Tag Archives: personal branding

LinkedIn Skill Endorsements: Flattery or faulty?

One of the best features of Linkedin has always been the ability to publicly recommend a colleague or connection. It’s like a resume reference who’s posting the reference check publicly for everyone to see (with your consent of course). Yes there may be some questionable reciprocal recommendations floating around, but for the most part, it takes time and effort to craft a worthy recommendation and since it’s public–your own reputation is potentially on the line if someone finds it to be false.

Almost a year ago (September 2012) LinkedIn rolled out a new feature ‘Skill Endorsements’, this is the “Lite” version of recommendations. If you don’t have time or feel fully comfortable personally recommending someone, you can endorse a few of their skills.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

You can always find two sides of a story: the positive is that skill endorsements are a great way to assess someone’s stated skills (if someone says they are an expert at something, but it’s not endorsed by their connections, you might question that expertise..). It validates anything someone states in his or her profile.

The bad part? Well a lowered barrier to entry means an overall reduction in quality endorsements. Recently I received six endorsements for ‘Creative Direction’ and while I was certainly flattered by the gesture, my creative director at work would probably die laughing if he noticed that (I wouldn’t blame him either).

And for that I don’t blame my connections who endorsed me for it–because I think probably it’s LinkedIn’s algorithm at fault. They probably received a blue box that said “Would you endorse Kelly Rusk for these skills?” And maybe the first 2 or 3 were relevant and they just hit accept for the whole lot.

I think the skill endorsement feature will stick around because LinkedIn is really pushing it at every opportunity. However, I think that tactic is also reducing its effectiveness (as per my example above).

What are skill endorsements REALLY good for?

The single most valuable application of this feature is not how others will perceive you as a result of your skill endorsements… It’s for your own benefit. Only your first degree connections can endorse your skills, so if you’ve focused on using LinkedIn to build a quality network, these are people who know you personally. And you understand the level of relationship you have with each of these people so you can use your own endorsements to paint a picture of how your first connections perceive you.

Are you being recognized for your strengths? Are you endorsed for skills you feel you excel at? Does it cover your experience and align with the wording in your profile? Are you receiving endorsements for people you’ve worked closely with?

If the answer to any of these questions is no–then it’s time to look inward and reflect on what you are doing and how you are putting yourself out there. Using the endorsements to improve yourself makes the feature one of the most valuable features of LinkedIn.

 And the icing on the cake?

Want to reconnect with someone in your network but not sure how to approach them out of the blue? Why not visit his or her profile and endorse a few skills you know to be relevant? It’s a passive engagement but he or she will receive an email about it and it might be a perfect primer for a long-overdue follow up email. Or perhaps someone you really want to strengthen your relationship with endorses your skills first? Why not send a nice thank you email and perhaps suggest a coffee outing? The skill endorsement can be a great professional door opener (or perhaps unlock-er?) to stay in touch.

How to get more skill endorsements from your connections

There are two methods to increasing your skill endorsements: ask and pay it forward. Personally I’m a little shy/timid about asking connections to endorse me–however I have been asked and do appreciate the reminder from those I’ve enjoyed working with but maybe didn’t immediately think to endorse. Be sure when asking to do so personally (not send out a blanket request to your connections) and only ask those who you are confident would be happy to endorse you.

Secondly you can pay it forward–I find this to be a really effective and interesting method. If you take the time to go through your connections and endorse some of your connections (and for your own reputation, please do so strategically and honestly!) LinkedIn will reward you by suggesting to your connections that they endorse you.

What do you think? Do you dig the skill endorsements? Do you question its validity? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Building your personal brand with Twitter and Linkedin

This is a continuation of a class I did with the Algonquin College first-year PR students (The aptly named “Twitter party”). If you are one of the students–thanks for attending and I hope you’re able to continue to build your brand as well as understand the tools for practical PR application. Also, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the presentation, or if you have any questions.  If you weren’t there, well my hope is you’ll get value out of these resources anyway. Also, I’d love my readers to drop a comment and add any more resources that will help them excel with Twitter & LinkedIn.

Twitter

First here are my slides on Twitter:

View more presentations from krusk.

(note: I have to give credit to my friend Sean Power… I originally created this Powerpoint for the Project Management View webinar I did a couple weeks ago, but last week I found his awesome post “Twitter new user survival guide” and revised a few points. Thanks Sean!)

And to recap, here are the 11 things you need to remember to succeed with Twitter.

11. Build a profile

The more information you can put in your profile the better. Try to load up your bio with keywords that will help potential followers identify what you’re all about and what you’ll be tweeting about. Do not worry about having complete sentences–it’s often better not to, so that you can get more info in. Also–put up a photo. It doesn’t have to be a photo of you if you’re camera shy, but at least find an icon or something that represents you.

10. Find people to follow
Once you’ve set up your profile and posted a  few tweets, you’re ready to find people to follow, here are some sites to help you out:

  • Twellow is the Twitter yellow pages. Search for people based on info in their profile (user name, bio, location)
  • Twitter’s search function can be used to find people who are tweeting about a certain subject or keyword that may be of interest to you. Also you can use the search to follow a hash tag (#) that interests you and follow those people who are tweeting about it.
  • Mr. Tweet is your personal twitter assistant who will make recommendations on who to follow. All you have to do to get your personalized report is follow @MrTweet

9. Get used to 140 characters
That’s the limit twitter gives you, so you may find yourself editing to get your message across clearly and succinctly. Remember if you want people to retweet you, you may want to keep it even shorter (110 is a good guideline)

Also, if you want to tweet links you may want to use a URL shortening services,

  • http://idek.net is my favourite because it provides stats about who clicked on your link
  • http://bit.ly if you’re really serious about tracking and stats, bit.ly lets you create an account and track all your URLs.
  • http://is.gd creates the shortest links, so if you’re pressed for space it’s a good choice.

There are tons of these services out there, and you can drag them onto your browser bar for easy one-click URL shortening. Also if you do decide to use Tweetdeck, it has URL shorteners built in, so it’s even easier!

8. Listening vs. Tweeting
I recommend you spend 80% of your twitter time listening to what your followers have to say, and 20% tweeting. This will help you get more benefit from those you follow and help you avoid over-tweeting.

7. Ask yourself “Who cares?”
If you are looking to build followers, ask yourself “who cares?” before you post. You want to provide value to your audience with each post. This doesn’t mean you can’t inject a little personality, but make sure you’re providing valuable information.

6. Put yourself out there!
If you want to build followers, don’t protect your updates–if someone doesn’t know you, they will not likely request to follow your updates.

5. Promote cool stuff –and not just your own.
It’s perfectly OK to post links to your blogs, or maybe a cool project you’re working on (so long as it’s of value to your followers) but don’t *only* promote your cool stuff. If someone else tweets something you like, retweet it by putting RT @[their_username] and copying and pasting the original tweet. Also if you happen across a cool web site in your daily life, tweet it!

4. Join the conversation
To reply to another user: type @ before the user name. It will automatically link to his/her profile and show up in the side bar even if he/she is not following you.

If you want to join in a hash tagged conversation, just stick # in front of an established keyword or acronym. If you want to start your own, just stick # in front of a keyword of your choosing. To follow hash tag conversations, go to search.twitter.com and search the tag (note you can search inside Tweetdeck too)

One example of a regular hash tagged discussion is #journchat it happens live on Twitter every Monday from 8 to 11 p.m. EST. You can follow the conversation here–by typing in #journchat into search.twitter.com

3. Learn three ways to tweet
Stuck on what to say? Try these common types of tweets:

  • Ask a question: Twitter is great for asking question. Ask anything from “What Twitter apps would you recommend?” to “Where’s a good place for lunch in downtown Ottawa?” The larger your twitter network the more answers you’re likely to get.
  • Share a resource or wisdom – Post interesting facts, tips and quotes, people love them! Also, if you find a great website, share it with your twitter network. These types of posts can really add value for your followers, so go crazy.
  • Report on news and/or events – If you happen to hear/see something before it hits mainstream media, tweet about it! Some great examples of news stories broken on Twitter include the Mumbai bombings a few months back as well as the plane crash in the Hudson river.

2. Try some Twitter Apps
First and foremost, try Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to create groups of followers to track separately from your entire stream. For example, you may want to create a PR group that includes your classmates, profs and other PR grads on Twitter.Tweetdeck also allows you to search,
Also you can use Twitscoop to see trending topics via a ‘tweet cloud” (i.e. a cluster of words of various sizes that shows you what’s popular on Twitter)

Also, for a ridiculously exhaustive list of Twitter apps, check out the Twitter Fan Wiki. At least take a few minutes to read through what’s out there. There’s an app to do just about anything with Twitter.

1. Be yourself & have fun!
Self explanatory…

Tips for using LinkedIn

I totally agree with Andrea and strongly recommend you also join LinkedIn. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, and here are some tips to get the most out of using LinkedIn–which unlike Twitter, does not require a lot of time commitment–at the very least sign up, create your profile and just leave it at that, but you can do much more with it if you choose.

  • Think keywords when building a profile. Like Twitter, before filling out your profile think of keywords that will describe you professionally. For example, don’t just say you’re a public relations student. Say you’re a public relations student interested in media relations, corporate communications and social media looking for work in the nonprofit or private sector. (Or whatever it is you’re interested in)
  • As a general rule, only invite/connect with people you’ve met/interacted with in real life. Unlike other networks, people like to keep their LinkedIn profiles with real life contacts. Some may allow “virtual” connections, but unless you’ve heard them say it, avoid adding someone you haven’t met.
  • Give–and ask–for recommendations. Personal recommendations not only help you look better, they help your profile turn up in search results. Also some LinkedIn jobs require you to have recommendations to even apply so it’s not a bad idea to ask for recommendations from former/current employers and colleagues. If you’re too shy/timid to ask, than recommend some people yourself, they just may return the favour.
  • When sending an invitation to connect, write a personalized message. Unless it’s someone you know really well, take a minute to write a personalized message in the invitation. This is especially key if you’ve met someone at a networking event where they might have also met many other people, if possible mention something you spoke about. (e.g. “Hi Fred, We met recently at the Night of the Roundtables event at Algonquin College. We had a great chat about doing PR in the nonprofit industry. I’d love to connect with you & stay in touch.”)
  • After collecting someone’s business card, add them on LinkedIn. Personally, I’m famous for collecting business cards and never following up (unless we discussed something to be followed up). However, now I treat LinkedIn as my personal contact database – I add someone after I meet them (with a personalized message) and then instead of digging through business cards if I need to get a hold of someone, I just look them up on LinkedIn. And *yes* almost everyone is on LinkedIn these days.

As we also discussed in class, both these tools are fabulous for promoting events and/or campaigns. However, if you start using them now–and not just when you want to promote something–you’ll be able to build a solid network of influence so that when you do want to promote something, you’ll have genuinely interested people who’ll listen and want to help you out!

Social media events in Ottawa

As great as online communication can be, it still doesn’t beat face-to-face communication. If you’re interested in social media and want to learn more, here are a few local events I’d suggest attending.

  • Social Media Breakfast happens about monthly and always features an awesome speaker. Costs $10, but well worth it!
  • Third Tuesday Ottawa – is a PR/social media event put on by Thornley Fallis. It’s free and always a great time. Don’t be fooled by the name though, it rarely *actually* happens on the third Tuesday. Sign up for the meetup group to get alerts when it’s happening.
  • Social Media Book Club – is put on by me and Scott Lake. About every 2 months we read a book and get together in a bar to chat about it. The good news is you don’t actually have to read the book, but it helps!

Good luck with the last few weeks of your first year!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]