According to Google Maps, the distance between California and the Philippine capital Metro Manila is 7,138 miles. And this is exactly how far the newest member of my team is from me — a 27-year old guy name Joseph. Outsourcing isn’t something every entrepreneur in the Western Hemisphere is comfortable doing, but this is an era when I can confidently say that we are living in a truly interconnected flat world. When you call the customer service or technical support department of your various big service providers, there’s a good chance that you’ll be attended to by Bharat in Mumbai rather than John in New York. Oceans away, but technology made it possible.
Anyway, back to Joseph… I was looking for someone who would help me manage a few of the sites that I own. I have had a few guys working on the same thing and some were good, but a common denominator among them is that they needed tons of hand-holding and can’t run away with projects on their own. Given the sheer number of websites I manage and the other things that I do both in my business and my personal life, I needed someone who’s a self-starter and has the initiative to manage projects after I’ve provided the direction and overall broadstroke strategy.
In the past I’ve posted my ads on oDesk, but this time I wanted to find a full-time worker and opted for a different route. I went to Manila Craigslist and posted an ad that I was hiring an online manager for my company. My original plan was to let it run for several days and cull all the applications and make a shortlist from there. However, on the first day of the ad, I got an email from Joseph which I’ve copied and pasted below:
I saw on craigslist that you have an opening for a community manager and this is to express my interest in the said opportunity.
I believe that I am a good fit for this position because of the following skills and qualities:
– I am passionate about online communities. I have read parts of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book entitled the Thank You Economy and I do believe that the rise of online communities is not only a technological advancement, but a cultural revolution on how people interact with each other and with businesses.
– I am a seasoned writer. I have been writing professionally for 7 years now and been writing for the web for five years. My brand of writing is always unique, compelling, relevant and useful. This entails tons of creativity, a strategic and business-oriented mindset and a penchant for research.
– I’m a good project manager. I once served as an Account Director for one o the biggest PR firms in the country and served as the lead for numerous marketing projects.
– Learning new skills and tools excites me.
– I do have an experience in forum moderation and management, although I still have a lot to learn. But I guess my advantage here is I’m very conversant and people-oriented. I am keen on how people speak online and take these cues in order to keep the conversation going and keep the community engaged.
Thanks for your time and looking forward to being part of your team.
He also sent a Dropbox link to his resume and best samples of his writing. I have to say that the thing that caught my attention the most in his cover letter is when he name-dropped Gary Vaynerchuk. For all of you who are not familiar with the internet marketing industry, GaryVee is the preeminent name in social media marketing and has authored several critically acclaimed books. He transformed his family’s wine business into a multi-million dollar empire by using videos, even before podcasting became popular. In short, GaryVee is a social media demi-god and for Joseph to know his work and influence is a testament that he is very much aware of the best practices in online marketing.
Joseph’s resume said he has six years of professional writing experience which I thought would be super advantageous for me because one of the things that I’ve been wanting to do is to create an editorial calendar for my sites. This will also come handy because one of the most effective channels in which I reach and engage my visitors is through e-newsletters.
But the main “come on” in Joseph’s resume that I really liked is his strong project management skills. I needed someone onboard who can turn ideas into projects and see them through completion. Joseph, according to his resume, was an Account Director in a huge PR firm in the Philippines. Account directorship entails a lot of project management skills and having someone with strong end-to-end project management experience is someone whom I believed will help me grow my company and my online communities.
After a couple of emails and after answering a few of my questions, I decided to offer Joseph the position. That’s roughly 27 hours after he sent me his initial response to my ad. Next thing, I found myself sending Joseph’s first day’s pay via PayPal and scheduling a chat with him.
Sounds like a rushed hiring decision? Well, there are times that you just know if a guy is a perfect fit for the position, the company and for your work personality. During his first day, Joseph was able to deliver contents for a newsletter for one site and for someone who’s not familiar with the topic, I’d say he did a fantastic job. Just had a few pointers to help him craft future newsletters on the same topic.
Unfortunately, a couple of days after I hired Joseph, Typhoon Haiyan — the strongest storm of 20013 and one of the strongest typhoons in history — made landfall in the Philippines and caused massive devastation. Luckily, Joseph’s area was not hit, but he had friends from the areas that were ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. He sent me an email that he needed a few days off to compose himself and shrug off some of the negative energies.
Joseph is 7,138 miles away, but I have a lot of faith that he’ll be right by my side virtually as we take my virtual assistant hiring to the next level!