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?

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The $209,200 Question

Ithaca College, IC, Ithaca, Communications, Park School of Communications

Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College (via http://www.ithaca.edu)

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with current students at Ithaca College, who are interning at the Office of Career Services.  Our chat centered around marketing, social media and the lessons I’ve learned in “the real world” since graduating from Ithaca College and leaving South Hill for Rochester, NY.  I enjoy giving back to my alma matter in this fashion, so when asked if I could spare 15-20 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon I didn’t hesitate to accept.

My favorite question that was asked by a student was, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”  Since I didn’t know the questions in advance, my mind raced with possible answers. . . .

Communications:  I majored in Communications, so this was an easy answer to give.  Virtually all jobs require good communication skills!  I dismissed that answer as something that should be a given.

Marketing:  These are marketing interns, so a broad-based marketing skill set would be valuable.  After all, marketing applies to all job seekers because they’re ultimately marketing themselves to prospective employers.  So, I dismissed that answer too, since it should also be a given.

Networking:  As a job seeker, it’s not just what you know.  It’s also not just who you know.  It’s who knows about you which is equally important.  What’s the best way to make sure recruiters, employers and hiring managers know about you?  Networking!  I had my answer!

Whether in-person or via social media, networking is truly an important skill set that graduating seniors should possess.  It’s also a skill that won’t be taught in most classrooms.  Some colleges do, however, teach networking to their students (along with personal branding).  I have first-hand experience that Ithaca College currently does this.

I was able to stress to these students that their networking efforts should begin immediately with fellow students, professors and other professionals.  Two other important points about networking, especially for students who are likely to be new to networking:

  1. Make sure you practice a “give to get” philosophy.  Seek out ways to help the person you’re networking with and/or what you can bring to your professional relationship.  Effective networking is a two-way street.
  2. Emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to your network.  It’s better to have a network that’s half the size but twice as effective.

If you were faced with that same question, what would be your advice to a graduating senior?

As to the title of this post?  That refers to the current 4-year total of tuition/room/board at Ithaca College.  🙂

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.  🙂

Five Consulting and Job Search Parallels

I recently had lunch with a friend and former co-worker. When we met back in 2010 and compared notes on our respective job search activities, we learned we had competed against each other for many of the same open positions in the Rochester, NY area.  We ended up working together for a large, local corporation. While our contracts there have ended, I am happy to report that each of us has since moved on to new and better opportunities.

She asked how my consulting business was doing.  As I explained the ebb and flow I’ve experienced, five parallels between part-time consulting and job search immediately came to mind:

Rain and drought:  “When it rains, it pours” is the old adage and I’ve experienced that with both the job search and part-time consulting.  I’ve had weeks without a single phone call or email inquiry and I’ve had weeks where I’m seemingly over-booked.  It’s important to not get too high or too low as riding that emotional roller coaster will make you sick.

How hot is the fire?:  Another old adage I used when I was looking for full-time employment was “irons in the fire” to describe how many opportunities were in various stages of progress.  At various times, I had several positions I had applied to, several I had interviewed for, and several I was waiting for an offer/rejection.  Some weeks, with so many “irons in the fire,” the fire seemed quite hot!  Other weeks, I was hoping for a spark, let alone a flame or a fire.  This hot-cold pattern isn’t always predictable, but know that it won’t last forever, good (hot) or bad (cold).

Personal branding:  If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to differentiate yourself.  You must determine what makes you different from all of the other job applicants.  Then, market yourself and highlight how you stand above the crowd.  As a marketing consultant, I too have developed and maintain a personal brand.

Visibility is key:  Without a marketing/advertising budget, I rely on referrals and word-of-mouth for my consulting business.  The key to that is being visible.  Similarly, job seekers need to be visible.  When a job lead for a sales position comes across my inbox, odds are I’m forwarding it to the first person I think of who’s looking for a sales position.

Networking is mandatory:  Whether I’m meeting with job seekers or prospective consulting clients, I try to network weekly (and in-person whenever possible).  The key to effective networking is practicing a “give to get” mentality.  Help the person you’re networking with first.  They’re then more likely to assist you.

For those who navigated the unemployment waters and have landed, what parallels have you noticed?

Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Ahead of Graph Search

You may have heard Facebook’s recent announcement about Graph Search.  It’s currently being beta tested, but it will allow you to search Facebook for people, places, photos and interests.  It’s Facebook’s attempt to take on Google’s powerful search engine.

Now (before this feature is released to the masses) is as good a time as any to make sure your privacy settings are set the way you want them to be.  Perhaps the easiest way to check your settings is to use the padlock symbol in the upper right portion of the Facebook toolbar.

Facebook Privacy, Privacy Settings, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy Change, Facebook Privacy Settings

As a first step, check each of the three areas that appear in the drop-down privacy settings box as shown in the picture above.  I tend to limit my posts to friends-only (you can always change this on a per-post basis).  You can always view your profile as someone else sees it, if you’re uncertain as to what the settings mean.

As a second step, review who can contact you and how you’d like your messages filtered to your inbox.  Next, you’ll want to click on the link at the bottom of the drop-down privacy settings box titled “see more settings”.  Are you comfortable with who can look you up using the email address and/or phone number you provided (if you did provide such info)?  Now’s the time to edit that info and/or change that setting if you want.

The last setting under “Who can look me up?” (see image below) allows search engines to find your profile and link to your timeline.  I have mine turned off and I’m guessing you may want to as well if you’re concerned about privacy.

Facebook Privacy, Privacy Settings, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy Change, Facebook Privacy Settings

Lastly, you’ll want to review the apps that you’ve given access to.  Do you still use all of them?  Are you comfortable with them making posts on your behalf?  You’ll want to remove the apps you no longer use and check the settings for the ones you keep.  This can all be done by clicking on the apps link (left-hand column in the picture above).  In addition to the apps you use, make sure you review the settings for “Apps others use.”

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?

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?”

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!

Filtering Facebook

If you’re active on Facebook and have friends like I do, you’re encountering plenty of “soapboxers” who believe their political commentary and posts will somehow magically persuade you to vote for their presidential candidate in less than two months.  On a personal note, I can’t wait until I can once again enjoy pictures of cats, pictures of kids and postcards with snarky quotes without having to navigate articles that are obviously and blatantly biased for one side of the aisle or the other.  😉

If you feel that way too, the good news is you don’t have to wait until after the election is over!  Here are two areas in Facebook where you can filter what you see.

The first is to filter the ads in the right-hand column/panel.  If you hover over the ad, a small “x” will appear to the right.  If you click on the ad, it will remove it and you’ll have the opportunity to provide Facebook with information on why you chose to remove it.  In theory, Facebook will learn your likes/dislikes to show you advertising you’re interested in.  Since Facebook is a free site, advertising is one of the ways it makes money, so the ads are not going away.  You might as well see ads that are interesting.

A second is to limit the content by specific friends.  To do this, go to your friend’s timeline or find a recent post of theirs in your feed.  Hover over their picture and then hover over the “friends” button.  Then click on settings.  From there, you can control the frequency of updates (all updates, most updates, only important updates) as well as the type of updates you see (life events, status updates, photos, games, comments and likes, music and videos, other activity).

As with most social media sites, there’s often more than one way to change settings, so it’s not limited to the method I’ve detailed above.  The Facebook filter is not an ideal one, but it’s better than nothing.  When you’re ready to un-filter that soapboxing friend, the steps are the same.

I can say that once I filtered some friends, Facebook became more enjoyable.  Have you filtered content or friends yet?