Social Media Profiles for Professionals

Creating a robust and professional image is a hard thing to do. As online identity and reputation becomes more valuable, focus on profiles that get “maximum bang for the buck.”  Take a moment and setup these three, which will help serve as a healthy foundation for your online presence and give you the benefit of showing up in mainstream search engine results.

There are many reasons you have to consider for maintaining a healthy online presence. You may simply want to have easy to find information, you may want to connect with industry peers, or you may simply want to have some reputation insurance in case Google finds some strange tidbit from your past.

If you are unsure of where to start, the following services will provide a fairly strong online presence. Read more

Online Media Measurement and Brand Control

If you are asking yourself, What is online media measurement? Read on.

Online Media Measurement usually refers to tracking online communications and networking patterns that occur on blogs, podcasts, videos, social communities, and the various commentary that exchanges between them. Many companies are struggled with the task of analyzing when and why people are talking about them online, or if there is something a company needs to be aware of relating to the industry with competitive companies and products.

Why is online media monitoring so important?

Basic business 101 tells us that it is essential to monitor the “pulse” of your consumers, employees, and decision makers. For small business, knowing what your target market is talking about and how they are reacting to similar issues allows you to utilize a nimble business model to achieve rapid growth with short-term opportunities.

For big business it allows businesses to maneuver strategic pitfalls and detect trends in an industry. It is vital to understand what individuals are influencing your market, whether that happens to be an angry consumer or even someone within the organization. From a 30,000 foot view, the ability to measure how your brand, company, and leadership is perceived by online readers could be fundamental to your business- the next set of eyes wandering across the wrong review of your site may be a stock holder in the company or a journalist waiting to spotlight what is happening.

How to approach online media monitoring?

We engage our brains. We participate and join in the conversation. One of the vital requirements in monitoring a conversation is actually knowing the subtle tone and voice of the participants. What may sound gruff to one viewer may be an inside joke amongst friends, and that perception changes based upon how a new participant discovers the information. Did they come in from a search engine? Did they follow a series of comments from another site? Did they have a personal connection to the conversation? Who are they? What are their motifs?

How can you discover what buzz exists about your company?

From a “free perspective” you can establish most of the blog tracking by using a personalized Google homepage or RSS site, setting up watchlists and Google alerts on specific keyphrases. From a less technical perspective, you can simply write up a list of the CEOs and Marketing VPs for ten companies in your industry and they will lead you to 95% of the blog market for you.

  • Take that list of 20 names.
    • Search Google and Linkedin for them.
    • Write down company and professional blogs.
  • Take the 20-50 blogs and enter the URLs into Technorati.
    • Write down the popularity of each blog
    • Rank them in order
  • Starting with the highest ranking blog,
    • Write down the author of the blog
    • Write down the blog’s blogroll

You can also create a homepage or hidden blog page using a widgets from to build a whole bunch of different categories and keywords to monitor.

  • – Feedreader is a FREE RSS news aggregation solution that provides robust,
    state-of-the-art features in an intuitive, user-friendly environment.
  • Bloglines – my preferred RSS reader of choice. A web based platform that allows me to use multiple computers and share my feeds amongst my professional team and friends.
  •– Personalize RSS to get just what you want – from videos to vitamins, finance to fly fishing, technology to toddlers – just pick the news you want.
  • Illumio – is a desktop RSS reader, one of the few that has the ability to join groups and have conversations with other like-minded readers. This places it in an RSS Reader/Social Networking category.

Blog Search Engines

  • – has a fairly active database of blogs online, and includes some extra functionality with a keyword trending tool that allows you to chart specific mentions of a name over time.
  • – is my preferred blog search tool. You can easily browse search terms, add functionality to your browser, see what is “hot or not” and re-republish information on your own site.
  • Google Blog Search – I don’t often use Google blog search, but it is sometimes an easy alternative with having it be “one click away” from some of my other daily searches. It is also very easy to add on to my iGoogle homepage. Of the three choices however, it provides the least amount of data for the casual observer.

Blog Communities

  • BlogCatalog & MyBlogLog – see the section on the right column with little pictures? That is MyBloglog. It provides me with fairly detailed information about a variety of the readers browsing this site. It also allows me to follow my readers (or any blog’s readers) back to another site and see what communities they are involved with. This information is vital to me, as a site with MyBlogLog (or it’s competitor BlogCatalog) has the ability to quickly identify what sites are influencing an industry.

Search Engine Ranking

  • Semonics (very cheap) can be used for some added functionality for a marketing / PR use. They provide index ranking and search ranking reports

What questions should you be asking?

  • Is my company name being talked about?
  • Is my company tagline in the news? What about my products?
  • Is my management team in the conversation? is their reputation?
  • Are my employees talking about us? what about x-employees?
  • Do my competitors have any buzz about them?
  • Who are the influencers of the conversations?
  • Who is reading it all?


With the explosion of companies trying to jump into the social media waters, many marketing agencies and public relations firms are looking at what they can “squeeze into a box” so that they can package direct solutions (i.e. automated) to clients. The development of thousands of new communication technology platforms (each with slightly different penetration, reach, functionality, and metrics) creates a huge problem with creating automated statistical tracking.

As more and more companies dive into this problem, the conversations being monitored by company X with toolset X will become lost in cyberspace as a specific industry marketplace adopts different methods of online conversation.

For the companies who do stay on top of conversations and understand the way the market moves- they will have an opportunity for analysis, improved business intelligence, brand protection, customer support alternatives, market research, and new channels for product marketing.

Other articles in the blogosphere:

Professional Reputation Control or Insurance?

In today’s world it is far too easy to be ignorant of your online reputation. It is even easier for it to instantly vaporize and let someone tear it into a barely recognizable brand that you will fess up to being involved with. Every blog, community site, customer review, or competitor has hundreds of different options to voice viewpoints and concerns against a company. If you haven’t done it already… start understanding how to use tools to monitor social media and take proactive steps to keep your business in working order.

Your second option is to ask the simple question:

Can this happen to me?

Yep it sure can.

As a case example, I pulled a local article from Washington CEO Magazine on the Top 100 Companies to work for in 2007. I pulled some of the names off the list and did a quick query in Google. Here are some of the headlines I found on the proper names of the “Top 100” companies:

Result 7 – Zillow – Google Headline “How Good are Zillow’s Estimates?”
“Zillow came within 5% of the price in a third of the transactions studied by The Journal. It was more than 25% off target on 11% of them. In 34 of the 1,000 transactions, Zillow was off by more than 50%.”

  • Our view: If you are a user or an investor of Zillow, you’ve more than likely been exposed to this article and several like it. How does it make someone feel that the Wall Street Journal (considered to be one of the most respectable news sources) is saying Zillow zestimates are 50% off?

Result 6 – Comcast – Google Headline “A Comcast Technician Sleeping on My Couch” A Comcast cable technician came to replace a cable modem and fell asleep while waiting for the customer service group. As of this article it was viewed: 1,219,303 times! (At 58 seconds long, that is A LOT of bad reviews for Comcast.) It had 714 comments.

  • Our View: Holy smokes Batman. 1,219,303 views! I don’t know any company that wouldn’t suffer a marginal impact to marketing, sales, and customer service numbers when a million different people have watched how lackluster Comcast support is.

Result 3 – Spokane Federal Credit Union Review – Citysearch Review – “I had an account with Spokane Federal for many years and I was never really that impressed, they pretty much just took care of what I needed and nothing more, overall I would say that they met, not exceeded my expectations”

  • Our View: Even though Spokane Federal Credit Union has plenty of coverage, it would be easy to bump off a lack-luster review saying they are nothing but mediocre.

Result 3 – Zango – PC Hell: Zango Removal Instructions – “Zango is a entertainment site with free access to videos, music, games, and other downloads. The site is free to all users, but is paid for by advertisements. Visitors are presented with an end user license agreement that they accept before downloading any content.”

  • Our View: Here is a Desktop Software company that has hordes of people using Zango gaming software, and every time someone Google’s their name you get “PC Hell – Zango Removal Instructions” thrown at you. If I bought a desktop system that had them pre-installed on it, you can bet that I would remove it in a heartbeat. I don’t need some casual gaming platform slowing down my PC while I need to number crunch my data or send an important e-mail.

It doesn’t make a difference of who you are (how big, or how little), this can happen to you.
It happens to Comcast and Zillow.
It also happens to the little guys.

If you look at this problem from a strictly numbers point of view, Comcast buys it’s own keyword of “comcast” from Google so that it can keep company branding and results at the top of Google. If I were to buy that keyword, it would cost roughly $1.25 per click, and there are 5500 estimated clicks per day on it (that is a daily budget of $6000 to $8000 per day on that keyword).

If Comcast is paying only $.25 per visitor for that keyword… imagine that those 1,219,303 video views cost Comcast a minimum of $250k in lost “clicks”, not counting how many customer service problems and public relations issues it causes.

Read these articles to start examining your own brand:

Social Media Measurement and Brand Control.

Can the Web Destroy Your Business? Yes it can.

social media community subscription

Online Reputation Measurement and Analysis

I receive plenty of feedback from peers in the social media space about “reporting and analysis” of the metrics behind online conversations. How do you measure buzz, authority, perspective, bias, trending, cost? All of the above? A mixture of it all?

Regardless of what you measure, with social media the latest information is the most relevant. As a part of this ideology I wanted to go back to last year and clip an article that I wrote in September of 07. While the dates have changed a little- the unfortunate problem it covers in our industry is growing bigger and bigger (rather than smaller).


Having been a consultant regarding online media for over a decade, I am constantly growing very weary of informational white-paper companies that are charging top dollar for “analysis” of an industry that is forever changing. In my previous life working at a Fortune 50 company on interactive projects, I can tell you that far too many “big boy” companies are absolutely relying on the wrong informational sources to make huge decisions. This old-school system is leading more and more companies down the path of digital suicide.

Today I was sent a reminder about a white paper from IDC, an analyst and research company that defines itself as“the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 900 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 90 countries worldwide.”

While I have no doubt that IDC and companies like it have some amazing information to browse through and collect, I do find that information research firms are moving more and more into “uncharted waters” where they seem to have little actual experience.

Enter Social Media.

The U.S. Social Networking Application 2007–2012 Forecast and Analysis only costs $4500 from IDC.

For purposes of full disclosure, I did not buy this report for two main reasons:

At 22 pages long, it barely has enough room to address the 10+ companies it details.

Every day since it was published in August, 2007 – more and more details become completely irrelevant.

I also didn’t buy it… because just reading the description left me asking questions:

How does a comprehensive report of this topic only have 10+ companies? Last time I checked my bookmark list and personal research papers, there were hundreds of social networking applications.

Why would anyone actually pay $4500 for a white paper that has old data with minimal focus to your business, when for $4500 I can point you to several amazing consultants (some on my team, some on other teams) that will write a 22 page breakdown of how social networking/media affects YOUR business?

When will decision makers and researchers realize that this marketplace is changing on a daily basis? By the time I hit “post” on this article… chances are that some of the information could already be old. The top “movers and shakers” in the world of social media, community applications, widgets, digital communications, and everything Web 2.0 and beyond are creative and fluid thinkers that are making decision based on the “here and today”, not what happened last month.

If you are reading this, you probably realize the social media marketplace is about thinking outside of the box and understanding what potential is right around the corner. Leveraging this technology is about keeping an ear to the ground and a voice in the conversation. It is about new possibilities.

This industry is about understanding that at 2:00 AM this morning, some geeky college intern is eating a bowl of Cheerios and finishing his coding of the next Google, or creating the next FaceBook platform that will change the way the market works. There is no “on-going consistency” in the online world. It is fluid, changing, and amazingly imaginative.

For $4,500… people can stop relying on already dated information and actually get some real consulting about what is happening today.


I know that old article was a little abrasive, but as an industry participant my responsibility is to raise my hand and voice concern over obvious problems. I have written about things like ethical media consulting, talked about how social media influencers are targets of media manipulation, that ANY business can perform social media measurement and brand control, and have even written up a social media manifesto defining some of my personal beliefs about this industry.

As a professional in my space, I make every attempt to be a thought-leader and thought-provoker. I share my expertise freely, hoping that readers take a moment to think about the “how and why”, motivating them to change a broken industry trend within their own sphere of influence.

Why? This industry is about making BIG decisions that have a “trickle down” effect that changes the way millions of professionals do business. If you do not ask some of the bigger questions and examine the why of how data is created and manipulated, then you become guilty of blindly accepting of “how things are”

social media community subscription

Corporate Brand and Reputation – How Digg Kills

Corporate social media is a huge buzz phrase. A company’s brand online- through social media reputation and word of mouth marketing is beginning to have more and more weight in today’s marketplace. In the past, the saying used to be that one bad customer could relay the story to ten you never met. In the social media world, one customer can reach thousands they have never met (sometimes millions). Today’s contender for brutality to a companies reputation is “The Worst Company in America Award“, via Digg, Google, and a million online readers.

This years contest winner was Countrywide Home Loans. 123 deals with companies having severe reputation and brand problems online, but Countrywide beats most of them on a scale of how problematic it can be.

I first found out about the tongue-in-cheek contest at Digg. The story had received over 1000 “thumbs up” votes. When an article receives that many votes the information is pushed onto the front page of Digg (which has 230 million+ pageviews/month and 26 million uniques) where it sat for the better part of a day. That roughly equates to about six million page views, along with 161 comments.

Examining the “big picture” of the “Digg Effect” brings in some truly amazing numbers when you search the site for other articles including Countrywide. In the past year they have had many articles involving them (all bad) submitted to Digg, with a total of 11,820 votes. Multiply the number of page views by the number of times one of the stories found itself on the homepage and you have a much bigger issue.

Most marketers immediately think that the damage is self-contained to the community users of Digg. Unfortunately Google loves Digg. Stories reaching the front page often emblaze themselves permanently into the search terms for the article. In this case – the term was “Countrywide Home Loans

Countrywide Social Media Reputation

Within 24 hours, the Digg story was prominently on the sixth result for Countrywide’s own name- reading ” Digg-Worse Company in America – Countrywide Home Loans”

By the end of the day Google had found the original content for the site running the contest and replaced it with the actual link to the consumerist article.

On the Consumerist site, the two originating articles that ended the contest received 31,000 and 34,000 views, with a total of 266 comments.

Before counting all the social media traffic that read these articles, we can assume that some of the 189 to 236 people a day who search for “Countrywide Home Loans” also read the articles when they see the search result.

How much brand damage does social media expose a company to? I would say a lot. In Countrywide’s case, proudly displaying the “Worse Company in America” title on your own name via Google is costing them millions.

Countrywide Home Loans has also found itself displayed on two other sites: where a neglected author states “Please take the time to read my story and see how I was ripped off by Countrywide Home Loan.” and which is a community forum that has 446 conversational threads about Countrywide.

Some other examples of how social media is driving reputation into the ground:

Growing Pains Hit Dell’s Customer Service: In 2004 CNET had a review of Dell’s customer service, garnishing 129 comments. As time went on, customers lovingly began referring to dealing with Dell customer service as “Dell Hell

Other sites dedicated to promoting company mistakes:

Rip-Off Report: Probably the most well known reputation destroying site, this site ranks in Google’s top ten search results for all sorts of rip-offs and scams, as an example case PepBoys (the auto store chain) has 115 mentions on the site. In the search engine world, Ripoff Report has been reviewed by experts like myself and Rand Fishkin over who examined if Rip-Off Report was merely a scam and extortion scheme. This site ranks in Google’s top ten search results for companies like Capitol One, featuring a dozen or more reviews of the company that have received three to five thousand readers in the past two months.

If you have stake in a company, take some of the steps required to protect your brand and assets online. I’ve included links below to some of my articles on reputation control and brand protection, in addition to ways you can monitor and leverage different online assets in your favor.

United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton under attack – by pilot Union.

Professional brands have always been subject to attack in the media, but until recently there have not been too many options for creating your own news channel to use as platform for staging complaints. A few days ago Robert Mark from covered “United Pilots give Tilton a Kick” based on United Airline pilots launching a blog asking for the termination of the company’s CEO Glenn Tilton.

United Airline Pilots “We’ve started this web site because we’re tired of seeing the Tilton organization play the blame game”

Robert does an excellent job of defining some critical elements of the pilots site:

“Although the anti-site is not new, this well-organized site is quite a clever tactic. It’s easy for anyone to choose a juicy topic from the menu like Tilton’s “Operational Failures,” strategic blunders, financial or even employee and customer service screw ups like, “Only 38% of United employees are proud to work for the airline.” Ouch.

Something Tilton is just going to love is the convenient message form tied to Mr. Tilton’s e-mail so anyone can send him a comment. My guess is that mailbox is going to fill up pretty quickly.”

Looking away from the site, this is a coordinated effort to destroy a professional reputation (and I must add, it is a pretty well-thought effort too.)

If you search Google for – Glenn Tilton, there are 113,000 documents.

The first result is a Wikipedia entry that has already been edited to mention the GlennTilton site launched four days ago:

“The Air Line Pilots Association has long been a critic of Tilton’s management style and airline experience. On August 11, 2008, ALPA launched a website calling for Tilton’s resignation at

Tilton has also been a vocal proponent of mergers in the airline industry, dating back to United’s bankruptcy days. Tilton attracted much scorn for his views on mergers, until recently with talk about consolidation among US network carriers.

Upon exiting bankruptcy, Tilton received compensation valued at $39,700,000, mostly in stock options that vest over several years, and this caused unrest among the airlines labor unions.”

United Pilots, flight attendants and supporters picket outside the United Airlines' shareholders meeting June 12.The second result is an article form the Chicago Sun-Times, “United Pilots want CEO Glenn Tilton to resign.” which clearly covers a statement made by the Union “the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association said United needs new leadership. It launched a Web site to draw attention to what it says have been Tilton’s failures since he took over as CEO in September 2002.”

“‘‘This is not a personal attack on Glenn Tilton,’’ Wallach said. ‘‘These dismal numbers speak for themselves. They are a reflection of his inability to lead, his incompetence as a manager and his failure in virtually every category that can be measured. We have tried every conceivable way to convince him to invest in, and maximize the goodwill of, his employees. He has failed miserably.’’

Aside from Glenn Tilton, the bigger picture for online reputation problems extends to the overall United brand as well. On a search for United Airlines, one first page result is a wonderful article from titled “Fatal Events Since 1970 for United Airlines (if that isn’t a bad brand line, I don’t know what is.)

The second negative result is a site playing on the same letters as United: The brutal items to assemble information against United are well assembled into brand problems that would rock the most hardened company: The worst airline — ever, Legal Action Time, Form Letter Time, Mishandled Minors, Joining Lawsuits are all examples of categories of information there.

According to, Untied receives roughly 11,000 unique visitors a month who read that information. Assuming that an average ticket is $300 to $400, how many of the 11,000 unique visitors a month to are either prospective United customers or current ones? Even if only 5% are (500 monthly unique visitors) the monthly brand damage by this one site can be estimated at $150k to $200k in lost revenue. Unfortunately I would estimate that the actual percentage of possible/current airline clients is in the 25% or higher range ($750k to $1 million monthly brand impact.)

If you are aware of other brand issues online and would like us to cover some of the ramifications or solutions to the situation, please contact us. Our team is always looking at these issues and examining how they are affecting business. FYI- we like hearing about positive social media brand impacts as well!

Online Reputation Repair

Professional communicators have many names for it: Brand Management, Brand Preservation, Reputation Control, Public Relations, Identity Messaging. It all comes down to having a unified presence for your professional image. When people search online, they begin with the initial step of reviewing information about the “who, what, where” of your company and staff. The decision to do business with you may come down to a brutal but simple “thumbs up, or thumbs down”

This situation can be boiled down to one or two very simple questions: Do you remember a professional situation where you found out through a friend of a friend that some nasty rumor was floating around? What about the time you found out six months afterwards – or the time it seemed like everyone but you knew the rumor?

While the online world is transforming business, it is also transforming the way potential customers, employers, employees, and mainstream media is finding out information about your business. The blogosphere has begun transforming search engines into conversations about your reputation.

Many businesses understand the value of showing up for a beneficial keyword such as “New York Real Estate,” but what happens when your business shows up for “Real Estate Fraud” because an unsatisfied client or unscrupulous competitor managed to get a story to show up under searches for your company name?

When such reputation nightmares happen, companies face the challenge of removing those negative results off the first few pages of the search engines or with getting information out there that provides a balanced dose of positive articles. Unfortunately it is often impossible to get a negative article removed from search engine results, but it is possible to make sure that it is hard to get information to show up instead.

Here are ten recommendations for establishing a healthy presence and reputation on the search engines.

1. Make sure your own Web site shows up.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but unfortunately I’ve seen several $25k sites that don’t even show up in the search engines for the proper name of the business or the executive team. Do not trust your Web designer when they say your Web site shows up. Check yourself. Try doing a search for your company name and brand, along with the personal names and brands of the people on your team.

2. Buy the domains that are important to your business.

When you created your site, sounded great. How about your personal name How about your Domains cost less than $10 a year each, so spending an extra $20 to $100 dollars a year could be a very worthwhile investment if you plan on having control of your brand. If properly setup all those extra domains provide a sure-fire way to have your main business site show up on a variety of names that are important to you.

3. Start a blog.

You have, but how about buying as a blog? You can use popular blogging software such as to create an almost free blog attached to your current Web site. By providing fresh and weekly content to the blog, the articles in it will show up on various long-tail keyword phrases for your company name. After a few months you will have multiple results whenever someone searches for your company.

4. Use sub-domains.

If you really do not want to budget for buying individual domains, try sub-domains on your primary domain. Most hosting services allow you to have multiple free sub-domains such as Sub-domains are treated as individual sites in the eyes of the search engines and have almost as much power as the primary domain. By adding a few pages of information to sub-domains such as biography, careers, location, and team, you can add dozens of results for searches to find your information.

5. Use social media accounts on other sites.

There are literally dozens of social media sites out there that can be used to create free profiles that show up for your company name.,, and offer free profiles that show up in the search engines. When you are given the choice of creating a profile name or adding a title to the account, think carefully about the exact phrase you want to be found under and try to utilize your company’s most common name.

6. Grow a social media site.

Search engines love constantly growing and evolving information. By starting your own forum or social media community, you can provide the search engines with new pages of information under your company name every time one of your users creates a new page or comment on your social media system.

7. Check out pay-per-click ads.

While I almost never endorse paying for pay-per-click advertising, you may find someone has decided to spend the $1 a click to advertise why they hate you on your own name or for the terms that drive business to you. There are ways of requesting this advertising cease by contacting the search engine, and if you spot something on your own name make sure you click it once or twice… you’ll find some quick comfort knowing you just cost the person a few dollars.

8. Use free directory profiles.

There are literally hundreds of free directories online. Google, Yahoo, and Superpages are all examples of sites with free directory profiles. In addition to having the benefit of being found by the search engines, having profiles on these directories is a way of being found by fairly substantial user communities. After creating the profiles, be ready for the follow-up sales call looking to offer you a lot of fairly useless advertising enhancements.

9. Volunteer your information and expertise on other sites.

The blogging world is always looking for fresh information. If you have a recent article or viewpoint to share, contact a local blogger or newspaper. Good information is always newsworthy, and it is usually fairly easy to get information published about a local community event you are sponsoring.

10. Use video.

You may be saying “but I don’t have a $5k budget to waste on fancy video.” Don’t listen to your budget! It doesn’t take a huge budget to put on a business suit and find a decent backdrop to take a quick thirty second video of your office. Even a casual video on YouTube under your company name is a hundred times better than an aggressive attack from an opinionated critic.

There are hundreds of other ways that can be tied together into a solid foundation for your business reputation and brand. Depending on the goals of your business, the above points can be integrated into search engine marketing plans to drive SEO results, to aid specific business projects, coordinate affiliated business partners, or even to establish your own business community. Taking a few minutes to examine and detail your current situation and the goals of your brand is essential to safe-guarding a company’s future. Understanding what people find when they search for your company name and how they interact with that information is critical to making sure that searchers find the information you want them to.

CEO Guide to Linkedin

LinkedIn is currently the largest professional network where individuals connect with prospects, employers research information on new candidates, and a mix of knowledge is relayed. Currently populated by over 20 million users and growing at a million members per month, the average age of users is 41 and there is at least one executive from every Fortune 500 on the site.

From a business perspective there are three basic methods of using LinkedIn:

  • Growing your network
  • Sourcing experience and information
  • Promoting a brand (individual or business)


Have a strategy
Some people “jump right in” to Linked in and lose a lot of potential benefits from the very start. Read through this entire article and plan on spending at least an hour (or more) browsing around LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a virtual cocktail party, and take the effort to connect some dots in your plan before sticking your foot in your mouth.

Creating a robust profile
Your professional brand can be polished in many ways. LinkedIn is a community model, the information you reveal will often be viewed from hundreds of different perspectives. You should only include resume information that is relevant to the goal you are trying to reach, if you are a business coach – drop off those entrees from fifteen years ago that have irrelevant entries about being a restaurant manager. Streamline your information down to precise bullet points that highlight your talent and accomplishments. Most importantly, if you have had a change in your goals, make sure to update the way you are selling your personal brand.

Your Foundation Network.
If you are not on LinkedIn, chances are a few of your professional friends are not either. You should have a list of twenty professionals you currently have good relationships with, and immediately do a search for them on LinkedIn. If they are not present, forward this article to them and ask them to join you online; if they are present- ask them to write a recommendation or testimonial for your current work. Many professionals on the LinkedIn network are qualifying you based upon what others have said, and without some initial foundation here you cripple your efforts.

  • Karma goes a long way
    While establishing your foundation network, realize that it is a two way street. Many professionals will reciprocate a worthwhile reference or testimonial if you take the time to write one about them beforehand.
  • Keep Your Network Clean
    The people in your professional network should be assets, individuals who have good things to say about you, connect you to the right people, and help grow your professional brand. In that mindset, if you wouldn’t be interested in introducing a person at a live event as a professional friend, you probably shouldn’t be listing them on your LinkedIn network either. All of these individuals affect your online reputation and many of them actually detract from your brand. If someone should glance at your online network- they should be thinking “wow, this person knows some great people.”

Growing Your Network
The age old saying “its about who you know” is literal truth on LinkedIn. It is not about having a massive number of fans or virtual friends. Your network is about connecting with other connectors, people who can introduce you into real world relationships that can benefit your business. You may want to immediately “grow out” a network of 1000 professionals… but hold on and trim the fat. Keep high-quality contacts and grow other high quality contacts.

  • It may be professional, but it really is personal.
    When you add someone to your network, take the step of making a personal connection. Immediately write them an e-mail, drop them a phone call, or invite them to lunch. Go outside of the normal “canned introduction” that LinkedIn provides and establish yourself as a real person. In order to do this, take ten minutes to read through the person’s profile, blog, and company site so that you can talk sensibly about what you can do for each other. The key here is mutual benefit. Don’t go banging on doors selling vacuum cleaners and canned product pitches, sell yourself into a relationship and make a connection first.
  • Utilize the “inner circle” introduction.
    Don’t go blindly asking for people to add you to their network. Use introductions from people you know. Most professional have an “inner circle” of friends and family- typically only 20 to 50 strong. These inner circle networks have strong relationships often established over years, and if your inner circle introduces you to someone in their inner circle- the introduction is worth its weight in gold.
  • Business Cards – left vs right pocket.
    If you attend a social or networking event and receive a few business cards, take a simple step to organize your networking clutter. Make a decision to put really uninteresting people in your left pocket… and really useful people in your right. Take a moment the next day to e-mail all your contacts and do two things – 1) invite them to continue your conversation and 2) establish a networking connection on LinkedIn.

Sourcing experience and information
A key benefit of LinkedIn is the communication of knowledge. As a professional, you have access to 24 / 7 expertise from your direct network and from the global community. As part of your “LinkedIn Strategy”, take a few moments to consider the follow:

  • Understand the Economy (and value) of Information
    Turning to your professional network for expert opinions and recommendations represents an ability to leverage thousands of dollars in free information and to educate yourself on complicated business decisions. If you have a network of only 50 professionals and each of those professionals have a network of 50, your immediate network has a foundation of 2500 providers who can offer ideas, questions, and insight to your current problems. As the economy of information increase to 100 professionals with 100 contacts each, you reach over 10,000 information providers who can streamline hours off your workload and may even save you months of effort by avoiding common industry pitfalls.
    As an example of this benefit, I asked the question at LinkedIn “What are the best blogs, how-to, and guide sites out there covering the latest Web 2.0 / social media trends in regards to business development?” and within 24 hours received six answers. I could have spent countless hours searching for the information I received in the answers. (You can read more in-depth about that question and its results in this article: 123 LinkedIn Social Media Answers.)
  • Asking questions:
    Narrow down your inquiry as much as possible when looking for an answer. If you don’t, you run the risk of the community answers hi-jacking your question and going down a path you didn’t intend to travel down. Whenever possible, provide informational links to help inform people reading your question so that they can provide a clear and relevant answer. Going through the extra step of detailing what you know (or don’t know) will help expert members respond to your question at the appropriate skill and informational level.
  • Answering questions to find information:
    One of the easiest ways of sourcing information is to help clarify another person’s question. Community interaction can help take a rough statement and polish it into a diamond. By participating in on-going conversations, you have the ability to steer answers in a direction that can provide value to you, while at the same time educating readers on points that you have already answered. Even as someone who is not an expert, it gives you the opportunity to state what you believe to be true and someone can validate your understand or identify that you have the wrong information. In any case, offer a thank you: someone who is spending the time to provide free information and clarification of your thoughts is an asset worth acknowledging.

Promoting a brand (individual or business)
Everyone loves a little self promotion, but understand that LinkedIn IS a social network. Before you go beating down every door and shamelessly pitching what you have to offer, realize that there is a cost associated with any worthwhile relationship- you must offer something to balance out what you are taking from the individual (or the community.)

  • Become an Expert
    linkedin social media expert By answering questions from the LinkedIn community you can earn “expert points”, these add over time and eventually push your profile higher than other professionals in your field. This added exposure increases traffic to your profile and helps establish your knowledge in your industry (just like keeping an expert focus blog), and you can earn a little green star on your profile alerting community members to your knowledge.
  • The Real World
    So now you have a networking empire of dozens (or hundreds) or great people… what do you do with it? You use it. If you add someone to your network, take the time to make a personal connection. Invite your world into interactions that include you. This could range from professional mixers to evening get-togethers, a cup of coffee or dinner someplace new, or just an invitation to some healthy conversation.Most importantly, use your network. Your professional network is a highly reactive marketplace. If you need someone to re-design your house, ask your network for a referral to someone they know. (If you need someone to help with online business promotion use me!) By utilizing professionals in your network, you help establish mutual connection and return what you have benefited from.
  • Take your network and make it a community.
    Just a few focused professionals can take a network of 1000 people and turn it into a thriving community of business exchange. By scheduling repeat and consistent contact, a network contact will evolve into a community relationship. By forming groups on like-minded topics such as the 123 Social Media LinkedIn group, professionals have the chance to establish methods of routine contact for each other. Professionals within local geographic areas can also form groups for city professionals to join, which also gives them the ability to network within group interests.

Conclusion Points:

  • Don’t wait for someone to network, pick up the phone and invite something to happen.
  • Use the system to find new contacts and take action.
  • Share your expertise and knowledge.

Leave a comment if you found this information useful or if you would like to have a follow-up article on some of the more robust features found in LinkedIn (advertising, business groups, etc).

If you use Outlook, you can download the LinkedIn Outlook plugin here.

If you would like to connect with me, visit my new View Barry Hurd's profile on LinkedIn

You can also join the 123 Social Media group on linked in by clicking here.

or just read more at the LinkedIn blog.

Executive Reputation Profiles

There are more professional networking and community sites today than you can shake a stick at. Yet as a professional business person, you need to have a presence on some choice locations to network with others, establish a communication channel, protect your reputation, and establish a brand for your company. In the online world, you have approximately ten seconds to “sell yourself” to a casual viewer. Depending on the method they find your information however, they may not be a casual viewer. They may actually be a “investigative prospect” actively looking for information about who you are.

The first place 99% of these viewers is going to begin looking for you online is in a search engine (Google / Yahoo / etc). Whether the profile in question is an individual or business one, establishing proper profiles on social media sites can increase search recognition, bolster traffic on specific phrases, and control how visitors perceive your information and presence. You need to have a PROFESSIONAL profile, image, and brand

What is a Professional Social Media Profile?

A professional social media profile is created like a well-tuned resume. It is your chance to high-light the best parts of who you are.

It is a “go to” source of information on you, your company, and the brand both entities have online. A well thought profile has the ability to influence readers and promote your brand. It also has the ability to act as a hub of information about different items such as reputation, testimonials, and reviews of your professional life.

Who needs one?

Everyone. Every business. Every team.

How many do you need?

The more the merrier.

Why does everyone need one? Why have multiple profiles?

The world of “search engines” is an evolving creature. When someone looks for your name or the name of your business online, what are they going to find? If you don’t have some established and professional profiles, they are going to find what someone else said about you or be subject to some company putting up random information on the search results of your name.

If you are “John Doe” the professional for instance, it is useful to understand that at least a few people have searched for your name online in the past six months. Depending on the exact industry and way you present yourself in the real world, that could lead to anywhere from one to thousands of monthly searches for your name.

Each profile you have online allows the search engines to have one more valid (and informative) result about who you are. If you have five different profiles online, when someone does a search for “John Doe” it increases the chance of having multiple results for your name on the first page of the search results. If you have a highly competitive name (and there are thousands of people named John Doe) you can link them properly to your website, e-mail, newsletter, and business cards to help enhance your brand control.

Most importantly- profiles you create have YOUR information and are under YOUR control.

As a professional, when was the last time you blindly trusted a random person to tell someone else who you were? If you have been in business for any length of time, the answer is probably a long time ago or never.

If you avoid having at least one professional social media profile, you are literally throwing yourself at the mercy of a stranger. They could say good or bad things, provide correct or wrong information, or purposely mislead someone into thinking something about you.

Where can you get a social media profile?

There are literally hundreds of sites that can create a profile on to help control your brand. Some example sites:


What are some of the uses for having a profile?

  • You can use it to establish credibility.
  • You can coordinate your reputation.
  • You can catalog your testimonials (Namyz and Linkedin)
  • It can connect your online brand and offline brand (use it on your collateral)
  • You can pro-actively have an impact on your reputation.
  • It becomes a business and professional asset, growing with time.
  • It gives your audience (prospects, clients, and peers) a place to interact with you.

Why is all this important?

While some companies focus on “the top”, this is a fundamental problem in online marketing and brand promotion. Top results in search technology and branding are created by establishing a presence in many different places. You want people to have easy and quick access to accurate and worthwhile information about your professional brand. You also want viewers to recognize you as a leader in your industry and an expert in your area of focus.

How do I Create Professional Social Media Profiles?

Step One: Use strategy. Before you start creating profiles and running amok through dozens of social media sites, sit down and detail why you are creating these profiles. Securing a personal brand name, achieving higher search engine results, and exposing your company message to the community are all good goals. Each and every user of social media is going to have different personal and professional goals.

  • How do you want to present yourself?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Will you be active in the community?

Step Two: Identify the information you want communicate. To save a lot of time and effort, collect the information you want to share with the world. If this is a professional application to enhance your career status, have an updated resume on hand and highlight the information you want to use. Consistent and clear information through-out a social media project is essential.

It is best to have a semi-polished presentation to your profile, but also try to understand the tone and culture of the site the specific profile is on. Every social networking site has a different demographic on it (Myspace is youthful and hip, Linkedin is professionals, Biznik is entrepreneurial) and while someone may find your profile through a search engine, you also have the opportunity to interact with the community on the site itself.

  • What name do you want to use? This is important- as your name will be a primary way people find this information through searching.
  • What keywords do you want to be found under? In any profile system that allows titles, descriptions, and other information- your priority keywords should be used.
  • What visual picture is going to represent you? Almost every profile allows an image, have a company logo and profile image handy.
  • What testimonials can you share? Everyone has a few good things other people have said.
  • When your business was established
  • What type of products and services you offer
  • What your IDEAS and INSIGHTS are.
  • Who is your ideal client (your target market)

Step Three: Where will I be and who will I be with? Social Media has the word “social in it for a reason. Utilizing your existing network is the quickest way to get a boost to the results that your profiles can have online. Below is a brief sample of sites that some of my information appears on. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that information could appear on.

Step Four: Invite people to participate. While there are branding and minor search engine benefits of social media, the true benefits come from actively participating in the medium by invited associates and other like-minded professionals to connect.

  • Jump start your social media profiles by writing a quick e-mail to your top 25 contacts and inviting them to see your information.
  • Make a monthly effort to invite 5 to 10 new connections.
  • Choose one new social media site each month and create another profile.

Step Five- Taking it to the next level.

Educate yourself and join the conversation happening around your professional interests. Read some of the following articles to better understand how some of these issues interact with each other and how you can maximize your time and effort to produce results.