Becoming Professional: A Blog

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

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.

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.

The First Strike Went to Social Media

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

A little over two months ago I faced a time management challenged: How to stay involved in all the social networks I enjoy and still (OMG!) have a life. It seemed impossible at the time. Every morning, I would get up and look at my social networks, which I would check each day. That meant a good hour and a half or more of social media, engaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Brazen Careerist, and, of course, this blog. It was the perfect definition of “Time Suck.”

My Counterstrike

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

So I started my social media counter strike. I decided to touch each social media outlet in a daily rotation. One day LinkedIn, the next Twitter, then the blog, and so forth. It’s worked, to a degree. Because I’m only worrying about one social media outlet a day I am able to dig in and get some real value of out it, like learning from experts on LinkedIn or actually publishing a blog post on a regular basis.

But it hasn’t worked for Twitter. You cannot get any benefit from Twitter through a condensed engagement once a week. It’s just too hard to carry on a conversation. Sure, once a week I can go through my lists and unfollow people I forgot I was following in the first place, but I still was not getting any value out of it.

Phase Two of the Battle – Two Fronts

Two Lines of Tanks

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

Okay, so social media is still kicking my butt in some ways. Twitter remains a problem: how to engage enough without spending my life on it? I know that this is an issue many people have. So I’m experimenting with lists and my News Feed. I’ve already got the lists going, so now I just have to see how to use them appropriately. Maybe it’s just to dip my head in on the conversation occasionally, or maybe it will make in-depth conversations easier. Dunno. We’ll see.

The next thing that’s whooping my rear end is RSS Feeds. If you do not have an RSS Feed Reader, get one. They are gorgeous and enable you to keep up on all the blogs you like without visiting all the websites. But, if you are following a ton of feeds, like I am (58 total right now), it can be hard to keep up. I’m attempting to sort my RSS Feeds into folders and try to attack them piecemeal, but we’ll see how that works. Maybe if I don’t try to read everything each day I’ll be able to keep up. Or maybe if I do that, I’ll fall behind on my news. Again, we’ll see.

The War Continues

Tank pointing at the camera

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

This is not a battle I will easily win. As I master one time management system, some new social media tool or network will come out to entirely mess it up. That’s the way wars go. Besides, you know what happens to the best laid plans once you hit the battlefield.

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.

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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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