Becoming Professional: A Blog

Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

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by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Privacy is a big concern, particularly on Facebook. And for absolutely good reason, too. After all, I’m sure we all have those ex-friends we not only never want to see again, but would like to never see us again, too. Keeping who you want close, close and who you want far away as far away as possible is only natural.

That includes companies. These days there is a barter system going on with our private information. We like a brand’s page and allow them to see our demographics in exchange for potentially fun posts and, even better, free stuff. Sounds like a deal, as long as I’m the one who gets to okay it. This same barter is seen on Amazon, where the site learns what you like and makes, sometimes very astute, recommendations. But only when you’re signed in.

But, what about those cases when you’re not signed in. When you didn’t sign up for something and they’ve scraped your data from your Facebook profile? You didn’t sign up for it. I didn’t sign up for it. How can we avoid this danger?

But, is there really a privacy threat?

I mean, no doubt Facebook has privacy issues. Otherwise people wouldn’t be complaining left and right. I do not doubt this, and will not argue against it.

But I will point out that it’s incredibly difficult to get at your public data on Facebook by using the legal Open Graph API. I know because I tried to access my own public data  and that of my friends through that API while not signed in. Here’s what I found:

my open graph informationGo ahead and try it on your own account. All you need is your account ID number, which you can find here:

screen capture of my Facebook ID number in my profile's URLThen just type in followed by that number into your browsers URL bar and – tadaa! You can see what is available publicly about you.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care if people know I’m female, speak American English, and thus assume I’m an American female. As far as my name goes, I use a pseudonym online, so have fun!

Notice that even if my privacy settings were to make everything public, they still wouldn’t show up with this public Open Graph API search. That’s because Facebook doesn’t use the word public here the same way that we do. The information displayed above is “public information.” But in order to get at the information I’ve shared with the world on my Facebook Profile, any application developer needs an “access token.”

To get an access token, Facebook’s developer website explains that an app must go through three stages: user authentication, app authorization, app authentication. User authentication is just verifying that the user is who he says he is, same for app authentication. App authorization, however, is that bit where we’re asked to allow the app access to various bits of our data.

Farmville asking for my personal dataSee that bit up at the top, by my profile pic? “Access my basic information” really means “access all the public stuff I’m too silly enough not to set as private on my profile security settings.”

“Public” does not mean “public”

Let’s back up a second. “Public” in the eyes of Facebook app developers is basic demographic information. “Public” in the eyes of you, me, and most consumers is the stuff we set as available for strangers to see on our profiles. Companies and other systematic organizations cannot even see what we allow complete and total strangers to see. At least through this API.

I’m actually a bit reassured by that.

Of course, I’m sure there are work-arounds, particularly for the less than legal. However, at least when it comes to companies trying to spy into my life using the Open Graph API, I can rest assured that it’s a bit more complicated than just searching my name with this tool and that if they want to legally pry into my life, I have to give them permission.

*Note: I am not a Privacy Expert. I just tweedled around with the Open Graph API and this is what I found. As I said, I’m sure that there are other ways to spy on us. I just don’t think this is one of them. So you should always set your privacy settings as high as possible!


picture of the application on my profile

I just finished Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Great book. I really enjoyed it (review coming soon), but this left me with a problem: what to read next?

I use reading as a method to extend my education and really keep my brain active and puzzling the issues I’m interested in, such as digital marketing, social media, innovation, game design and gamification, and even story structure. But, I often find myself at a loss when it comes to finding a new book to read. I read more than most people I know (a novel and a business/non-fiction book going at the same time, all the time), so asking friends for recommendations doesn’t always work.

I used to go to the bookstore with my smartphone, look at pretty covers and what’s on special and then look up Amazon reviews. Then I would go home and buy it for my Nook. Yes, this works, to a degree, but it’s not the same as seeing what is on everyone else’s shelves, and thus what I should probably read, too, in order to keep up. This weekend I used Reading List by Amazon and was able to do just that.

application discriptionThis is one of the older applications on LinkedIn, so there are probably those of you who are already very familiar with it. Even I’ve been using this application for a while now. But I wasn’t using it to its full capacity. I thought it was a handy way to demonstrate my interests to anyone who bothered to scroll down that far. It could show that I’m truly into my field and the other areas I’m interested in. I honestly just didn’t bother to actually go into more depth with it.

Yet this weekend, as I sat down at my desk trying to figure out what book to purchase next for my Nook, I decided to give the application a go for its intended purpose: networking around books. Thanks to this handy little app, I picked up Free by Chris Anderson. Yes, it’s not new, and I’ve known that it exists for a while. But when I was thinking about what book to read next, this book hadn’t occurred to me at all. That is, until I saw it on a Reading List shelf.

The way the application works is that you add in the titles of all the books you want to read, have read, or are reading. All you need is the title or author since it works just like an Amazon site search to find the books you want. As you work your way through your “want to read” list, you can leave comments and reviews, ticking them off as you move them into the “am reading” and “have read” lists. You can even recommend books. Simple, right?

The useful part comes when you watch the lists of other people. One way to do this is to find people who are in your industry with the Industry Updates list. You can also see who is following your list and then follow them back. Whenever you view another person’s reading list you can also see whose lists they are following and who else is following them. So once you find a person who has similar tastes to you, it’s a simple matter of following them and the other people who have similar tastes. In this way it is like Twitter for books.

There are some drawbacks. As I was exploring I realized that some people’s lists were very out of date or really sparse. Still, like following an inactive Twitter account, you can unfollow later. And honestly, what’s the problem with following an inactive account? I don’t think it will hurt you much.

As I said, I’ve been using Amazon’s Reading List feature for just about a year now but this is the first time I decided to fully explore the application. I think that  LinkedIn applications are not as appreciated as they should be. They can be really useful, and even fun. Now that I am following the Reading Lists of several interesting people, I can’t wait to see what books they read and recommend. If you have the application, find my list and follow me. I’ll follow you back.

number of my connectionsAfter my talk on how to use social media profiles professionally for Huntswood’s People Learning and Development Associate Evening, I was asked plenty of questions. This was great, and I enjoyed answering them. They were usually practical, and most of them I was able to answer on the spot. But there was one that I couldn’t: How do disconnect from a LinkedIn Connection.

The first thing that flashed through my mind was, “Why would you want to? Does it hurt to have a connection?” But I quickly realized that, yes, actually, it sometimes can. The particular gentleman asking the question no longer wanted to be associated with someone. I, personally, was connected to someone who I have long considered more spammer than useful Connection, but just hadn’t bothered to disconnect from. There are plenty of reasons to disconnect from someone on LinkedIn. It’s a social network, and like all social networks, it’s based on relationships. And sometimes relationships just don’t work out.

While I still believe that it is not good to burn bridges, I can still believe that sometimes you just have to separate from someone. Like a spammer or someone who has “poisoned the well.” So, if you are connected to someone like that, here’s how you can disconnect on LinkedIn.

Step 1: Go to your Connections page

LinkedIn Disconnect first screen shotLook in the upper right-hand corner, tucked away from all the normal things you look at. Click there.

Step 2: Choose the offending Connections

LinkedIn Disconnect Second screen shotUsing the check boxes, select all individuals you no longer wish to connect with and then click the blue “Remove Connections” button.

I think it is important to note that unlike when you first become Connections and you receive a wonderful e-mail congratulating you on your new link, the person you’re disconnecting from will not receive notice that you’ve disconnected from them. This is common to most, if not all, social networks. For example, Twitter sends you an e-mail when your followership goes up, but not when it goes down. So your risk of being found out and cornered for an explanation is lowered. It could still happen, however, if the person you disconnected from notices that he or she can’t see your updates anymore, but at least the risk is lowered.

Also note that if you should wish to Connect to this person again, it will be easier. I believe you wont have to be accepted again. The Connection will just reappear.

Step 3: Make sure it went through

LinkedIn Disconnect final screen shotI think it is important to make sure that it worked. So look out for this screen. If you don’t see it, it is possible that LinkedIn is buggy.

So there you have it. Disconnecting is really easy. Again, I recommend using this with due thought, but if the relationship isn’t working, get out of it. That’s what my mother told me about boys, and that’s what I tell all my gal pals. I don’t see why this isn’t true for all relationships.

my twitter bio

My Twitter Bio

If you follow me on Twitter (I’m @KateDavids by the way), you know I love the thing. I’m on at least five times a day, often more, and I use numerous tools to facilitate my participation. I source news, find out about trends, and have even landed a job through the service. I share news, both industry and personal. Most importantly, I have made friends through Twitter.

But most people are still on the outside looking in. Let’s face it, Twitter is not easy to start. You begin with a blank slate. This is great- you can do whatever you want, be whoever you want. But it is also scary- you don’t know what on Earth to do.

I recently started a new Twitter feed, @Masked_Geek. I want to join the wider community of science fiction and fantasy fans. Here are the guidelines I am using to build my new account. If you follow them, you can build yours, too.

1.       No One Cares What You Had for Breakfast

egss and toast X

Original photo by Brandi Jordan on Flickr (I added the X)

There is a misconception that people on Twitter keep saying what they are eating. Yes, sometimes this happens, but for the most part people are sharing articles, networking, and discussing topics from politics to the latest sports match. They are generally not discussing the finer points of eggs and toast.

So Tweet about the things you enjoy. With the @Masked_Geek account, I share links to cool things that my target audience would like. I talk about events I go to, or other relevant topics.

2.       Everyone Starts Off Talking to Themselves

man alone

by JB London on Flickr

When you start on Twitter your follower count is a big fat zero. If you do have a few followers, I’m willing to bet they are spammers hoping that you will follow them back so they can inundate you with useless promotions (#Adidas for #Cheap! Only $4.99!

This is normal. Don’t be worried. And don’t feel weird. The only way to get real followers is to have an active feed. If you are following 400 people and have a grand total of 4 Tweets, no one will follow you. With only 4 Tweets, they don’t know you are worth following. The only way to show that is to talk to yourself.

So, even though no one was listening to me, I shared my links. I may have been talking to the air at first, but now I have 42 people listening to what I am saying. And you know what? That count is growing each time I look at it.

3.       Find Cool People by Listening to Cool People

a group of school kids, take a picture at the camera

by jurvetson on Flickr

Another of the big problems people have with Twitter is finding who to follow. Yes, you can use Twitter search, but often enough this will get you celebrities and not normal people you can actually talk to.

With @Masked_Geek, I am interested in following other sci-fi and fantasy fans and engaging in that online community, but “geek” refers to many things, like tech “geek” or science “geek.” Finding the specific kind of “geek” I’m looking for is difficult. People don’t just announce, “I love sci-fi and fantasy” in their bios. The type of person I’m interested in is more likely to say “I love butterflies that dance with death rays.” Not very searchable.

To get myself started, I followed science fiction and fantasy bloggers on Twitter. Once I was following them, I was able to see who they interacted with and to start following those new people. If I could find one person who engages in sci-fi and fantasy banter, chances are, he was already talking to other fantasy geeks. You may have to go to a person’s Twitter profile page to get a clear look at who they engage with, but it is worth it. Keep an eye out on Fridays for #FF or #FavoriteFollow. This hashtag is how people share with their Followers (which would be you) whom they enjoy following. Follow these new accounts to increase your network even more.

4.       They Tweet, Not Bite

vampire duckie

by ToobyDoo on Flickr

Finally, once you’ve got a bunch of people to follow, talk to them. Many people won’t follow you just because you are following them. This is a good thing. Following everyone who follows you will clutter your News Feed with irrelevant updates.

In order to get people to follow me, I talk to them. This lets them know I exist and am not a weird stalker. I once heard Twitter compared to a cocktail party, and just like at a cocktail party, you can walk up and chat with people you do not know. It’s okay. It’s allowed. This is how you make friends.

This List Is For Individuals

These tips are for individuals, not businesses. If you are a business, you have a whole other list of tips to get started. For example, unlike an individual, you’ll probably want to follow back everyone who follows you. But, if you are an individual, then this is the place to start. Follow these simple rules, and you’ll learn how to use Twitter by using it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. But at least you’ll be able to say that you understand the tool.

In the past few months, I had the good fortune to attend the first Google Firestarters event, where I heard and participated in a fascinating discussion of what agile business practices can do for both agencies and clients, and the IPA Club 44 Event at Microsoft, where I got to hear industry insiders talk about the advertising opportunities found in games. Why did I attend these events? Lord knows, I was generally exhausted, had deadlines to meet for school and work, and really only wanted to snuggle down with a good book. But they were worth it. After each of these events I felt re-energized, ready to tackle larger, harder problems, and better equipped to do so. I got myself to get over my laziness by just thinking of how I’d feel afterwards. It’s like going to the gym. After work, it’s the last thing I want to do, but I tell myself how great I’ll feel afterwards and go.

So, to help you motivate yourself to go to that next event, I am finally doing some short event summaries. This one is for the Google Firestarters event. Expect the IPA Club 44 Event in the near future.

Google Firestarters – Agile and Innovative

Harry Met Sally Movie PosterThis event was all about being agile and making things happen. Mark Earls was the first keynote speaker. He pointed out that people are herd animals. Best example: After the When Harry Met Sally’s famous restaurant orgasm scene, the little older woman says “I’ll have what she’s having.” Yeah, we flock together. And not only with our conscious choices. Mark also brought up an obesity example. Did you know obesity is contagious? Apparently, you are 60% more likely to be really large if a close friend is. Too bad it doesn’t work in reverse! However, Mark’s biggest point was that if an action isn’t visible, the herd mentality and contagiousness of state won’t come into play. Humans need to see it to copy it.

Stuart Eccles was the second speaker. He focused on start ups and how they, not the big companies, are changing our world and how we work in it. Unfortunately, there is no direct comparison between start ups and larger companies. But that doesn’t mean larger companies can’t learn from how start ups do it. Start ups Make to Learn to Test to Make, etc.focus on doing the minimum to achieve a goal, the customer, and being agile through iterations. The basic agile cycle larger companies can use is: Make → Learn → Test → Repeat. The trick is to do this process quickly, testing at every possible opportunity, and to start the entire cycle off at Make, not Learn, as unintuitive as that sounds. However, Stuart warned us not to confuse iteration with incrementalism. With iteration, you know what the beginning looks like, probably have a vague idea of where you want it to go, but you have no idea what the end will actually look like. You simply haven’t gotten there yet. With incrementalism, you know what the end will look like, you’re just doing it piecemeal. Hist final warning was that iteration won’t tell you what the best idea is, but it will help you to hone the idea you have.

question mark made of puzzle pieces

After the speakers we broke off into a short unconference. I spent the entire time in Ramzi Yacob‘s group discussing how agencies can encourage clients to work in more iterative ways. We tossed around tons of ideas, and it is really an interesting question to puzzle. In fact, more interesting than our solutions are the various problems: if clients give agencies only 10% of the actual budget to experiment with, we may have convinced them to experiment, but can we actually show impressive results with a small budget? Also, innovation usually fails. How do we keep client trust when this is just the way it is and yet we’re supposed to be the experts? How can we get around short-term sales appearing more important than long-term innovation?  How can a company motivate its employees throughout the change (or employees within the agency, for that matter)? The solutions suggested were often quite good and enlightening, such as approaching heritage brands with agile first because they generally recognize the need to stay up-to-date and relevant, or using case studies from different sectors to illustrate the possible gains. I personally like the idea of billing by results. But still, the problems agencies face tends to be more enlightening since the solutions wont be discovered in a discussion. They’ll be discovered through doing. Yet the problems we face can be discovered by sharing experience and then defining them together.

This event was truly fascinating and really worth attending. I hope to attend future Google Firestarters events, too, and report on them. You can find Neil Perkin, the organizer’s, summary of the event here. He goes into more detail about all the other unconference discussions and has some interesting points of his own about the event.

So In the Future…

Attend what events you can. I hope that this has inspired you to go to the next cool networking or presentation event you hear about. You can really walk away with some cool nuggets. If you know of an event that will happen, write about it in the comments. If you are, rather, looking for an event, write about that, too. We might be able to help each other out.

A bank of computers

by izzymunchted

Lately Facebook came under fire for changing privacy settings and sharing user data with companies. There is even a new social network in the wings, Diaspora, ready to go head-to-head with Facebook over privacy and user-data control. This points to more than just Facebook messing up, however. This is a chronic issue with social networking. We’re putting our entire lives online. I like to tell my friends that their lovely privacy controls won’t keep out the FBI. They won’t even keep out a dedicated hacker. Witness the Twitter hacker in France getting in to President Obama’s Twitter profile (he got off light, by the way).

So how do you protect yourself? Obviously I’m not going to advise that you quit social media. But I am going to suggest that you watch what you put online very carefully. Let’s start with general tactics, and if I get a good response to this post I’ll go more in depth with each popular social network.

  1. Know what you are putting online and be consistent. For instance, don’t go around announcing your middle name if your middle name is a security question for your bank. Same thing for the name of your pets, a common security question.
  2. Use Strong Passwords. Most people don’t do this, so here’s an easy way to have a strong password that you won’t even have to remember. Go here (disclaimer, this is my father’s website).
  3. Don’t Click on Things You Don’t Know. Be very aware of what you click on and have a good anti-virus. Even messages from within Facebook can have a virus or cookie attached.
  4. Don’t be a Phish. Phishing scams are scams where someone attempts to get you to give them your passwords, generally by pretending to be a company you are working with. For example, if you receive an e-mail that seems to be your bank asking for your log in information, that’s a Phishing scam. But it’s not just financial institutions. Phishers pose as social media sites, too.
  5. Don’t Broadcast Your Location Constantly. Geolocation games are fun. I play Foursqure. But I watch who I make my friend in the app very carefully, and I don’t broadcast where I am constantly. I don’t check in to home or work, so my regular habits are a secret. This includes Tweeting or posting Facebook updates about where you are, not just using geolocation services. Consider this: burglaries happen frequently during the day, when the home owners are at work.
  6. Know Your Friends. How well do you know all your Facebook Friends? Use lists. Not only is this good for your personal branding, but it will help you maintain your privacy.
  7. Don’t Publish Your Address or Phone Number. I always wondered how the spammers got my phone number. Turns out I had it on my Facebook Profile. It could have easily been on my blog, too, if I hadn’t edited my resume. Be mindful of what you copy/paste.
  8. There Are No Take-Backs. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. There’s a digital log of everything posted anywhere on the internet. So think
    Cat on a Computer

    by dougwoods

    about everything you postbefore pressing that Send button.

  9. You Are Talking to a Cat. Online, no one knows you’re a cat. We warn children that their chatting buddies may not be other kids but rather creeps out to get them. Just because you’re chatting with someone who seems like a professional contact doesn’t mean she is. She could be a he out to scam you (or worse). Or she could be a cat.
  10. Be Yourself. Odd as it sounds, this is a safety tip. Don’t do online what you wouldn’t do in person. Great for personal branding and helps keep your reputation out of the gutter. For example, if you generally wouldn’t flaunt your body, don’t put sexy pictures online. Those pictures are asking for attention you really don’t want, even if your friends think those pictures are fun and have them up to. Do you want a creepo after you?

Do you have any great tips? How do you stay safe online?

*Great tips and inspiration from: Social Media Explorer and the Federal Trade Commission

Daniel Davis, the artist of Monster Commute

Daniel Davis

I recently had the opportunity to interview a great local artist, Daniel Davis. He and his wife created Steam Crow Press, their publishing company, in 2005 after going to the San Diego Comic-Con. Since then, they have produced 4 books and a free web comic called Monster Commute. We spoke about knowing what your dream is and then living it. Below is what I learned:

Moral 1: Follow your dreams!

When I asked how Daniel knew he wanted to be an artist, he answered simply that he’s been drawing his whole life. That is a pretty common with artists, so what really got me what the rest of his answer: His family didn’t want him to be an artist. In his words, “When I was turning 18, I was getting a lot of pressure from my family in deciding what I wanted to do with my life and they kinda told me that art wasn’t one of those things… [so I decided that I would] pursue the crazy things I wanted to pursue.”

Moral 2: Adapt!

Of course, as a comic artist, I had to ask how Daniel got into comics. Turns out that was based on practicality. Comics are a good way to tell stories because pictures alone just aren’t enough. Though Daniel read comics as a kid, he’s gotten more into them as an adult.

Moral 3: Look for silver linings! (aka, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!)

The idea for the Monster Commute comic came from an actual commute Daniel would make to work every day. Poor Daniel used to commute from North Peoria to the airport, which if you are unfamiliar with Phoenix geography is a 2-3 hour commute. One way. On the plus side of this long commute, we got the Monster Commute comics! Daniel thought, “What if the comic’s universe was about everyone commuting and living in their cars?” In some ways, it’s a monster version of Star Trek, or “Monster Trek.”

Moral 4: Don’t try to separate the various things you love. Mix ’em all together!

Kip, Character in Monster Commute Web Comic

Kip, Character in Monster Commuter Webcomic

Daniel has a family, friends, a “day job” and his growing comics and art business. How on Earth does he balance his time? Daniel told me that you almost have to be unballanced a bit. He pointed out that if he spent a sensible 2 hours a week on his art, he would never get anywhere. So he justifies spending huge amounts of time working, and not necessarily with his son, by realizing that he’s doing his art for his son, which I personally found the most endearing thing I’d heard all day. The reasoning is that Daniel wants to actually create something while he’s alive so that way, after he’s gone, his son can go “Wow, look at all this stuff that you’ve made!”

Now, to put this in perspective, when I called Daniel for our interview, he was finishing up a regularly scheduled pool-time with his son. His son also gets involved in his work and plays with Dad’s modeling clay, makes 3D models of the drawings out of tinker toys…

Moral 5: Learn from the people around you

I also spoke with Daniel about pure business stuff, like where he learned about marketing. Turns out that Daniel’s “day job” to which I alluded earlier, is being a graphic designer for an in-house marketing team. Granted just working with marketers does not confer marketing mojo, but it does get a person into a good position to ask questions. That’s what Daniel does. He pays attention, listens, asks questions, and even gets informational interviews with folk, gathering knowledge he then applies to Steam Press. He also has Tiny Army, a local Phoenix illustrators group that he founded, where other local artists can get together and share what they know. They’ve been meeting for over 2 years, fostering a community of comic artists, designers, and illustrators. It’s Daniel’s way of becoming “one with the community.” Daniel’s all for learning the proven ways of doing business and developing his own creative ways. He shares his views on marketing at

Moral 6: Focus! Focus! Focus!

Art Print

Bestio Print (available at

Daniel always knew he would have to do his own promotions. That’s why he goes around the convention circuit. (He’ll be at San Diego Comic Con Booth #4207 July 21-25!) He goes to various comicons or pop culture shows, gets a booth, sells his prints and books, and, if possible, speaks at panels during these shows. Self-publicity at its finest. This all requires a ridiculous amount of planning. To be a vendor at some of these shows, Daniel has to send out packages and applications to impress the juries that decide who gets vendor space and who doesn’t. Daniel is always planning 8 to 10 months ahead. This takes a lot of focus. But Daniel has that. He knows what he wants to do, what he wants to get out of it, what type of life he wants to build. He credits having his son for giving him the focus to succeed. In his own words, “It’s pretty vital to know what you want to do.”

Moral 7: If you want spoilers, ask the creator!

Finally, because I am a spoiler fan, I begged spoilers from Daniel. Turns out that in the long-term the story of Monster Commute will get a bit darker. Authority is going to claim a larger role, bringing everything to a head. It’s kind of bleak, but Daniel’s Daniel and will show off the friendship and loyalty the characters share. We will be getting a new character, though. Or old, depending on how you look at it. Klawberry is a character from one of Daniel’s first books, Klawberry: Good Girl, Bad World. We’re finally going to get a female character! Yay!

While Daniel works on the story, we, the loyal online readership, will enjoy some guest scripts. They’ve already started and are quite entertaining!

Klawberry: Good Girl book cover

Klawberry: Good Girl book cover

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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