Dear (LinkedIn) Diary?

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Update, LinkedIn Status, Network Update, LinkedIn Diary

In a prior post, I wrote about LinkedIn content that is perhaps inappropriate for the medium.  In this post I address an interesting twist on that concept – and I’d like your opinion in the comments.

Most of us have shared content on LinkedIn, either an article from an outside source you believed would be beneficial to your network, or sharing an existing post you found on LinkedIn, or publishing a post on LinkedIn’s blogging platform, or maybe even a personal update (ex:  “I’m looking forward to attending the XYZ Event tonight” or “Happy to announce XYZ at this time”).  I’ve always believed that a little insight into you, the person, is a good thing as it helps transform your profile from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

But, is there a point where your posts can be too personal on LinkedIn?  Is there a point where a personal post can do more harm than good?  Consider this situation . . . Meet Sharon (name and post details changed to protect identify), a professional currently looking for work.  Sharon recently shared these status updates on LinkedIn:

“Received a call from ABCD Company to discuss an open position. I made some resume changes to fit the job description. They seemed interested so I’m excited about the possibility.”

“I had my phone interview with ABCD Company and think it went well. We discussed my experience and willingness to learn new hardware and software. Their decision should be made in a few weeks.”

“As I await ABCD Company’s decision, I have other opportunities I’m actively pursuing and trying to schedule interviews with in Anytown, NY and  Fictitiousville, PA.”

“Today I scheduled a phone interview with a hiring manager at WXYZ Corp. for next Tuesday.”

“My phone interview with WXYZ Corp. went well yesterday.  The level of detail we discussed makes me hopeful.  While I await word from ABCD and WXYZ, I’ve just scheduled an interview with LMNOP Inc.  I’m excited about my interviewing activity and hoping an offer is coming soon.”

So what do you think about this level of personal detail being shared in status updates on LinkedIn?  Do you believe Sharon is successfully branding herself as being high-in-demand, which will help her job search?  Or, do you think that’s off-putting to potential employers that she’s sharing such personal and perhaps confidential information?  I could argue both sides, but I’d really love to hear opinions from recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals.

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Detecting Fake LinkedIn Profiles

On Good Morning America yesterday, they ran a story on how scammers are targeting job search sites (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.).  After watching that clip, you might wonder how someone could fall victim to such a scam.  It’s easy to be skeptical of email scams because they’ve been in existence almost as long as email itself.  But when it comes to social media scams, it’s sometimes a little harder to  discern.  After all, you have a level of trust with your connections and they couldn’t possibly share something false or harmful.  Right?  Wrong!

I regularly receive LinkedIn requests from people I do not know or have never met.  Since I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), I tend to be selective when determining whether or not to accept the request.  I’ve been a member of LinkedIn since October 2007 and I’d like to think my “scam detector” is pretty accurate after all of these years.

A few weeks ago, I received a LinkedIn connection request that immediately had several red flags.  The top 3 concerns I had were:

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Invitation, LinkedIn Scam, Emily Blunt

  1. The first thing I noticed was that this person claimed to be a professional in my industry.  While I have an extensive established network, especially in the marketing field, I do not know everyone.  Yet, we had at least 10 connections in common.  Supposedly.
  2. The second thing that caught my eye was the use of ALL CAPS for her first name.  That’s certainly not a guarantee of a fake profile since some people intentionally do little tricks with how their name is displayed to stand out.  And, stand out she did.
  3. The third thing I noticed was how glamorous her profile picture was.  This wasn’t just a picture of an attractive person – she looked like a movie star!  And surprise, surprise, the picture IS of a movie star.  Emily Blunt, meet your alias, NAOMI Thomas.  How did I figure that out?  By using a reverse image search on Google!  This page from Google Support explains how to do that.

So now that you know how to conduct a reverse image search, I suggest you search for your own profile picture to make sure a scammer isn’t using your image for dishonest purposes.  After all, images of regular users are less likely to raise suspicion than a movie star.  If you find your image being used by a scam account, report it to that website immediately.  And as for NAOMI Thomas?  LinkedIn has removed her profile.  🙂

Experiencing Failure

Failure, Success, Failure Is The Road To Success, Quotes, Quotes on Failure, Quotes on SuccessFor most people, the greatest number of “failures” will be experienced during job loss and job search.  If you haven’t experienced failure often or know how to handle it, failure can be a debilitating emotion.  It can impact you negatively today as well as tomorrow.  So what are you to do if you’ve recently lost your job or have spent weeks/months looking for work?

Remember this . . . “You are not a failure; you experienced failure.”  I read that headline recently and it really resonated with me.  When I was downsized in 2009, I did feel like a failure.  I felt as if I had failed my employer, my family and myself.  That’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of emotionally and until you do so, it negatively impacts and handicaps you – especially as you look for employment.

The sooner one realizes the difference between being and experiencing failure, the sooner he/she will start making significant progress with finding employment.  Your new outlook will restore your confidence as you realize that most successful people have also experienced failure prior to success.

You’ll start to see that there’s something to be gained from each experience whether it’s a skill set, a life lesson, a network connection or knowledge that will make you better prepared for what lies ahead.

The holidays can be a hard time for those who are unemployed – I’ve been there and done that.  With a new year comes a chance at a new start.  Once you truly accept the difference between being and experiencing failure, your new outlook will make a difference to your job search.  Obviously, that’s just a part of the equation as you’ll still need to work at personal branding and your personal marketing plan, your digital footprint, in-person and electronic networking, continuing education, professional assistance and traditional search methods.

While there is no crystal ball as to which method(s) will result in your new job, remember that companies want to be successful (and look for successful candidates).  Demonstrate and celebrate your successes and remember that you are not a failure, you simply experienced failure, as have millions before you.

Twitter Fraud Advice for the Novice

As with most social media platforms, if you use it long enough, you’ll eventually come across all sorts of hackers, spammers and scammers.  On Twitter, I sometimes wonder if there’s more fraudulent users than legitimate ones – and that doesn’t even take into account inactive members.

The fraudulent Twitter accounts I laugh at the most are the ones that promise thousands of followers a day if I simply follow them, follow their system, purchase their material outlining the secret to Twitter success, etc.  Have you seen these members or even had some follow you?  Here’s a recent example of one to follow me:

Twitter Bogus Member

An account like the one above raises so many red flags for an experienced Twitter user.  First and foremost, if your system truly can deliver 1,000 followers per day, why does your account only have 104 followers?!?  Other red flags include a lopsided following-to-followers ratio, an abysmally low Klout Score, no bio (just a sales pitch – and a bad one at that), and a plea for followers.

For those who are new to Twitter, you’ll want to watch for some of these red flags mentioned above.  I also strongly suggest you value quality over quantity when it comes to building your Twitter presence.  I’ve spent nearly four years building my Twitter account.  Followers come and go, but if you place quality over quantity with how you use and manage Twitter, you’ll trend upwards organically.

What other advice would you give to the novice Twitter user?

Do You Have A Twin On LinkedIn?

Do you have a twin on LinkedIn, or have you ever found someone on LinkedIn with a duplicate profile?  It’s more common than you might think.  There are a few ways this can happen:

Accidentally . . . . It generally happens because someone creates a profile with one email address, then is invited to connect by someone who sends the connection request to a different email address.  LinkedIn has no idea that the two email addresses belong to the same individual, so it prompts that person to create a profile using that second email address.

Intentionally. . . . Someone creates a profile using an email address, but then they lose access to that email address (i.e., a work email at an employer they no longer work for).  Since they can’t access that account, they start over with a new profile but don’t take the time to delete the original profile.

Needless to say, a duplicate profile is confusing for people looking to connect with you.  And whether accidental or intentional, having a duplicate profile isn’t great for your personal branding, because it gives the impression that you’re not technologically savvy.

The best way to avoid a duplicate profile is to provide LinkedIn with all of your email addresses.  You then have the ability to select which one you display publicly on your profile.  Then no matter which email someone uses to send an invitation to connect, LinkedIn will know it’s you.  Here’s how you do that:

  1. Go to settings (hover your cursor above your name, above the search box in the upper right hand corner).
  2. Once on your settings page, scroll down and select “Account” in the bottom window.
  3. You’ll see a section for “Email & Password” with an option for “Add & change email addresses” which you’ll want to select.
  4. Follow the instructions per the screen capture below.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Email Settings, Avoiding a Duplicate Profile

If you already have a duplicate profile, there’s no way to merge the two together.  Your best bet is to pick the one you want to keep.  Generally it’s the one with more connections and/or recommendations.  Looking at the profile you plan to delete, see if there are connections you have which you do not have on the profile you plan to keep.  You’ll want to send them a customized invitation to connect on the profile you plan to keep.

When you’re satisfied that you can delete one of your accounts, you’ll find that setting in the same general area under settings, then account (pertinent areas highlighted in pink):

LinkedIn, Account Settings, Where to Close Your LinkedIn Account, How to Close Your LinkedIn Account

Once it’s deleted it’s gone, so be sure you’re ready to delete!  If you’re in a situation where you can’t access the profile you want to delete (i.e., you no longer have the password and/or access to the email associated with the profile, etc.) you’ll want to contact LinkedIn customer support to explain the situation.  Long-time readers of my blog know that I haven’t always had great luck with LinkedIn customer support, so be patient.  🙂

Twitter Players

If you’re on Twitter, chances are, something similar has happened to you. . .

You receive a notification that you have a new follower.  You view this person’s Twitter account and see that he/she has 4-5x as many followers as they are following.  In other words, 20,000 people follow this person’s Twitter account yet he/she is only following 4,000 people.  A few initial thoughts may pop into your head:

  1. Wow, this person must be really popular – look how many followers they have!
  2. Wow, this person must be really exclusive – he/she doesn’t follow too many people back!
  3. Wow, what am I tweeting about to catch such a popular and exclusive Twitter user’s eye?

If you’ve been on Twitter long enough, chances are you no longer have those thoughts but view your latest follower with a somewhat more suspicious and skeptical eye.  Chances are, someone with such a large follower:following ratio is only adding you to pad his/her numbers.  Chances are, someone like that will unfollow you within a few days or weeks.

How do I know?  I check my account regularly using a free app called SocialBro.  I run the app a few times each week and it lets me know who my recent unfollows are.  When I view their profile summary in the app, I can see how recently they added me and visa-versa.  I’d estimate that 95% of the time, my unfollows are people I never followed-back for various reasons.  The other 5% are from “Twitter Players” – those who clearly view Twitter as a numbers game and put quantity ahead of quality.  Apparently, they never read my post on why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.  When this happens, I immediately unfollow “the Player.”

If you’re not familiar with SocialBro, I’d encourage you to check it out.  As a “research guy” I find a lot of their analytics, trending and filtering interesting. How about you?  Do you watch your Twitter account that closely?  What apps do you use to monitor your account?

Opposites Attract

There’s an old saying that opposites attract and that’s often true.  There was a story in the local paper recently about the decline of greeting cards due to the increasing popularity and usage of electronic versions and social media.

Stats back up this trend.  A U.S. Postal Service study which shows correspondence (like greet­ing cards) fell 24% between 2002 and 2010.  Hallmark estimates the number of greeting cards sold in the U.S. has fallen by 20% in the past decade.

It’s certainly great to log onto Facebook on your birthday and read dozens of birthday wishes from friends and family (most of whom probably would not have mailed you a physical card).  But, isn’t there something special about opening the mailbox to find an envelope with your name on it, written by hand?  That’s a great example of the opposite (of the norm) having a positive effect.

The same principle applies to business or job searching.  Most job applications are filed electronically and many of the larger companies have their own applicant tracking system in place.  Conventional job search wisdom is to send a thank you following an interview.  What if, instead of emailing that note, you mailed a physical thank you card and wrote your note by hand?  Don’t you think it would stand out (in a positive way) in this ever-increasingly electronic age?

With business, when everyone sends an email, why not pick up the phone?  Don’t forget the power of a sincere “thank you” in business – and to do something to make that thank you memorable.  At the end of the day, if you want to stand out from the crowd, sometimes you zig when others zag.  It may not always be true, but very often opposites do indeed attract.

Five Reasons Why Job Seekers Must Blog

Looking for work is a full-time job but with a horrible “paycheck.”  I know first-hand, as I’ve previously spent an extended period of time looking for work.  I’ve often been asked, “if you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”

To this day, my answer is always . . . . blog.  When I was unemployed, I had dozens of people suggest to me that I should blog.  At the time, I had my excuses crafted:  I don’t have time, I don’t know what to write, it will detract from more important job search tasks, people won’t find value in what I have to say, etc., etc.

Since I’ve successfully navigated those waters, I can say from personal experience, these are five reasons that job seekers must blog:

  1. Improve Visibility & SEO.  You need to be active and visible if you want to be found.  While Google will find your LinkedIn profile, it simply isn’t enough.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (improving the natural or “organic” way your site is found via search engines like Google or Bing).  Add to your digital footprint and improve your SEO by creating and maintaining a blog.  Google ♥ blogs because it’s fresh content.
  2. Exemplify Subject Matter Expertise.  What if your resume or LinkedIn profile isn’t read?  What if it’s read, but your expertise doesn’t come across?  Having a blog allows you to demonstrate your subject matter expertise with each post.  Repetition demonstrates your experience and knowledge.
  3. Demonstrate Personality.  By writing a blog, your personality comes through.  Readers get a sense of your style, your passion, your humor.  It takes what’s typically a very 2-D digital footprint and transforms it into 3-D.
  4. Personal Branding & Differentiation.  Most LinkedIn profiles look alike, aside from a few differentiators.  Since you can only customize your LinkedIn profile to a very limited extent, writing a blog allows you to creatively market yourself.  Open jobs often receive hundreds of applicants.  How can you stand out from the competition?  Try blogging!
  5. Proactively Share SCAR/STAR Stories.  A common interviewing strategy is to share a SCAR (“Situation/Challenge/Action/Result”) or STAR (“Situation/Tactic/Action/Result”) Story with the interviewer to demonstrate your experience, problem solving ability and value to the organization.  That’s great, but you need to get the interview in order to tell that story, right?  Not if you have a blog!  SCAR/STAR Stories can be great fodder for blog posts.

And, if you’d like a bonus reason, creating and maintaining a blog gives you the added skill sets of writing, content management, web development, marketing/promotions, publishing and social media!

Is blogging time consuming?  Yes, but make the time – it’s worth it!  Will people find value in what you have to say?  Yes, you’ll be surprised!  If your goal is to be found, be viewed as an industry expert, show some personality and differentiate yourself from the competition, then you must blog!

Happy 1st Birthday!

First Birthday of Arthur Catalanello Consulting's Blog

October 3, 2011 was when I officially launched my blog.  Today is the one year anniversary of that first post, so I’d like to mark the occasion with some cake!  Actually, I’d like to devote this post to sharing a few statistics and thanking those who have helped and inspired me over the past year.

As of this writing, my site has received over 7,800 visits in the past year.  My most popular post has been 6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 1).  My post on The Lost Art of the Thank You has generated the most comments to date (so, thank you!).  I’m still on a quest to have the country visits map completely filled in.  I’ve had readers from 86 different countries visit my site at least once since February 2012 (when this metric became available).

When I first launched my consultancy business, several people recommended that I blog as a way to demonstrate my expertise.  I’d like to sincerely thank Greg Taylor, Chris Bigelow, Dorothy Johnson, Bill Griffin, Kelly Mullaney, Luis Martinez, Rob Ewanow, Fred Kopp, Ed Ritter and Deb Mourey for their advice and encouragement to start blogging.  I’m sure there are others who provided similar sage advice who I’m inadvertently leaving out (my apologies to you if I did).

I’d like to thank those who have subscribed to my blog.  There are literally millions of blogs out there, so the fact that you find mine worthy to subscribe to is both flattering and inspirational to me.  I’d also like to thank those who have shared my posts along the way via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and via email.  Thank you to those who have taken the time to comment on one or more of my posts.

Last but not least . . . I’d like to thank my wife, who is my confidant, cheerleader and proofreader when it comes to my blog.  I regularly run ideas and draft posts past her for feedback.  Her suggestions for improvements and corrections are always spot-on.  Without her support and help, my blog would be half of what it is.

Thank you all for a great first year of blogging!  I look forward to year two and hope you’ll continue to join me each week!

Authenticity in Advertising

In my last post, I wrote about authenticity in social media.  With this post, I’m focusing on authenticity in advertising.  While that subject could likely provide enough source material to teach a full semester’s course, I’ll narrow it down to fast food advertising (and just this one post).

It’s not a secret that many hours go into enhancing the look of fast food products.  The lighting has to be just right, items are strategically placed, touch-ups are done.  In fact, quite often what you see isn’t the actual food product but something made to look like it.  Is that really ice cream you’re seeing in a commercial, or scoops of lard covered in motor oil?  Is it milk in that cereal bowl, or watered-down glue?  Yes, you read those examples correctly.  🙂

Since learning about these techniques in college,  I’ve never really trusted fast food advertising.  Watch the video below and your level of trust might be lower too.

There’s a recent trend that’s become an advertising pet peeve of mine.  Have you noticed fast food restaurants often include slow-motion shots of sandwiches being meticulously constructed with farm-fresh ingredients using pristine instruments?  It’s almost like watching a culinary version of the game “Operation!”  Do you really think that’s what occurs after you place your order at the drive-thru?  Or, is it more likely someone is slapping together food warmed under a heat lamp as quickly as possible using their hands (hopefully with gloves)?

For the above reasons, I find authenticity in fast food advertising significantly lacking.  What other industries need to do a better job of being authentic in their advertising?