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My LinkedIn Cheat Sheet

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I recently taught a workshop on using LinkedIn and other forms of social media as job search tools for a re-employment group. Last night I was chatting with an incredibly talented old friend who has found himself between jobs and it reminded me that social media is now an essential part of the job-search process.  Human beings can be very helpful problem-solvers so let your network know your goals; you never know where your connections might lead you.  Here is my LinkedIn Cheat Sheet:

Getting Started with Linkedin

  • Go to http://www.linkedin.com.  Be ready with the email address at which you want to be contacted. Select a password.  Use your actual name (not a user name). Follow the steps and open your account.  Check your email and confirm your account.

  • Craft your profile. Take some time to assess your skills, your experience and your goals.  Write an “elevator pitch” summary.  Use a real photo.  Accurately enter your education information so that you can use the classmate search function.  Using keywords when you describe your work experience and expertise will increase the likelihood of being found by recruiters and hiring managers.  Load your resume.  Consider requesting recommendations.

  • Establish your privacy and notification settings bearing in mind that your goal is to be found.  The best way to address privacy concerns is to never put in digital form anything that you are not comfortable showing to the whole world for the rest of time.  No complaining, no negativity, no fabrications.

  • Make connections.  Use the email connections tool and the classmates tool to find people on LinkedIn that you are already connected to; send them invitations.   Run these tools monthly.

  • Search for groups based on your existing connections (eg. alumni groups and professional associations), your areas of expertise and your interests.  Review the profiles of the group members.  Participate on the group discussion boards.  Check the group jobs tab.

  • Search for jobs on the Jobs tab; don’t forget to use the Advanced search option.  Use the Companies tab to learn more about potential employers and relevant connections.  Follow companies you hope to work for.

  • Post and respond to questions in the Answers section to demonstrate expertise and enrich your connections.  Consider an rss feed to follow questions in areas of your expertise.

  • Post updates that let your network know what you are doing and what your goals are.  Use other forms of social media and keep them interconnected.   Download the Linkedin browser toolbar and the Linkedin app for your smart phone.
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But do you “like” like me? – Like: The Multitasking Facebook Verb

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Prior to this past Tuesday, you would interact with a Facebook Page by becoming a fan.  You would read in your news feed of a friend’s support of a business, product, etc.  as “so-and-so has become a fan of such-and-such.”  I almost titled this post “Only connect” ala Howard’s End because Facebook is getting rid of the Fan language for  Pages in favor of a vernacular around the words “like” and “connect.”  Instead of clicking on “Become a fan” you will now hit the “Like” button and thus become “connected” to the Page.   In addition, Facebook is trotting out their “Like” button in other locations on the web such as Pandora and Yelp.  When you click the “Like” button in these other places, the connection is reflected back on your FB profile.  Facebook will continue to offer a third type of liking, eg. when a friend posts something and you hit the “Like” button.

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining (of course) that while there is a like button there is no dislike button, as if there aren’t enough outlets for negativity on the planet.  I personally am pleased FB doesn’t include a dislike button.  As we know, “everybody doesn’t like something,” but do we need to hear about it?   Somehow complaining in raw digital form with no voice or tone reads so much more negatively than is probably intended.  In general, I think it best that “If you don’t have anything nice to say on Facebook, don’t say anything at all.”

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Facebook Fan Page Comments and the Marketplace of Ideas

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When working with clients on Facebook Pages for their businesses, I’ve noticed some hesitation at the idea of committing to a social media presence.  It wasn’t the fear of not being able to keep up with posting or responding to fans.  No, it turns out it was a fear of negative comments.  And while I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and the ways it prevents our government from limiting the speech activities of our citizens, when it comes to someone’s livelihood and plain old client comfort and preferences, these concerns need to be taken seriously.  After all, isn’t it true enough that a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on?  People are very quick to make judgments in our warp-speed, information-packed world.  Many people decide whether or not to see a movie after a quick look at the number of stars it receives, and a few critical words posted by a random diner on one of the many restaurant review websites can steer business away.  Is the solution to unclick the fan posting option on your Page settings?

Ultimately the decision to allow or not allow Fan posts on a Page is in the client’s hands and really depends upon their comfort.  My preferred strategy for Facebook would be to do a great launch with a nice-looking store front Fan Page, invite lots of friendly customers to become fans, allow fans to post and then monitor the page closely for problems.  Ideally you receive lots of positive posts and the “marketplace of ideas” prevents any negative comments from being damaging.  It is not a perfect system but we don’t live in a perfect world.   While I would prefer that people follow the advice of my mother, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all,” often times it is the cranky people that have the most to say and the most energy for saying it.  Fortunately, Facebook has provided all sorts of handy tools to delete posts and even to ban fans completely.  Still, there are some businesses that are poor candidates for open fan posting because of confidentiality or liability issues.  But by completely blocking fan posts, a business may miss out on one of the best sales-boosting tools: personal recommendations.

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Punctuated Equilibrium Wrought by Social Media

The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, as postulated by Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), was developed to explain periods in the fossil record of rapid change.  The theory postulated that the pace of the evolution of life on the planet, as extrapolated from examining the fossil record, generally proceeded at a slow and steady rate for long periods – equilibrium—and that these periods of stasis were sometimes punctuated by periods of rapid change in which species evolved at a much faster rate.

This theory also applies to human culture.  There are occasions in human history where there is a development of a tool or a resource, or a crisis arrives, and what follows is a period of rapid change.  I think we are in such a period now- lots of new paths and branches in human culture and no one can predict which will be successful in the long run.  The development of the internet and the exponential growth in access to the internet across human society, combined with expanding opportunities for users to generate and interact with content,  are causing rapid change in our world.  I sometimes think about how my grandmother, who died in 1980, would react if she came back to earth today.  She would be floored by such things as wireless communications.   Of course, if my kids went back to 1980 they might also be floored by a few things- dial phones and vinyl records.

While there are still sections of society where Social Media has not been adopted (eg. amongst the Urban Amish), it is evident, that Social Media is here to stay.   It will continue to rapidly evolve and no one can declare with certainty what it will look like in five years.  But humans have always switched out for the most highly evolved tools, and are likely to continue to do so.

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