Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5 Ways to Undermine Your Linkedin Profile

As Linkedin continues to grow (now close to 150 million members) it seems more and more people may be rushing to get their profiles published there.

In their rush to be live on Linkedin (or maybe through a lack of thought earlier) they may be doing things that will make them look bad on this social network, specifically, and in social media generally.

So if you’d like to deliberately waste your effort on the world’s leading social network for professionals, here are the 5 Ways to Undermine Your Linkedin Profile:

1. Use a bad profile picture: By "bad" I mean any image that makes you look like someone I would not want to work with, collaborate with or in any other way connect with. For example, you may look like you’re in a police lineup or you’ve decided to use an image from your webcam that makes you look serious. But, your picture is there to help people remember you or identify you quickly from all the others with the same or a similar name.
Best practice: Have a picture that’s a tightly cropped image of your face and shows you at your best. And, this should be obvious, smile!

2. Write a poor Professional Headline: In the area of your profile right under your name is the opportunity to have a “headline” on your profile. Simply saying "student" or "engineer" is a great way to keep people guessing. But when someone is searching on Linkedin they will usually just see this shortened version of your profile.
Best practice: Use this headline as a "King of Elevator Pitches." In other words, in as few words as possible say what you do professionally and why people might want to connect with you. For example: "Children’s book author and teacher" or "Marketing and sales professional" or "Deep thinker and inventor of the widget."

3. Have an ineffective Summary: Just saying something about who you are and what you want is all that matters right? Wrong! This is the space where you need to sum up your professional experience, how you like to contribute to others’ success and how people can connect with you beyond the URLs Linkedin allows you to post.
Best practice: Write your summary in short paragraphs as though a reader might drift away at any moment – they will. Start with a short paragraph that sums you up – your Professional Headline explained, if you will. The next paragraph talks about a current position and how it fits into who you are professionally. Take what journalists call the “Inverted Pyramid” approach (newsiest item first, second-newsiest second and so on) to these paragraphs. Round it out with you contact points such as where you can be found on other social networks and a phone number.

4. Ignore how your Public Profile looks: If you think that just "being on" Linkedin is far more important that "doing anything" with your Linkedin profile then just walk away now. But if you want Linkedin to act as an online resume or CV then spend the time (just an hour or so) to make it the best it can be.
Best practice: In the "Edit Profile" view of your Linkedin Page you’ll see a nicely boxed area that contains all the information that appears at the top of you profile when it’s displayed. The last item in this box is call "Public Profile" and to the right of that is the URL for your page and a link to "edit" this. Click on the "edit" button. The page you arrive at will show your profile as it appears publicly and over on the right side allow you to control what others see. Make sure that as much as possible you are displaying everything about your work history and expertise. Also take a minute to personalize your URL so that it has your name in it rather than the alphabet soup URL that Linkedin provides.

5. Make your Connections open: By leaving your Connections open to the public anyone can "creep" on your profile and find other people to connect with. If you know them well that’s fine, but, lets be real, do we want all our connections to be open to everyone we connect with?
Best practice: Under Privacy Controls click on "Select who can see your connections" and select "Only you. " Then take a short paragraph at the end of your Summary to explain that your Connections are kept closed to assure privacy, but that you’re willing to open them at an agreed upon time to people you know and trust.

These are only the most basic mistakes – there are plenty of others. Perhaps that’s fodder for a future post.

What do you think? Are people being sloppy with their Linkedin profiles? Are they looking bad in social media because of it?

Possibly related posts:
5 signs you need help with social media strategy
Is a "Dr. Death" Undermining Your Social Media Efforts?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Year Checkup – Facebook: Step 4 - A Final Check

It’s a new year and it’s time for social media types to be more conscientious about their social outposts. As part of a focus on social media strategy this is the fourth in a series about Facebook.

If you have followed this series then you’re ready to double-check that you’re done.

A Final Checklist

• Changed Facebook to Timeline    Yes     No

• Checked each month and each year’s postings to hide anything inappropriate    Yes     No

• Checked my Privacy Settings    Yes     No

• Sorted my Friends into the appropriate Lists    Yes     No

• Took a look at my Profile as others see it    Yes     No

No? If you want to do this visit your profile and go to "View As …" at the top. Those with Timeline should first click the wheel next to "Activity Log." Enter the name of a close friend, a co-worker or a random acquaintance to make sure no one is seeing too much. Click "public" to see how everyone else sees it.

A Final Warning

Facebook makes changes … a lot! In the past it has added functions and reset privacy settings without making any kind of announcement. So maybe it’s time to set up a regular reminder – monthly, quarterly or, at the very least, annually – to go through this kind of checkup.

As is true on all social media you should use these networks with a "buyer beware attitude." If you’re uncomfortable about something you have three choices, ignore it, turn it off or abandon that social network.

Yes, that last choice is one I’ve made with several social networks in recent years and one I have come very close to making with Facebook. Good luck.

Was this post helpful? Will you check your Facebook settings more regularly in the future?

Related links:
Facebook Checkup Step 1 - The Timeline
Facebook Checkup Step 2 - Privacy-Friends
Facebook Checkup Step 3 - Lists

A New Year Checkup – Facebook: Step 3 - Friend Lists

It’s a new year and it’s time for social media types to be more conscientious about their social outposts. As part of a focus on social media strategy this is the third in a series about Facebook.

Consider Using the Lists Function

Do you really want to share everything with everyone you’re connected to on Facebook? Probably not.

You can start your control of who sees what in two ways.

First you can go to Lists (on the left side of your home page – where you may have to click on the “More” to see it). Facebook automatically adds some of your friends to lists and suggests dozens of others.

Next, look at "Close Friends." Again, Facebook adds some friends and suggests others.

Then there is a "Family" list where you can choose the people you’d want to share more with. In this case, those you’re adding will be told, so if you don’t want that known, create a new list rather use the one Facebook set up. To do that, click Lists and then Create List.

The thing with Lists: Some people are in multiple groups, others in none. The lists make it easier to share posts with only a subset of Facebook friends or see only posts from specific groups.

Facebook also has a "Restricted" list where you dump those you don’t want to share much with. Facebook promises not to reveal who gets added.

The second way to manage lists is more time-intensive, but can be done any time you’re on Facebook.

When viewing your feed you simply have your cursor hover over a name. This causes a popup mini-profile of that person including a Friends button. Hover over that button and a drop-down menu will give you the option of adding the person to a list or unfriending them.

How to
Work With Facebook’s Improved Friend Lists
How To Use The New Facebook Lists (And Why You Should)

Was this post helpful? Will you take the time to organize friends into lists?

Related links:
Facebook Checkup Step 1 - The Timeline
Facebook Checkup Step 2 - Privacy-Friends 
Facebook Checkup Step 4 - Final Checkup

A New Year Checkup – Facebook: Step 2 - Privacy Settings and Friends

It’s a new year and it’s time for social media types to be more conscientious about their social outposts. As part of a focus on social media strategy this is the second in a series about Facebook.

Check your privacy settings

Facebook insists that the pending switch to Timeline for all 800 million of its users will not change any individual’s privacy settings. But this ignores the fact that Timeline will expose everything you’ve ever done on Facebook.

Besides, when was the last time you checked your privacy settings? Do you know what your current privacy settings are?

Given Facebook’s troubled history with privacy – since 2009 Facebook has automatically reset users’ privacy settings to public at least four times – now is a great time to check them. (You can click on the "Facebook on Privacy" link below or on your Facebook page go to the pull-down menu on the top right of your Profile page and select Privacy Settings.)

And while you are considering your privacy you might also reconsider your definition of a "friend" – because even if your privacy settings remain the same, your list of friends likely continues to grow.

This probably means your definition of a "friend" has grown over the years and now includes such people as parents, bosses and random people you met at a conference. Someone you didn't know in 2008 would suddenly have easier access to something you posted then.

This might be a good time to open up your friends list and do some pruning. A friend’s ex-wife? A sibling’s friend in another state/country? An acquaintance who has 2,000 friends and never interacts with any of them? It’s time to tidy up that list. And don’t worry: Facebook doesn’t alert the people you drop.

How to:
Understand Facebook Privacy
Adjust Important Privacy Settings
Decide Who Sees What on Your Wall

Was this post helpful? Do you keep up with your privacy settings? Will you be doing it more regularly now?

Related links:
Facebook Checkup Step 1 - The Timeline
Facebook Checkup Step 3 - Lists
Facebook Checkup Step 4 - Final Checkup

A New Year Checkup – Facebook: Step 1 - The Timeline

It’s a new year and it’s time for social media types to be more conscientious about their social outposts. As part of a focus on social media strategy this is the first in a series about Facebook.

Get ready for Timeline

First, consider whether you want to stay on Facebook once Timeline becomes the default way you interact on Facebook. Some privacy advocates are now concerned that the new Timeline will allow Facebook even more access to your information and will then share that data with others (businesses). For example the Electronic Privacy Information Center has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission outlining its concerns that Timeline violates the 2011 agreement between Facebook and the FTC on user privacy.

But if you aren’t ready to bail on Facebook yet you need to understand that sooner or later you will be on Timeline and how it will affect the information others will see on Facebook.

Timeline gives a much more personalized presentation of information, with a large photograph at top and a timeline of all your Facebook updates – a virtual scrapbook of your Facebook life. On the upside, users can fill in missing moments from birth until present day. On the downside, every update, every photograph you’ve placed on Facebook or been tagged in and every ill-considered or likely-to-be-taken-out-of-context moment is there.

That’s why you need to spend some time today, or at least this week, switching to Timeline (see links below) and looking through your Facebook history.

Once you switch to Timeline only you will see your profile in this new way for seven days. This grace period allows you to hide or delete material that you don’t want the world to see. For example, I’m not very active on Facebook, but in 3-plus years I had made several comments that, taken the wrong way and out of context, could seem unkind, rude or worse. They are now gone from public view.

It’s an irony that Timeline is really Facebook’s acknowledgement that it has been saving much of your data, even after you delete it. If this is a big concern for you … remember, you can always leave Facebook.

How to:
Enable Timeline With One Click
Decide How to Set It Up; What to Do and What to Avoid

Was this post helpful? What has been your experience with Timeline?

Related links:
Facebook Checkup Step 2 - Privacy-Friends
• Facebook Checkup Step 3 - Lists
Facebook Checkup Step 4 - Final Checkup