Wondering Out Loud

Join your LinkedIn network? But I hardly know you

I took a call from a potential vendor the other day. Anyone who works in the digital media space will recognize the name, so I’ll keep that detail to myself. The call went well and, in the end, I think I can make use of some of their products and services to help achieve OptiMine’s marketing goals. At the end of the call, I asked the rep to send me additional information I could share with the team and he told me to expect an email with the requested documents. So far, the only email I’ve received from Dave was completely unexpected: an invitation to join his LinkedIn network.

Maybe I’m being a bit sensitive – something I’ve never been accused of – but I don’t think a 60 minute sales call entitles Dave to ask me to become linked. After all, I hardly know him. My personal practice is to reserve links for those I know, trust and admire. so accepting Dave’s invitation would, in my mind, be the functional equivalent of exchanging business cards. That’s what V-cards are for. I’ve spent several years building my network on LinkedIn. And while it’s true I don’t communicate regularly with every one of my contacts, each of them is a contact for a reason.

I will not be accepting Dave’s invitation – at least not now.

How do you manage your LinkedIn contacts? Are you particular about who you invite or whose invitation you accept?

 

 

 

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June 22, 2011 Posted by | Social Media | , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media: It’s easy to spell, but…

It’s the season of interns and entry-level hopefuls. Resumes are pouring in and I’m reviewing those who made the first cut. Like all good potential bosses, I’ve been surfing the web looking for LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages and blog and Twitter accounts. So far the results are less than impressive. I realize this whole social media thing is still relatively new, but, let’s face it, if you are going to put the words on your resume you had better have the digital footprint that proving you can do more than spell “Social Media.” All the pdf resumes I’ve seen to date do have a web-based counter part in a LinkedIn account, but, rather than painting a fuller picture of the applicant, the online profile is an exact copy of the document sitting in my inbox.

This leads me to ask a couple of questions:

  1. Am I expecting too much from today’s college juniors and seniors, especially those pursuing a career in social media?
  2. Should I be expecting ore from the career counselors who help students navigate the choppy employment waters?

I’d love to see your answers to both, but here are mine: No and Yes.

No: Today’s college students grew up on the web. Social networking is in their DNA and anyone who is looking to enter the job market – entry level or as in intern – needs to have, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile that is full and complete, including recommendations. If you have skeleton profile that is nothing more than a copy of your resume, you are wasting your time and the time of anyone who might be interested in learning more about you. If you are specifically interested in marketing and PR – where SM lives – the digital requirement is even more important.

Remember the good old days when the cry was: “Everyone wants someone with experience, but how can I get experience if no one will hire me.”? Web 2.o0 has given everyone – including my 15 year old son – what they need to gain as much experience as they want. Five years ago I advised a college freshman, planning to major in PR, to start a blog and write about her passion, early American authors. Doing so in 2005 would have put her well in front of her college peers and, today, she would have a robust presence to point potential employers to. Unfortunately she didn’t take my advice and is just another member of the pack looking for work.

Yes: Career counselors in colleges and universities are doing a doing students a disservice if they are not adding social media, in general and LinkeIn specifically to the list of activities their charges should be engaged in. I’ll go so far as to say they should be given LinkedIn training so they can help students make the most of the site. The paper resume – although still important – does not have the power it once did. While it has always been a snap shot of the individual, the resume loses a bit of luster when put against the dynamic nature of a LinkedIn, blog and Twitter.

Going digital is more than a recommendation, it is an imperative. Like investing for the future, the sooner you start the bigger the return you’ll realize. If you wait until your getting ready to graduate and look for that first “real” job, you’re starting too late.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blogging in a regulated industry

Every time I participate in, or attend an event where social media is the topic there is always one – sometimes more – person in the audience representing a company from a highly regulated industry. Most often they are from the financial sector – banking, investments, etc. – and they all have the same question: How can we blog when everything we say needs to be run through an extensive approval process?

It’s a great question. To understand the significance of the question, one need only listen to the disclaimers at the end of any commercial inviting you to invest your money with a particular money manager: Actual results may vary, you could lose some or all of your money, and my personal favorite…you could lose more than you invested. Regardless of the industry there are ways to leverage the power of the web and here is one of my favorites.

In its simplest form there are two sides to the social media coin – join a conversation and start a conversation. For my purpose we’ll look at the second one.

There are two primary ways to start a conversation. The first is to react to an event that is happening in the industry now – President Obama’s jobs summit last week provided a golden opportunity for investment advisors to weigh in with their analysis of the event. When one works in a highly regulated industry there is a certain amount of risk that comes with reacting in real-time, but professionals in these industries can still start conversations with little or no risk to themselves or their companies by creating a calendar of conversations. All it takes is some planning and buy-in from your internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

The first step is to meet with your team and crate a list of issues that are relevant to your audience and that your SMEs can discuss credibly. The next step is to put those issues into an editorial calendar then create content to that calendar. Using this strategy for content creation gives enough time for all the appropriate parties to review and approve the content. Once approved, distribute as normal. Whether to a blog or a LinkedIn discussion page – I prefer both – you have joined the world of social media contributors and have done it with the blessing of your internal regulatory professionals. 

If you’d like to inject some digital steroids into the process take a look at the ed. cals. of the industry publications you are courting and design yours to mirror theirs –  minus a few months. If you can write credibly today about a subject one of the pubs will be covering a few months down the road, you can begin building a case for why your SMEs should be tapped for interviews when the article is being written. It’s a great way to build media relations and, if your offer of supplying expert analysis is rejected, you still have your own content to point your audience to.

I’ll tackle other issue in a later post – reacting as events happen. It can be problematic for any organization, but it can also be done by any.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Look who’s back

Been a while since I’ve been here. My last post dates back to October 1 and I’ve not been back since. I’ve had a very, well, to put it simply, changed filled few months.

The company I went to work for in January 2000, SoftBrands, announced an agreement to be acquired by Infor. Infor is a $2 billion enterprise software firm located in Alpharetta, GA. The deal was set to be closed during the dog days of August, but I figured I’d be better off if I started shopping my talents elsewhere…just in case. As luck, networking and self marketing would have it, in early September I was offered a position in the corporate communications. They wanted me to develop a global social media strategy. My summer went from “Oh no” to “yes” in the blink of an eye. But nothing stays the same now does it?

On November 2, I was notified that corp comm was being realigned to better serve the company and my role was being eliminated. I’ve lost a lot of colleagues over the years to workforce reductions and realignments, but this is my first time on the receiving end. I can’t say I like it much, but there are a couple of good here.

  1. I’m interviewing with some great companies for roles that will challenge me and help me grow personally and professionally.
  2. I get to spend a lot more time with my ladies – 6, 4 and 21 months – and my lads – 14, 11.
  3. I’m able to relieve some of the daily burden from my bride’s shoulders.

Now that I have some down time – when I’m not pushing out resumes and doing interviews – I hope to get back on the blogging bandwagon. I’ve been building up ideas for posts and It’s time I get them down on “paper.”

In the meantime, if you hear of anyone looking for an accomplished marketing communications professional, send ’em my way.

Thanks.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , | 1 Comment

Personal v. Professional with Albert Maruggi

 A couple of months ago I saw a Twitter message from the owner of a consulting firm announcing the release of a new survey on the success of ERP implementations. A few minutes later the same individual used Twitter to take a hard line on the health care debate. In my opinion, the guy took quite a risk in mixing his professional and personal lives in a forum like Twitter where following someone is not the same as knowing them.

How many were offended by his opinion on health care reform we can’t know. Nor can we know how many will no longer consider doing business with him. But there is a number that fall into both categories.

Social media requires openness and transparency, but how much is too much? To discuss this, and other questions, I called my friend and former colleague Albert Maruggi of Provident Partners and The Marketing Edge Podcast. The outcome is the first ever Wondering Out Loud Podcast.

During out conversation we talk about the risks of mixing the professional with the personal, about the danger of “blurting” in 140 characters or less, and about how we are quick to label and categorize others. As always, Albert is thoughtful, serious and funny.

Enjoy.

Mark Palony speaks with Albert Maruggi about the risks of mixing the professional with the personal in social media.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are you self serving or self promoting

As the adoption of social media by business expands at an ever increasing rate, its misuse grows along with it. When you engage in social media activities are you self serving or self promoting?

Have you ever considered the difference? Both deal with the self, but if you choose to practice the former over the latter, you are headed for social media failure.

Here are the definitions from dictionary.com:

Self serving: Serving to further one’s own selfish interests.
Self Promotion: Promotion, including advertising and publicity, of oneself effected by oneself.

Done correctly, self promotion will result in all the benefits – increased leads, sales and revenue – you can get through self serving means, without turning away a good chunk of your audience. If this sounds difficult to achieve, it’s not. Promoting the self – you, your colleagues, and your business – is as easy as showing your target audience what you know. How you show them, however, goes a long way toward defining which side of boarder you are on between serving and promoting.

Let me illustrate with an example of a LinkedIn discussion:

Q: My boss wants me to buy a list of emails we can use for marketing. We’ve never done this and I’m looking for advice on picking the right provider. Thanks for your help.

A1: You can buy any list you need from my company Lists-R-Us. We specialize in providing 100% opt in lists for every conceivable industry – and a few you can’t conceive of. Call me at 555-1212.

A2: Before you pick a provider you’ll want to ask several questions including how they compile their lists, what information they gather about the individual and the company, can they segment based on SIC codes, and what are the counts within the SIC’s you are targeting. Also ask to see a sample cut of the data and what accommodations they make for non-deliverable addresses. If you want more I’ve included the links to a couple of credible resources below. Hope this helps.

I will grant that the example I provided is fictional, but it is most certainly not extreme. Go through the discussions and you’ll find any number of questions and answers that are commercials. But LinkedIn is by no means the only site that suffers from sledgehammer marketing. Blogs – posts and comments – are not immune, nor are Twitter and facebook for that matter.

Provide help with information the individual can use to solve their issue. It is a way of promoting yourself, without selling yourself. Over time, as your credibility grows, you will find a growing number of people who follow you, listen to you, and offer your name to others a resource that can be trusted.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social media: The great mixing pot

Social media is obviously a melting pot, but I’ve been thinking more about how it’s a mixing pot. Social Media, if what I see on Twitter is any indication, has become the place where people are comfortable mixing their personal and professionals lives. But many don’t stop there. More frequently I am finding messages through Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn that openly stake out strong and passionate positions on any number of issues. And I, for one, am surprised that people would take the risk of turning away people they hardly know for the sake of expressing an opinion.

We all have opinions, but is the Internet the right place for your to express them?

On Friday of this week I have the pleasure of recording a podcast with Albert Maruggi of Provident Partners and The Marketing Edge Podcast ,and a Senior Fellow with the Society for New Communications Research. Together we’ll explore how people are mixing their personal and professional lives in ways we could not have imagined just a few years ago. We’ll talk about the right and wrong ways to go about it and the inherent risks of doing it at all.

If there are any questions you would like me to ask Albert about the mixing pot throw them in the comments section of this post and I’ll be sure to cover it with him.

The recording will find it’s way here sometime next week.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wall Street Journal and LinkedIn should be friends

TechCrunch has reported that the Wall Street Journal has LinkedIn in their cross-hairs – or do they – with a something called WSJ Connect. For those keeping score the article points out that this is WSJ’s second attempt at building a social/professional networking site. And the first went so well they decided it was worth another try.

As a supporter of a free market, I welcome competition and am overjoyed when someone invents a better mousetrap, but there are times when I scratch my head. I’m scratching today because I’m trying to imagine what it will take for me to rebuild what I have at LinkedIn within WSJ Connect. By the time it becomes live, and it is still in the concept stage according to TechCrunch, I will be so locked in to LinkedIn it will take something just short of an act of God or government directive to make me start over.

Unless they provide path for data migration, I’m more than happy to stay right where I am. There may be another way to entice me to consider a new beginning – and without data migration that’s exactly what it will be – and that is to include killer functionality that I simply cannot live without. I don’t know what that looks like, but will know it when I see it. 

What I do know is I don’t what the WSJ getting involved in the networking game, at least not as the lead.  I would rather see them stick to their core competency and approach LinkedIn as a partner (or buyer), not a competitor. The sum of the two parts would make a formidable force in the business world and create an unrivaled environment for innovation. How many of you would like to see the latest WJS headlines on your LinkedIn home page?

I’m not a genius, but I do believe I’m on to something here.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | , , , | 1 Comment

Pitch alert: Abusing LinkedIn

Holy cow, but there are a boat load of groups on LinkedIn to choose from. I’ve joined 16 – some related to my industry, others related to my profession – and have, over time, figured out which have value and which have nothing to offer. In some cases the line between treasure and garbage is quite clear and I can sum it up in one word: Pitch.

Have you ever come across a discussion that opens in a fashion similar to this: “Is your business suffering from a lack of qualified leads.” If you can answer yes to this question my advice is to drop it to the bottom of the list and leave it there.

I may be daft, and am willing to admit it in some arenas, but I’m done with people using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool – recall this post from last week – and am making a point of leaving groups that tolerate it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a marketing guy and am measured on, among other things, how many leads I can drive, but there is a time and a place for everything and far too many are abusing my time time and this place.

Last week I was reading a response to a question on LinkedIn. It was well written, well argued and, just when they had me interested out came the pitch for the beta version of their new software. The only thing missing was “operators are standing by” and “order before midnight and receive a free bamboo steamer.”

Sadly, this is not unique. I had a conversation last week with a company wanting advice on how their sales team could use LinkedIn to generate leads and they were going down the bamboo steamer path. Their strategy was to look for discussions to which they could contribute and pitch their particular products as a way to solve problems. 

 I should have invoiced them for a percentage of the sales I saved them.

Here’s the upshot – read last week’s post – then raise your right hand and swear to the following:

  1. I will never pitch my product or service to anyone on LinkedIn unless they ask me to do so
  2. I will raise my hand and be heard when I find someone trying to pitch me without my permission to do so

LinkedIn is second to none in the world of  professional networking sites (Plaxo fans can complain in the comments) and it is up to those of us who use the site to keep it that way.

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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