This is no ordinary Friday. Tonight we’re driving two hours to Greensboro to see two old flames from my childhood – Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. The remains of The Who is on tour doing Quadrophenia, the album that started my love affair with them. And anyone who knew me in high school, college or beyond knows how crazy I was about that band. I expect to be ridiculously excited and emotional for a few hours. Long live rock!

Is one of your employees a social media rock star? Alexandra Samuel writes at the Wall Street Journal about the “newest management headache: the co-branded employee.” These employees show up to work with a public identity (personal brand) and huge following of their own. How do you make it work for both of you? She advises establishing guidelines and expectations. I think it also helps if management is knowledgeable about the digital world so they don’t have unreasonable expectations.

Not another Lance Armstrong story! Yes, but this story by Mathew Ingram at GigaOm is really about “the democratization of content.” He references an excellent David Carr article in the New York Times to discuss an example of “disruption in journalism.” Except for a few bold voices, traditional journalists accepted Armstrong’s victories and joined in the adulation. Even when suspicions were raised, they didn’t push the matter. But bloggers did. “Amateur or citizen journalists using Twitter and little-known cycling blogs as their platform were the ones who were the most responsible for bringing the story to light.” I follow these “citizens” on Twitter and can vouch that they’ve been writing about Armstrong’s deceit for years.

John Hagel wrote about The Paradox of Preparing for Change – maybe Armstrong should read this. “I love paradox. Here’s an example: the best way to prepare for change is to decide what isn’t going to change.”A childhood full of change – moving nearly every year to a new country – taught him how to prepare for change. He says, “Decide what isn’t going to change, especially in three key domains: principles, purpose and people.” His advice works for organizations too, not just little kids following their dad around the world.

Have I already mentioned how much I love ASAE’s redesigned, heck, reborn, Associations Now website? It’s a magazine, a blog, original content, curated content, news — it’s fantastic. Andrew Hannelly at TMG Custom Media – the company behind the new website – shared “the strategic framework guiding the launch.”

In Associations Now, Joe Rominiecki discussed a basic yet rare association practice – sharing what you know about members. Imagine if everyone on staff could benefit and learn from conversations with members. Wouldn’t capturing and sharing that knowledge lead to better practices and programs?

Finally, here are two stories from our correspondents in the future. Neal Ungerleider at Fast Company asks, “Could your company’s IT department or dev team soon be drafted as digital soldiers in an ongoing cyberwar?” I’ve often wondered how the federal government would cope with cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare on their own. If our technical or physical infrastructure is threatened, wouldn’t they want the best minds in the country working on the problem? Wouldn’t we all want that?

And in the scary-because-it’s-too-believable department, imagine terrorists or evil empires hacking DNA to create and deliver personal bioweapons. Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman and Steven Kotler at The Atlantic start their article with a story that will give you the creeps, and, what’s worse, they show how that scenario isn’t so far-fetched. “We are entering a world where imagination is the only brake on biology, where dedicated individuals can create new life from scratch. Today, when a difficult problem is mentioned, a commonly heard refrain is There’s an app for that. Sooner than you might believe, an app will be replaced by an organism when we think about the solutions to many problems.”

But don’t worry about any of that right now, it’s Friday, cheers!

My college art project, a drawing of Pete — told you I was crazy about them.

Earlier this month I read a post in the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan’s blog at The Atlantic, about a megachurch pastor in Georgia, Jim Swilley, who decided to publicly come out of the closet. He felt compelled to do so after hearing too many stories about gay teens committing suicide after harassment by bullies.

“As a father, thinking about your 16-, 17-year-old killing themselves, I thought somebody needed to say something,” he told WSB TV in Atlanta. “I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever. To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I’ll risk my reputation for that.”

risk reputation organization brand failure

click to view video on YouTube

This man is a hero. I can’t imagine the courage it must take for anyone to come out when those around them don’t approve of their lifestyle. A lifestyle, Swilley reminds us, that is not a choice. But imagine doing that when you’re the pastor of a conservative church and your career and livelihood is on the line.

It made me think about what I would risk to do the right thing. Would I be brave enough to risk my reputation and career? I won’t know until I’m in that position. I can only hope that I’m as strong as he is. I’m not assuming I will be although I think I have a strong metaphorical spine. I think about whistleblowers who don’t even know Sarbanes-Oxley protection exists, yet put their jobs on the line to do the right thing, as Jim Swilley did by blowing the whistle on irrational hatred.

How much would your organization put on the line to do the right thing? How many people (members or even board members) are you willing to piss off? How many opportunities do you miss to be a hero because you worry about the risk to your brand or about the risk of failure?

I don’t go through business cards as quickly as I used to. I don’t collect as many either. I think I know why. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You’re chatting at a networking event with a new acquaintance and remark on each other’s Twitter handle on their badge. You both pull up your mobile Twitter application, go to the other’s profile, follow them and add them to a list. Done. You’re connected. You could do the same by using your mobile LinkedIn application or bumping Pokens or iPhones. How many times have you done that and walked away without even thinking about exchanging cards?

But we still need cards. Not everyone is active on social networks. Sometimes cards are just easier. Plus how else can we win a free lunch from the card bowl at our favorite restaurant? Andy Sernovitz featured a smart business card in a recent post on Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That. His uncle has magnetic cards showing the Packers schedule. Andy points out that his uncle’s card, unlike many, will be displayed on people’s refrigerators for all to see throughout the football season – more marketing punch for his money.

If you’re not a sports fan, what other handy info could you include?

  • Cooking equivalents, for example, 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
  • Metric conversions
  • Fahrenheit/Celsius conversions
  • Local school year calendar with important dates marked

Cards like this also make good trade show swag – they’re both useful and easy to tote home.

Andy’s post was timely for me since I’m thinking about my next order of business cards. Since I’m focusing more and more on freelance writing and blogging, my cards need to reflect that. I’m even thinking about different cards for different audiences: perhaps one for my primary audience, the association industry, who needs help with blog strategy, content and marketing; and another for a broader audience who needs website and marketing copy.

Before I print my new cards, I’ll work with a designer to create an overall look for my Reid All About It brand. The cards will reflect that style. Cards are often the first impression someone gets of your business. You could go for quirky, like this Mad Libs style card. That’s fun, but it’s not me. Make sure your card design is appropriate for your brand.

effective business cards

Know your market. Guitar shop "cards." Flickr photo by MikeBlogs.

Going to a conference or trade show soon? Print cards specifically for the conference that remind the person where they met you. If you’re exhibiting at the show, include the booth number and tell them why they’d want to visit – what’s in it for them? Include the conference Twitter hashtag and a link to a special landing page for conference attendees on your website.

QR (Quick Response) codes are the latest trend for business cards. These codes are scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically pull up website URLs or contact info.

Here are more tips for business cards:

Make it very clear on the card how you can help a person or company. Don’t assume that your title makes it clear; be more descriptive than that by using a tagline.

You have limited real estate and attention span. Make every word count, even in your contact info.

Use both sides of the card. One side can focus on how they can connect with you, and the other side can focus on how you can help them.

Make your cards user-friendly.

  • Leave some white (or light) space so people can jot down notes about you.
  • Use the largest size font for your name. Don’t make middle-aged people squint.
  • Glossy finishes are difficult to write on. Consider other finishes.

In addition to your website URL and email address, add your Twitter username to your card. Don’t load up your cards with all your social profiles; just add the ones that can assist your marketing.

Remember, your card is part of your professional brand. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.

One last thing, and judging by all the rants I’ve seen on Twitter about this, I’m not alone in feeling this way: You don’t have permission to add me to your newsletter list just because I gave you my business card. If you’d like to tell me about your newsletter, do so in an email first. Give me the option to opt-in; don’t force me to opt-out.

What other business card tips do you have to share?

So far we’ve reviewed editing your profile in Part 1 and your settings in Part 2. Now we’ll take a look at some ways to use LinkedIn for networking and professional branding.

Send out status updates to let your network know what you’re working on or to share links that you think your network would be interested in reading. This isn’t Facebook so stick to professional topics and don’t do it so frequently that it’s annoying – no more than a few times a week sounds right to me. Here are some prompts for update ideas. You can talk about yourself, or, even brag about others sometimes:

  • [your name] is writing …
  • is reading about …
  • thinks that …
  • wants to know what you think about …
  • is looking forward to speaking at …
  • is looking forward to attending …
  • just published a …
  • is collaborating with [name] on …

Groups are a mess right now as LinkedIn has recently made changes that have made them a mess of RSS feeds and horrible design. There have been many complaints in social media blogs so I’m hoping that LinkedIn makes changes so that groups will be worth returning to. As they are now, the discussion feature is not easy to use and real discussions are not easy to find.

In an optimistic mood, I suggest that you go to Groups –> Groups Directory to search by keyword for those that might interest you. You can customize your settings for each of your groups by selecting the group in My Groups. Then once in the group select More… –> My Settings.

  • You can choose to display (or not) the group’s logo on your profile.
  • You can opt to receive an email each time there is activity in the group (not recommended), or a daily or weekly digest of group activity (recommended), and specify an email address for that digest.
  • Allow the group manager and members to message you. If it becomes a problem, you can change the setting.

Participate in group discussions. You can start a discussion, comment or ‘like’ what someone else has said. Do not spam the group, and by that I mean do not post promotions for your business, webinars, events, etc. Too many groups become full of noise due to all the well-meaning posts about webinars and seminars. Also, please do not add any RSS feeds to a group. Don’t make the situation worse. Try to be a good citizen.

If you contribute valuable content, it’s possible that your discussion will be selected by the group manager as Manager’s Choice. Also, active group participants will be labeled as Top Influencers. However, make sure your contributions are worthwhile and not just filler to get that billing.

Get familiar with the Questions & Answers section. It’s found under the More drop-down in the header, then select Answers. Questions are organized by categories listed in the right side bar. You can subscribe to an RSS feed for each category (and sub-category) that interests you. By answering questions posted by others, you will establish your expertise. The person asking the question also has the option of selecting a Best Answer and if yours is selected, it will be listed on your profile in the right side bar under [Your Name’s] Q&A – Expertise in.

Browse through the Applications directory and add any that interest you.

  • flickr photo by melissaclark

    Share your PowerPoint presentations with SlideShare.

  • You can share your upcoming itineraries on My Travel by TripIt. This is a great way to find out if others in your network will be in the same city as you so you can arrange a meet-up.
  • Use the Events application to search for events that you are attending and RSVP. You can also use this feature to see the events that those in your network are attending.
  • Share your current reads on Reading List by Amazon.
  • Huddle Workspaces is an online collaboration tool that you can use with others in your network. Use Box.net to share files – your resume and an online portfolio of articles and other documents that showcase your talent.
  • I mentioned WordPress and Blog Link in Part 1 of this series. Use these to import your blog’s feed into your profile.

Go to Contacts –> Add Connections and import your contacts from your email provider (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) or from your computer in the form of a .csv file (Outlook export format). Do this every quarter so that LinkedIn will notify you in your network updates if any of them join LinkedIn.

When you send invitations to connect, please don’t use the default message. Check the box for Add a personal note with your invitation?. Prove that you care about connecting enough to take a few seconds to personalize the message. This is particularly important when connecting to those whom you don’t know well or haven’t seen in a long time – they may not quite remember how they know you.

If one of your connections is making too many updates for your liking (maybe they’re sending all their tweets to LinkedIn) or you’re connected to someone whose updates really don’t matter to you, you can hide them in Settings –> Home Page Settings –> Network Updates.

One thing to remember about all social networking platforms: everyone has a different connection philosophy. Some only connect to those they know well; some to anyone they’ve ever met; some to those they only know online; and some to anyone in the same industry or city. When you receive an invitation to connect, select either connect or ignore. Avoid selecting I don’t know this person. If someone gets that label too often, LinkedIn will assume they’re a pest and suspend their account.

Do you have any tips to add?

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In LinkedIn Basics: Part 1, I gave some tips for enhancing your LinkedIn profile. Now let’s look at your profile Settings. The link to Settings is at the top of your home page. It’s a good idea to go through each setting when you have time so they’re set in a way that’s best for you.

Profile Settings

Where there is an option on visibility, as in My Profile Photo, Member Feed, select everyone. This is a networking site, there’s no need to hide anything.

Check Public Profile. Make sure that Full View is checked and that all the boxes underneath are checked.

In Twitter Settings, select Yes on Display your Twitter account if you have a Twitter account and would like those who view your LinkedIn profile to know about it.

For Share your tweets in your LinkedIn status in Twitter Settings, I suggest selecting Share only tweets that contain #in. LinkedIn is not the same audience as your Twitter followers and your tweets may not always be appropriate for LinkedIn. It might be too much noise for your LinkedIn connections if you make each tweet a status update.

Email Notifications

If you would like to display your email address so others can contact you about opportunities, check Contact Settings. Enter your email address in the text box under Opportunity Preferences.

Review Receiving Messages to make sure it’s customized the way you wish as far as frequency of emails – individual delivery, daily and weekly digests or none at all.

Check that you are receiving all invitations under Invitation Filtering.

flickr photo by smi23le

Home Page Settings

In Network Updates –> Manage Updates by Type review the types of updates you want to see on your home page. Your selections here will depend on how interested you are in the LinkedIn life of your connections.

RSS Settings

If you would like to subscribe to the RSS feed for your network updates so you can view them at your leisure in Google Reader, you can get the feed address in Your Private RSS Feeds. An RSS feed will send you updates from your connections and deliver them to a feed reader, like Google Reader. Commoncraft videos explain how RSS feeds and Google Reader work.

Groups

Make sure you are receiving invitations in Group Invitation Filtering.

You can change the order in which your groups are displayed in Groups Order and Display. I’ll go into more details on groups in the next post.

Personal Information

Make sure your full name is checked, not your first name/last initial in Name & Location.

In Email Addresses, always have more than one email address listed in Current Email Addresses. In case you lose access to a work email address, you want to be sure you have a personal one listed there as well.

Privacy Settings

Check Connections Browse. Select Yes to allow your connections to see your other connections. The best approach to social networking is one of giving and helping. You can’t help others by hiding your connections.

Profile Views is a tricky one. Do you want people to know you visited their profile? Does it seem sort of stalkerish to you or completely normal? I go back and forth on this one, sometimes I have name and headline selected and sometimes, when I lean toward halfway hiding myself because I want to be nosy or curious privately, I have anonymous profile selected.

Review your Profile & Status Updates. For Publish profile updates, recommendations and companies you follow?, select Yes because if you make significant changes to your Profile — for example, new title or position, new award, etc. — wouldn’t you want your network to know? However, if you are editing your profile (doing housekeeping) and it’s not newsworthy, change this option to No before you do all that editing so you don’t keep sending out updates on your editing.

For Notify your connections of status updates?, select Yes because this is a great way to stay visible and encourage engagement with your network. Next time I’ll give some tips on using LinkedIn, including status updates.

Update: Part 3

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LinkedIn is the top social network for hiring, according to a recent study. You should take as much care with your LinkedIn profile as you would your resume. This series of three posts will show you how to use LinkedIn for networking, professional development and personal branding. But first, here are some tips to enhance your profile.

Start by going to Profile –> Edit Profile on your LinkedIn home page. On the right, there is a blue bar showing profile completeness that suggests how to reach 100%. Start by following their suggestions until your profile is 100% complete.

linked in basics tips how to

Upload a professional photo, ideally the same photo you use for Twitter, Facebook (unless you prefer something more informal for that platform), your blog or website and any other online communities you frequent. Using the same photo will help establish consistency in your online presence — a personal branding plus, if you’re into that type of thing.

Your Professional Headline — the tagline underneath your name — is by default your title in your Current Position, but you can change this to anything that better reflects what you do and that will be better understood by others. Remember the power of keywords — this field is indexed by LinkedIn search. Use those same keywords throughout your profile.

Websites – List your websites (yours or your company’s) and your blogs. You can customize the descriptor by selecting Other.

Twitter - Add your Twitter account URL and username to the Twitter field. You can also display updates to your Twitter account (your tweets) on your profile page. However, don’t assume your LinkedIn connections are the appropriate audience for sharing all your Twitter updates in your LinkedIn status. Your tweets may be perceived as noise if you tweet frequently. Also, many people tweet not only about their profession or industry, but also about their personal interests – the Tour de France, local news and recipes. Is LinkedIn the appropriate platform to share those tweets? Be selective and add #in only to tweets that are appropriate to share with your LinkedIn connections. Many third-party Twitter applications like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite also give you the option of marking individual tweets for LinkedIn or Facebook.

photo by flickr/nan_palmero

If you have a blog, use one of the Applications (WordPress or Blog Link) to import your blog’s feed into your profile.

Edit Public Profile –> Your Public Profile URL to create an URL (website address) that displays your full name — great for Google indexing — instead of the ugly-looking default address. This more concise URL will be easier to use on business cards and other networking sites. Also, make sure that Full View is selected for your profile.

Add a Summary and Specialties. This is your marketing copy; make it compelling. These are searchable areas so take full advantage of keywords.

Look over each editable area (especially Education and Current/Past Positions) and make sure they are complete. This is the resume portion of your profile. Former colleagues will be able to find you easier if you include past positions.

Interests give a glimpse of the whole person. Your interests may differentiate you or help create a bond to someone with similar interests. Just be smart about what you include.

Add any credentials and awards to Honors and Awards. Don’t forget anything you received due to your volunteer activities.

Ask for Recommendations. Don’t be shy. Do it when someone’s memory is fresh. Include a personal note with your request.

You can rearrange the sections of your profile by selecting the symbol at the top left of each section and dragging the section above or below other sections. Decide which parts of your profile you want to accentuate and drag those sections to a higher position. For example, if you are looking for a job, you may wish to move your Recommendations further up, especially if you have a lot of good recent ones.

Next time I’ll look at the Settings page and some tips on using LinkedIn to share your expertise.

Update: Part 2 and Part 3

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