Social Media – What’s the Real Point of it All?

The key to making any social media site work for you so you can become memorable is to use the site regularly. That means posting something, either an update or a question/answer, every seven days at a minimum. Why? Because the more you use any social media site, the higher your “Google Juice” will be—in other words, Google’s algorithm will notice your regularity and you’ll get a higher ranking with Google than you would otherwise. Additionally, the more you interact and post on these sites, the more prominent you’ll become within your network—your name recognition in your industry will grow.

Remember that these days, people will look you or your company up online. That’s why you want a positive presence in the social media scene. For example, in 2008, I Googled one of my executive coaching clients Steve, a petroleum engineer, and got six results. Today I Googled his name in quotes with the words “Oil and Gas” after it, and I saw 475 results. All he did was put up a LinkedIn page, offer his expertise to others, and speak on his specialty in the US and Canada.

Even if you are an engineer, scientist, or doctor and already work over 60 hours a week, you still need to be present in the virtual world. If you can just pick one thing to do, pick LinkedIn. Then join a couple of groups so people with like minds can see what you are all about. If you have a recent article, post it. You don’t have to spend more than 30 to 60 minutes a week to at least be visible.

For aggressive, results-oriented business leaders, staying active on LinkedIn in particular is of paramount importance because you always want have an eye out for top talent. Realize that currently there are over 90 million LinkedIn users worldwide. One new user joins every second of every day. And unlike social media sites like Facebook where many people use the site for entertainment, all LinkedIn users are business minded. That means the connections you develop on LinkedIn are more likely to positively impact you or your company in some way, whether it’s now or in the future. Therefore, if you want better or more professional business relationships, LinkedIn is the place to be. Even if you have a business profile on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn makes a perfect addition to your personal or business branding efforts.


Social Media – Have a Clear Purpose

The following is the third in a series on social media.

Many people think they’re going to get business from being on social media sites. While you can get business from your online activities, this shouldn’t be your ultimate purpose. Rather, your purpose should be to make people aware of who you are by sharing your expertise.

Any business networking site is a place for you to give, not just to get. So to get business from your social media activities, you have to contribute meaningful content. You can find many groups to belong to that have strong, relevant conversations going. If you post something in the discussion that’s smart and useful (good content), then chances are someone will ask to connect with you. Now you have one more person to share your message with.

Other examples of good content are asking thought-provoking questions, posting a motivational quote, and sharing a business tip. No matter what you post, if you get a reply, acknowledge the person for their feedback or contribution. Just as you can’t take people for granted in the brick and mortar world, you can’t take them for granted in the virtual world either. Everyone who reacts to your content is a potential relationship and you need to treat them as such.

When you’re replying to a question someone else poses, you want your answer to be in that first page that comes up. That way anyone who replies or scrolls after you will see your photo and business information, as most people go to the start of the conversation and read several responses before they dive in. With that said, pay close attention to what the question is and don’t answer anything capriciously. Always remember that your reply is posted forever. Make it work for you. Make it count.

Social Media – Don’t be a Contact Collector; Be a Contact Cultivator

The following is the second in a series on social media.

The goal of social media is to build relationships, not just to collect contacts. If you’ve been on any business networking sites, you’ve likely seen people with 500+ connections on LinkedIn or 4,000 friends on Facebook. At first you may think, “Wow, that person sure knows a lot of people.” But does he or she really know those connections? Or is this person just collecting contacts?

Rather than accepting and sending invitations to anyone, be mindful of whom you connect with. When you do make a connection with someone, look over his or her profile and then add a personal note to the person where you indicate a shared interest, club, affiliation, etc. For example, you could respond to someone by writing, “I see you attended Northwestern University (or are a member of the Miami Business Association, or have a pet beagle…). I have a similar interest in that I (also attended Northwestern…am a member of the Tulsa Business Association….have a dog named Summer…etc.).”  You get the idea. Find a shared interest to build upon that will make you stand out and open the lines for real communication later.

My Thoughts on Social Media’s Role in Business and Your Career

Email isn’t the only way to get your message across and isn’t the only communication-oriented technology tool at your disposal.  There’s also social networking (also called social media).  I use both Facebook and LinkedIn for business.

And let’s face it…regardless of what anyone thinks about social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.), the fact is that they are here to stay.  Sure, they’ll evolve over the years and will likely look very different than they do today, but ultimately they’ll still exist.  And while purely “social” social networking sites can have a business aspect to them, it’s important for business owners, executives, and managers to have a strong presence on the tried and true business networking sites (example:  LinkedIn).

Why?  Because your clients, customers, colleagues and others look to business social networking sites for evidence of your character.  For example, when a prospect is thinking about doing business with you or your company, he or she will likely do a social media search.  Never before did average people have the ability to research anyone or any company they wanted.  While in the past background checks were expensive and time-consuming, these days a few mouse clicks and keystrokes can pull up a goldmine of information.  That’s why you and your company need to be on business networking sites…and you need to be using the e-networking sites effectively.

Don’t Hit Send! Avoid These Common Email Pet Peeves

Spam…email chain letters…obnoxious or off-color jokes…these are just a few things that annoy business professionals when it comes to daily email. While you’re likely not sending any of these things, what if your emails to people are just as annoying?

Unfortunately, many people are unknowingly irritating co-workers and clients with bad email etiquette and habits. Even worse, the offenders are tarnishing their reputations in the process, unaware that their emails reflect their personal and company brand, their image, and their credibility.

If you’ve ever wondered why people don’t take action on your emails or why this productivity tool seems to waste more of your time than it saves, you may be guilty of exhibiting a few email pet peeves. Following are the top five email pet peeves in the workplace. Avoid them so your email messages are most effective.


1. Having sensitive conversations via email.

Sensitive and emotionally charged conversations have no place in an email. If you need to fire someone, express disappointment, or apologize, do it face-to-face (most preferred) or via phone. When a topic has emotion behind it, the recipient naturally escalates that emotion when reading the email. Why? Because it’s virtually impossible to display emotion in an email (aside from some carefully placed emoticons, which not everyone appreciates), and humans by nature look for the worst in a message rather than the best. So your innocent question of “Why did you call Mr. Smith?” gets read as an accusatory question, as if you had asked, “Why on earth did you of all people call Mr. Smith and bother him?”

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that many people write things in an email that they would never say in person. They view email as a way to have “safe” conflict without being face-to-face. So they may snap back at someone in a sarcastic way or slam someone professionally or personally. Some people even enjoy this type of conflict, as it gives them a charge. The bottom line is that if your message has any type of intense emotion behind it, don’t send the email. The matter is best addressed in a face-to-face meeting or phone call.


2. Using “reply all” versus “reply.”

Just because you were one of many recipients on a message does not mean everyone needs to hear your reply. For example, a supervisor may send a group message out to the entire department asking who will be present at the quarterly meeting. The only person who needs to see your response is the person who initiated the message, not the entire group. If the group contains 100 people and each one does a “reply all” saying, “I’ll be there,” you’ll have a very cluttered inbox and 100 annoyed people.

Therefore, really think about who needs to see the message before you reply. Obviously, if your company requires that you do a “reply all” for business emails, then by all means do so. Otherwise, use the “reply all” button judiciously. And remember that with a “reply all,” everyone, even someone who was in the BCC line, will see your comments. So you never really know who is getting your message.


3. Using poor grammar and spelling.

A typo every now and then is not a big deal. However, consistent bad grammar and spelling is obnoxious. Email is a form of written communication, so respect the written word. Additionally, this is business, and everything you do, say, and write is a reflection of your professionalism.

When people read your messages, they naturally and automatically make a judgment about you based on your writing. If your writing is poor, everything else about you is in question. After all, if you don’t care enough about your writing, what else don’t you care about? Your product? Your service? The reader? Remember that the written word stays out there forever, and no email message is ever really deleted permanently. Make sure your lasting impressions are good ones – even when you email.


4. Emailing complicated information.

If you have to give someone technical, detailed, or complicated information, do it with a phone call and an email as a backup rather than relying solely on the email communication. Email is best suited for short messages that don’t require a lengthy response. If your email is more than a couple of paragraphs, pick up the phone and talk to the recipient. Use the follow up email to send needed documentation or a recap of your verbal instructions, but don’t expect people to read and act upon a lengthy or complicated message.

Additionally, if you are the recipient of a detailed message and need time to work on the reply, send back a short acknowledgment message that states, “I received your message and am working on the needed items.” And if the reply requires real discussion, then pick up the phone and talk about it. Don’t rely on email for every topic.


5. Writing bad subject lines or not using subject lines.

Unless you’re doing email marketing and relying on your messages to sell people, use straightforward subject lines that reflect the true theme of the message. Leave the cute and clever wording to the marketers. For day-to-day business purposes, plain and direct work best. So rather than have a subject line that reads, “Want to pick your brain,” write, “Need your input on the Jones project.”

Realize, too, that many people use their email as a filing system, and they rely on the subject lines to find key information later. So if all your subject lines are vague (as in “A message from Tom Smith” or “Info you requested”), or if you don’t use subject lines, people won’t know what the message was about when they search their files later. So always write detailed subject lines, as in “Dates for Singapore conference” or “Files for Smith project.” And should the email’s subject change as the conversation ensues, then change the subject line to reflect the new theme.


Get Your Message Across

Email has certainly come a long way in the past couple decades. What was initially viewed as a novel way to share key information in the 1990s is now the preferred method of business communication. But remember, just because something is commonplace and expected doesn’t mean you can become lazy with it. Always use email properly and for the purposes and subjects it was intended. By doing so, not only will you avoid these pet peeves, but you’ll also gain productivity rewards as you enhance your professional reputation.

I’m Shy at Social Gatherings

Dear Jean,

I have a real problem in social gatherings.  I’m really outgoing until I get to a big party.  I seem to do better at small gatherings.  I’m extremely comfortable in a one-on-one situation.  Is there anything I can do to relieve this nervousness in groups?


I feel the same way in groups of people I don’t know.  Once in awhile, I still end up in a corner talking to people I know rather than meeting new people.  A party at my own office is a breeze.  On my own territory, I know exactly what I want to gain from having the party.

The answer to your question lies in your reason for being at the party.  Be clear with yourself.  What is your goal? Are there people you want to meet?  Is this purely networking for business, or are you networking for social reasons as well?  Having a goal will help you walk into a room of mostly strangers.

My goal for a business party is usually quite simple – to make contact with two new people.  After I’ve reached my goal, it’s time to relax.  It’s important to me that the people I’ve met remember who I am and what I do, so when I return to my office, I send them a handwritten note with my business card.

E-Mail and Bad Grammar

Dear Jean,

I receive more than 30 e-mails every day.  I am constantly astounded by the lack of writing skills shown in this correspondence.  I do not expect fine works of literature, but are spelling and basic good grammar too much to ask?


There is e-mail and there is e-mail.  If e-mail is used in the same manner that a formal letter is used, then I agree that the rules of grammar and spelling should apply.  On the other hand, if e-mail is used to take the place of some phone communication, I don’t mind the misspelled words and weird sentence structures.

Now, if you listen in on any spoken conversation, you know that good grammar is usually absent.  Spelling isn’t even a consideration.  As we try to use e-mail in the same manner, grammar and spelling will suffer the same as in regular spoken conversation.

Here’s a question:  If e-mail was strictly required to always be perfect, would it take so long that we could no longer rely on it as an alternative to a phone call?

Here is a link to an article I wrote that was recently published, on E-mail Pet Peeves.  Is your biggest pet peeve mentioned?


Dear Jean:

In my job-hunting research, I keep seeing that I need to “network.”  I know what this means, but I have no clue how to do it.  Where do I start?


Networking for a job is making it easy for the people you know to help you find job leads.  To network, all you need to do is make everyone you know aware that you are searching for a particular job. They, in turn, can keep their ear to the ground for a job that might match your needs.

Have some inexpensive business cards made up with your recent contact information so you can give your cards to people you meet.  If you are within three feet of them give them a card. On the card, you can even include your area of expertise. “Supply Chain Management,” “Legal,” “Administration,” or whatever your specialty is.

To get warmed up to networking, start by talking to the people you know:  Your family, friends, neighbors, cleaners, barbershop, beauty shop, mechanic, etc.  Be specific about what you want in a job and what you have to offer an employer.  Ask them to get the word out on you. Most people won’t, but some really will! Make a list of everyone who will take your call:  Former co-workers, former classmates, neighbors, parents of your kids friends, people you volunteer with, people you go to church with, professionals you use – doctor, dentist, attorney, accountant, investment person, etc. – literally anyone you can think of who will take your call.  Write down their name and phone number and call them right away.

Don’t forget to find out about the reputable staffing and search firms in your area. Pick the top five and fill out an application (applications are taken mostly online) and make an appointment to see them once you establish what you do matches the kinds of people they place.

Next, contact any business associates you have who might be willing to keep an eye out for you.  A good way to do this is to write a quick postcard or email asking for their help in finding your specific type of job.  Action is key. The more feelers you put out the more leads you’ll get.  Job fairs are designed for networking. Be sure to take your resume to this type of event.

Social Media Networking business sites are good too. There are many of them and recruiters often ask to be introduced to you if you have the skill set they are looking for. Chose two or three of the most popular and you will have another place to talk about your work history. On LinkedIn there is a place for “summary” and there you will have a chance to summarize your experience and mention what type of position you’re seeking.

Remember who you contacted by keeping a list and check back with them periodically to let them know you are still in the market.  Keeping your network looking for you saves you a lot of legwork and can be very successful in finding openings that are not being advertised; many of the good positions aren’t advertised.

When you find your new job, it is courteous to let your network know, especially those who have given you a lead or given your resume to a friend.