Developing Mentors While Pursuing an Online Degree

I’m interviewed in an article today by Menachem Wecker for the US News & World Report.  In it he discussed several challenges to developing effective mentoring relationships while pursuing an online MBA degree.

Mentors, who have their feet firmly planted in industry, can provide practical advice that supplements what MBA students are learning inbusiness school. But the mentorship relationship can get controversial and more complicated when it comes to online MBA students, some experts say.

Some MBA faculty and students view digital mentors almost like invisible friends, which are unlikely to yield fruitful interactions, while others notice unique opportunities when mentors communicate with business students online.

Here are some of the thoughts I shared with Mr. Wecker during my interview:

Interacting with mentors online can be convenient for b-school students, according to Aneil Mishra.

Digital communication tools, particularly LinkedIn, help Mishra stay in touch with the many students from overseas that he coaches, he says, but he recommends a hybrid approach, where there is some face-to-face interaction for trust building amid the communication via social media and digital tools. Sometimes, that may mean making more of an effort to go to events or to network in person in other ways.

“If you’re attending a pure online degree [program] or have limited face-to-face connections with your peers and professors, it’s more beholden to you to join professional associations,” he says. 

For the rest of the article, please go here.


How to Keep Your Contact Information Current on LinkedIn

I’m a huge fan of, as it allows me to easily keep current on my network as well as easily update my own profile information and activities on behalf of my clients and audiences.  Recently, someone in my network contacted me and asked me whether I was still affiliated with an old institution.  I was puzzled because there was nothing in my profile to indicate that.  Nevertheless, he still had an old email address affiliated with that institution as my secondary email address.  I went back to my profile and still couldn’t find it.

Well, it turns out it was because my network contact had kept the old email address in his own LinkedIn personal records, which I couldn’t see and of course couldn’t update.  LinkedIn’s wonderful support people quickly identified the problem and helped me resolve it.


Thanks, LinkedIn and thanks, Sean!


Member Comment: Aneil Mishra 05/21/2012 16:04

A connection of mine noted that I have a secondary email address that is no longer valid when he viewed me in his list of connections. I am unable to determine how to delete that email address, which is:__________

Can you please help me delete this?

Thanks very much.

Aneil Mishra

Hi Aneil,

Thanks for contacting me about this, and I apologize for any confusion regarding your old email address.

That email address is not associated with your profile. What your connection is seeing is their own records for contacting you. Either they imported that email address for you, or you used to have it on your profile. The only way it can be removed on their end is they would have to edit that information themselves.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns, Aneil.

Thanks for using LinkedIn since 2005, and I hope you have an excellent day!

LinkedIn Customer Service

Connecting with Others by Using Your Talents

This article popped up on my linkedin list today, “Forget networking.  How to be a Connector.”  If you have not read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, you need to read this to really understand what the author is saying, but this article is a good start.

Connectors are people who seem to know everyone and enjoy connecting people with other people.  They genuinely want to help you and find ways to do it, even if they cannot do it themselves.

This is Aneil.  This also coincides with his “”Winning Others Over” or “WOO” talent that emerges from his StrengthsFinder talent.  This is another great book to read that helps you identify your strengths.

Aneil is always amazed when someone does not have the ability to connect him with others, but I have to remind him that not all of us have his WOO talent or his passion for connecting.  As you will read in our forthcoming book, he has helped others find jobs or new career paths, but this ability has also helped him beat his thyroid cancer ten years ago.  He is a rare breed, indeed.

WOO is not the only way to connect with others, however.  There are also “relating” talents that people have that make it easier to connect with others.  If relating to others is not “your thing,” then the challenge is build the ROCC of Trust with others who are great at connecting so that your an benefit from their talents.  Just remember, you’ll have to help them using your own talents if you want their help in connecting.


Who Do You Call? Not Even Ghostbusters!

Even though I’ve always been a big phone person, I, too, use the phone much, much less than I used to, and so this recent article in the New York Times makes a lot of sense to me:

In the last five years, full-fledged adults have seemingly given up the telephone — land line, mobile, voice mail and all. According to Nielsen Media, even on cellphones, voice spending has been trending downward, with text spending expected to surpass it within three years.

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”

Though the beast has been somewhat tamed by voice mail and caller ID, the phone caller still insists, Ms. Martin explained, “that we should drop whatever we’re doing and listen to me.”

Even at work, where people once managed to look busy by wearing a headset or constantly parrying calls back and forth via a harried assistant, the offices are silent. The reasons are multifold. Nobody has assistants anymore to handle telecommunications. And in today’s nearly door-free workplaces, unless everyone is on the phone, calls are disruptive and, in a tight warren of cubicles, distressingly public. Does anyone want to hear me detail to the dentist the havoc six-year molars have wreaked on my daughter?

When I solicit contributions college classmates for Princeton’s Annual Giving, I always first email my friends before calling them.  I also only solicit people with whom I want to catch up, so that when I do call them, it’s to spend time finding out what’s happened over the past year, rather than to simply ask them for money.

How have your phone calling habits changed over the years?  Do you even use a phone for calling people?



Zappos Uses Social Networks for Announcing Downsizing

Here’s an update on Zappos, in this case, how it uses a real “social” approach to marketingThanks to  my friend Beverly at SAS for sharing this.

Original Post 1-17-09:

Here’s an excerpt of my interview in today’s Investor’s Business Daily:

E-tailer Zappos has held its own in a sluggish economy. In fact, the online shoe seller’s revenue rose from $840 million in 2007 to $1 billion in 2008, though it fell short of its expected $1.1 billion in sales, noted Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO, who’s based in Las Vegas.

To stay competitive, Zappos laid off 125 people, or about 8% of its 1,460 staffers, in November 2008. Most managers delivered the bad news one-on-one, though some call centers’ managers, who had larger staffs, notified teams in small groups.

Layoffs were determined by performance, and in the case of call center staff, attendance and reliability. Staff was paid through the end of the year, received severance pay of one month for every year they worked, and their health plan was extended for six months. In addition, existing staff were offered counseling to deal with their stress.

After staff members were informed of their dismissals, CEO Hsieh sent an e-mail to staff, explaining why the reduction was done, how financial revenue goals hadn’t been met, and described the staff’s severance packages. He then posted that e-mail on a special Twitter section for Zappos’ employees.

Twitter is a free social messaging service that works in real-time.

Why disclose specifics about the layoffs on Twitter rather than keep it under the radar screen as many companies do? Hsieh said that Zappos’ success depends on its 10 core values including “open and honest communication. We’re open with everything on how we run our business internally. When people don’t know what’s going on, rumors start,” he said.

Aneil Mishra, an associate professor of management at Wake Forest University’s Babcock School who writes about the effects of downsizing, said having the CEO communicate with staff on a social network enables the company to control the message. “It gets the company ahead of other people who will put their own spin on it,” Mishra said.


The informational interview…

Today was the last day of my PR class at MSU, and so we spent some time talking about networking and how to get a job.  I gave them the one piece of advice that I have been giving my students for 17 years—use the informational interview as a stepping stone to finding a job.

The informational interview is a way to talk to someone either at a company you are interested in or in a job you would like to learn more about for a few minutes of their time–start with 15 minutes.  You promise them you will take no more than 15 minutes of their time to ask them about their job, how they got there, what they like about their job, and any advice they have for someone trying to break into the field.  After 15 minutes are up, thank them for their time.  If they insist on talking more, let them.  If not, say good-bye and hang up.  Afterwards, send them a thank you note for their time.

This informational interview is helpful to the student because it will give them information about a position that they might not know unless they actually worked at that company or in that job.  It gives them information to think about in terms of how this person spends their day or the types of things they do, and then the student can decide if this sounds like a good “fit.”

In addition, if you were pleasant to talk to, they will want to help you find that job or interview.  They will start asking you questions, like, “Where would you like to work?”, or “What type of job are you looking for?”, or “Send me your resume and I’ll see what I can do.”

If we call folks and directly ask them for a job, we put them on the defense, because they may or may not have a job or any knowledge or one at the time.

But, if we approach them as the expert and ask for a few minutes of their time, we build trust with them in a way that they are willing to become our advocate.  And, as well all know, it is not always what you know, but who you know.


Meet Brenda Bernstein: The Essay Expert!

If I had a nickel for every time I’m asked to provide help on resumes, I could retire easily.  Karen and I have provided feedback to more students, friends, and alumni than we can count over the years — all for free.  We’re both simply too busy to keep doing this as much as we’re asked, and besides, there’s an expert out there who’s really the best person to provide this feedback and guidance:  Brenda Bernstein of The Essay Expert LLC.

I “met” Brenda through the Ivy League Referral Network on, and was impressed with her website and answers to questions on LinkedIn.  I asked her for some input on some of my business writing in order to see if she would be an appropriate referral for my students and others requesting help on their business writing.  She gave excellent feedback, and so I’ve routinely been referring individuals to her for the past several months.  Those who have used her services have raved about her and her team of consultants.  I’ve also seen firsthand the huge improvements she and her staff can make on resumes and other business documents.

Here is my interview with her about her firm and its services.  I highly recommend you hire her if you are need of improving your resume, cover letters, or any other important business communication.


What services does your firm provide?

We provide writing and editing services in the following areas:  Resumes & Cover Letters; LinkedIn Profiles; Job & Scholarship Applications; Bios; B2B writing, Web Copy & Production; and Academic Writing (including Legal Writing Samples).

How do you do this differently or better than your competitors?

We give extremely personalized service to every customer.  We have a team of writers and editors with various specialties so when you contact us we will match you up with an expert in the type of writing you need.  We work fast and on your deadline.

What results can you/have you achieved for your clients?

Many clients tell us they were stuck for weeks trying to get something written, and after speaking with us it’s done in a few days.  The result is peace of mind; one client wrote, “Wow!  This looks great.  I will sleep well tonight.”  A consistent and concrete result is that clients who had not been obtaining interviews suddenly start getting multiple calls from interested employers.  Our first resume client, an architect who had been unemployed for 7 months prior to working with us, just obtained a job as a Senior Architect and Project Manager in his location of choice.

Who recommends you?

After our first 9 months in business, we have dozens of happy customers from around the country.  Many people post recommendations on LinkedIn even before we ask them to.  Our clients speak to the clarity of our writing, the insight we provide, and the success we have in helping them express themselves in words.  Recommendations are posted on The Essay Expert’s testimonials page and on my LinkedIn profile (

How does someone contact you?

Call 608-467-0067 or email me at  I’m happy to speak with you about how we can help with your project.











For more information view our website at

Using Social Networking to Enhance Your Career Prospects

There’s a very good column today in today’s Wall Street Journal that discusses the benefits of using social networking tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn to market your talents and capabilities:

Except in the case of bulk hiring positions, employers and recruiters are Googling candidates’ names as well as searching on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, according to Mr. Schawbel. “This is done primarily to ensure the integrity and behavior of candidates and to make their resume piles smaller,” he says.

Kate Ruddon, vice president of talent acquisition at Activision, says that she uses sites like LinkedIn early in the recruiting process. She and her staff use social-networking sites to obtain background on a candidate’s work experience, area of expertise and education. “We utilize a number of professional networking sites and search sites like Google for the purposes of conducting research on a particular candidate, like press information,” she says. “Has the candidate spoken at industry events? Have they received any awards or public recognition? Additionally, we conduct research from multiple sites on specific companies we are targeting to recruit from.”

I am increasingly using my page as my online resume and set of references/recommendations, as it’s easy to keep up to date, it’s accessible by a wide variety of professionals, and it allows me to incorporate lots of good biographical information that I can’t easily summarize in a resume or curriculum vitae.  It’s also part of my email signature which aids people in finding out more about me when I first communicate with them.

What is your experience with using social networking and other Web 2.0 tools as part of your career strategy?


What to Do When You’re Laid Off

The Wall Street Journal has an occasional column entitled “Laid Off and Looking,” and today’s column has some great insights by one of the guest columnists:

For one, I’ve had opportunities to reach out to several of my ‘dream companies.’ One of the first things I did when I was laid off was sit down and make a list of companies that I would love to work for. This list had little to do with the anything factual about the company–like open positions, the pay scale or benefits. Rather, was entirely based on an emotional connection I had to the company–I like their products, I enjoy their advertising, or have read great things about the culture.

With this list as a guide, I leveraged my network to see if I knew anyone employed at these companies who could help me get a foot in the door for an informational meeting. Or if I did not have a connection, I sent in a resume and cover letter inquiring about openings and selling myself. So far, this process has resulted in some great informational meetings and one interview.

Here’s my comment that I posted in the article’s comments section:

One of the choices several of the leaders in our book, Trust is Everything, do is to “renew themselves regularly,” which is one of the chapters in our book. Whether you do it proactively by taking time off for a mini-sabbatical, or do so in response to losing your job, we think it is critical to regularly reevaulate what you want do and what your talents are. The hectic pace of most people’s work lives prohibits that kind of self-reflection. Lack of self-reflection then makes burnout and increasingly poor fit between who you are and what you’re expected to do almost a forgone conclusion.

Aneil Mishra, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Executive Education
School of Labor and Industrial Relations (as of 7-1-09)

For some good financial advice on what to do if you’re laid off, you may want to read this recent Wall Street Journal article.

Use Your Alumni Network for A New Job!

I was interviewed this week by Miriam Salpeter on how to use one’s alumni network to land a new job.  Here are some excerpts of the interview:

Old-fashioned networking with a modern twist is alive at Wake Forest University. Business school professor Aneil Mishra, co-author of the book (with Karen Mishra), Trust is Everything, maintains a network of well over 1000 current and former MBA students whom he helps find opportunities for free via his “Trust Network.” He receives “scores of job opportunities” via his network and then passes them along to students and other alumni.

Mishra is connected to members in a variety of business school networks, including Princeton and U-Michigan alumni. He notes, “There is not much of a chance that Princeton, Wake Forest, and Michigan alums would have naturally had the opportunity to learn about and share such opportunities with each other, so we thrilled about how [the network has] taken off.”

Ben Holcomb, Mishra’s former student, learned about his current job via this network. He says, “The Trust Network was an invaluable tool to further my career upon completion of my MBA at Wake Forest University…I was connected with Green Resource LLC, a rapidly growing business (in the top 5 of The Business Journal’s FAST 50 Awards Program) who sought a Controller to manage the company’s finances. Without being a part of the Trust Network I would not have been presented with such a great opportunity.”

Here’s another link to the interview, which contains some other useful information for job seekers and career development.

I’ve benefited greatly from the networks I’ve been part of going back to Okemos High School, including reconnecting a decade ago with Melanie Bergeron of Two Men and a Truck, International.  My Princeton and University of Michigan regularly make a difference for me.  Karen regularly utilizes her Michigan Business School (Ross School of Business now) in her own career.  The natural next step for us to take was to build up the school networks our current and former students belong to benefit their careers.