LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman shares his netiquette pet peeves

I sat down with LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman to talk netiquette and a few other topics. We went all multimedia on Reid, and some of his comments have already been used in The Miami Herald Business Show. And, I'll be featuring more in tomorrow's Poked column. In the meantime, some video snippets like this, where Reid shared about what people do that drives him crazy online.

Here, Reid talks about what he thinks is the most under-used feature of LinkedIn:

And, how he deals with emails:

And finally, what he thinks about the future of social networking platforms:

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Scared of social media? Read this.

We get questions from people almost every day asking us what "books" are good to read to learn about social media. So this week, Bridget and I wrote this column to help these folks out:

The questions have been picking up since practically every media outlet jumped on the Twitter Train in the past couple months. Even Oprah got on Twitter two weeks ago. (Shaq had to end up helping her out, click here to see the conversation.)

One recent e-mail we got is from a publicist who wants to learn more about using both Facebook and Twitter for work purposes. The question: ``Can you suggest the best resources, books and sites that I can use to quickly come up to speed so that I can offer my clients additional ideas on building their brands?''

We know it's scary, but our answer to everyone is always the same: Just dive in. No book or blog can help you understand social media until you sign up and use the site. Seriously. Click around. Don't worry! We know it's awkward, but trust us -- you're not going to break anything.

Picking a username is a great first step, but it doesn't count as diving in. That's just a toe. If you want to learn anything, give your clicking finger a workout and spend at least 15 minutes a day on the site. On Twitter, there are plenty of folks happy to help newbies and answer questions.

Here are a few basic pointers we can offer when it comes to building a personal brand on Twitter:

• Use your real name as your user name.

• Don't auto-follow back people or use a program to send auto direct messages. (If you don't know, ''Following'' is Twitter lingo for connecting.)

• Be active in your network. It's not social if you don't have conversations.

• Mix up tweets about personal interests with business topics. You don't want the only messages you send out to be plugs for your website -- totally lame.

• Use the search tools to find people with the same interests and shoot them a message or follow them to catch their attention.

For folks who want to build a community using a Facebook fan page:

• Build a personal account on Facebook (and be active for weeks) before you even think about starting a fan page. How will you know what fans want if you don't know how to use Facebook?

• It's more effective to engage members by sending out messages rather than posting news on your own wall.

Be creative -- use the status message or find cool multimedia to draw people to your page.

What tips do you have for social networking newbies?

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Feel like your identity has been hijacked online?

Another Tuesday, another column. I got this question from someone who attended a social networking workshop I did recently for people who are soon to be out of work. She was concerned about her image online, especially since she's soon to be out actively in the job market:

We talk about online image control quite a bit, the primary test being to Google your name and see what comes up.

But what if you don't like what you see? And even worse, what if it's not even you?

One Poked reader e-mailed us, worrying about a case of mistaken identity online. The reader had a common Hispanic name, and when she Googled herself, the third link was another person's Facebook account. It had the same name as her -- and a profile picture of a woman dancing on a stripper pole.

Needless to say, not a good image for potential employers -- at least, not for most jobs.

Thankfully, people switch Facebook pictures. Within a few days, the pole profile picture had been replaced.

You can't control other people's Facebook images. But take heart because there are a few things you can do to make your online search results as good as possible.

LinkedIn has a powerful pull in search-engine results. That means if you have a LinkedIn account, that profile will appear higher in a Google name search. But you need to have an active, complete profile and at least a few connections to improve your chances of keeping that site prominent in search results.

Facebook and other sites like VisualCV and Twitter that are popular also seem to weigh in heavier than smaller websites.

So here's the key: Bulk up your online presence by creating profiles on well-known sites. But you must be active on these sites for them to show up.

Finally, here's another practical way to distance yourself from others who share your name. Put up a picture on your LinkedIn profile so it will be clear who you are. And make sure when you're sending out your résumé, either a hard copy or online, that you provide a link to that profile.

What about you? Do you have any tips for how you have managed this issue?

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Don't know how to respond to that "how are you" message?

This week's column sparked an interesting and I was told "generational" debate about the question that was posed to us.

The question is about how to answer a "Hey, you" email through a social network. Our editor thought that not answering an email, via Facebook or LinkedIn, is just as rude as ignoring someone who asks you how you are in person.

He felt that our answer was being too harsh on this questioner, because he felt our younger generation doesn't have many manners as "old-schoolers". I think we do have manners, I just think we don't see this as a big of a deal. Personally? I think the "hey, How you are email" is the equivalent of when someone asks you in person -- most of the time, this is just a greeting. People don't really care how you are doing.

Clearly, people feel very strongly about this. Here's what we wrote:

A Poked reader we're calling ''Old School'' sent in this question after feeling a bit ignored online:

Am I wrong to expect that a person will reply back when I've e-mailed them or contacted them via LinkedIn just to say ''hi'' and see how they're doing? These are not strangers -- they're all people I've worked with in the past.

I know everyone is busy, but it takes a second to hit ''reply'' with one line thanking someone for their interest in your life. (And yes: their addresses are valid and they did receive my message.) Would I be justified in removing these people from my social networks?

Dear Old School,

We think it's admirable that you are reaching out to folks and you don't want something, but let's take a deep breath. After you're done, calculate how many connections you have on every online social network you're in.

People tend to have a hundred or more connections on sites like LinkedIn. On Facebook, the ''friend'' tallies can be much greater. Translation? With volume like that, it's a harsh but inevitable truth that there will be connections who don't care about you.

Now, that doesn't give people a reason to behave badly. Although we think you should treat people online as if you're face to face with them, the reality is, you're not face to face -- and that makes it easier to reject you.

If you want to touch bases with someone just to check in, offer them something. It's about what you bring to the conversation, even if it's just a compliment, like something you noticed on their profile about their life or work.

This is what we think about social media: You're not just communicating for the sake of communicating. You're communicating for a purpose. People have hundreds of connections on these networks, so you need to make it easy and worthy of a response.

Put yourself on the receiving end. How would you respond to someone you don't know well who said: ''Hey, how are things?'' We don't like responding to those kinds of messages, basically because they contain no content, no context, no inspiration that would elicit a worthwhile response. And in the vast world of too many e-mails, pokes and tweets, it's easy to get left behind.

Have you tried connecting with people in ways other than a private message? Comment on a project, their posted link, or in a group that you're both part of. In our minds, that makes a message more valuable, because it shows that you're paying attention to what's going on in their lives.

You also asked about whether it was appropriate to ''unfriend'' or remove a LinkedIn contact for ignoring you. We think, if it's bothering you that much, go ahead. But we would first ask ourselves: Have I been paying attention to what they actually do online, as in, actually networking with them? Have I been a good friend/connection to them?

What do you think?

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How to directly link someone to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile

Want to directly link someone to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile? It's good to know if you want to put the link to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile on a website or resume. Here's how to get the links:

On Facebook this is fairly easy. Log into Facebook, then click the word [Profile] in the top navigation link that takes you to your profile. Copy the URL.

It should look something like this:

I think that looks messy. If you want to get a link that is prettier, log out of Facebook and then go to that same profile URL you just copied. When you are logged out and try to go to that link, the URL gets cleaned up to something that looks like this:

Or, you can also use a Facebook application called Memorable Web Address to create a clean and easy-to-remember redirect URL of your page, such as

IMPORTANT NOTE: The link will be useless for non-Facebook users if you blocked your Facebook page from being found by people outside of Facebook.  But if you did that, I'm guessing you don't want to share your Facebook link with others, anyway.

This is also a good time to take a look of what your profile details look like to someone outside of Facebook. My public search listing was ridiculous!


You can click the photo for a larger image, but it just says Bridget Carey is a fan of:
    * Skittles
    * Dunkin' Donuts
    * Marvel
    * The Onion
    * Pancakes 
    * Batman: The Dark Knight
    * Iron Man
    * Disney Pixar
    * Star Trek
    * Tropic Thunder
    * The Office
    * Rocko's Modern Life
    * Transformers
    * Arrested Development (2003)
    * Late Night with Conan O'Brien 
    * UF College of Journalism and Communications
    * UF Department of Journalism

Uhh.... if my public listing is someone's first impression of me, I can only imagine what they'll think of me. "I like Skittles and Pancakes!" (What am I, the Nannerpuss?)

So I'm going to change my settings so that kind of Nannerpuss nonsense doesn't show to the world.

To do the same on LinkedIn, go to the tab for "Edit My Profile" (not the View My Profile section). You'll see a section toward the begining of your profile that says "Public Profile." Click the [Edit] link to change it to something classy like

Presto change-o. Thanks to James, a Poked reader, for asking the question!

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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, or post a comment below!

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Is your online profile an embarrassment?

A new web survey by  (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?

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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 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?

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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?

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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?

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