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'LinkedIn Newbie' gets advice on building a network

In this week's Poked column, which I copied below, Niala and I answer a question from a reader who is on the job hunt, but isn't sure how to get started on LinkedIn:

A Poked reader that we're calling ''LinkedIn Newbie'' sent us this request: How do you catch the eye of a recruiter with your profile without alerting your current employer to the fact that you're on the job hunt?

Here's what else she wrote:

What is the proper way to build a network? I have conducted searches of people who already work in the field I want to move into. I realize I just can't contact people and say, ''Help me find a job, please.'' I am willing to take the time to get to know people and help them if I can. But, I don't even know what to do.

The first way to build a network -- and to not make it look like you're just out to job hunt -- is add people you already work with. Once you fill out your profile, make sure you add your company name. If you work for a big business, LinkedIn should recognize your employer.

Once you have a few connections of co-workers and others, you'll notice LinkedIn will start making recommendations for people you might know. This is a great tool for building your network, so add away.


Here's something Bridget and Niala do that takes time, but also helps beef up your list of contacts. After a networking event -- say that chamber luncheon or a conference -- we try to take the business cards we've collected and see if they're on LinkedIn. We'll write a quick personal note mentioning where we saw them and inviting them to connect. We sound like a broken record, but don't use the standard, ''I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.'' We hate those, because we think people who send them look like they don't care or don't get the basics of social networking.

Connecting this way solves two problems. You've built up your network, and you can also throw out that business card, because now all that contact information is saved online.


If you're still feeling like your profile looks puny, LinkedIn also has a way to import contacts from existing e-mail accounts and help you find if they're also on LinkedIn.

Finally, here's a way to connect with strangers. Join a group, whether its an alumni or professional organization or another common interest group. Participate in discussions by being helpful, offering advice or tips.

But right now we'd also like to share a pet peeve about groups: Please don't be that annoying person who's always spamming the group, selling some lame products or continuously posting messages with the subject line: ``I'm looking for a new opportunity!''

Good luck on LinkedIn (and with your secret job hunt!). As always, send any questions, comments or suggestions to Poked@MiamiHerald.com, or post a comment below!

Posted by Bridget Carey at 05:42 PM on March 31, 2009 in LinkedIn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is your online profile an embarrassment?

A new web survey by yasni.com  (which describes itself as a source for searching for people and "reputation management") says that many people say don't want people they look up to - or report to -  seeing their online profiles.

Embarrassed_chimpanzee copy The company says it surveyed thousands with this result: 53 percent said they would feel "embarrassed" if their boss, teacher or parent viewed the contents of what they've posted on their social profiles.

According to Yasni's PR folks, they surveyed about 2,000 people online to get these results. What I thought was even more significant is another survey the site did of 950 HR and business managers.

Almost a third of them said they used social networking sites to gather background information on possible recruits. And a quarter of them said they actually turned down job candidates based on what they found.

Need more convincing about keeping up your image online?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:32 PM on March 25, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are you promiscuous on LinkedIn?

Hello all -- Bridget and I first encountered LIONs -- that's a Linked In Open Networker -- through Twitter a few weeks back. One of the folks we've met became the topic for today's Poked column:

Viveka von Rosen considers herself a promiscuous LinkedIn networker: She always says yes.

The LinkedIn strategist is what's called a LION, which stands for LinkedIn Open Networker. Out of her 5,500 connections on LinkedIn, she estimates she personally knows only about 10 percent of them.

She runs the site linkedinbusiness.com and is chief social media officer at Integrated Alliances in Colorado.

We came across von Rosen and the term LION last month when we saw her promote a chat for social media enthusiasts on Twitter. But connecting with thousands of people you don't know seems like it's against everything we stand for in this column.

By being a LION, however, von Rosen has access to more people to promote her events. She says sharing on LinkedIn is like dropping a pebble into a lake: Having about 5,500 connections is like having 15 million people in her network.

Here's the key: She doesn't contact each person. She describes that as ''absolute abuse.'' But if she's looking for a speaker for her events, and finds someone who is related to a direct contact of hers, she doesn't hesitate to reach out.

Many people don't want to connect you to their contacts. But von Rosen increases her chances by providing as much information about herself up front. The more open and detailed the message is, the better. And she has learned that telling someone you want to connect because a friend wants a job is also not very enticing.

By connecting with a super-user like von Rosen, you're more likely to get in touch with a helpful source you never met before -- but a LION probably doesn't know the connection well enough to help make introductions. We realized that we fall into the category of ''LAMBS,'' i.e., ''Look At My Buds.'' (Von Rosen credits Blues Skies Marketing's Laurie Macomber with coming up with the term). LAMBs are people who actually know all of the connections in their network. And combining the power of a LAMB to a LION can sometimes result in a useful connection.

But she warns against being a LION just to spam your contacts.

''Don't be a salesman,'' she said. ``Nobody's going to buy from you if you're going to be That Guy.''

Like us, von Rosen thinks the best way to make new connections is to give and offer help and services to others. And if you want to promote things, use LinkedIn's tools to post an event or send a message to your network. ''Being a LION is a privilege, and treat it as such,'' she said. ``Don't take advantage of your contacts. They're precious. They can be an avenue to great riches.''

So which one are you? A LION or a LAMB? Have strong feelings either way?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:05 PM on March 24, 2009 in LinkedIn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crossing the Twitter and Facebook streams with new application

A few weeks back, Niala and I cautioned against putting Twitter posts automatically on your Facebook status -- aka: Don't cross the streams. We had many reasons why we don't like it, including how it's just messy to have Twitter code (@s and #s) in a Facebook status.

Well a new application is out that lets you choose which tweets you want to share with Facebook, instead of having them all go out. It's called Selective Twitter Status, and by just typing #fb at the end of your tweet, you are telling it to also share with your Facebook community.

I haven't signed up to use it, but I'm a big fan of the concept. It solves almost all the issues I have with crossing the streams... that is, if you use it right. I still rather post separately, since I believe in the old-school ways of starting my Facebook status messages with a verb, and I never do that on Twitter.

Has anyone out there used it and liked it?

[UPDATE: I gave it a quick test and what's nice is that the "#fb" you type in Twitter doesn't show up on Facebook. But I'm still a Facebook status purist and like my status messages in third-person starting with a verb. Maybe someday I'll give up that fight.]

Posted by Bridget Carey at 09:05 PM on March 19, 2009 in Facebook , Status updates , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Link Visual CV to your LinkedIn profile

With more people than ever out there looking for work, the free online resume site VisualCV recently announced a little bit of help -- you can now add a button to your resume that takes visitors directly to your LinkedIn profile.

Visual CV grab

VisualCV has a straightforward step-by-step guide to how to do it, but basically, it's just logging into your LinkedIn profile, picking which button you want and then adding to your resume. Seems silly that I never did it before, but you can of course do the reverse, and add your VisualCV to your LinkedIn Profile.

It's the whole point of social networking, right? This is a nice way to cross platforms. And with all the cutbacks going on these days, it seems like it can't hurt to be as accessible as possible.

According to the folks at VisualCV, the site currently has about 105,000 resumes right now. Does anyone else have other resume sites they like to use? Or are you just using your LinkedIn profile as your online resume?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:21 PM on March 17, 2009 in LinkedIn , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

How to promote your cause on Twitter and Facebook (without being annoying)

This week's poked column by Niala and I answers a question about how to do fundraising on social networks without being annoying. We also took it a step further with advice on how to promote an event or cause for first timers:

A Poked reader recently posed this question:

I'm training for the NYC Triathlon with a group that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. What is the etiquette on soliciting people through Twitter or even Facebook to get donations? Is there a way, without breaking any major etiquette rules or harassing people, to help with my fundraising?

We like that you're asking, because we often come across people who are shameless marketers/self-promoters.

On Facebook, we suggest using the Causes application, which allows fundraising for any registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Send out ONE initial invitation to your Facebook network. For the friends who accept, we wouldn't send more than one message a week; less is better. It's OK the day before the event though, to ramp it up.

On Twitter, we would send out occasional tweets, or posts, to followers about how your training is going. Every now and then, include a link back to a site where they can donate. How often should you send out messages? That's up to you, but don't drown people with donation guilt.

We would suggest spreading it out, a few times a week, at different times. Business hours have the highest traffic. Also, don't forget to send private direct messages to thank those who do donate.

But you can also reach out to new people. Use sites like http://search.twitter.com to find people near to you who might share an interest in your event. For example: search ''marathon'' and ''Miami.'' Another site we use is http://twitter.grader.com/.

If you want to go farther and promote an event, here's how we would do it: First, create a separate account apart from your personal account. That way, it's a clear line of communication between people who want to follow the event versus people who are following you.

By all means, you can and should cross-promote from your personal account about the event. But having one name that's strictly about your philanthropic efforts makes the branding crystal-clear.

After setting up the charity account, make several tweets about the event before you start marketing the account. Make sure its profile is filled out, including a logo.

Then you're ready to let your personal followers in on the other account. (This assumes you already have a personal account with a following. To grow our followers, we try to send out tweets that are funny, interesting, or otherwise add value. In short, good water-cooler conversation that's 140 characters or fewer.)

For inspiration, check out Twestival.com. Organizers say the event raised more than $250,000 last month to help provide clean water to developing countries -- marketed globally via Twitter.

Want to tweet but don't want to be a twit? We can help -- send your social networking questions to poked@MiamiHerald.com.

Have any other good tips for fundraising on social networks or examples of success? Post a comment and share!

Posted by Bridget Carey at 11:23 AM on March 17, 2009 in Applications , Facebook , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Daily Show's take on Twitter

It's quitting time for those of you who aren't in our industry. Before you go, check this out: it made Bridget and I laugh, laugh, laugh.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:31 PM on March 3, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Should your company limit what you can post on Facebook?

Bridget and I thought with all the furor over Facebook's terms of service over the past few weeks, it raises a few other work-related questions about what people are posting online.

So here's what we wrote about in our column in today's paper:

We think the reason it caused such a furor was because people were finally coming to terms with the fact that information posted online doesn't just disappear when it drops out of news feeds -- it actually can be a permanent thing.

Enter Douglas E. Winter, who heads the Electronic Discovery Unit for the law firm Bryan Cave.

The Washington, D.C., lawyer wants people who use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to know that their posts may not only be permanent, they can also be used against you in legal proceedings.

He sees a couple of ways employees get themselves into trouble on social networks.

The first involves people who are saying things they shouldn't about co-workers. Lawsuits, including sexual harassment cases, can consider statements on social networks as evidence.

''Most social networking online between employees is similar to what they used to call the conversation around the water cooler,'' Winter said. ``People usually say things in front of a water cooler that they wouldn't say to a boss.''

He suggests thinking of anything you write on a social network like publishing information rather than just talking to friends -- and assume what you write will be forwarded to others.

Companies should also have discussions with workers about what can and cannot be shared online.

Everyone knows that when your work is involved in a lawsuit, any personal computers, e-mails or cellphones used for work can become part of the investigation. And the same could be said about work information shared over social networks, depending on the situation.

''There is a tremendous amount of individual responsibility that's being called for,'' Winter said.

So we wondered: are companies actually communicating with workers about this? Does your company have a policy? Should they have one?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:11 PM on March 3, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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