If You’re Going To Do It, Do It Right – How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

It’s another one of those, “If you’re going to do it at all, do it right” things.  It isn’t any harder to do a good job (you know I’m lying, but just a bit) on your LinkedIn profile, and the rewards will be much greater than doing half a job.
It’s also another one of those, if you put some effort into it, it will show people that you think this matters.  A great LinkedIn profile conveys the message that:- you’re a consummate professional, as you care about your image,
– you take this network seriously and have respect for the business world, and fellow professionals online,
– you know how to take advantage of the best opportunities, and
– since you know how to network online properly, this demonstrates clearly that you’re Internet savvy.Connections and future connections on LinkedIn will be impressed, and take you more seriously, rather than the opposite, which is to relegate you to Deep Web oblivion.

Being impressive and influential is what LinkedIn is about (and getting dinner invites from long lost colleagues, but that’s another story*).  You have to offer something, other than a firm handshake, to get successful and worthwhile connections.  As I said in another post, LinkedIn is for professionals and you shouldn’t be here if you’re not serious about your work and your profession.
As they say (or do they?)
Play or get on your bike
Granada, Spain – 2007
As you’re reading this, you’re serious, so here are a few tips to making the most of your profile:

1.   Complete your profile 100%.  According to LinkedIn, by fully completing your profile, you will be “40 times more likely to receive opportunities”.  Well I suppose they would say that, wouldn’t they. But even if that statistic isn’t quite that high, “opportunities” should be an incentive for you to make the effort.

2.   A nice photo please.  And look happy to be here. Yes, it will give away your age, your hair colour, your ethnicity, etc.  They were bound to find out sooner or later that you’re a gorgeous, red-haired librarian with a few freckles.  The fact is, faces are easier to remember than names and these memories also last longer.  I’m not making this up.  This memory bias is known as the Picture Superiority Effect.  Another reason to use a photo is that your face is your brand and logo.  You should be like BMW//Apple/Twitter and reinforce your brand by using this photo on multiple sites.

 3.  Include all the companies you’ve worked for, your higher education, any awards and of course all publications (if you have any).  Not only are recruiters looking for these key items but so are your ex-classmates and ex-colleagues. Make looking for you easy.  You’re on LinkedIn.  You want to be found.

4.   Include your website, blog links and Twitter feeds.  Who are you, what have you done, what do you have to say?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Besides you put all these details on the Internet, so make use of them.

If you don’t like LinkedIn you could
go retro and stick a note on this board
Ottawa, Canada – 2004

5.   Update and change your profile whenever necessary.  Your career doesn’t stay still in the real world (I hope).  You’re not stagnate.  Don’t grow moss on LinkedIn either.

6.   Write in the 1st person not the 3rd.  Since you’re using LinkedIn, it’s obvious that you aren’t royalty.  Be real and sound genuine.

7.   Acronyms.  Don’t assume everyone knows what you mean.  Please be clear and explain.  Also you never know what terms people are using for searching.  For example – CA has over 680 meanings including everything from Chartered Accountant to Cost Analysis and including Combat Aircraft.

8.   Think about the quality of your network.  Some people still feel it’s about big numbers.  I feel it’s about the quality and the productivity of the connections you have.  The 50 people you know and who would recommend you, are more valuable than 675 who barely remember you. When you start on LinkedIn, you can import your professional contacts from your email directories.  You aren’t among strangers on LinkedIn, as your colleagues/peers/even friends are here.

That’s enough for you to contemplate for now (and be getting on with).

Good luck.  Any questions, you know where I am.


Be Nice or Leave – Manners Matter Even When They Can’t See You

 Preamble to Tirade

I’ve been online for about 20 years now (hey librarian here, as the original keepers of information we were one of the first to get all this good stuff), and have been heavily engaging with Social Media for about 5 years.  The majority of people I interact with online have been family, friends, clients, colleagues but since my plunge into Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my own websites etc., there’s the eventual possibility of everyone on who’s online anywhere – well maybe not everyone.
I have excellent Customer Service skills.  As a librarian and Canadian,  I genuinely mean it when I ask if I can help, and I can tell you to have a nice day with complete sincerity (hmmmm maybe not complete sincerity, but it sounds like it ☺).  Not that I’m a pushover, I chose a profession that provides service to others so it helps to be friendly, and I grew up in a fairly well-behaved place where most people are quite polite (until they get on their ice skates and you give them a stick).  Not that it’s Eden, of course there are rough edges, but mostly, we just get along.  No, it’s not a bland place either, it’s a lot less hassle to be polite so we can get on with our own thing.
OK, so you get the picture. I’m friendly, polite, respect other people’s space/ideas etc. I’ve worked in service for 30 years (including too many years as a waitress while at university and other naff, but terribly important jobs), volunteered, lived abroad and globe trotted extensively so I have quite extensive experience of human behaviour.
And before I launch into my diatribe, I will emphasize – most people are really, really nice, decent and completely unlike the losers I’m will be haranguing on about next!
Your choice!
Provence, France – 2007
Rhino painter unfortunately unknown
The Tirade
Shift formats and remove the human interface to enter the online world. 
Why, oh why do some people think it’s acceptable to become the playground bully and start playing nasty? 
Who are you and where do you get off!!!!!?
I know there are examples of bad behaviour everywhere in “real life”.  Even in the playgrounds of Canadian librarians but it’s not the norm.
Get online and it’s rife with mean spirited entities (I use entities, as some of these culprits aren’t even people, they’re bots written by some cretinous individual).  I’m not even going to start on spam, scams and emails from long lost relatives in deep, dark places.
My tirade here, is about plain ordinary, uncivil, incredibly boring rude behaviour from those small-minded individuals who abuse Social Media and are hurtful more than harmful.
A couple of examples:
1.  Unliking your Facebook page because you won’t be their “friend”
2.  Announcing on Twitter that they are #unfollowing you because you are boring/stupid/insert descriptive word of choice here
3.  Stalking you and tell you off for “unfriending” “unfollowing” “unconnecting” from them 
4.  Editing a tweet and then Retweeting it as the opposite of what was intended
5.  Sarcastic comments anywhere, with no attempt at irony or wit, just mean
6.  Ambushing an online conversation so it becomes all about them and their agenda
7.  Just plain telling tales
Honestly, what’s your point?
Rude behaviour on Twitter has become so prevalent that there is a term for a Twitter abuser – Twanker – “(noun) a person, organization, or company who uses bad form on or exhibits bad behavior on Twitter.”
Of course this term has since been “rebranded” or highjacked and is now cool in that anti cool way they have now.  You can’t even behave badly on Twitter without making it some kind of marketing ploy!
There’s a lot of serious online chat and research into this “rudeness” phenomena and why it’s so common in Social Media.  I’ll mention one article here:
I think the most interesting point is “moral disengagement.” The safer someone feels (i.e. anonymously hiding behind a computer), the more distance they have from the consequences of their actions, the easier it is for them not to care.
Fortunately, I have very little regard for the feelings of bullies and small-minded, mean-spirited individuals so I use the tools Social Media has given me.
Until you play nice I will continue to:
    – Moderate all the comments on my blog
    – Block
    – Report uncivil behaviour
    – Unfriend
    – Unconnect
    – Unfollow 
    – Uncircle
    – Delete, exterminate, get rid of in all its guises!
And mostly—-IGNORE
Because I do realise the bullies out there are only seeking attention.
Do you have any experience with online bores and bullies and what tips do you have to deal with it?  I’d love to hear your ideas.
Thanks for listening
A rose for the really, really nice people
i.e. most of you
Church Stretton, UK – 2009

The Continuing Networking Saga – The Confessions of a Reformed Character

I’m at it again folks!  Relentlessly throwing myself around.  Last week three networking events (including one with royalty), one arts show and this week two events on the same day and one other as well.  And yes I fit some actual getting down to it “work” in between these activities 🙂
Did I ever tell you I was the shy retiring type?  OK, not quite, but unlike some I am not a natural networker.  However, I’m always willing to learn and am trying hard. (Points anyone?) I’m a doer rather than a meeting/committee persona so sticking around to have a chat isn’t part of my routine. 
My cunning plan to teach myself to take part and play nice?  Simple – keen observation and taking many (many many) mental notes from those who are (appear to be?) naturals at the schmooze.
In the three years since I started the adventure I will call self-employment (making a living by the skin of my teeth), I have learned to enter a room, talk knowledgeably and enthusiastically to people I don’t know, and even better! listen attentively to what they have to say.  I’ve come a long way baby!
Manchester – 2009 – Me before I learned how to behave 🙂
No more fleeing for the door, hanging back, propping up the walls and talking relentless over people (I used to need to be done first so I could leave before anyone asked me anything).
Yes, its odd how challenging its been. All my working life, I’ve always been in charge managing departments, services, and generally sorting out stuff and things for others.  Up until self employment I could always hide behind my employers’ apron strings.  Its different when it just you that’s out there.
Reading Festival – 2010 – how I used to feel about networking , a bit shaky!

Lessons to be learned from this blog.  If I can do it, anyone can do it. 

For me there are two tricks to becoming an effective networker.  Keep breathing and keep doing it. See!  Simple.

It gets even better and easier once you start integrating social media with networking.  You can meet online via Twitter and LinkedIn and the more you take part in the online conversation, the more you will be involved in the real one.  You’ll go to events and meet people you already “know’. 

At this point I will once again apologies and plug my Twitter guru Karen Thorne proprietor of Hopton House B and B.  “Yes, Karen you were right”.  The skeptic admits she was wrong!  Honestly this time last year I just thought this was a bunch of new stuff I didn’t need to do ‘cause it would go away.  I can learn.

Oh and the royalty I mentioned.  That would have been HRH Prince Charles at the Start UK event in Birmingham.  Wearing one of my other hats, I’m the Project Manager for Stretton Climate Care.   

Millenium Point Birmingham – 2010 – low carbon vehicles
We were invited to the help launch a new initiative which encourages everyone to save the world (again!).  With my best networking game on, I chatted up one of Prince Charles’s aids (sorry if I’ve demoted you!)  and although we weren’t on the “approved” list, he came over to our stand, had a chat and shook our hands. 
Honest that’s Prince Charles on the far left! – 2010
And yes it was a big deal and yes I did feel he was genuinely engaged.
Back to my trials and tribulations with networking –  honestly. I’ve come a looooonnngggg way. (Disclaimer and Apologies to any out there who don’t think I’ve been getting any better.  I’m like art, a work in progress)
Thanks to all for your patience.
Paris – 2007 – Me and art have a lot in common

Shropshire Jelly – Not what you think

Last week I tried the sensible networking business option, which I attend because I feel I should (and it wasn’t so terrible but… not my natural habitat).  This week I tried an “alternative” anti-networking option, and hey presto, had a lot more fun!

I went to Shropshire Jelly  🙂

We all agree, it’s a daft name but a great concept.  As a lone homeworker (ie me) it was a great opportunity to get out and spend time with actual live independent business people without the usual pressure of networking (er, selling oneself) as that sort of behavior just wasn’t on!

Fantastic atmosphere and excellent facilities at Enterprise HQ in Coalport (how nice everything was – very hot topic of discussion!).  We were brought together by the energy and insight of Jan Minihane.  Sending you many rounds of applause, Jan 🙂

I admit I throw myself into these things with some trepidation and (possibly) an unhealthy does of skepticism.  But I’m always up for trying something new. As soon as I arrived,  I’m glad I went.  If you spend all your time working on your own or directly with your clients, you forget that working in an office with others sometimes did have compensations.

A Jelly is a great opportunity to bring like-minded individuals together and creates a very conducive environment for collaboration.  Also (because sometime you forget how to be informal and slow down or even tone it down a bit) causally chatting to other traders about what you do, can help you regain focus and enable you to gain a new perspective.  Even finding out what they are working on (yes sometimes its OK for it to be about other people, how refreshing!), in a comfortable non-pressurized situation can renew your own creativity and sense of purpose.

As we all know, one thing leads to another.  While we were all busy working (and yes I got a lot more done than I excepted), we were of course keeping up with our social networking.  We were so enthusiastic about our new experiences, that Jelly trended in the UK and Twitter kept suffering from over capacity.  Hmmm, maybe the second part wasn’t necessarily us.

So from a quiet start in the coffee shops of New York 4 years ago, Jelly has come of age and is the new sensation hitting the independent business world in the UK.

So five out of five  and thumbs up for Jelly.  I hope to see you all again soon.

Light Fall – WOMAD 2009
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”  
Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice