5 Tips for Professional Networking on LinkedIn

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Because of the rapid growth of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, many people are unsure of how they should draw the line between professional and personal communications. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but if you follow a few rules of thumb, you’ll do a better job of managing your professional brand.

First off, if you aren’t yet familiar with it yet, LinkedIn has become the hot destination for professional networking. It’s the ultimate social and professional mixer that helps people connect through career experiences.

Essentially, you go to LinkedIn to create a living resume. It may help you get discovered by HR recruiters or former co-workers. So it is essential for you to market yourself properly. Here are five easy tips for making the most of LinkedIn.

1. Be professional.
It’s strange to even say this, but you need to treat LinkedIn as you would any other workplace. Consider LinkedIn just another extension of your career, because for now, it kind of is. There are enough working professionals on LinkedIn that you must assume that everything you write is going to be seen and interpreted by some of your co-workers.

Separate your personal online life (e.g., Facebook) with your professional online life (i.e., LinkedIn). There is the “work you” and the “home you.” LinkedIn is the place for the work version of yourself. Continue reading

Offline Networking, 1,600 Rail Cars, & a Mahogany Desk

PMeetup Logoart of my job at the agency is to talk about the effective use of online social networking websites and other social media channels. As such, I’m fairly well cross-connected with everything from Facebook to Meetup to LinkedIn.

(Am I too socially networked?)

Typically, I discuss how social channels are rooted in offline networking traditions, but modified to work online. How we network in real life isn’t terribly different than how we network online, right? Well, not really. There are similarities, but there are also massive differences.

I wanted to see how a modern live networking event was run, so I attended a local event from LinkedIn.

The event was held in a special events room at a moderately upscale restaurant. A modest admission included a buffet and a cash bar. Upon my arrival, the room buzzed with well-dressed people eating, drinking, and networking.

LinkedIn LogoMany had professional designed badges with their name and business offering — clearly they had done this before. I had a “Hello My Name Is” sticker with my name written with a black Sharpie.

Many people were engaged in two- and three-person conversations, making it awkward to just break in, so I grabbed some food and sat at a table. Within minutes the people at the table were introducing themselves. In real life proximity is key to opening a conversation. Same as online, except proximity is a virtual concept, not a physical one.

Two of the three people at the table worked in manufacturing, so they began chatting enthusiastically. The woman next to me built custom office furniture, like shelves and closets. She was nice and we chatted a bit about our love of our Apple products, but soon she was slipping into the conversation with the manufacturing guys. I can’t blame her. I’m probably not likely to buy a mahogany desk with built in shelves for my office. I work in a cubicle.

Around the room, people would randomly make eye contact, introduce themselves and their services. I’d describe myself as a guy who “works at a large marketing agency, where I specialize in digital interactive marketing. I develop websites, search, and other emedia campaigns.” If they seemed interested, I would go into greater detail.

Some people were definitely not interested, literally turning and walking away. I’m not making this up. People literally listened, nodded, and just walked off. Perhaps they assumed I was there to sell them advertising services, in which case, they wanted me less than a mahogany desk.

For every career consultant I met, there were at least two accountants and one insurance salesperson. I met two chiropractors who told me that sitting at a desk was bad for my back.

After a while, I settled into conversation with a guy who told me he could get me access to rail cars. Y’know, freight trains. Up to 1,600 of them, but if I needed, as few as four. Despite the fact that I had little need for rail cars, we laughed, shared a few stories, and actually made a connection.

Toward the end, I met a guy who sells insurance. Like the freight train guy, the insurance guy recognized there was nothing he could sell me. But we were both content to just meet someone new. We talked about motorcycles, our kids, and how hard it is to get motivated to go to networking events. LinkedIn allows us to do this from the comfort of home.

So that’s how it went in my first live networking event. This was a general event, so the next one I attend will be more technology and marketing focused.

In the meantime, I’ve made a few new connections. And should I ever need 1,600 rail cars on short notice, I know where to go.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Have you updated your Facebook privacy settings? No, go ahead and do it now. I’ll wait.

I’ll wait, but the identity thieves and hackers aren’t waiting. They’re out there collecting all kinds of personal information about you.

Consider all of the personal information that you post to message boards and profiles. With some time and effort, people can gather some pretty significant data on you.

Think about it for a moment. If you fully populate your profile, they may already have:

  • Your full name, including middle name
  • Your maiden name (if you’re a married & changed your last name)
  • Your birth date
  • Your hometown and current town
  • Your school and educational history
  • Your spouse’s information (or significant other)
  • Your employment history
  • Your religious and personal views
  • The names of your children and pets
  • Photos of yourself and many of your family and friends

Add this to the stuff you’ve posted online about yourself in comments and Wall-to-Wall posts….and you’re looking at a LOT of personal information on Facebook alone. This is more stuff than some famous people have published about themselves. And at least they get the side benefit of being famous (and sometimes rich!).

Let’s just remember that “mother’s maiden name” is sometimes a security question for financial institutions. As are offbeat questions about your personal life that, theoretically, only you should know.

If you want to make it even more creepy, go to Google Maps or Google Earth. Type in your home address. If you’re looking at an aerial photo of your house, then everyone knows where you live. And if you post when you’re on vacation on your Facebook status, you may be telling everyone when your house will be vacant.They’ll even provide directions for burglars.

So, yeah. Go update that Facebook profile and keep some of your personal life private.

7 Tips for Better Flickr Traffic

Since I first discovered the analytics features in Flickr, I have been obsessed with my stats. I just can’t help myself. Stats and analytics fascinate me. (Note: Stats are only available to Flickr Pro users.)

Here are a couple of observations regarding Flickr’s chocolaty goodness:

  1. Post consistently. My stats hovered around a depressingly low number for many months. The key to getting more views on photos was to actually upload photos more consistently. Sounds obvious, but the reality is that people in a social community tend to interact more with people who are contributing consistently.
  2. Give the people what they want. If you know what photos get the most traffic, that means there’s an audience for your work. If people like your dog photos and label them as “favorite” then keep posting your dog photos.
  3. Share timely events. My stats skyrocketed recently when I uploaded 388 photos in one batch. (Thank you Flickr Uploader!). I attended the Long Beach Comicon 2009 and uploaded my pictures within two days of the con. My average views went from 500 a day to over 5,000 per day. That’s a HUGE increase in traffic. Not all of it is sustained, but I have definitely increased my daily views significantly.
  4. Include links to your other sites. The traffic from Flickr to my personal website BuddyScalera.com is increasing. The more people look at my Flickr photos the more they go check out my webpage. I saw a pretty nice jump when I uploaded that batch I just mentioned. Flickr users tend to check out my photo reference books, which is good.
  5. Join groups & create groups. I belong to dozens of informal Flickr groups. Plus, I’ve created two Flickr groups, which has increased my overall photo traffic. Since I have particular photography interests, it makes sense for me to contribute to certain groups. But some of my interests didn’t already have a group, so I created Long Beach Comicon – Official Flickr Group and Comic Book Creators & Pros. One complaint: they don’t give administrators much access to group analytics, beyond giving a list of members.
  6. Participate. People are sharing their photos online because they want the world to see their pictures. Give people feedback on their photos. If you share a comment, people will want to see your photos, which will increase your base of viewers.
  7. Contact ’em. There’s a “friending” feature on Flickr called “Contact.” Basically, it’s like friending someone on Facebook, except you get a feed of new photos that is being uploaded by your contacts. If you like someone’s work, you can check out their work in thumbnails as they upload the images. And unlike Facebook, people on Flickr are uploading photos, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of throw-a-sheep and super-poke invitations.

More on Flickr in the future. In the mean time, check out 10 Tips to Boost your Flickr Profile. Very good article about increasing Flickr traffic.