Larry BraunerI launched my own LinkedIn group, Larry Brauner and Friends, as an experiment early last year. The group has since grown to over 800 members. We’ve explored a wide range of subjects and have hopefully demonstrated the feasibility of using a LinkedIn group for personal branding.

From the outset, I had in mind that when the time was ripe, I would begin conducting live interviews in the group with individuals who were thought leaders in their respective fields. Readers would be able to pose questions regarding a particular response or relevant to the overall conversation, simply by adding a comment. That time has finally come. :-D

Debugging Your Information Technology Job SearchI shall be interviewing over a number of weeks Janice Weinberg, a Westport, Connecticut career consultant and author of career books for IT professionals and managers. Her latest book, Debugging Your Information Technology Job Search, contains many innovative ideas for IT managers and executives through the CIO and CTO level who are seeking new jobs. The book also guides readers in identifying and correcting problems that are preventing them from generating interviews or — if they are obtaining interviews — impeding their ability to receive offers.

My questions to Janice will cover resume-writing, guidance in identifying employers likely to have suitable openings, and techniques for presenting oneself as a strong candidate in interviews. In providing her responses, Janice will draw upon her experience assisting IT managers* in obtaining computer operations, network operations center (NOC), service delivery, helpdesk, application development, program management, technology risk, and IT marketing/sales positions, as well as CTO and CIO jobs.

If you’d like to help your friends who are seeking management jobs, you may want to direct them to the interview: Advice for Managerial Job Seekers From Career Book Author

*Please note that although the emphasis in this author interview will be on providing guidance to IT managers, managers who are not seeking computer-related jobs can also expect to learn novel ideas to help them find more rewarding employment, since some topics I plan to cover will relate to general search strategies applicable to all managers.

Before you go, subscribe to Online Social Networking and “like” Larry Brauner on Facebook. :-)

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Larry BraunerLast week, in Whether Hackers from Anonymous Bring Down Facebook on November 5 as Threatened or Not, I suggested that you find ways to reduce your risk of loss should Facebook go away.

I asked you, “How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now?”

Some readers recommended that we back up our data, but I pointed out that we can not back up our relationships like pictures or profiles.

Sal made a couple of very good points:
Facebook

  1. “I think there is no real way to mitigate completely against the damage that losing Facebook would mean, any more than you could mitigate against losing Google.”
  2.  ”On the Internet, you always have to see it coming and mitigate against it by having as many, diverse, independent sources of prospective customers as possible.”

While I agree completely with Sal’s remarks, I ask, how can we at least partially mitigate against the damage? What practical measures we can take?

Just as an example, we might start groups on LinkedIn and invite fellow Facebook group members to join these groups. Unfortunately, LinkedIn groups don’t have the same functionality as Facebook groups, and not all of our fellow Facebook group members will join us on LinkedIn, but this is nevertheless a practical partial solution.

We might instead choose a Ning social network or a Ning group within a particular Ning social network, etc. You get the idea.

Now it’s your turn again. What are your ideas? I would like to hear them, and I’ll share mine.

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Larry BraunerA Facebook friend recently asked about accepting friend requests on social networking sites, and I promised to discuss the matter. There is no single correct approach. However, by contrasting Facebook and LinkedIn, I hope to present and clarify a few of the issues.

Accepting Friends on Facebook

FacebookFacebook is a social website intended primarily for social networking. Regarding accepting friends on Facebook, whether using Facebook for business networking or social networking, the best approach is clearly to be selective,  because of both privacy concerns and the 5,000 Facebook friend limit.

Should you unwittingly accept a con artist as a friend on Facebook, you’ll give that person greater access to your personal information and the personal information of your friends. If somebody who invites you to become a friend appears suspicious, reject the offer and indicate to Facebook that you don’t know the person.

You also need to be selective, because Facebook friends are limited. I myself accept all requests that are plausible, but I continually unfriend people for one of the following reasons:

  • They spam me or annoy me.
  • Facebook tells me that it’s their birthday, and when I visit their profile pages, I have no idea who they are. In other words, I can’t remember them ever having any interaction with me.

In this manner, I fine tune my friend list, so that when I do reach 5,000 Facebook friends, most of those connections will have real social networking or business networking value to me.

Accepting Friends on LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn is a social website intended exclusively for business networking. Regarding accepting friends on LinkedIn, there are two contrastingly different approaches that have gained acceptance within the LinkedIn community. You are free to choose either approach, but, once you do, you need to follow your chosen approach consistently.

  1. Closed Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn only with people you know or whom your respected contacts introduce to you. LinkedIn recommends and approves of this approach, as it allows you to build a trusted business network.
  2. Open Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn with as many people as possible, since your objective is maximize your reach and visibility on the business networking site. You may occasionally need to remove people who abuse the connection with you. This is the approach I myself have adopted, and you may feel free to invite me. My LinkedIn email is in my LinkedIn profile.

Comments and questions are welcome. Please subscribe and “like” my Facebook page.

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Larry BraunerThe successful LinkedIn IPO last week seems to indicate that investors expect business networking and content curation giant LinkedIn to grow within its niche despite increasing Facebook domination of the social web.

By maintaining a business focus, LinkedIn’s growth could persist unhampered by that of its social networking counterpart. For this reason, many articles have been written of late presenting strategies and techniques to maximize LinkedIn effectiveness, including my own 10 Tips for LinkedIn Social Networking.

LinkedIn Strategy and Technique

LinkedInThe following 18 articles explore a wide range of viewpoints, and they will hopefully help you to formulate and implement your LinkedIn plan:

  1. The LinkedIn IPO: Why it matters to your day-to-day
  2. Web Success in the LinkedIn Era
  3. How LinkedIn Changed The Way I Do Business
  4. LinkedIn Beginner Tips
  5. Social Networking: LinkedIn vs. Facebook
  6. 7 Steps To Help You Build Your Personal Brand On LinkedIn
  7. 10 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn for Personal Branding
  8. LinkedIn Strategies for Personal Branding
  9. How to get Recommendations on LinkedIn
  10. How to Drive Traffic from LinkedIn
  11. HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Advanced Social Media Search
  12. How to Make the Most from LinkedIn Company Pages
  13. LinkedIn Business Profiles: Add Admins to Your Company’s Profile
  14. Is your sensitive company info being leaked on LinkedIn?
  15. Cultivating Meaningful LinkedIn Connections
  16. Building Solid Business Relationships Using LinkedIn
  17. LinkedIn Marketing
  18. 10 Top LinkedIn Open Networkers and Connectors to Follow in 2011

I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn. My email address is in my LinkedIn profile, should you need it.

Please subscribe and “like” my Facebook page, too. :-)

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Larry BraunerSocial networking sites have each a unique protocol and don’t usually provide members with practical how-to advice to help use their sites effectively. They let us figure out the how-tos on our own.

I share in this article my basic LinkedIn how-tos that may shorten your learning curve and save you time and frustration. They are merely suggestions, not rigid guidelines. If you have an idea or advice you find helpful, please share it with us in a comment.

LinkedInHere are ten tips for maximizing your LinkedIn social networking success:

  1. Your LinkedIn profile is your resume. Put at least as much effort into creating and perfecting your profile as you would your resume.
  2. SEO can help you to be findable on LinkedIn, as well as other social networking sites. Employ keywords that are relevant to your work when crafting your profile, so that you and your profile can appear in search results.
  3. LinkedIn permits members to view profiles of other members within three degrees of separation from each other or who share common LinkedIn groups. Increasing your visibility increases your reach.
  4. To increase your vertical reach (in your areas of interest), join every relevant LinkedIn group. To increase your horizontal (i.e. overall) reach, increase your number of LinkedIn connections. I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn!
  5. To increase your number of connections, connect directly to as many other members as you can, especially well connected members. You can send direct connections messages or emails whenever you wish.
  6. Don’t invite people to connect haphazardly, as LinkedIn will restrict you if people you invite complain that they don’t know you (as they sometimes do). Instead, join LinkedIn open networker groups, such as Top Linked, for people who welcome (but don’t necessarily accept) all connection requests. Reach out to fellow group members, and be receptive to members who reach out to you.
  7. Join discussions in groups by posting or commenting when you have something valuable to add, but don’t spam the discussion board or post anything inappropriate.
  8. Tell new connections you’re on Facebook (if you are) when thanking them for connecting. Facebook has made it hard to add friends, so this tactic is useful. (See 3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011: Good-Bye Facebook Open Networking.)
  9. Provide your Twitter handle (if you have one) where requested by LinkedIn to appear in your LinkedIn profile.
  10. Keep at it. It takes a very substantial amount of time to build a strong presence on LinkedIn or any of the other social networking sites.

Happy linking!

Please subscribe and leave me a comment. :)

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Larry BraunerTwitter and LinkedIn partnered last fall enabling you to automatically tweet your LinkedIn status and to post your Twitter tweets on LinkedIn.

However, I envisioned a much more significant integration of the two social media sites than merely enabling users to cross-post with ease.

I predicted in Top 10 Reasons Why the Twitter LinkedIn Partnership is Big News that the integration of Twitter and LinkedIn would reduce an enormous amount of content by functioning more or less like a Twitter list containing members of your LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn Signal Beta

With the recent release of LinkedIn Signal Beta, unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt, a fuller integration of Twitter and LinkedIn is already at hand.

LinkedIn users will be able to search Twitter using keywords and filter the results by degree of connection, industry, company, time posted, region, school and hashtags.

To increase its integration with Twitter, LinkedIn needed the Twitter handles of its users, in order to identify relevant tweets within Twitter’s database. LinkedIn obtained the needed Twitter handles by encouraging users to avail themselves of the initial integration and by letting them display a Twitter link on their LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn Signal New Twitter Search Engine for Business


Uses for LinkedIn Signal

LinkedIn Signal will make LinkedIn the Twitter search engine of choice for business users. At the same time, LinkedIn Signal becomes a powerful online networking tool. You’ll easily see what your connections are tweeting, and you’ll more readily find new people with whom to connect.

LinkedIn is already the business networking site of business networking sites. Now, as a powerful Twitter search engine for business too, LinkedIn is the go-to social website for all hoping to transact business on the web. You’re welcome to connect with me there: www.LinkedIn.com/in/brauner

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Larry BraunerI’m writing about social bookmarking sites because of comments on my Facebook page indicating that people could still be unfamiliar with social bookmarking.

Social bookmarking sites are meta resources that help us to catalog and organize the vast amount of resources that can be found on the web from web pages to pictures to videos and more.

Social Bookmarking Sites Defined

My broad definition of social bookmarking sites is this:

Social bookmarking sites are websites that people use to save, categorize, share and search bookmarks, i.e., links and descriptive data, that refer to resources, such as web pages and other types of web media.

It’s important to note that the resources themselves aren’t being shared on social bookmarking sites, but rather bookmarks referring to the resources. Bookmarks themselves are the content on social bookmarking sites.

My definition of social bookmarking sites includes not only sites explicitly created for bookmark sharing, but multipurpose social networking sites, as well.

Reasons for Social Bookmarking Sites

There are a variety reasons for employing social bookmarking sites, such as saving links, sharing links with others, conducting research and generating traffic.

When generating traffic, it’s essential to share one’s own links sparingly, in order to appear neither as a social bookmarking abuser nor as a spammer.

Popular Social Bookmarking Sites

Social Bookmarking SitesI suggest to you a recent list of popular social bookmarking sites to check out. Let me append Facebook and LinkedIn to that list, which already includes Twitter, since Facebook-page and LinkedIn updates are much like Twitter tweets in that you can explain your links, and your bookmarks are indexed by and available through search engines.

Neither Twitter, Facebook nor LinkedIn are pure social bookmarking sites, as they weren’t created explicitly for social bookmarking.

While Twitter does enable some categorization using hashtags, Facebook and LinkedIn do not, which may have been the reason for excluding them from the eBizMBA list of social bookmarking sites cited.

I personally use a number of the social bookmarking sites in the eBizMBA list including Digg, but I especially like StumbleUpon and plan to use it more and more over time.

My favorite social bookmarking sites that don’t yet receive sufficient traffic to qualify for the eBizMBA list are Business Exchange and Amplify.

Exploring Social Bookmarking Sites

Preferences for social bookmarking sites are different for each individual and project. If you’re new to social bookmarking, explore, experiment and discover the social bookmarking sites that fit your objectives and style.

Karin Boode has started a social bookmarking group on the Small Business Networking site to help us learn from and share our findings with each other. You’re invited to join.

Let’s hear about your experiences with social bookmarking and social bookmarking sites.

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Larry BraunerThis is a quick heads up about a content sharing error that’s easy to avoid.

When you share content on Facebook, LinkedIn or Digg, the site looks for thumbnail pictures it can show with your link and suggests one to you.

I’ve noticed people accepting whatever thumbnail Facebook, LinkedIn or Digg suggests. This isn’t a good practice, because that thumbnail may be irrelevant or even worse, an ad picked up from the linked page.

It’s important to show a thumbnail picture that’s relevant and if possible, one that can pique people’s interest. Therefore, you should go through all thumbnail choices to find the best one. If none are suitable, choose not to display a thumbnail at all. Having no thumbnail picture is much better than having an unsuitable one.

FacebookOn Facebook, you should also write a sentence or short paragraph to introduce the content and consider tagging the author if you follow that person or it’s a friend.

Packaging content and retweets is also a good practice on Twitter, even though Twitter doesn’t use thumbnails in the same way as Facebook, LinkedIn and Digg.

How you package content can be just as important as the content itself.

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Larry BraunerThis is not the first Ning Social Network Controversy and probably not the last one either.

In Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff on TechCrunch, Jason Rosenthal, the new CEO of Ning, revealed that his company will let go of staff and discontinue hosting free social networking sites –  both in an attempt to bolster Ning’s bottom line.

Ning Social NetworkIn an update on Ning Creators, Mr. Rosenthal wrote that Ning will cater to users of its premium services who “represent over 75% of our traffic,” and that he would announce the details of the changes on May 4.

To address the mounting concerns of Ning’s free site creators, he also wrote,  “We recognize that there are many active Ning Networks for teachers, small non-profits, and individuals, and it’s our goal to have a set of product and pricing options that will make sense for all of them.”

My Take on Ning

I personally have been unhappy and hurt by many changes to the Ning social network in the past half-year or so. Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that I completely support whatever Ning decides to do with its business.

After all, Ning exists to generate a profit and return on investment. If Ning believes that changes — no matter how radical they may be — are required to improve its service and increase its likelihood of success, Ning must effect those changes.

Many Ning social networking sites will close down rather than upgrade. I’ll be sorry to see some of them go.  However, there will inevitably be more broken links than broken hearts, since most free sites with active members will upgrade and pay.

I’ll close some of my own Ning networks that are providing little benefit and open other Ning sites.

Alternatives to Ning

A few good free alternatives exist for Ning site creators who prefer not to upgrade:

  • SocialGo - Says on their website that their free social networking sites are “free forever.” It will take effort to get your network started again, but this looks like the best choice as of now.
  • Facebook - A Facebook group isn’t a bad alternative. You’ll need to change your networking paradigm, but in the end, you may be able to attract far more members from within Facebook.
  • LinkedIn - If your network is business oriented, a group on LinkedIn could make sense too.
  • Ning - Start a group within a premium Ning social network. You already understand the Ning platform. If you can find the right home for your group, it will benefit both you and the creator of that Ning site, a win-win situation for both of you.

Let’s all wait until after May 4 to decide upon a course of action.

Have any thoughts about Ning or a good alternative to Ning you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below.

In any case, please subscribe to my blog and join my Facebook page. :-)

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Larry BraunerIn 8 Simple Ways to Penetrate Social Media Clutter, I recommended  that you leverage multiple traffic sources. In Looking for Traffic in All the Wrong Places, I gave you a partial list of the places I look to get more website traffic.

Based upon Google Analytics data pertaining to my recent blog visits, bounce rates and average time on site, I present my top 10 blog traffic sources along with some notes on each:

  1. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing - They account for 35% of my traffic. When my blog was new, I didn’t get any search engine traffic at all. Now, however, I get 5,000 visits from searches per month — including business people seeking precisely the types of services I offer. The credit goes to search engine optimization and to a growing reservoir of content.
  2. Entrecard, a traffic exchange for bloggers - Admittedly, Entrecard provides me with lots of worthless traffic. Fortunately, however, the site provides me with some great traffic too and an opportunity to build key relationships with other bloggers. One of my favorites at Entrecard is Gera from Uruguay, owner of the Sweets Foods blog. He and I are now also connected by email, Facebook and Twitter. As with all other traffic sources, to benefit from Entrecard you’ll need to make a long-term commitment to developing it.
  3. Twitter - I’ve written at length about Twitter. Read Twitter Stats Defy Measurement. I’m happy to have started with Twitter in 2008 when Twitter’s rules didn’t get in the way of building a large following. Today, different tactics are necessary to connect with your target audience. Start by encouraging your website visitors and friends on social networking sites to follow you on Twitter. Then gradually introduce new Twitter tools into your mix. My favorite tool, Tweet Adder, which I use daily, is worth the small investment.
  4. Facebook - I turned my attention to Facebook in June 2009 and experimented with the NetworkedBlogs application, which may have introduced new readers to my blog, but proved to be a poor source of ongoing traffic. On the other hand, profiles, fan pages and events showed themselves to be excellent traffic sources. It seems to me, so far, that Facebook fan pages are very effective as a form of web site subscription.
  5. Ning social network - I’m sorry to report that Ning has morphed into a host of unrelated niche sites. If you have your own Ning site, or a group or lots of friends on someone else’s Ning site, you can use that site to move traffic. As with Twitter, getting started with Ning is harder than it used to be, and the marketing benefits are fewer. I belong to many Ning sites and have several of my own. My primary Ning site is Small Business Network.
  6. Business Exchange - Discovered this social bookmarking site recently and wrote about it in 12 Tips for Using Business Week’s Social Bookmarking Site. I’m hoping that Business Exchange will help me generate a lot of high quality traffic in the year to come.
  7. Blog Catalog - If you have a blog and decide to use BlogCatalog, start your own group there; make many friends on the site and invite them to join your group. Those who join are interested in you and your group’s theme.
  8. StumbleUpon - Planning to learn much more about StumbleUpon and use it much more this year. I’ll keep you posted.
  9. LinkedIn - While well connected on LinkedIn, I’m not using it much at present. Most of my LinkedIn traffic is coming as a result of the Twitter LinkedIn integration.
  10. Ryze - Here I first encountered online social networking back in 2003. I  find Ryze very underwhelming in 2010. The traffic I get from Ryze comes from posting in groups, which are really forums.

I believe that Blogger is sending me websitetraffic because of Google Friend Connect. Also, I heard a rumor that Yahoo! is dumping MyBlogLog. Will let you know about both of them.

You made it all the way down here. Why not scroll down a drop more and leave a comment? ;-)

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