Eric Kraus


5 Tips on How to Give Feedback (That People Actually Want to Receive)

Let me just go ahead and say, you are terrible at giving feedback. And… if you want to be successful in this world (which you probably aren’t if you’re reading this)…you have to read this post.

Stop…wait…don’t leave just yet.

Ask yourself: how did that intro make you feel? Maybe sad or disappointed, but more likely offended! We don’t know each other, and I’ve just imposed a baseless opinion on you. The chances of you listening to anything else I say are probably blown.

Read More …

8 Mistakes We Continue to Make on LinkedIn

Almost all recruiters now use LinkedIn as part of their employee search program. However, trying to line up a company’s need for an employee and your need for a new job is a little bit of a game of luck. Waiting until you need a job to update your LinkedIn profile is by far the worst thing you can do. Keeping your profile current, building connections and building a personal brand is a theme through these 8 mistakes that people make on LinkedIn.

1. Not including a professional photo.

LinkedIn is not Facebook…or MySpace or any other personal social networking tool. Let’s just get the naughty list out of the way:

No selfies, No alcohol, No picture of you with your girlfriend cut out.

As far as tips for a good picture: Hire someone to take it and dress professionally. There’s a reason why it’s never good to submit a photo with your resume (unless of course you’re a model). Don’t give a recruiter any reason to dismiss you before they even know you.

2. Failing to complete your entire profile

You may not want to share your University or volunteer activities, but think of the possible connections that you may have with other people. Great networkers are always thinking of possible connections. (and they leverage them)  Anything positive that might connect you with another person is worth sharing.

3. Not using it to network.

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. It gives you the ability to connect with other professionals and, more importantly, connect with your connections connections, and so on. If you are not using LinkedIn to navigation relationships and ask for introductions, you are missing out on the power of a professional networking tool.  Don’t wait to network until you NEED it.

4. Failing to be strategic with your headline or leaving your profile outdated

Somewhat old advice, but still something that is frequently overlooked. Your LinkedIn profile is like yard work. It’s not much work to keep it updated and fresh. But leave it go for a while and it will take some effort to clean up. In the meantime, think of all the people that drove by and said, “Eh, look at that…he obviously doesn’t care”. For many people, updating a LinkedIn profile is something they do after they leave a company. Like a resume, it is something you should always keep ready and up-to-date.

5. ANY grammatical errors

This should be self-explanatory… Grammatical errors are the kiss of death for a professional job. I can’t tell you how many resumes I review with severe grammatical errors on them. Personally, do I care? Eh…  However, how can that person represent the company I work for? I can’t assume a potential client will have the same forgiving perspective.

6. Focusing on quantity of recommendations and not quality

Ten mundane recommendations will never beat out three rockstar recommendations. If you are soliciting recommendations from colleagues, ask them to send you their recommendation ahead of time. You don’t want to tell them what to say, but you can get a glimpse of what they would post and encourage them to be more specific or use examples. Without telling them to write, it may not hurt to remind them of the work you have done together and always offer to return the favor (LinkedIn or privately).

7. Listing generic qualities

How does this sound?  “I am a self-motivated team player with exceptional communication skills that learns quickly and is very professional.” You would hire that person, right? Words are just words. This advice is universal for your LinkedIn profile: be specific. Use examples to show how you “earned” everything you claim about yourself on your profile.

8. Not engaging your connections.

These days, 50% of my LinkedIn request are from people I have never met. I do filter who I accept as a connection, but I do not immediately say ‘No’. ABN: Always Be Networking. After you’ve mutually agreed to connect with someone, then what? Hopefully not “nothing”.  Reach out and introduce yourself especially if it is someone you have never met before. If there is an area you can offer expertise in or something you need help with, share that. At a minimum, start a relationship. You never know when you might need it.

Social Collaboration – Are you Interested or Just Interesting?

Are you struggling to adopt a social collaboration tool?  Look no further than your company’s culture.

The value in enterprise social tools comes when we use them to be interested in our company’s success rather than use them to be seen as interesting or knowledgeable. However, that value comes with a shift in corporate culture.

Change in Culture

Warren Susman was a well-known author and history professor at Rutgers University. He was most known for his studies in culture during the 70’s and 80’s. If you haven’t read Culture as History — you have to add it to your list.

Susman was said to be “one of the transformative minds of his generation”. During his research he documented 200 years worth of self-help books. He read these books in chronological order, making notes of their key messages. He noted one very significant change right around the 20th century. Susman believed this change formed two distinct periods of culture in our history.

A Brief Look At History

19th Century — the Culture of Character

During the 19th century, the US was primarily a farming society. People rarely left their home towns. The only people we knew lived within 100 miles of us. However, these people formed a very important community that everyone relied on. We think of people during this time as having qualities like being helpful. People valued, above all else “Character”: Were they good people? Were they generous? Did they benefit and provide value to their community?

Susman called this the Culture of Character. During this period of time, social collaboration was actually occurring naturally through the interest and desire for people to contribute in a community.

20th Century — the Culture of Personality

At the turn of the 20th century, the US was undergoing a radical change with the industrial revolution. We evolved from a society of farming, where people never left their homes to one of big cities and booming business. During this time, we think of people with qualities like knowledge and communication skills. People valued “personality” more so than ever. Are you outgoing? A good public speaker? Are you liked among your peers?

Susman called this the Culture of Personality. During this period of time, social collaboration has significantly reduced. People have become more interested in getting ahead, then belonging to and supporting a community.


Interested vs. Interesting

The cultures of personality and character can be seen today juxtaposed between the cultures of different organizations. These corporate cultures drive behaviors aligned with how employees perceive and measure success. Well established organizations drift into to just celebrating the news. Much like the culture of personality, they share success and wins because they are interesting. Start up companies are rooted in the passion for something bigger. Much like the culture character, people are interested in the collective success of others and their company.

Social Networking Tools

Facebook and Twitter are social networking platforms I’m sure many of us are familiar with. They were created and became popular during the Culture of Personality. It’s not surprising these social platforms define success by things called “Likes” and “Favorites”. While there are many great benefits to these platforms, many people use them to share personal information. And on these tools…they strive to be the most “interesting” or liked person.

Facebook in the Enterprise

In our professional careers, having a message ‘Liked’ by our peers doesn’t necessarily have a great correlation to our success. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that the way we use Facebook and Twitter today would be helpful in collaborating with or leading our teams.

It’s Not a Tool Problem

I argue, it’s actually not a problem with the tools. It’s a problem with our intent. I’ve heard from many leaders who say they struggle with enterprise social because they fear posting messages that are not insightful to their team… Their intent is to be interesting. I think they have it backwards.


“The real value in enterprise social collaboration comes when we use them to be interested, not interesting.”


Businesses are Evolving – A Stronger Need for Social Collaboration

As a massive digital transformation is underway, the demands on organizations are increasing. Companies are being forced to adopt agile practices to compete with the demands of consumers and the innovation of competitors. So how can an organization reap the benefits of using a social collaboration platform to help compete in their marketplace? It starts with forming a culture around being a team and believing in shared goals.

Never Assume You Know Who May Contribute


Communication Like a Team

In order to succeed as a team, we must communicate like other successful teams we know. Consider an american football team’s huddle. Imagine if a quaterback only huddled with one wide receiver. What happens if that one player isn’t open? This is why email can sometimes be a bad form of a huddle. An email assumes only certain people on the team should know what is going on.

When our team communicates, we post messages to our group even if we would have otherwise sent a message to just one or two people. We mention certain people because we need their input or action; however, by communicating openly, we don’t exclude others that might need or want to know. We often get some of the best contributions from people who areinterested….but would have otherwise been left out.

A football team wouldn’t have a huddle without the entire team, why would we have a conversation without our entire team?


A Team Motivated By A Shared Purpose

A team motivated by a shared purpose has the most people working towards achieving its goals. This doesn’t mean people aren’t still accountable and responsible for their own commitments. It means we can do even more amazing things when we leverage our passion and strengths together.

For our team, we chose a purpose that everyone could align to. As a team, we’ve communicated that as a common goal and we celebrate milestones and individual accomplishments as wins for the whole team. Having the right goals, means everyone on the team can be interested in the team’s success, not just their own.

Leaders Set The Tone

When we feel safe, our natural reaction is trust and cooperation. Look at military leaders… Are they recruited from the best leaders in the world? Not necessarily. However, they learn and possess a quality unlike many “leaders” in the corporate world. They create a safe place where their team can do their best work. Team members in the military need to sometimes make split second decisions that often involve self-sacrifice. They do this because they are bound by a belief that their efforts support the greater good of their team. Commonly stated, “Anyone else would do the same for me”

Recently, I heard a quote that I absolutely love. It’s from Simon Sinek:


“The best leaders in the world are like parents. All we want is to provide for our children, so they can grow up to achieve more than we ever imagine for ourselves”

“Leadership is a choice, not a rank”



After our team adopted our enterprise social platform, we soon realized it was our new tool to get work done. It wasn’t just a migration from one tool to another… it was an evolution in productivity. We are now communicating better: more efficiently and effectively. As an unintended benefit of working out loud, we found less value in our weekly status meetings. Everyone seemed to already know the status.

We’ve since eliminated status meetings; they never drove progress for us. As a team, we’re always thinking about ‘what is next’, but burning time just catching up didn’t support that mindset. Shifting from ‘status’ to ‘outcome-based’ discussions allowed us to do that better.

Reprise: Interested vs. Interesting

As you position the value of an enterprise social platform with your teams, here are a few simple tips we’ve found successful for our team:

  • do actual work out loud
  • if there was time to email, there was time to post on social instead
  • lead by example
  • invite others to participate, by making your group public
  • avoid just sharing “interesting” articles. effect an outcome by driving a conversation

For years, “what we did” and “who we met with” have been the measures of success and contribution. As organizations become more responsive to changing markets and customer demands, it will take the collective effort of every individual at the company to work together to continually evolve to exceed customer expectations.


A Career in Technology

I’m taking a break from geeky technology today to write about a great experience I recently had.  Last week, I had the opportunity to assist in hosting 100 high school girls at our Microsoft Technology Center for the 2012 Microsoft DigiGirlz Day.

The day was packed with great information on Microsoft products/services, tips for professional networking and preparing for a career in technology.  I also had the pleasure of participating in a “speed networking” event which allowed the attendees to practice rapid-fire networking with a stranger.  I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and passion many girls had towards technology-related careers.

I wanted to tackle the two most popular questions I was asked that day with a couple responses here.


“What should I study for a career in _______?”

Well, for starters, I’m not a career advisor, nor have I ever played one on TV.  As a disclaimer, nothing will beat meeting with a professional guidance or career counselor to talk about your unique situation.

With that said, my biggest feedback to students looking for advice on their education is to studying general disciplines that will carry over multiple jobs or even careers.  For instance, business, communications, etc.  There are several statistics that claim the average worker will change jobs 10 times in their career.  Also, knowing that there are fewer jobs today than in past years, it’s important to spend time distinguishing yourself from your peers.  Two graduates in the same program will have similar qualifications – why should someone hire you over another candidate?

Versatile Qualifications.  It is very important to learn relevant skills for your career.  In addition, differentiating yourself and adding transferrable skills will give you the longest return on your education investment.  A minor in business or communications can add depth and versatility to your qualifications.

Internships/Experience.  Do as many internships, job shadows and informational interviews as you can.  Seriously.  Not only do they add real-world experience, but it is a perfect way to build your network.  People getting jobs today are doing this.  If the company you intern or meet with isn’t hiring, at least ask to leave a resume behind and maintain a relationship.

Stay Connected.  Build your network.  If nothing else, take someone out for coffee every couple of months.  If you don’t know what to talk about, ask them questions about their job.  It will get easier as you go.  It may be surprising, but companies often create jobs just because they want someone to work with them.  Always strive to leave that lasting impression.

“Where can I go to learn more about Microsoft technology?”

Here’s a list of resources for students to explore.

Student Hub:
Student Newsletter:
Microsoft Careers/College:
Microsoft Students to Business:

More information on DigiGirlz: