You’re doing it. And you’ve got your resume up. You’re answering questions. And you’re joining groups. You’re even meeting people offline. But you aren’t getting an enormous number of invitations to connect.
Or, perhaps, you’re blogging and tweeting. But you’re not getting a lot of readers in either medium. And you’d love to get some of your LinkedIn buddies to read some of your stuff. Maybe you want to use your writing and social media skills as a part of your overall job search strategy.
So the most obvious place to look, and to fix, is your Profile page.
Just like with a resume, a news story, or even if you were trying to sell your home, it pays to spruce up the first thing people see. Hence special care should be taken, as this is your first (and it may very well be your only) chance to make an impression. There are any number of things you can do to assure that this impression is a positive one.
And, you can even use it to help you drive a little traffic to your own website and/or blog. Here’s how:
Make sure that you make use of all available fields, and customize these as you are able.
Next, list your blog.
and I also recommend adding Twitter.
So assuming that your resume has been integrated in its entirety, your next task should be to update the summary and specialties sections in your profile page. First of all, the specialties section is essentially just for keywords, so load them up. However, the summary section should be more grammatical. So don’t make it an old-fashioned and generic personal statement. Instead, highlight your main differences here.
Finally, with a little polish, your front door (profile page) can look mighty inviting to all.
Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)
Verbal elements? Twitter is, of course, utterly verbal. It’s just about all text. But not all of that text is tweets.
One piece is the profile. There isn’t a lot of space here. The good news is that these verbal elements are searchable. If you want to make it clear that your company is green, you can put that here. Separate short messages with delimiters like pipes (|) or asterisks (*). Don’t use semicolons as they can end up being converted to code. This is an easy section to change, so consider changing it as needed, perhaps as special events come up.
Another area is the site URL. In order to be better able to track traffic coming in from Twitter, how about using a unique URL here, say, http://www.yoursite.com/twitter? That page could contain a customized welcome message to Twitter users. This is another readily editable area of Twitter, so why not switch it up as circumstances change?
Your location is another verbal area. Of course it need not be a real place, but for a commercial Twitter account you can’t get too whimsical here. However, if you’ve got a multi-state presence (and want to get that across but not create separate Twitter accounts for each state), there’s nothing wrong with making your location something like United States or New England or Great Lakes Region.
Verbal Elements: Names
Another area is the name behind the account. This is a searchable field. A company can add a tiny bit of additional information here, such as the general company location. Hence the user name could be Your Company but the name behind it could be Your Company, Cleveland.
Yet another area is the name(s) of list(s) that your company uses to follow others. Does a company needTwitter lists? Not necessarily, but you can still use them to make certain accounts stand out. What about lists like customers or distributors? Perhaps not very imaginative, but these could prove useful in the future if Twitter ever makes it possible to send certain tweets only to certain lists.
Finally, although it is an issue to change it, the username is another nugget of non-tweet verbiage. Instead of changing it, what about creating a few accounts to cover different eventualities? Able2Know used to do this well (although some of these feeds are abandoned these days). Able2know had split off a few feeds as follows:
Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)
Offsite connections. Because Twitter is so bare bones, any number of applications have sprung up around it in order to help you manage it and become as great as you can be. Try Twellow (many thanks to Bobbie Carlton for this particular tip).
This is essentially the Yellow Pages of Twitter. Put your company name here. You’ll have a bit more space to describe your site versus what Twitter gives you, so use that space wisely. Since most of the people checking you out on Twellow are also going to search for you on Twitter (probably after seeing your Twellow profile), make sure that your information is supportive and bolstering, but not redundant vis a vis your Twitter profile.
CrowdLens and Other Software
Another idea is CrowdLens, my friend Nick Ashley’s app. CrowdLens is designed to help remove redundancy (all that retweeting!) from your Twitter stream. CrowdLens can sometimes be slow. Here are some more sites to check out:
HootSuite – a tweet scheduling service (and more) whereby you can track stats and import your lists.
Tweet Stats – a graph of, among other things, daily aggregate tweets, your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet.
Idek – a url-shortening service that tracks metrics.
Twitter Reach – exposure and reach information, such as impressions and mentionings of any topic, word, phrase, userid or hashtag.
Offsite Connections: The Upshot
As Twitter continues to mature as a business tool, I predict that more and more of these off-site services will spring up. The most successful one will, in my opinion, combine the best features of all, coupled with ease of use and an ability to show trends over time.
And finally, Twitter changes things almost as much and as fast as Facebook does. So keep in mind, these instructions may need some tweaking.
Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)
Metrics and timing. When you tweet may not seem to matter too much. In particular, if you don’t tweet too terribly often, your tweets will still be out there, so why bother to even care about timing?
Not so fast.
According to The Science of Retweets, Twitter users tend to follow some recognizable patterns. First thing Monday morning is prime time for retweeting; so is five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. And that makes sense, as tweeters are either settling into the work week or are just about to start the weekend. Weekend tweeting is another animal as well. Noon is another good time for retweeting — people are at lunch or are about to go.
Plus there’s also the matter of accounts (often for job sites) that pump out a good dozen tweets, one right after another. These have little individual impact and seem only to be useful for later searching.
Timed tweeting seems almost counterintuitive. But for a business to use Twitter effectively, the tweets should be planned anyway. Why not plan not only their content but also their timing?
Here’s where services like Tweet Deck, Social Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) and HootSuite can provide some assistance. By scheduling the most important tweets for the very start and end (and middle) of each business day, you can add to their impact. Separating out your tweets can also get them all out there while simultaneously preventing a flood of tweets which many users are generally just going to ignore.
Another positive upshot to spacing out your tweets is giving you content that can be used later. For Social Media platforms, it’s easy to initially attack them with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and then taper off or even fizzle out entirely. If you regularly spit out twenty tweets per day, you’ll be tweeting 100 times during any given work week. Even your most dedicated followers are probably not going to read every single one. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
Time Zone Scheduling
Instead, how about scheduling only two tweets per day (say, at 9:00 and 5:00 PM in the time zone where you have the greatest market share)? That way, you’ll have more people reading and no one will feel overwhelmed. Plus your 100 tweets will work for a little over a month or even two, if you are judicious and don’t tweet on the weekends.
So long as your tweets aren’t intimately tied to a specific time (e. g. announcements of an upcoming event), it shouldn’t matter. And, if they are, you might want to consider splitting them over several Twitter accounts. Perhaps open up one for just events in Seattle, for example.
Now, what about metrics?
Unfortunately, Twitter itself doesn’t do much, so you’ll have to cobble things together yourself and use off-Twitter resources. One idea is to use a URL-shortening service that tracks basic metrics, such as Social Oomph or Idek. You may not get much more data from them than click count, but it’s still something. Hoot Suite provides .owly link metrics, with two free reports.
Another idea is to use a unique URL for the site URL in your profile, say, http://yoursite.com/twitter. If you’ve got Google Analytics set up, you can track when that page is used for landings to your site, and its bounce rate. For commercial ventures, you might even make up a coupon code and tweet about it, or use your Twitter landing page as a means of communicating certain special offers available only to Twitter users.
Your number of followers, and the ratio of followers to who youfollow, is all well and good, but it’s hard to say what you’re measuring. On Twitter, as on much of the web, popularity tends to breed even more popularity. And, it doesn’t really mean much if you have a number of purely spammy sites following you. They aren’t reading your tweets, anyway, so what’s the point?
This dilutes any idea of what these numbers might provide regarding influence, but if for some reason you really want to be followed by a bunch of spammers, just place the term weight loss into your profile and never block the spammers. In fact, follow them back, and you can get even more of them.
It hardly seems a worthwhile trophy to be followed by the biggest-ever village of spammers, eh?
Some sites, such as Audiense, show number of followers and their influence and activity. You can see which inactive people you follow (so you can drop them), which famous people follow you, etc. Some of these are admittedly vanity metrics, but they are helpful.
Tweet Stats demonstrates, among other things, a graph of daily aggregate tweets. And it also contains your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet. Twitter Reach reveals exposure and reach. E. g. this means impressions and mentions of any topic, be it a word, a phrase, a userid or a hashtag.
In conclusion, keep up with Twitter, but don’t overwhelm your followers with floods of content, and measure your influence as well as you can, both using your own and external tools. If you can adjust your tweets to better serve your followers, your true influence will surely rise.
I liked this article and recognize that it was designed to be a straightforward beginner’s set of tips, but there is more that could be done. There usually is.
Use a Profile Photograph
I absolutely agree. I realize there are people who are shy or who feel that they don’t photograph well. But the truth is, most of us on LinkedIn don’t care. Unless you are looking for a modeling or an acting gig, your appearance does not and should not matter, so long as you are neat and presentable, and are in business attire. Head shots and images up to about the middle of your chest are best. You don’t need a full-length body shot.
I also think that keeping a picture off your profile because you don’t want to reveal your race, gender or age is somewhat wrongheaded. After all, what are you going to do if you actually get an interview with a company (and not necessarily directly through LinkedIn)? Send a proxy in your stead, a la Cyrano de Bergerac? That’s kinda silly, dontcha think?
As for me, people online are going to figure out that I am female, they will get a pretty good handle on my age and my religion and if they look a bit, they’ll even see pictures of me when I weighed nearly 350 pounds. And I embrace those things and don’t try to hide them. Your ideas may differ, but I don’t, personally, see the value in hiding such things. And if an employer is going to pass me by because I’m no longer 21, or not Asian, or too short or whatever, then I don’t want to work for that employer, anyway.
Use a Vanity URL
On LinkedIn, you can get them to make you a specific URL for your profile, rather than just accept the computer-generated one. Not surprisingly, I think this is a great idea. This happens to be mine. You can get a bit of an SEO bounce if you use a vanity URL. It is easy and it is free, and it is considerably more memorable. Plus, if you wish, it’s a good thing to put on a business card or a resume, or even into a signature line in email.
Use a Headline
Personally, I find these weird, but that may be just me. For me, just my job title seems to be fine, as it evokes (currently) not only what I do but the industry I am in right now. I’ve always, personally, found that titles like Terrific Social Media Manager or Experienced Fry Cook just seem odd. But that may be me. Try it – but I’d recommend doing so as a more or less controlled experiment. If it’s not working after, say, six months, I recommend rethinking it.
Update Your Email Settings
If you’re open to receiving job openings, make sure that you’re set up that way. And if not, make sure that’s properly reflected as well. People won’t necessarily follow your requirements in this area, but some will. And it can serve as an indirect means of indicating you might be interested in making a move if the timing and the circumstances were right.
Make Your Profile Public
Personally, I think that the only time your profile should be private is in the first five seconds after you’ve created it. Then again, I have had an online persona since 1997, and find it easy to share a lot of things.
Of course not everyone feels this way, but it seems to be kind of useless to have a LinkedIn profile if you don’t want to share it with anyone. Networking, which is what LinkedIn is all about, is, in part, about going outside your comfort zone and meeting new people. This is not like Facebook where, potentially, the pictures of you drinking in 1963 could come back to haunt you. This is a gathering of professionals. Any employer upset if you have an online presence on LinkedIn is not only not with the times. They are being thoroughly unrealistic. Employees look for better opportunities all the time. Wise employers recognize and accept that. Denying someone access to LinkedIn, or being upset by an employee’s presence therein, is misplaced.
So go out there and fix your profile! And give it a facelift!
… And Facebook for All – Your Profile Page, Part II
Your Profile Page, Part II.
First of all, Facebook members have seen it dozens, if not hundreds, of times – your Profile Page.
Let’s talk some more about your Profile. Here’s mine.
In addition to the basic tabs at the top, it also contains:
A space for your profile picture
Information on any mutual friends you might share with anyone peeking at your profile
A small subgroup of your friends
and Your Photos
A share button, and,
On the right side, there are advertisements
NOTE: Facebook continually A/B tests, and so buttons and features move, change, are resized, added, or can disappear altogether. Your neighbor can sometimes see a rather different version of Facebook versus yours. And this is normal.
Let’s look at these in order.
A space for your profile picture
No one is stopping you from putting up a picture that is not, actually, of you. And I’ve seen dogs on Facebook, scenery, people’s children and cartoon characters. Hence it’s a place to be somewhat expressive. However, recognize that, if you’re using Facebook at all for your business (or if you’re simply looking for work), you’ll need to tone this down. If you want to go fairly conservative (which I personally think is best but opinions differ), go with a headshot or a head and shoulders shot that’s fairly recent. And, do make sure you’re smiling.
If someone surfs in and finds your Profile Page, they’ll probably be drawn to whether you’re really the person they’re looking for, and whether you have any acquaintances in common. If you’ve got a somewhat common name (e. g. Gregory Cole), then it’s really going to help out people if they see anyone who you know is in common with whoever they know.
One way I’ve used this information has been in locating High School friends, as we tend to have the same mutual friends. If I see that Jane Smith is also friends with John Jones and Dave Brown (names are made up, of course), then I realize, aha! Chances are good that Jane and I attended High School together. However, sometimes it just means that Jane is a local (if John and Dave stayed in the area after graduation). Or it might mean she’s a younger or older sibling of my classmates. Hence it’s an imperfect system.
A small subgroup of friends
So this is six friends (fewer, if you have fewer than six friends, of course). And it used to be you had control over this, but apparently not anymore.
Whenever you click “Like” on a group or page, it can show up here. A few show up at a time, and they rotate. To take something out of rotation, un-“Like” it. Much older and inactive pages and groups show up less, as Facebook follows social signals in this area, too. E. g. pages and groups that appear inactive or even downright abandoned will lose precious visibility time and space to groups and pages that are up to date and lively.
So note here is where your profile picture shows up in all its glory, and bigger than on your Home Page. Therefore, make sure it looks good here as well as on your Home Page. If you’re going to use Facebook for business (or if you’re looking for work), make sure this is a flattering photograph that clearly shows your face. It need not be full-length (and, if it is, it’ll be smaller on the Home Page, but here it’s all visible) and, for God’s sake, smile!
Plus, photographs also show up on your wall if you upload them and agree to publish them to your wall.
And Your Links
So put a link in your status, or post it to your wall, and it will convert to something clickable. And if it comes from Youtube, it’ll even embed the video. And like most things on Facebook, any link can get comments or “Likes”.
A Share Button
Actually, there are several of these. Pretty much everything on Facebook can be shared in one manner or another, and even off Facebook.
Bottom line: your Profile Page is your face to the world. It is clickable, shareable and somewhat searchable. Don’t want people to know something about you? Don’t put it on your Profile Page.
Eavesdropping really works, and it is probably a writer‘s best tool. Once you start listening in on conversations, you will open up a whole new world. Because real dialogue, interspersed with your created dialogue, adds realism.
First of all, you have got to be subtle. This means maybe you pretend to play with your phone. Or you look out a window or stare into space. Because you should not be obvious about such things.
Furthermore, conversations are often layered. While you are perhaps listening to one person talk to three other people, there is a give and take between that person and the others. However, there are also words passed among the others in the group. Then they might even break off and begin their own conversations.
This doesn’t even get into what happens when you’re in a crowded room. Since it is hard to follow a lot of conversations, concentrate on only one or two. You won’t hear it all, anyway. Furthermore, if you split your focus, you won’t get anything good.
I am not saying you need to be nosy. Furthermore, this is not for gossip. Rather, you are a writer and you are doing research. Do yourself a favor and mix up what you hear. Don’t copy paragraphs outright. Instead, grab a sentence here and there. Write them down and put them away for later. Since you will presumably be writing for years, a sentence might work a decade from now. You never know.
The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent
Have you ever heard that? Make sure to change names. Or eliminate them altogether. You can also swap gender. Hence if a friend is complaining about her boyfriend, why not change the friend to a man? Or slip the complaint into something else. The complaint could be about your protagonist’s coworker.
Be subtle. Don’t use what you hear in order to gossip. Change the details. Finally, don’t repeat truly personal information (bank accounts, divorce proceedings, fatal disease diagnoses, etc.) unless you change nearly all of the verbiage. Be your usual pleasant, polite, and caring self. Yes, even as you gather some writing fodder.
Employment colors most people’s lives (or the lack of a job). And whether your job is a creative one, or has to do with business, athletics, science, the Internet, or anything else, it can help propel your creative spirit to new heights.
Employment as Metaphor
So let’s say your characters are on a spaceship deep in the Andromeda Galaxy. Hence the time frame, pretty obviously, is the deep future. Yet even if you feel we’ll all be part-cyborg pod people, you can still see your current position (or a past one) as a kind of metaphor. Because even your heroes in space suits might become peeved if someone else uses their favorite ray gun. Or maybe they have a conflict over a meal – even if that meal is an alien carcass or a mess of nutrition pills. Since it’s your show and your universe, why not show someone who resents the person in charge?
Repetitive or Unpleasant Work
For even the most exciting and glamorous occupations, there can often be a great deal of repetitive work. Actors have to memorize lines or go to cattle call auditions or autograph stacks and stacks of head shots. Models have to travel a lot and miss their families, and they wait around a lot at photo shoots. And singers get colds. In addition, lawyers have to answer emails and phone calls and travel to court. Furthermore, doctors – even world class ones – sometimes deal with less than cooperative patients. And politicians deal with the polls and the press.
Most noteworthy, you’re a writer. So you know all about artist’s block.
Hence consider what you do, over and over again, at work. Maybe it’s running database queries. Or filing papers. Maybe you fill out tax forms or dig holes to embed fence posts or you clean animal cages or perform oil changes.
Now, please keep in mind, I want you to stay safe at all times! However, doing a repetitive task can sometimes lead to your mind wandering. So why not let it wander to and then linger on your writing? Maybe you can envision one of your characters performing your repetitive task. Never mind if the time frame is wrong; this is just an exercise. And then start thinking about other tasks your character could be performing. While writing about a repetitive task might not make it into the final cut of your work, it could give you insights into your character’s personality and motivations.
Maybe your character makes mistakes. Or maybe they’re perfect at executing the task. In addition, some character might rebel or be repulsed by your task. So, can you extrapolate that to your work and your universe? Maybe you can.
Whether you’re an accountant or an astronaut, you might be able to use your employment as a vehicle for writing inspiration.
Meeting Offline. Oh. My. God. You want me to do what?!??!
Go offline. Yes, I really and truly want you to do this. I want you to go out and meet real-live, honest to goodness human beings. You know, members of your own species.
But, but, but, I hear you saying, why am I on on online networking site in the first place? Isn’t it to build a network online?
Well, sure it is. But nowhere in there is the word only living. Online, yes. But not exclusively there.
Not by a long shot.
Traditional vs. New-Style Networking
Traditional networking involves fairly formalized, ritualized meetings between job seekers and employees of companies where the job seekers wish to work.
Here’s the drill: the job seeker gets an introduction via a friend, or a friend of a friend, and goes to the contact’s office. The job seeker brings his or her resume and the two of them chat, maybe for a half an hour or so. And the job seeker leaves the resume and, if he or she is good at follow up, sends a nice thank-you note. The contact may or may not respond, promising to get in touch if something comes up, or if the contact thinks of someone else for the job seeker to talk to. And the cycle either continues, or it dies on the vine. And so it goes.
LinkedIn Changes That
With LinkedIn, the drill differs. Here is what I found to be helpful. Your mileage may vary, or you may come up with something else. So, instead,
You find a person you want to meet. They may be in your industry, or an industry you want to get into. Or they are in a company where you think you’d like to work. Make sure they are close enough to you that getting together is feasible.
And you ask them to link to you.
You do this with about 19 other people – this is a numbers game, and not everyone will say yes. My experience has been, out of over 200 of these, only one person has flat out said no. However, over half either ignored my link request or just never got around to it (I have even met some of these people under other circumstances – it’s not hostility that keeps them from linking to me, it’s that they are busy and processing far too much information at any given one time). So, give yourself better odds. Mine have been about 45% have said yes to the link request.
Someone says yes. Great! Send them a note, saying something like, Thank you for linking with me. Would it be possible to meet briefly for coffee? I am interested in going into ___/working at ___ company/working as a ____ and can see that you have done that, and I hope that you have a few tips you can share. Thanks!
Repeat this with anyone else who’s agreed to link with you, pursuant to your initial request. My experience has been that, out of the people who linked to me, I contacted about 55% of them to ask them to coffee (for the others, I realized they were either too geographically remote or they let me know they could link but were busy, e. g. they were new parents) and then, out of that group, about 25% of those actually got as far as scheduled meetings. Hence my success rate was that I met with about 6% of the people I initially wrote to.
So block off an hour or two, but tell your guest that you only want 20 minutes of their time. Hence that way, if the meeting goes over, you’re covered.
Don’t bring your resume! Instead, bring either a laptop or your smartphone or a pen and paper. And bring a paper list of companies you’re targeting. Because if the conversation flags, you can always ask your guest what he or she thinks of those companies, or if your guest knows anyone at any of them.
Furthermore, have your guest select the date, time and place. In addition, give a couple of choices of dates or places for meeting offline, if your guest is having trouble deciding and
Offer to pay for coffee. Even if you’ve been out of work for a long time, most people are sensitive enough, and realize you’re probably watching your funds. However, you must ask.
Meeting Offline Specifics
As for the meeting itself, make it whatever you want it to be. And if the conversation flags, remember it’s only 20 minutes out of your life. So you can always claim a prior appointment. However, if the conversation goes well, be sensitive to your guest’s time – just ask – do you need to go? And then just follow their lead.
So follow up with a thank-you email, and send a note every few months or so, to maintain the connection. Just send along an article or blog post that you think that your guest might enjoy. And it is also a courtesy – although not strictly necessary – to follow them on Twitter and/or read and comment on their blog, if any.
So will it work? It can. I did not meet with a lot of people in terms of percentages. However, the people I met with gave me very good information, and introduced me to others (or informed me of upcoming events) which helped me out even more. And it also was incredibly helpful to me in my work, as I had a good, strong network to draw on when we had events and needed to fill a room.
This kind of activity will certainly get you out and about, and give you exposure to people in your current or future field. Finally, meeting offline counts as making a job contact for virtually any Department of Unemployment.
There, now, meeting offline wasn’t so bad, was it?
53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with 48% of them delivering on their intention to buy the product. (ROI Research for Performance, June 2010) – However does this takes into account what essentially looks like spamming (e. g. buy this stuff!) versus what seems to be more sincere mentions of products, e. g. someone says I love this new Gatorade or I think my New Balance sneakers really make me faster? I know it can be difficult for a large-scale survey of tweets to tell the difference between the two. However, if there is that much of a return, then I figure, the people either know or, perhaps, they just don’t care.
The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. (Keller Fay, WOMMA, 2010) – Just what does this mean? I mention products all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m touting them. Ugh, I hate what they did to my conditioner! Why did John Frieda have to change it? And that is a far cry from I want some more of that Amy’s Low-Salt Marinara Sauce with Basil – sooo good. Since the stat doesn’t mention whether the mentions went positive or negative, I suppose it’s a corollary to the old saw, that any press is good press. Note: sentiment analysis is better than it used to be, but still has a ways to go.
Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted – nearly 12 times more – than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to a survey of US mom Internet users by online video review site EXPO. (eMarketer, February 2010) – This is how viral marketing works, kids. Because if a company can send out its minions to tout a product, even if not 100% positively (and it’s more believable that way, as it doesn’t look like mere puffery), then folks eat that up. Astroturfing Nation, here we come.
In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010) – However, this may be more of a function of the pervasiveness of social sites versus their influence. E. g. I truly only hear from some of my cousins through Facebook. Do I give their opinions more credence than I do passing acquaintances’? Sometimes. But do I get this Facebook-based advice from them because we don’t pick up the phone or send snail mail or meet in person (we’re too far away to do this, anyway). To my mind, this is almost like giving the phone company credit for marketing strategy if we chat on the phone. We don’t. Instead, we use Facebook. I think this is a potential confusion of medium versus message.
So, are social sites really that important? Is Twitter really that targeted? Do consumers really trust their pals more than they do slick, conventional marketers? Probably maybe, not really and yes. And it’s up to the Social Media Marketer to separate the wheat from the chaff with these kinds of stories, and see what’s really going on.