else who will. If you want to be successful in your inbound marketing efforts you need to provide content such as webinars on your products and services, white papers, provide content on under-served content niches, and curating useful information from other sources so your users don’t have to. Also, you need to know how to properly generate leads by knowing the right time to gate (asking the user for contact information) and when not to. If you can’t build a connection of trust between your users and your business then you need to reconsider your strategies in all your inbound marketing efforts.

Remember, because of the Internet, you don’t need to use paid marketing. Customers are looking for you; you just need to position your business at the right place and always at the right time.

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