LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Jury Box, LinkedIn Guilty Until Proven Innocent, LinkedIn Guilty“Guilty until proven innocent” is the message that LinkedIn is sending with one of their recent changes (and there have been many) that you probably have not heard about.  LinkedIn is making a concerted effort to reduce spam in groups.  That’s a good thing!  The problem is, they’ve created a new policy that’s an over-reaction along the lines of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Group managers in LinkedIn have a lot of power.  They can create rules for their group and decide if group membership should be open to all or closed (requiring approval).  As a closed group, they’re able to create criteria to join the group.  They have the ability to restrict the types of discussion posts that are allowed.  They could move a discussion to a promotions or jobs board instead of the main discussion board.  Group managers are able to delete a discussion they felt was inappropriate for whatever reason.  Further, should a group member be a repeat offender or have an egregious post, a group manager could place that member into a restrictive status where future posts would have to be moderated for approval.  As a final step, group managers have the ability to remove someone from a group and/or block them.

That’s a lot of power!  And as a Voltaire (allegedly) originally said (in French), “with great power comes great responsibility.”  If you belong to groups on LinkedIn, you undoubtedly belong to some groups that are managed well and some that do not.  That’s either the hard work and dedication of good group managers or the failure of poor ones.  Either way, it’s on the managers’ shoulders (and should be).

LinkedIn now has a policy that if one group manager or owner flags just one of your discussion threads as spam, your account is flagged as a spammer.  As a result, your account is flagged for moderation in every group you belong to, not just the group that originally flagged you.  It’s automatic.  There’s no review of your posting history.  There’s no investigation to see if what was posted was truly spam.  There’s no appeals process.  You’re guilty.  Period.

What constitutes “spam” becomes arbitrary and inconsistent.  If you want to be unrestricted, you have to ask the group owner/manager of every group you’re a member of to remove you from moderation.  It places additional administrative work on both the user and the group owner/manager.  Rather than letting managers manage the groups the way they want to, LinkedIn has become “Big Brother” and will paint its users with a broad brush, fairly or unfairly.

Yes, LinkedIn is a free site and they get to make their own rules.  But, with great power comes great responsibility.  Unfortunately, LinkedIn’s efforts to curtail spam by assuming guilty until proven innocent is lacking responsibility.  What’s your opinion of LinkedIn’s policy?  Is it appropriate?  Effective?  An over-reaction?

Update as of March 20, 2013:  Read my follow-up post here:  http://wp.me/p1LHj0-n7

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Are You Still The Rat?

I often think there are two types of people in this world, those who love famous quotes and those who don’t.  Consider me in the latter group, not because I don’t find value in them.  There’s simply a glut of quotes on social media.  For me it’s overload to the point that I tune them out.

The other day, however, one from Lily Tomlin caught my eye . . . .

Rat Race, Running the Rat Race

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” ~ Lily Tomlin

What’s interesting is, my job search a few years ago felt the most like a rat race to me.  I easily logged 60+ hours a week on average.  It felt like a never-ending treadmill of looking at postings, attending networking events, having 1-on-1 informational meetings, monitoring my online presence, speaking with recruiters, preparing for interviews, following-up on applications and interviews, etc., etc.

But this is where I diverge from Lily Tomlin’s quote.  As I look back on my stretch of unemployment, it really feels like a sabbatical since I ultimately re-landed with the company that had down-sized me.  During my job search, I was able to learn new skills, I met hundreds of new people, I sharpened my existing skills, I re-energized my outlook and perspective, and I returned to full-time employment better than I was before.  In that sense, I no longer felt like the same “rat” who had been running the job search rat race.

If you’re currently looking for work, my challenge to you is . . . what will you do now to improve yourself?  What will you do once you return to work?  Will you continue to network and help others as you were helped?  Will you emerge from the job search rat race a new and improved person, or will you go back to your old self?  Will you make personal and professional changes to shorten and minimize future, unexpected job search rat races? Or . . . will you still be the rat running the same rat race?

photo credit: http://www.domainofhope.com

Networking Worthiness

I’ve previously written about how I prefer to meet with someone in person before connecting on LinkedIn (or at least have had several meaningful conversations via phone or email).  I receive several requests weekly and if I don’t know the person, I typically will respond with a request to meet over coffee so we can better understand how we might help each other professionally.

Surprisingly, less than 20% will respond back to set up a meeting.  The other 80% I never hear from.  I guess they were hoping I’d simply accept so they could put another notch on their networking bedpost (so to speak).  Sorry, I’m not that easy. 😉

LinkedIn Bedpost

December is a busy month for most people; possibly the busiest month of the year between holiday social events, professional networking opportunities, month-end/quarter-end/year-end deadlines at work, vacation days to use before they expire, and holidays from work.  In a “normal” week I try to accommodate up to 3 networking meetings, as my schedule allows.  In December, that becomes even more challenging.

I recently received a LinkedIn invitation to connect.  I responded with a request to network over coffee first, but indicated that my schedule was booked until mid-January (about 5-6 weeks out from the initial request).  This individual replied, “if you are booked until mid January I’m not sure I’m worthy of your time.”  I won’t lie – I was taken aback by that reply.

Despite the rocky start and a bad first impression, I decided to give this person the benefit of the doubt.  I wrote back assuring this person that my availability has nothing to do with worthiness but with truly being booked-up at this time of year with events, obligations, workload and other appointments previously scheduled.  I agreed to touch base in early January once my schedule lightens again (slightly).  We’ll see what happens.

I once waited 6 months to meet with a local, very well-known CEO/entrepreneur because his schedule was booked solid until then.  Meeting him was important enough to me that I made the appointment that far in advance to connect over coffee.

What’s the longest you’ve had to wait to network with someone you wanted to meet with?  Did you feel less “worthy” because you had to wait?  How did you handle the situation?  How do you handle bad first impressions and/or poor networking “etiquette?”

R.I.P. LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn shut off their events application on November 26, 2012.  I’m sure some of you read the previous sentence and immediately thought, “what events application?!”

I’ve always felt this was a great feature of LinkedIn and one that not enough people knew about or utilized.  I guess that’s a big reason why LinkedIn has decided to discontinue it.  The application allowed you to create an event and promote it (to social media channels and within LinkedIn to your status update, a group discussion and/or private InMail to your connections).  As people registered for the event, you could see who was attending from within your network and who was attending outside of your 1st level connections who you might want to meet.

During different versions of this application (they’ve tweaked it throughout the years) you could search on events geographically, by topic/industry, by date or by connections.  The events application allowed you to recommend the event to others and to comment on the event.  All of this event-related activity would show up in your network updates feed, which further promoted the event.  Sounds great, right?

The biggest problem with the application was that you couldn’t fully manage an event with it.  While you could promote it, that was about it.  You couldn’t do payment processing if the event had paid admission, you couldn’t create tickets for the event, you couldn’t create detailed registration forms to collect additional information, you couldn’t automatically send out RSVPs, etc., etc.  While it wasn’t perfect, it really was a great application and I’m sorry to see it discontinued.  I wish LinkedIn had worked on improving the application instead.

Of course, you can continue to promote events through your own status updates and posting into relevant groups as a discussion or promotion thread.  Perhaps they’ll replace it down the road or maybe even partner with another company that specializes in event promotion.

If you manage events, what tools do you use?  I’d love to see a discussion thread for this post with recommended free sites and platforms!  What do you like about the tool you use?

Social Media Days of the Week

In social media, it seems as if every day of the week is devoted to something.  Marketers will use any excuse they can to get their message in front of you.  There’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, Wear Red Day, etc., etc.  This can be both good and bad, depending on your perspective of marketing.

In social media, there are certain “events” that occur on a weekly basis.  Perhaps the most well-known is “Follow Friday” on Twitter (#FollowFriday or #FF in twitter-speak).  This is a way for Twitter users to make a recommendation that their followers should follow certain individuals.  Sometimes it’s for a specific reason (industry, location, interest) and sometimes there’s no apparent reason for the recommendation.

A few years ago, Hire Friday (#HireFriday or #HF) became a variation of Follow Friday.  Job seekers were encouraged to tweet about their job search including location, industry, a keyword or two, a link to a professional profile, and of course include the hashtag.  Those on Twitter, especially recruiters and HR professionals, were encouraged to re-tweet these messages to give job seekers added exposure.  The power of Hire Friday (and Twitter) is real, as I experienced an increase of resume views of 4x-5x compared to other days in the week when I was looking for employment.

I recently read a blog post from CAREEREALISM where they’re trying to encourage “Endorse Monday.”  They’re asking LinkedIn users to take 10 minutes each Monday and endorse people within their network.  This is a great way to be active on LinkedIn and it’s a perfect example of practicing a “give to get” networking philosophy.

Unlike Twitter, where the previously mentioned #hashtags in your stream will serve as a weekly reminder each Friday, I think LinkedIn will need to aggressively promote “Endorse Monday” until this becomes ingrained.  Endorse Monday may not have been LinkedIn’s idea originally, but they’re obviously in favor of it since they referenced it in a Facebook post recently.

As someone who embraces and practices “give to get” networking, I truly hope Endorse Monday takes off!  What other special days do you participate in using social media each week?

Social Media Days of the Week

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!

Networking When You Least Expect It

“Always be prepared” is the famous motto of the Boy Scouts, but it also applies to networking.  You’ll be able to seize an opportunity no matter when or where it presents itself, if you’re prepared.

I recently co-hosted a birthday party for my youngest child at a local indoor play center.  My wife was asked to wear a name tag for security purposes so one of us would be immediately recognizable to staff and parents.  While watching the kids enjoy the various inflatables, a parent from another birthday party recognized our last name and asked her if she was related to me.  When my wife confirmed it, this person shared that she’s seen my posts and activity in many locations, especially on LinkedIn.

She then brought her over to introduce her to me and we were able to chat for a few minutes while our kids were engrossed in a climbing maze.  It turns out we had many common connections in our networks.  She’s the president of a recruiting company in Rochester, NY and I continue to run social media for The August Group which facilitates networking opportunities for those looking for work.  It was a great professional connection to make when I was least expecting it!  We both had business cards with us and each of us listened (above the joyful screams of playing children) to how we could help the other.

Most people can prepare in advance of a scheduled networking event by bringing business cards, rehearsing an elevator speech and/or identifying key attendees he/she would like to meet.  But are you prepared for that chance encounter that can happen anytime, anywhere?  If not, it could be a golden opportunity that slips through your fingers.

Looking back on your professional networking, what were the most unusual circumstances surrounding a connection you made when you were least expecting it?

6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 2)

In the first part to this post, I covered three areas you can and should update to make it easier for people to contact you on LinkedIn.  If you haven’t read that post yet, I encourage you to do so now, as it contains an important overview on where to check/change your various profile settings and preferences.

The first three are in the prior post, so let’s jump right into areas four, five and six of your profile that you can change to make it easier for others to contact you on LinkedIn:

4)  Do you have groups displayed?  You don’t need to display all groups that you belong to, but you should display a few core groups.  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down to the groups section on your profile.  Next to each of the groups you belong to should be a link for “change visibility.”  If you click on that link, it will bring you to the “your settings” page for that group.  The first setting is visibility (the red highlighted box in the screen capture below).  Select or deselect accordingly.

5)  Do you allow group members to contact you?  If groups are moderated well, spam shouldn’t be an issue.  If it is, notify the group manager or leave the group.  If you’re open to being contacted for the opportunities you’ve specified, this is the easiest way to facilitate that.  Follow the steps outlined in the previous point and review the settings in the green highlighted box of the screen capture above.

6)  You can always add contact information to your summary.  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down to the Summary Section of your profile and click the edit link.  You can add contact information as part of your summary should you so choose.  The advantage is someone will still have your contact information even if they don’t share group membership with you.  However, depending on your personal preference, that could be a disadvantage.  Adding contact information here is somewhat controversial among LinkedIn “experts.”

What sections of your LinkedIn profile have you improved as a result of this post or Part 1?  What other areas of your profile have you utilized to make it easier for others to contact you?

6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 1)

I’m actively recruiting LinkedIn members for a LinkedIn Group I created and manage.  It’s been an interesting endeavor, as some people have made it easy to be contacted and others have made it so challenging that I question their motives for having a LinkedIn profile.

Why do you have a LinkedIn profile?  Whatever your reason, do you hope to be contacted if someone finds your profile?  Do you make it easy for others to contact you, or have you created a challenge that will frustrate some and possibly risk missing a golden opportunity?

I’ve identified six areas of your profile that can be used to make it easier to be contacted by others.  To provide the necessary detail on where these areas are located and how you can change them, I’ll split this post into two parts.  Part 2 will be posted next week.

Before I explain the six areas to review, you need to be familiar with where you can change your account settings on LinkedIn.  There’s often more than one way to find the settings you need to check/change, but we’ll focus on this one method.  It’s in the pull-down menu next to your name in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn home page (see the red highlighted box in the screen capture below):

After selecting Settings in the drop-down menu, you’ll want to investigate each of the tabs in the red highlighted box (in the screen capture below) as the options appearing in the green highlighted box will change accordingly:

1.  Have you selected the types of messages you’re willing to receive?  You’ll find this by selecting Email Preferences (red highlighted box in the screen capture above), then select the first choice under the column for email.  It will give you a window that looks like this:

In the above screenshot, you’ll notice there are three areas that you can (and should) complete:  messages, opportunities, and advice.  Give some thought as to why you’re on LinkedIn and the opportunities you’re interested in being contacted for.  I recommend that you complete all three areas.  Under the advice section, you can put contact information if you so choose.

2)  Do you have websites listed?  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down and make sure you include at least one website listed, especially if it will help someone find you (assuming you’re on LinkedIn to be found).  You can include up to three websites, so take advantage!

3)  Are you on Twitter?  If so, and as long as it’s appropriate to include on your professional LinkedIn profile, be sure to add your Twitter account and display it on your profile.  Once again, select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Settings:  Manage Your Twitter Settings.”

In the second part to this post, I’ll cover groups and your profile summary.  Until then, how did you do on the first three areas?  Do you currently utilize them to make your profile more contact friendly?

Do You Signal?

No, I’m not talking about driving – although that could easily apply to half of this blog’s readers based on a recent vacation.  😉

I’m talking about LinkedIn’s under-utilized feature called Signal.  Do you use it?  Have you even heard of it?

Last week I wrote about how Twitter’s decision to discontinue automatic cross-postings to LinkedIn has helped reduce clutter in your network update stream.  If you’d like to further reduce the noise and fine-tune the relevancy of the LinkedIn status updates and news in your stream, you need to use Signal.

Signal allows you to filter your stream based on one or more of the following:  network, company, location, industry, time, school, group, topics, seniority and/or update type.  You can search within checked filters on keywords or people.  As with your “regular” network update stream, any new updates will get pushed in real-time so that you can refresh for the latest update that meets your filter settings.  You can even view trending links and who has shared them.  Lastly, you can save your searches and even share them as a status update, post into a group or send via private message.

So where can you find this handy LinkedIn tool?  Look under “News” in the gray toolbar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage (between “Companies” and “More”).  It’s the last choice in a 3-choice drop down menu.

If you’re not familiar with Signal, I encourage you to check it out.  Play with the different filters and see how it changes your update stream.  As I write this post, I have 5,579 network updates I could read.  If you don’t have the time to read that many updates (who does?!), using Signal could turn LinkedIn from a casual “read when I have time” to a highly filtered daily must-read.

Let me know your thoughts on Signal.  Are you ready to start using it?  If you have been using it, what’s your experience been like?