Let’s say you’ve got a nice, growing network on LinkedIn.
Hurray! Now let’s say that it’s gotten large enough that you’re unsure of how it’s all trending. After all, what if your network is dominated by people who used to work at Fidelity but you want to get into Prudential instead? How can you see how things are shaking out? Or maybe you want to get a handle on job titles that you’re seeing — what if most of your network consists of tradespeople in your area, rather than people who might actually be able to find you something? If you’re an accountant, a network full of hairdressers and landscape contractors is lovely but it might not be really doing it for you, eh?
Essentially, what LinkedIn is doing is, instead of geographically mapping your connections, they are mapping other meaningful relationships among all of those people. So instead you can see things like job titles that are frequently coming up, and other connections, like who used to work where. If you’ve worked in several places (like I have) you may see one former employer dominate, particularly if you’ve just left a particular role. After all, when Hachette Book Group and I parted ways, suddenly I made connections with the other seventeen or so people who were being outsourced. There was a bit of urgency to getting connected, and there was a desire to maintain friendships. I’ve had to dig a bit in order to find former colleagues further back in my career (and, by the way, FYI, this does behoove one to try to make connections both during employment and to reach back to older connections as the natural push to connect might not come about if you’re thinking about a job you held twenty years ago, long before LinkedIn existed).
One thing that should be noted is that it takes a while for an InMap to be generated, particularly if you’ve got a lot of connections. This is a feature that is still in Beta, so that should be totally understandable.
But here is the InMap for a woman named Leslie Gotch Zarelli, which should give something of an idea about how the overall pattern looks. Her InMap (I would post mine, but LinkedIn is still churning away) is dominated by general areas like Legal, what is probably a former employer or two, and what appear to be some job duties.
Now, there are people who will disagree with me, and such is their prerogative. But the truth is, when you’re looking for a job, you tend to need all the networking help you can get. Your dentist. Your former college roommate. Your brother-in-law. A traditional network is not confined to just former colleagues and classmates. It branches out and eventually begins to include people who are friends of friends. The same is true online.
Finding Connections Among People You Know
One thing you can do is, open up your address book to LinkedIn and allow them to send a networking invitation to the people in it. Your present and former colleagues are probably either already on LinkedIn or are contemplating joining. Most will be receptive to your invitation. As for your family, they will probably also be fairly receptive to linking. Even if your cousin is geographically remote and in a very different industry from yours, that does not mean that the connection is a complete waste of time at all. As for the other names in your book (your babysitter, perhaps), use your own judgment. Personally, I think you should ask everyone, but I can see where someone might balk at asking everyone they’ve ever known to link to them.
And that’s all right, but recognize that you may be unnecessarily cutting yourself off from potential opportunities. So, what’s next?
Growing Your Connections List
Beyond the people you know, there are not only the people they know, but also people who you want to link but you don’t know them yet.
Then, with all due respect, why are you on a networking website to begin with?
I don’t mean to sound flip. But the concept behind networking is to, well, network. So that means you need to meet people you don’t know, and go outside your comfort zone a little bit.
But, you say, they’ll know my name and address. Your name, yes. As for your address – no, not unless you’ve got it in your online resume. And you shouldn’t have it there, although at least your general location can most likely be inferred, given where much of your network lives. And to that I say, so what? Your address is on your mailbox, and it’s in the telephone directory. It can be found in tax records and vote registration rolls. It is not hard to find, and you are neither hiding it nor better preserving your identity or your privacy in any way by not opening yourself up to this kind of linking.
So, link. Indiscriminately? Not exactly. Avoid known spammers. And, if someone you’ve linked to turns out to be a spammer, drop and report them. You don’t need to be tarred by that.
And, how do you attract people? Should you be just messaging people, willy nilly? No. Instead join any LinkedIn LION group.
What’s a LION? It’s a LinkedIn Open Networker. This will signal to people that you are open to networking with anyone but a spammer. Too many invitations? Just leave whichever LION group you’d joined. You can always rejoin later.
Who else? Try connecting with people working at companies you’re targeting. And, if it’s a very large company, try narrowing your connection requests to just people in the departments, and/or with the job titles or descriptions, that you are directly targeting.
How do you ask for a connection? There is a ready-made note that LinkedIn pops up for you. It’s fine, but you should modify it. First, call the person by name! I don’t want to positively respond to a generic note – do you? So, call me by name! What else? Make sure you thank the person. Anything else? One last thing – tell the person why you want to link with them. It can be brief, just one sentence is fine. You want to link to me because of my work at a particular company? Then say something like, I’m interested in linking to you because of your work at ___ company. Want to link to me because of a role I’ve played? Then write something like, I’d like to link to you because I’m looking to become a ___, which I see you’ve already done. Understandably, these notes are not too terribly exciting, but they are short and to the point and they get the job done.
Be aware that, if you are dinged enough times by people who say they don’t know you, you’re going to have a much harder time trying to link later. So, proactively go out to link with the following people:
Friends and family
Current and former colleagues
People in companies you want to get into, but only if you send them personal notes and do so sparingly.
Who should you allow to link to you? That’s easy – anyone but a known spammer.
Grow your network. Here’s an area where size really does matter. Quality matters, of course, but quantity is going to open a lot of doors as well. Like it or not, an impression is made by a large network. So go plant those seeds!
Perhaps the most compelling feature of Facebook isthe availability of the Like Button.
The Like Button
The Like Button is intended to dovetail beautifully with its presence on Facebook itself. According to Facebook, “The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website.”
Facebook certainly makes an effort to make it easy for even novice programmers (and people who can really only do drag and drop) to place a Like Button on their own sites. The premise is irresistible: you add the Like Button, people “Like” your own site, and that information is transmitted back to Facebook and to the Likers’ friend lists. Then their friends, who may not have know about you at all, suddenly do. They, hopefully, check you out, Like you, and the process is repeated on and on, ad infinitum, or at least in theory. With enough intersecting friends with enough non-intersecting additional friendships, a few Likes could translate into dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands, of new people who know about you.
Engagement and Reach
Much is made of the fact that engagement and reach are both going down. Facebook actually has the gall to try to get people to pay for what it does! Quelle horreur!
But, seriously folks, how do you think Facebook pays its bills? It’s advertising. If the users aren’t going to be charged (and Facebook would be mighty foolish to start charging all of those free sources of detail consumer data), then advertisers will be – and of course they already are. What gets a lot of people’s undershorts knotted is that the freebie style of advertising is becoming harder and harder to implement. Facebook seems to be pushing every with a page to start buying likes.
Whoa, Nelly! That would be kind of unethical, if Facebook was deliberately putting a thumb on an imaginary scale and making it harder for people to reach their fans without paying for reach and engagement.
So, are they doing that?
The jury is still out, but I’m inclined to say no. After all, the site grows by leaps and bounds on a minute by minute basis. Engagement and reach are diluted without Facebook having to do a damned thing.
Does Facebook benefit from making it harder for page and group administrators to connect for free? Absolutely. But do they have to work in order to create this condition?
White Space is not your Enemy by Kim Golombisky and Rebecca Hagen
White Space is not your Enemyby Kim Golombisky and Rebecca Hagen is a beginning design book. I purchased it because I definitely need assistance with design. While I (at least I think I do) have something of an understanding of which color goes with which, it is sometimes difficult for me to get my act in gear when it comes to making something look good. Seeking some inexpensive professional help, I turned to this book.
Apart from the obvious title, the book offers tips on color combinations, font selection, focal points and even how to prepare a document for a professional print job. The chapter on design sins really resonated with me. I have seen poorly designed advertisements (both online and offline) and websites, and have never really been able to adequately articulate just why they were so hideous. Now I can.
The exercises in the back of each chapter were, I thought, somewhat superfluous. However, I did find myself beginning to look at designs with a more critical eye. For example, I noticed a print advertisement where the background photograph was of varied colors. Some were light, some, dark. The print, however, was pure white, and cut horizontally along the middle of the photograph. This would have been fine, except the copy crashed straight into a white space, so some of the print was invisible. Which part? The company’s name. Epic design fail.
Another extremely helpful chapter was the one on the “works every time” layout. This layout is all over the Internet and all over print media, and for good reason. It is, essentially, a full width photograph or other graphic across the top third of the screen or page, with the remaining two-thirds divided into two vertical columns for text. A cutline (caption) is placed directly underneath the visual (if appropriate; some visuals don’t need a cutline), with a more prominent headline directly below that. Break up the columns into paragraphs and beware widows and orphans (one or two short words on a line). Place tags (these aren’t Internet meta tags), which are the logo, company name and small nugget of information such as the URL or physical address, in the lower right-hand corner. Round it all out with generous margins all around. Voila! An instant beautiful (albeit somewhat common) layout!
If nothing else, that chapter is more than worth the price of admission.
Creativity cannot, truly, be taught. But the peripherals around it can, such as how to gather ideas and nurture them, and how to place those ideas together in a coherent format. It’s like teaching pottery and smithing but not cookery: you get enough so that you can set the table, but not nourish anyone.
For that, you need to be an artist. And that, sadly, cannot be learnt in any book.
Community Management Haikus are – I will be the very first person to admit this – a rather silly topic. This is a Friday topic, a bit of fun as this can, often, be a rather fun sort of a profession and industry. After all, you are spending your time tweeting, posting to Facebook, and using Google+. You are making videos, and you are writing blog entries (much like this one, actually).
The truth is that, although it can also, sometimes, be a laugh riot, community management and the overall discipline of social media marketing can sometimes be rather serious. We may need to cobble together some sort of a response to rather somber news, such as a death in our industry or our community or our company. We may have to address angry customers, disillusioned share holders, or the bewildered folks among us who just need a little help and then they can be on their way.
We are deadly serious, as we do our best to cut down on the number of technical support calls, or increase customer engagement and satisfactions. Or maybe we just want to create a memorable experience and, in the meantime (assuming that the stars and the planets all align absolutely perfectly), get someone to bookmark our link or subscribe to our RSS feed.
Come back, we cry. Come back and we will dazzle you with even niftier content.
But I’m rambling here. Maybe we just, sometimes, want to write something that can only charitably be referred to as pseudo-artsy.
Haiku for You
Fun with the topic
feel free to add more in the
comments section, please
four syllables, so comm is
doubt commingle with robot
avatars and posts
Small things can blow out
of proportion, as there’s no
Social media –
substitute for life? Maybe.
Or just leisure time
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 networkonline?
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 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. The job seeker leaves the resume and, if he or she is good at followup, 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.
With LinkedIn, the drill is different. Here is a way that I have 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.
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, but over half have 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.
Block off an hour or two, but tell your guest that you only want 20 minutes of their time. That way, if the meeting goes over, you’re covered.
Don’t bring your resume! Bring either a laptop or a pen and paper. And bring a paper list of companies you’re targeting. 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.
Have your guest select the date, time and place. Give a couple of choices of dates or places, 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. But you must ask.
As for the meeting itself, it can be whatever you want it to be. If the conversation flags, remember it’s only 20 minutes out of your life. You can always claim a prior appointment. 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.
Follow up with a thank-you email, and be sure to 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. It is also a courtesy — although not strictly necessary — to follow them on Twitter and/or read and comment on their blog, if any.
Will it work? It can. I did not meet with a lot of people in terms of percentages, but 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. It’s also been incredibly helpful to me in my work, as I have a good, strong network to draw on when we have events and need 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. Plus, it counts as making a job contact for virtually any Department of Unemployment.
Now, Phil and I have known each other for a few years. We met through LinkedIn.
We have never actually seen each other, in person. He’s not even on the same continent as I am. Yet I wrote the article all the same. It’s on Food Addictions and Treatments.
Now, do I expect fame and fortune from all this?
Well, I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be nice. But do I honestly think that empires will rise and fall based upon my one little article?
Of course not.
But I think it illustrates the point I made last time about collaboration. That is, sometimes you just up and do something for someone. You do it because you just, well, want to do something for someone.
And that’s a reward unto itself, is it not?
And by the way, I hope you do read the article. Because I think it’s the kind of thing that’s got to be written about. It continues to shock me that other writers wouldn’t touch the subject matter with a ten-foot pole, as if it would give them cooties to talk about addiction. As if being at all sympathetic with people who are ill would, somehow, mean they were condoning those lifestyle choices or admitting that they, too, were imperfect.
Hey, I’ll shout it from the rooftops – I’m imperfect!
And if I’m not mistaken, the sky did not just come crashing down.
Go forth, and I hope you’ll collaborate, and do things for others. And the karmic wheel will turn for you, too.
This is tabs and tabs of an Excel spreadsheet as I think about what I really want to do with all of this.
It’s becoming more obvious is that I’ve got major ambitions and there aren’t enough hours in a day in which I can accomplish them. To really make a good site, a beautifully designed one with awesome SEO and kick-bun content, means engaging something like 50 people to do it.
Egad. I’m organized and I’m energetic and I’ve got time these days, but I’m not 50 people.
This is a source of a bit of stress, to be sure, but it’s also a challenge. How can I leverage what I’ve already got? How can I use my organizational skills to make things easier on myself? How can I set up some things which will run on their own, thereby saving me time? What’s the timing of, well, of all of it?
I’m very excited about this whole venture. I actually got a little Google traffic yesterday! Yay!
I’ve only been on Google for maybe 3 days. Holy cow. This stuff really works.
I have a billion things to do. Oh and I’m running in a 5K in a week. If I could do web development while running, I would.
As I skip through my online life, I am reminded that so many of us see the world as being divided into online and offlinepersonae.
There are many folks who separate the two, and may even do so successfully. Online friends are online. Offline friends are off, although emails are exchanged, and there may be a Facebook friendship there or an exchange of tweets. But that’s it, right?
But then there’s the moment when a Facebook friend introduces you to another, and it’s for some purpose or another, such as playing Scrabble. Or a LinkedIn connection who you’ve never actually seen – just some networking friend of a friend – suggests coffee.
And suddenly the worlds begin to collide.
Who’s online? Who’s off? Does it matter? Should they be separate? Were they ever?
A Confrontation in a Dark Alley
And what about trolls? What are the differences between their online and offline personae? The person who is nasty to you online, do they really behave that way face to face? I’ve got my doubts, but hey, you never know. Maybe they really do have a misshapen nose, from all of the times its been broken by someone they’ve insulted.
A Hug in Person
But most of the time, there is little difference between the online and the offline world. At least, that’s been my observation, when I have met people and have had occasion to hug them in person. Sure, online we have some time to reflect on what we’re going to say. And we can ignore and unfriend and step away from the keyboard. Real life, offline, doesn’t really work that way. But a lot really is similar, and I can attest that it’s a blast to meet people who you’ve never seen before. I have honestly never had a bad experience.
Normal precautions, of course, should be taken. Don’t meet in some unknown, private place. Don’t leave without someone knowing where you’re going. Get information as you can before departing. Don’t be stupid.
But go out and meet ’em. Meetings, gatherings, conventions, whatever you want to call them, they bring online people even closer. It’s a lot harder to flame someone if you know them.
Oh, and I can practically guarantee – once you’ve heard someone speak, you’ll hear their posts in their voice from then on.
GoodEReader reports in 2014 that Wattpad, the giant free stories platform, is entering the digital publishing business.
In early May of 2014, it was reported that Wattpad had decided to e-publish two of its most famous stories. My Wattpad Love has over 19 million reads. A Proscriptive Relationship has over 30 million reads on Wattpad.
To provide some perspective, it should be noted that Stephen King has sold a total of 350 million books, but this is spread over 49 works, giving him an average of a little over 7 million sales apiece. Of course sales and free reads on a website aren’t the same thing, but these sheer numbers are still rather impressive.
But can free readers be converted to paying customers? Just as importantly, Wattpad is a social site. People click, visit, vote up and add stories to their virtual libraries. But how much of that is due to the quality of the prose? Is some of it due to the writer’s personality and following on the site?
Of course that is the case, but the question is, how much? Context, as Avinash Kaushik wrote, is queen. But how can context be accurately (at least as accurately as possible) determined here?
Millions of clicks are difficult to ignore, but what is the best way to weed out sympathy clicks, friendly clicks, clicks made in error and the like? And that does not take into consideration whether any of these people will convert to a paying model. Why buy these cows, when the milk has been provided for free (and in an easy to digest package, too, I might add) for so long?
But even a one percent conversion rate will turn heads.
Move over traditional publishers. The shelf just got more crowded.