Becoming Professional: A Blog

Archive for the ‘Linked In’ Category

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.

me and Paul Wycherley

Me and Olympian Paul Wycherley, another speaker

This past week, I spoke at the Huntswood People Learning and Development event about how to use social media professionally. My audience was made up of contractors in the learning and development field, trainers who work with financial services providers. For the most part, though they may have been on LinkedIn, they were not using social media professionally to aid them in their work. That’s where I came in. My job was to introduce them to the benefits of social media. In less than 20 minutes. I obviously couldn’t discuss everything, so I limited my discussion to profiles. And even then I still went over.

The thing is, profiles are not easy, particularly for those who are not avid social media users. After all, even those who do frequently use social media often get limited use out of their social media profiles. There is a lot more to a LinkedIn profile than merely saying your name and work history. Even Twitter can have some potential, even if you do not use the service regularly. As for Facebook, well, I suggested creating a Facebook Page. It’s just too tempting to post a picture from Friday night on Facebook, both for you and your friends. And those privacy settings are confusing. A Facebook Page just makes more sense here.

As far as first speaking gigs go, I think I did pretty well. I was the first guest speaker, and after me was the canapés, also known as dinner, drinks, and mingling. I was flooded with questions and personal stories. Everyone seemed ready to get started and redo their own online profiles, or put them up in the first place. That’s all a speaker can really ask for, isn’t it?

Here is the full presentation. A video should be on its way shortly from Huntswood, so expect that as well.

by Horia Varlan

By now, I think we’ve all heard of Quora. Most of us, after hearing about it, asked, “What the heck is it?” The response: “The new Twitter,” or “It’s like Linked In Answers.”  I think those responses lead to false ideas of what Quora is, so after playing with the site for a week or so, here are 6 ways I have seen that Quora is actually quite unlike either Twitter or Linked In.

  1. Follow Answers Not Updates Quora  may be experiencing a whirl-wind popularity growth, but it doesn’t really resemble Twitter at all. The phrase, “The new Twitter” creates a link that’s not really there. On Quora, you only see what your contacts do in regards to the questions. Granted, you can “Post a Message to Your Followers,” but it is not a highlighted function by any means. Granted, the people who originally called it “The new Twitter” probably meant only the popularity growth, but misunderstandings happen.
  2. No Painful Lonely Stage Another way Quora is not Twitter is that it lacks that awkward “now what phase” all new Tweeters go through right after they sign up. They don’t know who to follow or what to Tweet. Quora, on the other hand, immediately asks if you want to follow the people you are following on Twitter. You can build off of all that work you’ve done on the older platform and avoid that painful lonely stage. If you’re not on Twitter, or just adventurous, you can follow categories you are interested in. In this way, Quora is actually more like one of my other favorite networks, Brazen Careerist. You see all questions tagged in that category. Example categories include “Advertising,” “Anime,” and “Neil Patrick Harris.”
  3. by betsyweber

    Relaxed Culture This brings me to how Quora is definitely not Linked In Answers. There’s not really anything professional in the “Anime” or “Neil Patrick Harris” categories. I suppose if you were a TV producer you would have some professional input, but in practice, that’s mostly a fan space. This extends even to the more “professional” categories. The Quora culture is just more relaxed and laid-back. With LI Answers, everyone is trying to show off and vie for the coveted Best Answer recognition. This makes Quora fun and not a task you do for your personal branding. Or whatever reason you have for using Linked In Answers.

  4. Conversations as well as Answers Another difference with Linked In Answers is that on Quora the questions can turn into conversations. In Linked In Answers, you can’t reply to your own question. As far as I can tell, you can in Quora. You can also reply multiple times to the same question, making a conversation possible. It’s a big plus for Quora and I hope they don’t get rid of it.
  5. Lots of Responses Another difference with Linked In Answers is that questions gather answers in multiples of 10. In Linked In Answers, people don’t seem to want to read other people’s responses. Not so in Quora. I happily read what other people had answered, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Of course questions on Linked In Answers can’t really rack up that many responses. They close after about a week. Questions on Quora can stay open forever.
  6. Very Thoughtful The reason why I happily read what others had posted is that the responses are interesting and more thought out than those on Linked In. Not saying the answers on Linked In aren’t good, it’s just that people tend to get more into them on Quora, providing responses that often resemble blog posts more than answers. For instance, one question I enjoyed, “What life lessons are unintuitive or go against common sense or wisdom?” has 41 responses, many quite interesting. The ability to bump good responses up in the list means that you don’t have to hunt for the gems, either, like Digg with web articles.

So in the end, Quora resembles other platforms, but mixes them together to make something new. I’m actually surprised it’s usually only compared to Linked In Answers when there are so many other cool techniques it’s taken from other websites. Of course, Quora will change and grow. It might even just change and fade. They may get rid of the “Post a Message to Your Followers” function or make it more important. But for right now, it is very different from Twitter and Linked In Answers.

My loyal readers will know by now that I’m a Linked In groupie. I go on every day, so if you want to get a hold of me, there are few better ways. So while I was enjoying my morning Answers bonanza (Answers being the Linked In area where people ask questions and then… answer them), I passed across the following question: 


“Looking for happy ending stories on how social networking makes students more employable. What is your experience?” 


Now I grant you that the original author, Camelia Burn, is asking for positive stories, so there will naturally be a bias towards the possitive in the responses, but let’s see how many answers she got… 7. That’s 1 a day on a rather bland question. Not all of them are stories, but all of them tend to praise networking, digital most often. The respondants mentioned everything from finding a job by looking at the ads on social networking sites and then engaging with people in positions to hire to using the wealth of knowledge now available in forums and online groups to hone skills and do better in interviews. You can meet people who can help you find freelance work, as well.


But I will make one caveat to this decree to use social networking: “using” does not mean “have a profile.” If you are going to use social networking, you have to engage, seek out influencers, and learn from them. It’s like going to school. Just having your tushy in the chair will not convey knowledge. Students must do the homework, take notes, and work for it. If it were as simple as having a profile… well, there would be less unemployment.

[tweetmeme source=”KatetheRunner” only_single=false]

Who do you Connect to on Linked In? Do you just link to people you know personally? Do you just Connect to folk you know well enough that you can write a whole paragraph on them? Are you a LION? A Linked In Open Networker who links to anyone? Which is best? How do you know what is best?

This question was always in the back of my mind when I first started networking on Linked In. It came to the fore when a hiring manager at a company I was applying for said that job candidates should try to Connect to their recruiters on Linked In. His argument was that it would help in the interview if the candidate has a better understanding of the manager. He also described a kind of competitive intelligence where you can possibly see who else is applying for the job by looking at who else the hiring manager has been interacting with. Good points, but I felt a bit uneasy Connecting to someone I didn’t actually know that well. I had to know about accepted practices and asked a Question using the Answers function of Linked In.

So after my research and conversations with Linked In users, here’s the conclusion: Connect to whom you want to but be sure that you are Connecting to someone who wants to be Connected to. Tell the person in the Connection Invitation why you want to Connect. Don’t just use the standard invitation. It’s bland and not very persuasive. If you can’t show that the person you want to Connect to has a reason to Connect to you they might click “I don’t know this person,” which hurts your reputation.

How do you know if someone wants to be Connected to? Talk to them. Message back and forth a few times. Perhaps you can just ask them then and there if you could Connect. Many folk state that they are LIONs on their profiles. Others say who they are interested in Connecting to. Linked In is for networking, after all, it would be a shame not to use it.

So you’re sitting at work, goofing off on… Linked In? Social Network for professionals, it’s the career version of 9 degrees of Kevin Bacon. And it’s where you, dear reader, ought to be, if you aren’t already. Open up a second browser window and go to right now. Sign up. Good, now we move on.

Linked in is the Facebook for serious professionals interested in linking up. It’s a useful tool not just for information gathering and sharing but for job searches and professional development. If you are interested in learning about seminars in your field of interest, Linked In might help you get there. I got a Linked In account a few years ago after creating a marketing plan that used it. I thought it was boring and promptly forgot my password. Now, I’ve rediscovered it and am a big fan. Changing your mind can be a good thing.

Now, other than it’s pure niftyness, why would you join Linked in? What can you do with it? According to, there are three general categories of things to accomplish on Linked In.

  1. Look for people. If you need to find an accountant, a wedding planner, a reporter, a computer programmer… Linked in is a great resource. Not only do they come with recommendations on the website, but if you want to interview them and maybe make one a mentor, you have the introduction, “Hi, Mrs. Blob, I am a colleague of Mr. Green, a client of yours. I was wondering if I might talk to you a little bit about wedding planning. It’s the industry I hope to work in once I graduate.”
  2. Keep your network up to date. When you meet people, add them on Linked In, and when they change jobs or move, you’ll know about it, since they’ll up date their profiles, keeping you up to speed. So no matter where they are, you can always bug that first boss for a letter of recommendation. And keep in touch with him, too. Maybe you’ll be able to turn him a favor, after all.
  3. Your network as a web, not just a list. You know someone who knows someone who can help you land that job. And now you know that last person, too. There’s a handy feature that allows you to ask someone else to introduce you to their connections, so you can see who can help you and ask just that person, as opposed to all the other people who can’t help you but you though might’ve been able to. Plus, you know your needs better than anyone else. They might not realize that they could help you.

  If you are doubtful that your network is that useful, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Guy Kawasaki (blogger) came up with a few other good reasons to use Linked In:

  1. You can ask for advice: If you go to my Linked In, you will see I have a question out there about how to be more professional. That’s just my first question. I’m getting more as I go. And I will hopefully be getting answers soon, too.
  2. Check out the companies you’re thinking of applying to: Sure, there are rankings like BusinessWeek and Fortune, but what about what the employees say or the customers? Linked in lets you do your research. And if you whip out a quote during an interview, they’ll be impressed.
  3. See where other people in your industry work: So you’re a graduating Finance Major from NYU. Where are alumni working? In what industry? Use your NYU network to find out, or research folk with Finance Degrees.
  4. Research your interviewer: If you have the name of the people you’ll be interviewing with, look them up. Find out what they are interested in and research that. Maybe you have a common interest which will make for a great ice breaker.

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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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