How to avoid your ex online

Breakups are rough. Especially in the age of social media, which require a whole extra level of separation. Enter Blockyourex.com, which makes the whole process much easier:

ExBlocker
Thanks to @Skydiver for pointing this one out!

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Looking for a job? Expand your network online

In one of my other roles at the Herald, I do a weekly web business show - this week, we featured an interview with Roy Krause, the president and CEO of SFN Group, formerly known as Spherion. They're one of the largest staffing companies in the country and Krause spent quite a bit of time talking about how important expanding your network is - if you didn't catch the interview, here it is:

For those who need a refresher on social media sites like LinkedIn that deal specifically with the professional world, here are a few videos we did a while back with LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman about his site.

Some more practical tips: Bridget did a post last year about how to link people to your LinkedIn or Facebook profile - it's a good reminder as well to check yourself out online and see what comes up, as all potential employers do these days.

Finally, another tip: how to connect your Twitter account to LinkedIn - staying active on both networks and saving time!

What tips do you have to increase your network, especially in the face of job hunting?

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Generations and the netiquette/etiquette gap

The backstory to today's column: this topic came up last week at a Social Media Club South Florida's event that focused on education and social media.

I wasn't there - I was at another event - but heard that some interesting topics came up. I called some of the panelists to talk to them about what they were seeing with this generation - and it struck a chord because it was similar message that I hear from teachers these days:

We've created a generation that looks great on paper, but has some trouble when it comes to real life.

That was the main message that stuck in my mind last week when I spoke with Rosanna Fiske, who teaches at Florida International University's communications school.

Her students are early adapters, finding the latest technological innovation "none of us can,'' said Fiske, who teaches advertising and public relations students.

"They do so well because they're connected -- they've literally been connected their entire lives,'' she said. "But what that's also done is create a whole issue with their social skills and face-to-face interaction.''

In some cases, it gets even worse.

Johnson & Wales' Maureen Lloyd-James told me she has some students who include texting language like LOL (that's laughing out loud) in college essays.

"I think in this day and age we presume students have a lot of computing knowledge -- but it's only in a specific area,'' she said.

Fiske counteracts this at FIU by emphasizing hands-on work. Some students have a class that features in-person interactions, so they must meet clients in addition to create websites, do writing, research and preparation.

Both Fiske and Lloyd-James emphasized that these assignments are about creating a different mind-set for students who have never thought about these things.

For Betsy Soler, a senior at FIU who is already working full-time, it was also about learning how to act as a professional -- something every college student must learn, regardless of their generation.

In her case, that has meant getting more comfortable with using the phone for work conversations, said Soler, who still puts "text-friendly'' next to her business phone number.

Soler, 19, thinks part of the issue is that because younger people are viewed more as "experts,'' they're being thrust into the working world at a much younger age.

"Professionals are approaching us a lot quicker than before,'' said Soler, who started college when she was 16.

What netiquette challenges do you see when working between generations? Share your stories in the comments below.

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LinkedIn and Facebook on Outlook -- Time saver or time waster?

If you use LinkedIn and Facebook as a main tool for managing your business contacts, you're going to love the news Microsoft came out with last week. But if social networks distract you at work and hurt your productivity, then let's hope your tech staff doesn't install updates to Outlook on your computer.

Microsoft is beta testing a new feature it calls the Outlook Social Connector. It'll eventually sync information from LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace into Outlook. Right now, it only works with LinkedIn.

It also keeps you up to speed on what your contacts are doing on those networks. For example, let's say you have to e-mail Judy. When you type Judy's e-mail address in the To field, a window below the e-mail shows everything Judy has been up to on the networks. If Judy changes her contact information on LinkedIn, your contact info for her in Outlook will automatically update -- helping to make sure you always have the most recent information. And imagine how much time is saved by adding LinkedIn contacts to your Outlook, letting you expand your network while never leaving your e-mail program.

But imagine how much time will be wasted.

Social networking is addictive -- especially Facebook. What starts out as a simple e-mail could mushroom into spending 10 minutes watching a Star Wars spoof video someone posted. E-mail is an efficient workplace productivity tool; adding goofy status messages could muck it up.

It'll be interesting to see how many workplaces add this upgrade. It's already hard enough to keep away from social networking during work hours. Yet so many of us use social networks to manage our professional contacts. Outlook's changes are just exacerbating our society's struggle with keeping our professional and personal lives separate online.

The upgrade also means we'll be need to be more careful than ever over what information we make public on these networks. Because now, people you e-mail -- like your company CEO -- could see your relationship status changed, or the results to the quiz you took during work hours.

There's no word yet on when it will release the version that lets you sync Facebook and MySpace. To give it a whirl, go to office.com to download the beta of Outlook 2010. Then download the Outlook Social Connector (which also works on Outlook version 2007 or 2003). Finally, download LinkedIn for Outlook at linkedin.com/outlook.

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A little plea to stop Facebook spammers

In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I'd address that big can of Spam that I got as a gift last week.

It came via Facebook, from a man named Elihu El, who has, over the past few months, issued me many invitations to events or groups, usually something to do with politics and Washington, D.C.

Spam I have no idea who Elihu El is. We're not Facebook friends and we're not a part of any groups together. So I messaged him, telling him that I'm a reporter and asking him how -- and why -- he kept inviting me to all these events.

He responded right away, telling me that he was "politically active'' and that's why he had my contact information. When I asked him how he had my contact information -- especially since, as a journalist, I don't take any public political positions -- he said he wasn't "certain'' how he got my information. In that last message, he adjusted his privacy settings on his profile.

I took that shadow profile image as a red flag and blocked him

I also reported the behavior to Facebook. They make it very easy to do this: just click the tiny blue 'report' button next to a message on an inbox, or the report/block tab just under a person's name in their profile. There's also a ``report spam'' on your Facebook inbox menu, too.

I'm guessing he found my personal e-mail somewhere online and used that to invite me to his events and groups. Because I have that e-mail account linked to my Facebook account, the events were automatically added to my Facebook profile -- and made it seem as if we were somehow connected there, even though we're not.

I'll be honest -- I've been getting e-mails from this guy for months now. In the past, I wanted to block him, but I figured somehow I knew him and didn't want to offend him.

Like many people, I have hundreds of Facebook friends, so assuming I knew this person was logical. But this experience was also a reminder that there are plenty of spammers out there -- and it's our responsibility to call these people out.

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Broward County considering social media policy

My WLRN-Miami Herald colleague Joshua Johnson did this story on Broward County considering new rules for employees & social media - take a listen.

These days it seems the most popular means of communication, are also free: social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube. Broward County would like to get in on the act too, but it's bound by open government laws. As WLRN-Miami Herald reporter Joshua Johnson tells us, the County is considering new rules to help it navigate the world of social media.

BrowSocial-WR-Johnson-119

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Connect your Twitter account with LinkedIn

Today Twitter and LinkedIn announced that they have teamed up to help you cross the social media streams between the two networks.

The feature is slowly being rolled out to LinkedIn users over the next few days, but the LinkedIn blog has a clear description how the cross-posting will work.

I don't support putting every Twitter post on your LinkedIn profile. Niala and I always preach you should be careful when crossing the streams. The network audiences are different, and no one uses the @ symbol in LinkedIn, so the language is sometimes different. Twitter tends to be a mix of personal and business updates, and LinkedIn always keeps a professional tone.

But just by adding a simple #in to your tweet, it can post to your LinkedIn account. And it goes the other way around too -- just check a box while writing your LinkedIn status update to share it with your Twitter followers.

I like the ability to turn it on and off, depending on the message. It's a nice way to save time and make sure only relevant stuff gets shared to both networks, instead of having your Twitter feed vomit all over your LinkedIn page. It can be especially useful when you're looking for input or help from your business connections on both networks at once.

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How have your social networking habits changed?

A year ago, Bridget and I set out on a mission to help two kinds of people: Those who get social media and those who don't.

We've been poking and prodding you (and each other) for a year now to behave better not only on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but also on the devices we use that keep us constantly wired.

We used data from Compete.com to compare those three sites' traffic over the past year since we began writing this column.

Facebook--twitter-linked Facebook topped the trio, with growth of more than 200 percent in average unique monthly visitors. (Facebook itself releases data on the number of active users, which it estimates at 300 million, which, if it were a country, would be the world's fourth largest.)


Twitter was next -- much smaller -- at 23.5 million, but with exponential growth of 660 percent. LinkedIn clocked in last at 15 million, and a still-respectable 85 percent growth rate.

All of this shows that our entire communications culture is continuing to evolve rapidly. Networks are converging faster, with Facebook incorporating Twitter-like features onto its site, and more applications are being created to blur the lines between networks for the sake of saving time.

Case in point: I don't even go directly to Facebook's site that often anymore, because all of my Facebook friends' news feeds show up through Tweetdeck, a Twitter application she uses.

And people aren't just sharing news and information via these networks -- they're increasingly making real-life connections there -- especially during work hours.

So where this is all going?

We don't know. What we do know is that social media clearly isn't a fad that's going away, and we want to make sure that people think about how they act online.

Our advice until then is the same we've had when we first started: Think before you post, tweet or tag. When in doubt, use common sense: Treat others the way you would want to be treated. And don't get too mad at people who offend or commit faux pas, because we're all still getting used to the current networks -- until next week, when a new one pops up.

How have your social media habits changed over the past year?

I've been looking forward to this for 364 days

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Wired and Well-Mannered, a Recap of our Weeklong Experiment

Is social media the new cigarette? That was the enticing email subject line of a Retrevo.com study I got yesterday, just as Bridget and I were preparing to write a recap of our week-long experiment in how to be wired and well-mannered.

101309_gadgetologySocialMedia2 According to that study, we're definitely addicted: among the under-35 crowd they surveyed, 64 percent said they Tweeted, texted or checked Facebook while at work. Almost the same amount (65 percent) said they did so while on vacation, and a whopping 36 percent admitted to using social media after sex. Whoa.

Check out all the results here.

This segways nicely into what Bridget and I realized after our week-long experiment of trying to ban our bad cellphone behavior - we are pretty obsessed.

Bridget vowed to stop taking her phone out at the dinner table. I  was trying to stop using her phone while driving. The basic operating principle was that the priority was real-life people in front of you -- and if there were any around it, the phone wasn't to come out.

What we learned -- as well as the several readers who joined us in the experiment -- was we're so attached to our phones, so much so that we often sacrifice in-person conversations.

I had to resort to hiding my phone in her purse or glove compartment while driving to curb the temptation to check it -- even while the car was stopped. Bridget found herself driven crazy with the impulse to check her phone every time a text alert chimed.

NOT THAT IMPORTANT

What we realized was that the vast majority of these messages aren't that important. In our minds, and those of many others, we've created an inflated sense of priority with this age of instant communication.

Susie Gilden is an account manager at rbb Public Relations in Miami, and self-admittedly obsessed with Twitter, Facebook and her Blackberry. She's never taken out her Blackberry when seeing clients, so she focused on not using it in the car and during other meetings. When she mentioned the experiment during one meeting, everybody put their phones away. ``We all got a lot more done,'' Gilden told me yesterday,  when we chatted by phone to discuss how the week went.

She's still grappling with her Blackberry in the evenings, away from work. She knows her husband, Spencer, can't stand it when she's checking messages while they're watching television.

`DIRTY LOOKS'

"I get a lot of rolled eyes and dirty looks," she said.

What did we learn? We had a lot more great conversations during the day. We became much more aware of the false dependence we've created with our phones. And, hopefully, we're working toward being wired and well-mannered. Did you learn anything? Let us know.

In the meantime, for your listening pleasure, Bridget and I also did a recap for our news partner, WLRN-Miami Herald News. Here it is:

Wired Manners - WLRN Recap


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Wired and Well-Mannered, Day 3

Just an update to let you know how the experiment is going: Bridget and I did a segment with our radio partners at WLRN-Miami Herald News that aired this morning:

Poked on WLRN

Anyways, as soon as it aired, of course, my cell phone started going off. I couldn't bear to put my phone in the trunk as I had previously suggested, but I had stuck it in my purse, instead of keeping it out, to avoid texting temptation. Since I was at a light, and in the car by myself, I did answer the phone. Is that cheating to talk on the phone?

Lots of colleagues and folks on Twitter are talking about the experiment. If you're doing it, let us know how it's going?

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