Getting Personal: Networking in the Age of Social Media

Photo: Social Media, Flickr Creative Commons 2013
Photo: Social Media, Flickr Creative Commons 2013

Words of Wisdom from Greenough’s Summer InternsThe ubiquity of social media has made it difficult to imagine networking any other way. But leading up to, and throughout our internship with Greenough, we’ve learned that there’s a lot more to effective networking than a ‘Tweet’ or a ‘Like.’ Let us put this into perspective. I (Jillian) once went to a career fair with the determination to find myself a great internship. I was dressed to impress, I had researched the companies in advance and I had printed out several resumes. I talked to a recruiter, we hit it off and we exchanged contact information. I was off to a great start! That night I emailed the recruiter to thank her for talking with me, added her on LinkedIn, liked the company’s Facebook page, and Tweeted at them.  I used every form of virtual follow up that I could......and got zero response. I thought I had done everything right.

In the age of technology, connecting to potential employers should be simpler than ever before - after all, nearly every company solicits contact through its social media.  But as we've found out, connecting online is not always enough. So what’s a job-seeking college intern to do? The bottom line is traditional methods of networking such as phone calls and written letters are still essential for creating strong connections in today’s professional environment. The trick is combining both the traditional school of thought with today’s digital media-rich environment.

Photo: Thank You, Flickr Creative Commons 2013
Photo: Thank You, Flickr Creative Commons 2013

Based on our past experiences, successes and failures, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for students looking to land an internship or just network in general.

Do’s

  • Call to follow up with a contact
  • Meet people in person
  • Follow up with thank yous: letters, notes, emails, social media
  • Connect on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook before and after networking events
  • Find common ground (personal and professional)
  • Make moves: Don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you
  • Network everywhere!!
  • Make sure your social networks are professional and “clean” (don’t post unprofessional statuses, untag Facebook photos etc.)
  • Invest time to enhance your LinkedIn profile

Don’ts

  • Text/leave your phone on when at a networking event or meeting with a contact
  • Limit your circle to contacts within your career (you never know who could help you)
  • Skip an event because you are not as knowledgeable in the subject as others at the event. Attending is a great way to make new connections
  • Be impersonal, try to make a connection with most, and say hello to all!
  • Turn down chances for lunch or coffee with colleagues in higher positions or other interns. Let others get to know you on a personal level
  • Pass up any opportunity to learn new skills, no matter how complicated they may seem
  • Be afraid to ask questions, even the ones that seem simple
Photo: Hand Written Letter, Flickr Creative Commons 2013
Photo: Hand Written Letter, Flickr Creative Commons 2013

From a current intern to a future intern, stitching together traditional and online methods of engagement not only makes connections stronger, but also bridges the gap between more experienced professionals and the new tech-savvy workers of today.

Contributed by Greenough interns Jillian Rosa, Caitlin Cimino, Becca Giller, and Charles Hoang

Making Banking…Fun?

In my last blog post, I wrote about Bank of America’s effort to bring the human touch back to banking with its video-conferencing tellers. This week, I’m exploring a bank that’s taking the tellers completely out of the picture: prepaid debit card provider Green Dot’s new, entirely virtual bank, GoBank.Though announced in January, I only recently came across this Mashable article describing GoBank’s launch. With a little digging I came to find that GoBank is not the first bank without any brick and mortar locations– Bank of Internet USA, for example, was founded back in 1999 (its tagline is “America’s Oldest and Most Trusted Internet Bank”). But what I find most interesting about GoBank isn’t that it’s online-only. Actually, I’m not even interested in its mobile app or extraordinarily low and often nonexistent fees, which seem to be what most coverage has centered around. The thing I find most striking about GoBank is all of the completely nonessential, but very fun, features it offers its customers. The very first amenity highlighted on GoBank’s website is the fact that users design their custom Visa debit card with a photo of their choosing. Far from the sports teams or generic beach scene options typically offered by banks or credit card companies, GoBank facilitates direct upload from Facebook, so each card is completely individualized for the customer.

GoBank has integrated a Fortune Teller feature in its app, which gives you a quick thumbs-up or thumbs-down as to whether or not you should make a purchase based on your finances. If a user is wavering on whether or not to buy a new laptop that month, they can plug in a few recurring or anticipated expenses (rent, utilities, gym membership), enter the price of the computer in consideration, and the bank lets them know if they have “enough cents for the purchase to make sense.”

And, my favorite feature GoBank offers is the Peek at Your Balance bar. This tool appears on the app’s front login screen and, without having to input your login information, allows users to do a quick balance check.

While these offerings are all very amusing, and probably features I would use, they raise the question of where entertainment belongs in banking. GoBank’s gimmicky amenities grabbed my attention and made the app look fun to use, but they also made me slightly suspicious of the bank’s legitimacy. GoBank’s objective is to make banking fun and simple, which comes across in all of its messaging and branding– but do cheeky humor and game-like applications belong in an industry as serious as banking?

In the current, staid landscape of the finance industry, a bank with an overall tone that’s casual and playful is an interesting contrast. I will be curious to see if my generation and the next will prioritize user experience over big-bank name recognition and established trust in personal banking. In the meantime, I think all banks could take a page out of GoBank’s book and infuse a little more fun into their image other than just the bowl of lollipops at the front desk.

Lucy Muscarella is an Account Executive at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella

Boston Strong

Boston has endured much recently, and our hearts go out to all affected by these tragic events.  We didn’t create the Boston Strong rallying cry, but we’re proud to be part of what it stands for. Thanks to the courage and selflessness of our local law enforcement, first responders and fellow citizens, we’re safely back at work. Remaining strong and staying resilient is the best way we can repay their sacrifices. We’re proud to be part of the greatest city in the world, and we’re eager to prove that Boston Strong isn’t simply a temporary slogan; it’s who we are.
Gaby is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @Gabyberk

The Re-personalization of Banking?

Photo: Jacksonville Business Journal 2013
Photo: Jacksonville Business Journal 2013

Earlier this month I read about the new video-teller ATMs Bank of America is rolling out over the next few months, starting in Boston and Atlanta. The ATMs offer live video chatting with a teller located in one of the bank’s national call centers, and will be able to accommodate a number of transactions that regular ATMs are not capable of (dispensing change, splitting a check between two accounts, etc.). BofA’s press release on their new machines announces “Bank of America Adds Human Touch to New ATMs,” but I tend to side more with New York Times Bucks blogger Ann Carrns who says it’s a touch “starship Enterprise.”

It’s not a novel concept that having a human touch and building personal relationships is valuable in banking. In the Boston Business Journal’s coverage of their “Most Admired Financial Institutions,” Boston Private Bank & Trust CEO Mark Thompson explains that developing “enduring, long-term relationships” is the key to his bank’s success. Allowing a company to manage your cash and advise your financial decisions implicitly demands a great deal of trust, and it’s far easier to trust a person who knows you and understands your background and priorities, rather than an anonymous mega-corporation.

In fact, while mega-banks are hurting in today’s economic landscape, local banks (both those technically designated as ‘community banks’ and ‘regional banks’) are on an upswing. A BBJ article published last fall reports that during the year between June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2012, Bank of America closed 13 of its 277 Massachusetts locations, while “branch closures were a rarity among the state’s local and regional players; many made no changes, while others even added a branch or two.” The article points out that most of the large bank chains in the state reported market-share decreases in the year, while a number of the local banks expanded significantly.

It’s clear why the “buy local” craze would make its way to banking. Besides building a trusting relationship with your neighborhood banker, local banks invest back into the community. When you visit the websites of Middlesex Savings Bank or the rapidly growing Berkshire Bank, ‘Community’ sections are featured prominently on the homepages, detailing the banks’ local philanthropic work and community financial support. Eastern Bank has an entire microsite – CommunityRoom.net  – where customers can easily and securely donate to local nonprofits and find out about volunteer opportunities. Nothing similar appears on the front pages of national banks’ sites. And though they may participate in charity initiatives, the investment back into their customers’ neighborhood isn’t the same.

So though video chatting a live teller might make an ATM transaction more convenient, I think BofA’s new “human touch” may be missing the mark.

Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella

Robotics: The Next Frontier for Explorers

The Massachusetts robotics industry has been attracting attention recently, and deservedly so. Last month, the Boston Globe reported that the state has almost 100 robotics companies and 35 robotics research and design programs. Michael Gennert of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute – the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate degree program in robotic engineering – noted that “Massachusetts has shipped more robots than anywhere else in the world.” From Rethink Robotics’s Baxter, which can work right alongside employees on an assembly line; to Hydroid’s REMUS 6000, which was used in the reconnaissance mission of the Air France Flight-447 crash; to Boston Dynamics’s BigDog, which can carry up to 340 pounds across rough terrain (and is strangely reminiscent of that spidery machine that takes Maurice away in Beauty and the Beast), Massachusetts is creating some pretty impressive technology.

Photo: Alvin illuminates the fallen foremast of the Titanic wreck - Source: David Valenzuela's Flickr account - farm6.staticflickr.com
Photo: Alvin illuminates the fallen foremast of the Titanic wreck - Source: David Valenzuela's Flickr account - farm6.staticflickr.com

In a report released last month, the Mass Technology Leadership Council highlighted that 18 new robotics start-ups have been created in Massachusetts since 2008; and even in a down economy, 900 new MA-based robotics jobs have been created in the last four years. But besides the obvious attraction to an industry that’s growing rather than slumping, robotics may be the new frontier for those drawn to the idea of exploration. Baby boomers grew up wanting to be astronauts after watching Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon; the next generation watched the robotic submersibles in the underwater footage in Titanic (aka the Navy and WHOIs’ Alvin) and more recently, the Mars rover on its mission to explore Mars’ surface.

Robots are allowing for exploration that could never have been imagined in past decades. Robotic technologies can withstand the physical pressure of being miles underwater, to search for lost wreckages or map deep sea geography. They can go without oxygen to analyze the terrain of other planets. And while they’re not surveying the new environment on foot like explorers of the past, the engineers who design and operate these devices are the first to discover, investigate and document their uncharted territory. It’s a dream career for modern-day Lewis and Clarks.

Massachusetts has the perfect set-up for fostering the robotics industry. World class universities and engineering programs, in combination with research institutes, venture capital firms and the success of established robotics companies will keep our state a hotbed for robotic development. Add in the excitement and allure of exploring the unknown and I don’t think our fascination with robotics will wane anytime soon.

Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter@lucymuscarella