Google, New York Times, a famous writer and me

Shop Talk by Kitty Kaufman

Life as a Boston business consultant is one of highs and lows. One day you walk on water and the next, someone offers /hour to watch their cat. So much for executive organization. When we created the Corporate Edge site last spring it seemed straightforward enough. If we could help overworked, time-challenged professionals find us, their problems, theoretically at least, would be over.

Or so I thought. First Google has to find you. When you're a web master, which is what you become when your own web master sets you free, you get newsletters about spiders. They are the key of life for an online presence and this is one of the few times when you actually want spiders to seek you out. I'm sure they're overworked and underpaid. Still, we need them. Before I knew how they worked, Google linked to a woman with the same name who sells on eBay. She co-opted half the listings under my name along with somebody else from San Diego. Luckily, that one isn't selling anything.

So the question was, how will clients find us? I began writing on blogs at The New York Times. In retrospect this was brilliant because The Times is terrific with spiders; it's almost as if they wave catnip in front of them. Your posts show up in less than 24 hours. Sadly, being a political wise guy does not bring in much in the way of business unless you're already famous.

Someone said try craigslist. I spent hours crafting letters for hiring managers seeking time-management savvy office organizers who can spell and edit, are all things, and who could, if called for and it generally is, walk on water for /hour.

Never apply for a job that demands multi-tasking. Actually you could but then you have to charge the therapy rate which works out to 0 an hour, or more if you are my doctor or my lawyer. When you deliver this number, your therapeutically-challenged client will rail on how hat-changing multi-taskers are begging to juggle their projects for /hour.

Here are some of the 123 places where I applied armed with a degree in English and more than a few years of experience.

Yankee Lobster to be a "hands-on" assistant general manager
Living Boston as a freelance writer
Charlie Allen to be a special project assistant supporting the CEO
Barneys, Copley Place as "assistant to the personal shopper" to "troubleshoot customer issues" and "deal with high-profile clients." Of course this was so wrong.
All About Elders wrote: "You sound fabulous. I wonder if we should sit down together and talk about not only how you can help our office get organized, but how we can fit your services into our business."
The Gifted Practice as a "well-spoken, polished, and wonderful creative writer, classy event planner, skilled designer of power point and other elegant documents who loves looking after one talented but crazed executive."
M S Walker, the liquor distributor, to be a merchandiser
Legal Sea Foods, yes that Legal, as an office administrator
A New York daily wanted a freelance writer who would get either three days or three minutes to turn out a story; I'm really disappointed I couldn't find out which paper it is.
MIT, yes that MIT, to be an events coordinator working with world class leaders
Great American as a writer who could "conglomerate research into structured concise analysis" on many projects at the same time. Yes, I know, I broke my own rule.
Schlesinger Associates to register convention attendees
Mod Green Pod as assistant to the owner
The Parent Review as business manager reporting to the president
Furnished Quarters as operations manager making sure apartments were neat

All of which brings me to what these guys have in common. If you've applied for anything lately, although not cellular phone service, it won't surprise you in the least. Not one of them responded. Nothing came from them at all, not a single word. No, not even an auto-response. Oh and by the way, others using blind replies didn't answer either.

What is it? Silence; it's what's passing for okay. With business owners and human resources and people who run over your foot in the market looking the other way. You could say something or let those lazy pesky spiders take all the blame.

This one didn't answer either, of course. She should know I know who she is: "A very famous successful writer businesswoman needs assistant from a top school. This person and her husband are known throughout the country." Perhaps.
http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/wri/521854913.html (Sadly the craigslist post expired and you can no longer find it, but the quote is spot-on.)
P.S. to Kit Combes: Flakiness in human resources goes on.

© January 20, 2008
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