Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We are all in Sales!

Here's a great reminder of why you need a professional online presence and why you should participate in social networking.              

Thursday, April 21, 2011

26 Tips to Enhance Your Experience on LinkedIn

Neal Schaffer held a LinkedIn workshop at SMMOC this week. I attend many seminars on social media subjects so that I might glean some insight into how speakers explain social media to an audience. There were a couple of things that Neal said that I found interesting.

He suggested that by using Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite, you are losing the ability to maximize each of the applications. LinkedIn has so many uses beyond the status updates and if you never actually log in and use the tool the way it is meant to be used, you are missing a lot of functionality. LinkedIn has been rolling out some new features, so make sure you are logging in and checking them out periodically!

I was surprised to hear him say that he hides his connection list. I always felt that we are living in a more open and collaborative world. If you are in sales and worried about your competition finding your clients, know that there are many more ways to do so, including a people search on LinkedIn. By doing a people search, I can see my potential clients and who they are connected to, regardless if either one has hidden their list.

Here's a great list of 26 tips on LinkedIn, starting with the basics:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smartphones: Personal Assistant or Leash?

Admittedly, I wasn't always the person who had to have the latest, greatest technology. In fact, I didn't even have a touch screen phone until about one year ago. Before that, I had an older version Blackberry provided by my employer. It didn't have very many features other than the ability to check my e-mail... Which brings me to the question of the day. Are smartphones making us more efficient or just tying us to our jobs at any given moment?

With a phone like the one I just described, I felt more obligated to check work e-mail after hours because it was there and it was convenient. I couldn't do much else with the phone besides maybe managing my calendar, so it was not making me more efficient in any other way. From my interactions with people, it sounds like most boomers have this type of phone and feel like it is a leash.

Once I entered into the realm of access to the entire internet and "apps", I felt like my phone was my friend and personal assistant, not something that was making me work when I didn't want to. Another confession: if you were to observe me, I probably look like I am using my phone at any given moment. I use it while I am walking down the street, I use it at restaurants, and anytime I am standing in a line waiting for something, you better bet I am looking down at my phone! Does this make me anti-social? I try to keep my smartphone usage to a minimum when I have the possibility to engage with a human instead.

This is why I love it. In particular, the cases where I am waiting for something and wouldn't otherwise be doing anything else, I feel productive. I can jump on Twitter and re-tweet good content. I can view my Facebook news feed and comment on a friend's status update. I can search for someone I just met on LinkedIn and invite them to join my network. Aren't these all of the things that most people are struggling to find the time to do? If one of these sites leads you to an article on the web, you can read it immediately, or share it to an app like Evernote and read it later on your PC if you want.

Now, here's what I love about the phone I purchased this weekend, which is one of the newest Android phones, the Verizon HTC Thunderbolt. All of my social networks are synced together with my contact list. Now, the contact list on my phone will show me your phone number, Facebook status update, e-mail, LinkedIn, and Twitter information. Don't freak out. I can only see this information if we are already connected, if I already had the information or if you made it public on those profiles. I love having all of that information in one place.

Did you have a reaction when I said I use my smartphone in restaurants? I enjoy using location based services like Foursquare, Facebook Places or SCVNGR to "check-in" to places I am visiting. Sometimes, I choose to publish the information to Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes, I just check-in to play the game. Typically, I am sharing this information as a social tool because I am checking-in the people who are with me. I also use the app for Yelp so I can write a review for a place that was really good or really bad. I also use the apps to find a place to eat, make reservations, look up sustainable seafood options or decide which movie theater to go to based on what is playing after dinner.

You could also use a smartphone to play games or watch videos. Maybe that is how you would rather spend your down time. There is definitely value in that: a well deserved mental break. Let me know what kind of phone you have and whether it makes you feel more efficient or like you are on a leash.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Work / Life / Online Balance

Does social media feel overwhelming?

I was attending one of my monthly networking groups this morning and I heard from another friend about her concerns with social media. She mentioned balance. We used to think of it as work/life balance, right? You have work and then everything else is life, and you need to have a healthy balance. I am sensing a new dynamic should be added: work/life/online balance. For many people, the struggle is where to fit in social media, social networking and everything else you do online.

The core of the issue goes back to the fact that you feel like social media came out of nowhere and now it is just one more thing you have to do. Unfortunately, in this digital age, it is. Here is the good news: you can take it one step at a time and keep it to a manageable amount of time. Balance is truly the key. For many of you, staying on top of your online personal brand requires time outside of work, and therefore it must fit into your new work/life/online balance.

If you own a business or are responsible for marketing a business and feel the pressure to do it all at once, you can relax. Start with your personal brand online. Start with LinkedIn because I find that people are comfortable starting there, as they see it as the "professional" social network. At the same time that I am allowing you to take it one step at a time, I am going to tell you not to fool yourself. Any presence you have online needs to be representative of your professional personal brand. Facebook has privacy settings, which you should certainly monitor from time to time, however, if you have a Facebook profile, start making the transition to a more professional image there as well.

Your personal brand online is a reflection of your company or employer, which is why it is a good place to start. All social networks are based off person to person interaction. They are not run by organizations, but by individuals. If all individuals took their online presence seriously, their employers would feel less hesitation in using social media to communicate with their stakeholders. Start with you, and start with LinkedIn. If you haven't done so already, complete your profile and connect with everyone who lives in your Rolodex. Your goal should be to transfer your offline network to your online network. The two work best when used in conjunction with each other. Each time you attend a face to face networking event, add your new contacts to your LinkedIn network. It only takes a few minutes so I hope you can fit it into your already full work/life balance.