Meredith Morse '13, March 2nd, 2011
“The cold call is dying, and it should be,” announces Cindy Billington, associate director of Graduate Business Career Services (GBCS) at Mays.
To help the MBA students she advises advance from cold call to warm, Billington and the other GBCS team members use all the available tools to share what they know and what they glean from others about business etiquette, job openings and communication tips. Throughout her 20 years of career advising, Billington has sought the most effective ways to communicate with her charges.
“Being involved in the latest tools brings credibility to any professional,” Billington says. “And in my field, any time you can bring validity to your product, it changes the way your students perceive what you are presenting.”
One of those tools, a blog Billington co-authors, recently gained noteworthy recognition from J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of CareerHMO.com and Founder of CAREEREALISM.com. O’Donnell mentioned Billington’s blog on her own top-10 blog that focuses on career and personal branding, and the site has attracted more than 60,000 visitors.
Typically, guest bloggers on this website pay a monthly fee and are subjected to a rigorous application process before being featured; however, Billington’s blog surpassed these steps. In a recent post entitled “8 Career Blogs I Read Regularly and Why,” O’Donnell applauds Billington’s page, “The career-experts Daily,” commending her for performing “an exceptional job of taking the best of what career experts are saying and sharing it in an online newspaper format.”
In the 9-month-old endeavor, Billington not only collates articles and information from the top names in career management into one concise format, she also co-authors with GBCS colleague Stacey Cole a blog, “Career Management: Keepin’ It Real.” Her posts offer a wide range of advice from personal marketing to professional online profiling.
Billington is no stranger to the technological field. Since the spring of 2009, she has worked with MBA students, coaching them on developing their own professional profiles online. She stresses the importance of personal accounts on websites like LinkedIn, which operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. Boasting more than 90 million members, this site has become an integral part of the students’ education.
“We communicate with students on LinkedIn rather than email,” Billington says. Over the summer, students of the graduate and MBA programs enroll in a career prep course where they create their own LinkedIn profiles, with which Billington interacts and monitors the Aggies as they advance through their graduate education.
This helps to “keep a pulse on the students,” she says. In a recent post, Billington elaborates: “The value of group activity on LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful networking tools in business today, and that value translates to job seekers.”
This, she says, is the main reason for the death of the cold call. Employers and employees alike can research each other on this online network and discover common groups and contacts. So, rather than engaging in an introductory phone conversation, employers can place a “warm call” instead, drawing on their common interests and connections.
LinkedIn is only one of the many frontiers that Billington interacts with her students. She frequently uses Twitter to promote useful articles on personal management alongside her prospering blog. During the summer months, she creates iTunes podcasts as a means of communicating with members of the MBA programs.
“Students hear my actual voice,” she says. “We try to do a lot of innovative things here.”