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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My First 5k

Twitter, Arthur Catalanello, @acatalanelloRecently, my personal Twitter account reached the 5,000 followers benchmark.  Having joined Twitter in June 2009, it’s taken me 7 years to the month to reach that milestone.  I wanted to share some observations and musings about my journey and strategy to 5k.

I’ve tweeted just shy of 13,000 times on Twitter.  I’ve watched some accounts delete older tweets to give the impression that they’ve built a large following based on fewer tweets.  That may fool the uninformed, but if you built your following organically, there’s no way you reached 5k followers on 128 tweets unless you’re a celebrity.  Besides, tweets are great for SEO, so if you want to be found on Google, your tweets should stay.

Speaking of organically growing your following, my following count is is 100% organic.  I have not purchased 1 follower to reach that number.  While I can see that helping a business get started on Twitter, I would otherwise not recommend it as I believe it’s better to have quality over quantity.

I don’t automatically follow-back the accounts who follow me.  I do look at each follower and read their bio, look at their number of tweets, the number they’re following and the number of followers they have.  I also look at the industry they’re in and/or the topics they tweet about.  I scroll through and read their last 5-10 tweets.  If the account seems legitimate and that I’d get value from their content, I follow them.  It’s time consuming compared to automating the process, but I believe it makes my Twitter stream more valuable to me.

I believe consistency is key to growing your following on Twitter.  You need to be consistent with the topics you tweet about and the frequency with which you tweet.  It’s also very important to be familiar with Twitter etiquette (or Twitiquette) and engage with other users.  Remember the basic rule of thumb that no more than 20% of your tweets should be self-promotion (and perhaps no more than 10%).

I’ve seen numerous accounts try to game the system by following several accounts, waiting for those accounts to follow back, then unfollowing those people.  This makes their followers count larger than the number of accounts they’re following, giving the false suggestion of importance and influence.  Because I’m active on Twitter multiple times a week, I use a tool (https://web.crowdfireapp.com/#/grow) to see who has recently unfollowed me.  Almost always it’s an account trying to manipulate their followers-to-following ratio.  If someone unfollows me for that reason, I unfollow back.  Once or twice a year I’ll review the accounts I’ve followed and will unfollow accounts that have been abandoned or haven’t tweeted in 12 months.

Use metrics and apps to enhance the Twitter experience.  You can learn about best times and days of the week to tweet, where your engagement comes from and which accounts provide the best interaction.  Twitter by itself is somewhat basic, so if you’re wishing it could do something bigger and better, chances are, there’s an app for that.  Some are free and some are paid.

Try to minimize the automation.  While it’s fine to schedule tweets ahead of time (I use https://hootsuite.com), your account should not be so robotic that you neglect to interact with others.  As far as automatic direct messages, does anyone read them or like receiving them?  Just turn those off and reach out to me after we’ve engaged each other a few times.  It may work on some, but I think the quantity that are annoyed by that practice is significantly larger.

Lastly, know your audience and goals.  How I’ve chosen to use Twitter for my personal account is quite different than how I’ve used it for clients I’ve worked with.  Why?  Different audiences and different goals require different strategies and methods.

How are you using Twitter?  As a wise woman once said to me, “Twitter isn’t stupid if you follow smart people!”

Social Media Privacy Check Up – Part 1

Are you happy with your social media privacy settings?  Do you even know what they’re currently set to, let alone where to change them?

The good news is, most social media platforms have improved, simplified and clarified their privacy settings in recent years.  The bad news is, based on questions I’ve fielded in recent presentations and seminars, many users have yet to master these settings.  Among the questions I’ve been asked. . .

  1. Should I create a 2nd LinkedIn profile if I’m considering a career in a different industry?
  2. Is there a way I can hide my LinkedIn profile, or parts of it, so that someone doesn’t think I’m over-qualified?
  3. Can I temporarily suspend my LinkedIn profile while I make certain changes?
  4. Should I create a 2nd Facebook profile – one for fun and one for a professional footprint?
  5. Should I create a Facebook business page for myself for professional purposes?

The short answer to each of the above is “No!”  If you take the time to learn and master your account privacy settings, there’s no need to create unnecessary duplication of profiles.  Not only would a duplicate profile violate user terms, in fact, profile duplication can do more harm than good.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Settings, Privacy & Settings

Let’s start with LinkedIn.  To locate your LinkedIn privacy settings, you’ll want to click on the icon in the upper toolbar that contains your profile picture (if you haven’t uploaded a profile picture, click here!).  After clicking on that icon, select “Privacy & Settings” from the drop-down menu.  Privacy & Settings is split into three distinct areas: Account, Privacy, Communications.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Settings, Privacy & Settings

While you should check each and every setting, in particular, here are the ones you’ll want to review:

Under Account/Basics:

  1.  Name, location and industry:  See how this information appears to other people on LinkedIn and make changes, if needed.

Under Privacy/Profile Privacy:

  1.  Edit your public profile:  Control how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. as well as which profile contents are displayed (picture, headline, websites, posts, summary, current position and details, past positions and details, volunteer experiences and causes, projects, skills, education and details, recommendations, and groups).  You can also make changes to your profile summary, which is especially helpful if you want to describe a change in career focus.
  2. Sharing profile edits:  As you make changes to your profile, you can turn off the notifications to your network that would ordinarily accompany each change as it’s made.
  3. Profile viewing mode:  When you view someone’s profile, do you want them to see your name, location, industry and headline?  Or do you prefer generic characteristics?  Or do you prefer complete stealth mode?

You cannot temporarily suspend your LinkedIn account, so make sure you adjust your settings accordingly.  As a way to check how your settings impact the information that’s visible in your profile, you’ll want to go to Profile in your main toolbar and then select Edit Profile.  The blue button next to your profile picture will say “View profile as.”  Click that button and in the white toolbar that appears under the black toolbar, toggle between connections and public (those you’re not connected to).

LinkedIn, LinkedIn Profile, View Profile As

Don’t forget that the value of LinkedIn lies in being found and finding others.  The more active you are and the more information you include, the more valuable of a tool it becomes.

In my next post, I’ll address how your privacy settings in Facebook can help answer the questions that I’ve fielded in recent seminars I’ve given.

Chewbacca, a Tired Bird and the Invisible Man

LinkedIn, Profile Picture, LinkedIn Profile Picture, Bad Profile Picture, Personal Branding, Poor Personal Branding, First ImpressionMy blog post title this week sounds like either the start of a bad joke or the start of Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent comedy routine.  Sadly, it’s neither.  It’s a brief list of who’s invited me to connect on LinkedIn recently, based on their profile pictures.

What does that say about their professional, personal brand?  Afterall, LinkedIn claims to be “the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories.”  Are any of those profile pictures professional?

Since I don’t know these people (yet), have not been introduced by a mutual connection and did not receive a customized invitation, their profile picture is a big part of my first impression.  Do I need them in my network?  Do I want them in my network?  Perhaps.  Or, perhaps not.

A simple definition of personal branding is how people market themselves and their careers.  It helps demonstrate what sets you apart and what your unique value proposition is.  A strong personal brand can position one as a subject matter expert and provide enhanced credibility.  Naturally, it’s a big part of a successful job search.

So what do these profile pictures say about their personal brand?  Is their profile picture supposed to convey proof of humor?  Could it be misconstrued and leave an impression they might be overly snarky?  Are they “rebels” defying the corporately conservative profiles of millions of LinkedIn members?  And in the case of the individual with the default “ghost image” picture, it makes one question if they’re trying to hide something or simply lack the technical knowledge to change the picture.  Unfortunately, neither makes a good first impression.

It’s always a good idea to review your own personal brand.  Are you making a positive, professional first impression with your picture?  Are you clearly communicating your unique value proposition with your profile content?  The world is too competitive today to have a poor digital footprint.  Find a trusted colleague or friend and have them review it to make sure your personal brand is strong.

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.

My Top Ten Posts for 2013

2013The New Year holiday is often a time for reflection and for looking ahead.  While circumstances prevented me from blogging as much as I wanted, I still had a successful blogging year!  Below are my top 10 posts (number of views) written in 2013:

10)  Do You Have A Twin On LinkedIn?  Why duplicate profiles exist on LinkedIn and how you can remedy it if you have a duplicate profile.

9)  The $209,200 Question  My answer to the question, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”

8)  We Take Care of Our Own  What do Bruce Springsteen and networking have in common?

7)  The Value Of First Impressions  How first impressions of schools and universities participating in a college fair passed/failed.

6)  The Secret to a Successful Job Search  My answer to the question, “If you had to narrow down all of the various pieces of job search advice into the singular most important thing someone could do, what would that one thing be?”

5)  Twitter Players  What’s a “twitter player” and how do you spot one?

4)  Follow Up To:  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  Responding to reader questions for more information, this follow-up post provides additional detail on LinkedIn’s #swam policy.

3)  Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Ahead of Graph Search  A review of how to check and change your Facebook privacy settings.

2)  LinkedIn Policy Is Guilty Until Proven Innocent  This was the most commented on post I wrote in 2013, which criticizes LinkedIn’s Site Wide Automatic Moderation (#swam) policy for group posts.

1)  Recent Examples of PR – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly  In any given week, if you look for it, you’ll find examples of public relations; good, bad and ugly.  Here’s what I found at the time . . .

As 2013 winds to a close, I wish my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.  Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing my posts this year.  I look forward to sharing my knowledge, expertise and thoughts with you in 2014.

Pathways To Success

Path, Pathway, PathwaysLast week I had the pleasure of participating as a panel member (social media entrepreneurs) in Pathways to Entrepreneurial Success 4.  While the event was obviously focused on entrepreneurship, the tips and information shared that day apply to all professionals regardless of their entrepreneurial interests and employment status.

Here are a few of the tips discussed at the event:

  1. In order to be successful, you must have a passion for what you do.  A casual interest and a decent effort simply aren’t enough.  You must be passionate and fully invested to succeed.
  2. Surround yourself with a strong network built on quality.  I’ve written about my belief that quality trumps quantity in multiple posts.
  3. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.  You must work equally hard on maintaining your strengths as you do trying to improve your weaknesses.
  4. Everyone is a salesperson, whether you’re selling a widget or selling a service.  If you don’t have the confidence to sell yourself, you’ll never convince the customer to buy from you (or hire you).
  5. You don’t have to offer a niche product or service to be successful.  It’s okay that you have direct competition.  Just make sure you work harder than your competition at satisfying the customer.
  6. The path may not always be clearly marked.  You have to visualize what success looks like for you.

What other “pathways” have you found that lead to success?

An Accidental SEO Experiment

Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls Canada, Horseshoe FallsIt’s been 50 days since my last blog post.  Fifty!  That’s a long time for me since I aspire to post weekly (or at least 3x/month).  The reality is, summer simply got the best of me.  I was busy with work, busy with consulting, busy with college visitation road trips, busy with networking, busy with public speaking and busy relaxing.  Busy, busy, busy for fifty days!

My unplanned absence from blogging led to an accidental SEO experiment.  Even though my site contained relatively no new content, I had enough blog posts published (77 of them!) that it still produced a decent number of site views.  While the average number of weekly visits saw a small but gradual decline compared to previous months, it was relatively unchanged during that period.  One could argue that a slight downturn in the summer isn’t necessarily unexpected, given vacations and other distractions compared to other times of the year.

So what does this mean?  Can you simply stop what you’re doing, put your feet up on the desk and wait for the phone to ring?  Absolutely not!  My previous 77 posts took time and effort to write.  There was SEO coding that went with it.  The posts were promoted using social media channels and sometimes referred to in comments left on other blogs.  It’s because of that effort my site continued to attract daily visitors to multiple pages.  Imagine how many more visitors I would have had with new postings on a weekly basis . . .

Whether a business, freelancer or job seeker, my accidental SEO experiment illustrates that original content, SEO coding and social media promotion and activity will bring visitors to your website.  The simplest analogy I can make is to gardening…  If all you do is scatter seeds, you’ll probably see some growth in your garden.  But if you take the time to organize what you plant and spend some weekly maintenance on it, you’ll see a bigger return on your (work) investment.

The Secret to a Successful Job Search

Job seekers are often told that the secret to finding a job is through networking.  I believe that’s very true.  However, these factors are also important:  job boards, recruiters, a good resume, your digital footprint (LinkedIn profile, etc.) and continuing education.  But, the common thread that weaves through all of these important resources is networking.

Networking, Business Networking, Networking Event, Job Search, Job Search Networking, The August Group, Career Fair, TAG, TAG Career Fair

When networking, I’m a firm believer in two guiding principles:

  1. You must give to get
  2. Quality is more important than quantity

Want to know what’s even more important than networking?  Want to know what’s the secret to a successful job search?  You must tell your network that you’re looking for employment!  I recently learned that two friends lost their jobs, but I learned of this somewhat after the fact and indirectly.  Job seekers – your network cannot help you if they don’t know you’re looking for work!

Losing a job can be a hit to the ego, in addition to the checkbook.  I’ve been there; I understand that.  You don’t need a billboard to announce your availability and you certainly don’t want to be over-the-top with your announcement.  That can make you appear desperate, which can backfire.  However, here are four things you should do immediately.

  1. Update/Change your LinkedIn profile.  Some job seekers are worried about showing a gap in their employment history.  While that’s understandable, it’s worse to be misleading and confuse people who can help.  Make sure you make it easy for people to contact you!
  2. Contact your friends and family.  Who’s more likely to help when you need help – friends and family or casual acquaintances?  Most people “take care of their own” first, but they can’t help if they don’t know.  Call or send them a private message – but be specific with your ask!  I have 150+ friends on Facebook, but I probably know the career paths of less than 25% of them because our relationship on Facebook isn’t for professional reasons.  If interested, there are Facebook apps that can facilitate this.
  3. Contact your professional connections.  LinkedIn allows you to send messages to those you are connected to, so why not take advantage of this and touch base with your connections?  Remember the “give to get” philosophy of networking, so your message should not be all about you.  If you expect help, you should offer help first.  If you’ve been a ghost in your network, then I’m afraid you’re about to learn a very hard lesson at an unfortunate time.
  4. Update recruiters you’re connected with on your search, the positions you’re looking for and the companies you’re interested in.  Make sure to ask them how frequently they wish to be updated (typically it’s monthly, but ask) about your search and interests.  Be sure to schedule and conduct those follow-ups to stay top of mind!

My question to those who have successfully navigated the job search waters is this . . . If you had to narrow down all of the various pieces of job search advice into the singular most important thing someone could do, what would that one thing be?

Top 10 Blogs That Help My Career

I’ve become a regular contributor to the Career Development Carnival, a monthly collection of blog posts on career development.  This post reflects the submission theme for the May 2013 Career Development Carnival.

Arthur Catalanello Most Interesting Blogger In The WorldI may not be the most interesting man in the world, but I do enjoy a varied career.  I focus on marketing, social media, advertising research, market research. I also volunteer with The August Group and my efforts focus on career development, job search, personal branding and networking.  My Top 10 List is a reflection of these varied interests.  Some of them are not technically a blog, but a valuable resource nonetheless.  I also wanted to note that I’m intentionally not including the Career Development Carnival, Hannah’s blog or Lynn’s blog.  They are all excellent but should be a given for this particular post!  🙂

Here is my top 10 list in alphabetical order with descriptions and links:

AdAge – They claim, “Ad Age makes people smarter in their jobs in advertising, marketing and media through analysis, insights and news with an objective point of view.”  You can subscribe to 11 different email lists on various industry topics.

Freelance Folder – According to their website, “FreelanceFolder is a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers. We strive to bring you the articles, information, and community you need to succeed.”

Grow – A blog by Mark Schaefer and guest authors with posts on growing your company, reputation, customers, impact, profits and yourself.

LinkedIn – Whether it’s suggested industry articles by LinkedIn, reading the LinkedIn blog, articles recommended by your network contacts, or using the Signal feature to filter news and stay updated on your professional network, I use LinkedIn on a daily basis.

MarketingProfs – They describe themselves as, “Our editorial team cuts through all of this marketing noise to find the experts and in-the-trenches marketers who know what they are talking about. Then we take their know-how and mix it with our marketing smarts to turn it into practical advice that you can actually use through our newsletters, conferences, seminars, podcast, articles, and webcasts.”

Mashable – This site “is a leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation. Mashable reports on the importance of digital innovation and how it empowers and inspires people around the world.”

Personal Branding Blog – This blog, “teaches you how to create your career and command your future, using the personal branding process. You will learn how to position yourself for success so that you become known for your passion and expertise.”

Search Engine Watch – According to their website, “Search Engine Watch provides tips and information about searching the web, analysis of the search engine industry and help to site owners trying to improve their ability to be found in search engines.”

Social Media Examiner – They describe themselves as “The world’s largest online social media magazine, Social Media Examiner helps businesses discover how to best use social media, blogs and podcasts to connect with customers, drive traffic, generate more brand awareness and increase sales.”

Who’s Blogging What – This is an email newsletter with links to articles and blog posts.  You can use it “to stay current on social media, search marketing, user experience, email, web analytics and all of the latest developments of web marketing.”

Perhaps in a future post I’ll detail the local bloggers I follow and/or know personally.  What are some of your favorite blogs and how do they help your career?