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Facebook

… And Facebook for All – Your Profile Page Part I

Life, Liberty … And Facebook for All – Your Profile Page Part I

Let’s look at your profile page part 1.

If you’re a member of Facebook, you’ve seen it dozens, if not hundreds, of times – it’s your Profile Page.

And Facebook for All -- Your Profile Page Part I
Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is also a Home Page, but I’ll cover that in the next segment. Right now, let’s just concentrate on your Profile. Here’s mine.

Profile Page Part 1: Basics

So at minimum, the Profile page consists of the following:

  • Wall
  • Info and,
  • Photos

And 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
  • Your Likes
  • and Your Photos
  • Your Links
  • A share button, and,
  • On the right side, there are advertisements

NOTE: Facebook is the biggest A/B tester on the planet. They constantly move things around in order to try for an improved user experience. Hence this means you may see buttons moved, resized, renamed, or even eliminated. And it also means your neighbor might see an entirely different configuration.

Let’s start with the tabs.

Wall

Up at the top, you can put in your status. There doesn’t seem to be a true limit to how long a status message can be, but after a few lines, it’s excessive. People put all sorts of nonsense in here – including not only statements of their adoration for celebrities but also mundane minutiae such as the scintillating fact that they’re about to go pick up the dry cleaning. If you want to use Facebook at all for your business, your status messages should really be short, somewhat on point and inoffensive (this is also true if you are looking for work and are not using Facebook for any of that – potential employers are watching!).

Below is the wall itself, where friends can post replies to your status (they can also reply directly to the status), send you greetings, send you game requests, etc. You can always delete or hide these messages, which can be a good idea if they are becoming something you’d rather not share with others. People routinely answer all sorts of dumb questions about me (e. g. Do you think Janet Gershen-Siegel has kissed a boy? Gee, I’ve been married since 1992. You make the call.) and I usually just hide or delete those.

You can also hide notifications from various applications so, if everyone you know is playing Farmville, and you don’t care about it, right-click on any Farmville notification and select the hide Farmville notifications button. However, be aware that there are any number of similar or satellite applications (gifts, new gifts or whatever), so you may be doing a rather similar task more than once. Still, understand that you don’t need to ask people to stop sending you requests. Just block the app.

Info

You can add any number of tidbits here. At minimum, you should at least list your marital/dating status, your birth date (the year is optional) and your current city and/or home town. This will draw people in and make it easier for them to find you, particularly if you have a rather common name. You want friends and business associates to figure out that they want you, the Mary Lou in Hicksville, New York, versus the Mary Lou in Mars, Pennsylvania.

Marital status isn’t strictly necessary (and I’ve found it doesn’t stop guys from sometimes hitting on me – eek), but I personally think it’s a nice thing to include. However, of course, no one can force you to do this and naturally it is illegal in the United States for a potential employer to demand this information.

Birth date is kind of nice to have, partly as an identifier and partly to give another piece of information out that’s just pleasant to see. It’s a minor revelation (particularly if you only give out the month and day) and is essentially harmless. And an American employer cannot legally ask for the year. However, employees do have to be of a certain age in order to work full-time at all. Still, if you get that far along in a job application, an employer won’t use Facebook to confirm your age – the employer will instead use official governmental records like your birth certificate for that.

Adding your birth date also means the inevitable onslaught of Facebook birthday greetings.

Biography

Biography is optional and, if you use Facebook for business, keep it short, on point and inoffensive. Work history is also not necessary but it can be helpful if you need for people to find you (are you the Mary Lou in Hicksville who worked at AIG, or at the Dairy Queen?). Plus that can add to the networking vibe but keep in mind that Facebook for networking remains a poor substitute for LinkedIn.

Educational information also helps to identify you. Graduation years are not necessary. Likes and interests will show up in part by your typing in here and also by you “liking” various pages. Keep in mind that this can be found, so “liking” a page with a profane name is going to be something that can be picked up by potential employers and clients.

Profile Page Part 1: Photos

These are pretty self-explanatory. Any photographs that you’re tagged in them will show up here. You can collect photos into albums, of course. Also, if a photograph is unflattering, compromising or just plain not of you, you can always untag yourself. Before my parents were not on Facebook, I was sometimes tagged on my mother’s photos so I would be able to find them. I don’t mind this. My profile has enough photographs of me that it’s obvious I’m not her. But you might. So, if this happens, talk to whoever’s doing this. There are other ways of sharing photographs and albums which might suit your needs better.

Categories
Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)

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.

Almost Everything But the Tweet - Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)

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 need Twitter 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:

A user can follow any or all of these and see a different slice of that site. The individual user names for the accounts make it abundantly clear which cut of the site you’re following.

What do you want to get across? What image do you wish to project? Peripheral information can support or obfuscate your message. Choose what you really want your verbal elements to say.

Categories
Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

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.
  • Social Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) – time tweets and gather simple metrics on shortened urls. You can set up more than one account this way.
  • 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.

Categories
Facebook Social Media

… And Facebook for All Your Account Settings

… And Facebook for All – Your Account Settings Explained

… And Facebook for All – Your Account Settings – in Facebook, how to do you change your account settings? When you pull down on the Account section of Facebook, you see a few choices but they change. Keep in mind that Facebook is continuously testing its format. What worked a year ago might not work now, but these are pretty close to being right although some of the parts have moved around on the page or might now have new names.

Your Account Settings
Your Account Settings
  • Edit Friends
  • Manage Pages
  • Account Settings
  • Privacy Settings
  • Help Center, and,
  • Log Out

Edit Friends

First of all, you get a list of your friends. And if you have separate friend lists (say, for work or school), those lists are on the left. Facebook does move these sorts of settings around. By the time you read this blog post, this feature could potentially have been moved. Truth is, it may be gone by now.

You can add friends to various lists, remove them, or delete them from your list altogether. There are also suggested names to be added to various lists (assuming you’ve chosen a list, versus all of your friends). The default here is not only to show the entire list of friends, but to put the ones you’ve interacted with most recently up at the top.

Account Settings: Manage Pages

If you manage pages – and you may very well have that as a task if you are using Facebook for your business – here is a link straight to each page and how to change it. Simply click “Go to Page” and you are transported to the correct page in question. I’ll get into the specifics of what you can do from there later in this series.

Account Settings

This is a part of Facebook that always seems to be changing. It is entirely possible that, by the time you read this blog post, these instructions will be obsolete. I’ll keep everything at a high level and won’t get into too many specifics. So it is divided as follows:

  • Settings
  • Networks
  • Notifications
  • Mobile
  • Language
  • Payments

Account Settings: Basics

This section is currently divided as follows:

  • Name – your real name
  • Username
  • Email – self-explanatory
  • Password – self-explanatory
  • Linked Accounts – you can put more than one account together
  • Security Question – self-explanatory
  • Privacy – control the information you put out there. But do keep in mind: if something is truly personal, the Internet is an awfully foolish place to put it in.
  • Account Security – you can add some form of extra protection
  • Download Your Information – save your photos, etc. to a ZIP file
  • Deactivate Account – self-explanatory

Networks

You can join networks, such as identifying yourself with an employer or a school you’ve attended.

Notifications

Control settings for notifications such as when someone tags you in a photo. I think that the default settings are pretty excessive. I like to know if someone wants to add me as a friend, and when I’ve been tagged in a photograph. Other than that, I’ll just check when I’m online. Obviously, my preferences need not be identical to yours.

Mobile

Activate a phone and register for Facebook text messages here.

Language

Set a primary language or translate Facebook into other languages from here. There’s currently a rather extensive list, including some languages not written with a Western alphabet.

Payments

So track your credits balance, credits purchase history, payment methods and preferred currency here.

Privacy Settings

Control some aspects of the sharing experience here. So this includes who can see your photographs, religious and political views, etc.

Help Center

This area is undoubtedly going to continue to evolve as questions come up and the increasingly complicated Facebook system breaks in all sorts of interesting and as-yet unexpected ways. So you can even ask a question, and the most common questions are listed. Unsurprisingly, these include topics such as how to delete your account or change your name.

But keep in mind: Facebook won’t answer 99%+ of any questions you have for them. Why? Because they are running an enormous site with a surprisingly tiny number of employees. Hence many of the judgement calls come from bots.

Log Out

Pretty self-explanatory. Click here and you’ll log out of Facebook.

Next: Company Pages

Categories
LinkedIn

The Conquest of LinkedIn — Last Little Bits

The Conquest of LinkedIn — Last Little Bits

Last Little Bits. Now, there’s more to LinkedIn than what I’ve already covered. And, truth be told, the number and diversity of add-ons and features is only going to keep growing. As with any other truly viable online business, LinkedIn keeps adding new bells and whistles, and constantly A/B testing. It is already a far different site from the one I joined a few years ago. And, by the way, I have never gone Premium. I think it’s a waste of money, particularly for job seekers who are often watching every dime.

The Conquest of LinkedIn -- Last Little Bits
LinkedIn pen (Photo credit: TheSeafarer)

However, there is an appreciable difference between making and keeping your page lively and interesting, versus making it too busy. I don’t think that you need everything. Really. I think a bit of restraint is in order.

Connections List

Your connections list is not as granular as it once was, possibly a function of LinkedIn getting larger. After all, at the end of 2015, LinkedIn had a good 414 million registered users. Hence the demands of data, and server speed and size, mean that they aren’t going to give you as many opportunities to add metadata about your connections.

Instead, the site offers groups. Create a group, and invite likely people to join it. Your High School’s graduating class, or your sorority chapter might be good choices, as your High School is probably already represented and your sorority might be as well. But these groups provide more specificity. Of course, not everyone you invite will join one of these groups, but it’s worth a shot. Still, LinkedIn is no longer trying to be like a CRM system. That’s, I feel, for the better, as it gives the site more focus as a networking platform.

Events

Another tool that is gone is events. A pity, in some ways. But again, the site is looking to focus itself better. That includes eliminating some of the fat.

Following a Company

LinkedIn provides the ability to follow a company. If you are in charge of your company’s LinkedIn profile, you can help to stimulate this information stream by listing comings and goings, promotions and transfers. Got an event going on, with an interesting or attractive look to it? Take a picture and post it!

Profile Page Shortcut

The shortcut to your profile page is an easy way to make yourself stand out a bit more. Just select a reasonable shortcut for yourself. Mine is my last name, because it’s unique.

Interests

The Interests section (found under your Profile) is useful for adding not only keywords but also some personality to your profile. Do you play the violin? Do you like to cook? Safe, positive information is good here, so long as it’s not extensive (you don’t want this section to overwhelm everything else). It’s probably not the best place to mention, for example, your extensive action figures collection.

Personal Information

The Personal Information section is what you make of it. I keep in my birth date (because it generates a status update on the day in question) but not the year. And I list my town but not my full home address. Although that is easy enough to find elsewhere online. Furthermore, I list myself as married, but you certainly don’t have to. I keep my phone number off as I don’t want to perhaps have LinkedIn become a vehicle for calls I don’t wish to receive – if someone wants my phone number that badly, they can connect to me and ask.

You Profile Photograph

The last, and perhaps most important bit is your profile picture. To add, or not to add? I say, add it. It’s not like you’re going to hide your race, your age or your gender if you meet someone. So you may as well come forward so that, if you meet in person, they can recognize you. Use a recent, clear headshot, and for God’s sake, smile! Mine is of me wearing a dress with a blazer. Look professional and try to keep it current. That reminds me; I should update mine.

Conclusion

There will undoubtedly be more changes  and last little bits as LinkedIn dreams up new ways to connect business persons. Perhaps video demos, or real-time conferencing, are in its future. Stay tuned – I may blog more about LinkedIn and its last little bits as it continues to reinvent and improve itself.

Categories
LinkedIn

Giving Your LinkedIn Profile A Facelift

Giving Your LinkedIn Profile A Facelift

Dahling, you need a facelift! This post is a riff on 6 Tips for giving your LinkedIn profile a facelift.

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

Linkedin Profile Facelift
Linkedin Chocolates (Photo credit: nan palmero)

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!

Categories
Facebook Social Media

… And Facebook for All – Your Profile Page, Part II

… 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.

... And Facebook for All -- Your Profile Page, Part II

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
  • Your Likes
  • and Your Photos
  • Your Links
  • 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.

Mutual Friends

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.

Your Likes

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.

Your Photos

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.

Next: Your Home Page

Categories
Facebook Social Media

… And Facebook for All – Offsite Sharing

… And Facebook for All — Offsite Sharing

Offsite sharing is a fascinating concept. Perhaps the most compelling feature of Facebook consists of the availability of the Like Button.

The Like Button and Offsite Sharing

Because the offsite Like Button dovetails beautifully with its presence on the site itself, i. e.,

“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.”

Drag and Drop

Facebook Profile Page Part - home page
Facebook

Furthermore, the site tries 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 for offsite sharing. The premise is irresistible. You add the Like Button, people “Like” your own site, and that information transmits back to Facebook and to the Likers’ friend lists. In addition, their friends, who may not have know about you at all, suddenly do, and the offsite sharing spreads even more. They, hopefully, check you out, Like you, and the process repeats on and on, ad infinitum, or at least in theory. And 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

However, engagement and reach are both going down. And 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? They do it with advertising. If users won’t be charged (and Facebook would be mighty foolish to start charging all of those free sources of detailed consumer data), then advertisers will be. And of course that already happens. What gets a lot of people’s undershorts knotted is that the freebie advertising is harder and harder to implement. Facebook seems to push everyone with a page to start buying likes to get more offsite sharing.

Thumb on the Scale?

Whoa, Nelly! Because that would be kind of unethical, if the site 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?

While the jury is still out, I’m inclined to say no. After all, the site grows by leaps and bounds on a minute by minute basis. And engagement and reach dilute without Facebook having to do a damned thing.

Finally, does the site 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?

Nope. Life does it for them.

Offsite Sharing: The Upshot

Beyond issues with Russian interference and how the Facebook algorithm can sometimes tamp down third parties, offsite sharing can work pretty well there. Political and other paid ads, though, are another story. They are a reminder that, every year, Facebook becomes more and more of a “pay to play” platform. Hence if you want to share something from off the site, your shared content might be lost amidst the paid stuff. So be it.

Categories
LinkedIn

The Conquest of LinkedIn – Meeting Offline

The Conquest of LinkedIn – Meeting Offline

Meeting Offline. Oh. My. God. You want me to do what?!??!

The Conquest of LinkedIn - Meeting Offline
linkedin logo (Photo credit: clasesdeperiodismo)

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,

  1. 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.
  2. And you ask them to link to you.
  3. 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.

More

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Yet More!

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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?

Categories
Community Management

Community Management Tidbits – Superstar Users

Community Management Tidbits – Superstar Users

Superstar users? Some people just seem to be born with it. If you’ve ever spent some time on forums, you immediately know who they are.

Superstar users
Screenshot of phpbb in use on a games forum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their topics rarely go without a response for long. And their contributions are routinely applauded (either using available site software or via written praise) by the other users. Their absences are lamented (and noticed!). Their returns are celebrated. In addition, people rarely forget their birthdays and membership milestones.

They are the superstar users.

They can be made by the community or they can be nudged along by you, the Community Manager. The community can sometimes choose stars that don’t promote your company’s vision very well. But you can combat this by selecting some superstars of your own.

Converting Users into Superstars

How do you make superstar users? Almost the same way that the community does. However, you may have some added tricks up your sleeve. First of all choose, choose a few likely candidates. Go into your member list and sort by number of posts, from most to least. Select your top 20 posters.

You probably know who they are already. But if you don’t, if you have a posts/day statistic, copy that down. Put all of this into a spreadsheet. Add in the dates each user joined the site and the dates of their most recent posts (which may be the day you compile this information).

If anyone has overwhelmingly negative social signals (vote downs, ignores, complaints or reports against them), if you can put your hands on that information quickly, discard that member from your list and replace him or her with the next one. Ignore sock puppets and second accounts, if you have good proof that two accounts belong to the same person. Again, just move to the person with the 21st-most posts/day, etc.

Now look at your list. Who is the member with the most recent post (gauge that by day, not by hour, so if two posters have a last post date of October first, consider them to be tied even if one posted at 1:00 AM and the other posted at 11:00 PM), with the highest number of posts/day, who has been a member the longest? Rank that person #1 and rank everyone else in order behind him or her. Ties are fine.

Research

Now you’ll need to do a little more research. If you have this data readily available, use it: the section(s) of the site where your 20 users spend the most of their time. This could divide into tags or subforums or categories. It really depends on however your site is divvied up. However, if this information is not readily available, research it by investigating everyone’s last 10 posts. Of course their most recent 10 posts could potentially not be perfectly characteristic of their behavior on the site. So you take that chance. Nothing is set in concrete; you can always revisit this later.

If your #1 user’s last 10 posts are all on message or in the section(s) of the site devoted to your company’s message, that person stays at #1. But if not, weigh them as against their 19 competitors. And if #2 is close to #1 but a lot more on message, switch their rankings. Also use this measurement of being on message (or not) to resolve any ties.

Continuing

Now look at your list again. #1 should be the user who is most on message, with a lot of posts and recent activity, who has a long history on the site and whose negative social signals (there are usually some, particularly for long-time, popular posters. That’s fine; just try to stay away from universally reviled people). This is the first person you want to approach.

And, how do you approach them? Handle this both indirectly and directly. Indirectly by promoting their posts, topics and replies, with up votes, applause, positive ensuing comments and making their topics sticky – whatever your software allows which provides them with attention and positive reinforcement. Don’t do this all at once – spread it out over time. You’re in a marathon, not a sprint here. Provide the same indirect positive reinforcement to your other candidates, but less as you go down your list.

Directness

The direct approach: engage them, both openly on the boards and in private messages (most sites have the means to do this). You should out and out flatter them. Instead, offer encouragement or point out their posts that you find interesting. Or tell them about others’ posts that you feel might interest them. Again, don’t do this all at once. Offer these little tidbits gradually.

Every few months or so, review your list and consider whether to add or drop anyone. If you’ve made friends with these users then of course don’t drop them from your personal life just because they’ve gone off message too much! But certainly curtail your official Community Manager messages to them if there are others who would be more receptive.

Why do you want to do this?

Superstar users can help to bring your site out of a funk. They can (and do) make you aware of spam. Superstar users create and promote good content. They help trolls lose their power. They can help to calm the site down and ease it into and out of transitions. You can count on them.

However, they need to feel valued. And, even more importantly, they need to feel that you don’t just call on them when you want something. Provide positive reinforcement when there is no crisis and you’ll be able to call on them when there is one. And the corollary is true as well: superstar users, if unappreciated, will leave, and other users will follow them out of your forum. Ignore them at your peril.

Next: Cat-Herding