We have a new co-founder at our startup, Daily Grommet. Joanne is world-class. But she is has a very common gap among executives of a certain vintage. Namely, her kids know more about social media than she does. Joanne’s a natural fast study, but I want to help her get up to speed. So I am creating a little action-oriented social media boot camp for her, and figured I’d share the installments. Here is Part One: some basic social networking tasks.
The reason for starting here is that social networks themselves are here to stay. Even if you “are too busy for such time wasting activities”, you need to understand what the buzz is all about. It boils down to this: social networks give people an efficient and interesting place to connect and stay up to date. The “currency”, or value, of social networks is information sharing and ease of communicating. The beauty of a social network is that no one can get to you unless you let them. Imagine the early days of email–with zero spam, but add on the idea that a social network profile is 1000% more interesting than an email address. It’s like every message is backed by a full picture and biography of the sender.
No one knows which sites will win the day, but the two suggested below (Facebook and LinkedIn) are the must-try’s for anyone exploring social networks. Here is a set of tasks that will get a newbie feeling a bit more experienced.
- www.facebook.com Sign up–it’s free–and make a personal page (aka profile). Do at least the following:
- Upload your photo (experienced users will know you aren’t serious about if you leave the big blue default question mark Facebook provides as your photo).
- Add some information about yourself–Facebook walks you through this task.
- Use their “Friend Finder” service to start inviting other people to be part of your network (ie. “friend them”)–you will temporarily permit Facebook access to your email contact list (from whatever service you use) and they will tell you who among your network is already hanging out on Facebook. Start with inviting those people…they don’t need to be sold on the idea of Facebook.
- Send a friend a message.
- Write on the “Wall” of a friend.
- Update your “status”–you can do it from your Profile. Fill in the “Jules is…” box at the upper right corner. It’s also updateable from the Home Page. These status updates are the main thing a regular user monitors on their FB visits–checking up on what their friends are doing. You can get a full list of updates under the “Friends” tab at the top.
- Browse the FB application directory and try out a couple of them…I’d suggest starting with “Cities I’ve Visited” as appropriate for most professional people. Search for a second application that reflects one of your interests and try it out.
- Create a little photo album with a few photos from a recent event or trip.
- www.linkedin.com Sign up and make a profile. It’s free, like Facebook. Whereas Facebook is still completely optional in most professional’s lives, having a searchable, public profile on LinkedIn (or Ziggs, or Plaxo, or ZoomInfo) is essential. In my business travels I consider anyone who does not have an online profile to not be serious about their career. Granted, I am in business areas where fluency with digital media is important.
- Photo optional (this is a new feature and not widely adopted–yet)
- Take the time (it is a bit laborious–allow an hour or so) to fill out the resume information. You can keep your profile private until you are ready for prime time. Just go in to “Account & Settings” at the top right hand corner, then click “Public Profile” and set your visibility to “none”. (Remember to change it later.) You can check out my LinkedIn profile for an idea how it works. But don’t feel you need to be as wordy as I was. Brevity is absolutely fine–maybe better.
- Start building your network by letting LinkedIn import your email contacts–this lets you see who you know who is already on LinkedIn, and you can “link” to them.
- Use their “Answers” feature to get information about a professional query from a broad swath of people. You can pose the question only to people you know, or to the whole LinkedIn population.
- Search for people you might know from past jobs–just type in a company name and see who pops up. If you thought highly of someone, invite them to link to you.
You don’t have to do all these steps in one sitting. Allow about two hours total to feel like you really gave it a go. This is just a taster. But once you are in Facebook, keep going back and updating your status (every day or so) and follow the NewsFeed to see what happens in your friends’ lives. That is when the real richness of the experience kicks in. LinkedIn is less of a daily use site–more of a search and research tool. Use it before meeting new people, or to learn more about people in the news.
If you take the time to follow these steps, please let me know what is confusing or unclear and I will update the post for the next brave pioneers. (I am sitting right next to Joanne in our funky little office, so she’s already headed off some questions…but there must be many others.)