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LinkedIn – Where do I start?

It can be daunting for many of us to start putting our professional life out there for all to see. Where do I start?  Below are my thoughts….

Step 1: Setting up your profile – The Basics

  • Start by taking some time and updating your resume before touching your LinkedIn profile.  This gives you a good template to work from based on your recent experience, skills, education and interests.
  • Turn off ‘Activity Broadcasts’ for the initial time period when you are setting up and editing your profile information.  This just means that as you add connections (or they add you) they are not getting blasted with alerts with every little change to your profile.  Once you are satisfied with your profile and its complete (or mostly) you should turn it back on.  At this stage changes to your profile will be new, real time relevant and worth sharing such as promotions, education, projects etc.  Go to ‘Account and Settings’ (place your mouse pointer over your profile pic in the top right hand corner of the screen) select ‘Privacy and Settings’ then under Profile> Privacy Controls select ‘Turn on/off your activity broadcasts’
  • Spend a little bit of time understanding the different sections available to you on the basic page such as Home – Profile – Network – Jobs – Interests
  • Use your resume as a guide to start filling out all the relevant information under your Profile page.
  • You MUST include a profile pic. Not up for discussion! (and not a drunken one from a recent wedding!)
  • Be aware before you go searching for (not necessarily to connect to!) past boyfriends and girlfriends or old colleagues that these people will often get an update that you have viewed their profile! This is not like facebook!
  • Once you have your resume fully entered you should now take some time to start expanding on the information associated with each section.  We are limited in the information and experience we can include in our resumes as we target them for specific jobs and\or make choices as to what is more important to include to keep size  down.  Your LinkedIn profile is where you can start to expand on your story, include more detail on experience and projects you have worked on and also delve into detail on specific skill sets.
  • Take some time to fill out a full set of Skills and Expertise – these are what people will endorse!
  • Share your profile with some trusted colleagues and friends for feedback and input.  I have found this invaluable.
  • Use the Network features to start linking with your colleagues past and present. LinkedIn has nice tools to use your contact lists, find alumni or just add individually contacts you may have.  Personally I usually only link with people I know.  That could be from business dealings, past work colleagues, friends, etc.  I don’t necessarily agree with linking just because people are in the same industry or have the same job title.  That is what groups under Interests is for!
  • Under Interests take some time to follow a few companies of interest and see if there are groups that have similar interests that you may have and where you could learn from or contribute to.
  • If you have a smartphone or tablet download the LinkedIn app.  Its an easy way to use, interact and update your profile
  • That is it… the basics!

Step 2: Time to get uncomfortable !

  • Now that you have a profile set up you need to enhance it and build on the basics.  If you have taken the easy way so far and only connected to immediate colleagues now is the time to get uncomfortable (or at least from my introvert state!).  Start thinking about past bosses, colleagues, companies, etc and search for and reach out to connect.  Since a couple of sessions I gave on LinkedIn a number of colleagues have come back to sing its praises as they have restored contact with old colleagues that they just lost track of over time. Contacts that will help endorse skills, build their network and provide valuable recommendations.
  • Think about those around you that you work with who are on LinkedIn, their skill sets and start endorsing them.  Please only endorse people you know, can stand over the endorsement and are skills you have personally witnessed and understand.  Specifically with technical skills people can end up endorsing you for skills that you have listed but don’t really know you posses!  Be genuine and don’t accept endorsements on skills that people suggest for you if you are uncomfortable with it!  Once you start endorsing a few people many will start reciprocating and help build out your profile.
  • One of the hardest things to ask for is a recommendation.  However a genuine recommendation from someone who can easily expand on the information if they are contacted is invaluable.  Think about a few people that you trust to give you a good recommendation.  (Please note a glowing recommendation on your skills from a golf friend or drinking buddy that you have never worked with on a professional basis is pointless – don’t do it!)
  • Take a look back at your Projects section.  Are their past projects worth noting that you have not included? Put together a narrative and get them up there.  This is all about your story, showing your adaptability, broad exposure and skill set and distinguishing yourself from the crowd.
  • Did you find some groups under Interests that you joined in Step 1? Can you contribute or learn from them? Look at participating in some of the conversations either to share your expertise or simply ask questions.  Its amazing the contacts, learnings and ideas that you can garner from these groups from just a little bit of time spent with them.
  • Think about sharing in LinkedIn using status updates and sharing any interesting articles you read on the web relating to your skills, interests and expertise.  Share a training you are taking or a conference you are attending (be selective and share useful relevant information… this is not twitter! Start sharing junk and people will hide you and your updates!)  Spend a little time on your newsfeed on the home screen to review articles.  Like, comment and share where appropriate.
  • Obviously if job hunting use the Jobs page to search for new jobs! That after all for many is the reason to be in here!

Depending on your current state 1) happy in a job, 2) in a job but looking or 3) seeking employment will determine the amount of time you spend (have to spend) on Step 2.  Obviously when job hunting there are many more methods to finding a job so while LinkedIn should not be your only focus neither should it be ignored.  It is an environment generally that needs very little work to keep up-to-date after the initial profile work. Some regular house keeping and updates can keep your profile fresh and current and may just lead to your next career move.

Microsoft Surface – The ultimate tablet?

A few weeks ago in New York I was at a demo of Windows 8 and the new Surface tablet. There was nothing new on Windows 8 but getting to use the Surface did enforce just what a powerful tool Microsoft are bringing to the party.

From other posts here you will know that I really do like the iPad. Unfortunately, it could never replace my laptop for certain aspects of my work. Thus on days like today when travelling I am forced to carry the iPad and laptop and appropriate chargers. Granted the iPad is not a large device and not a huge inconvenience to carry but still.

The Surface will change that. The Surface (not the RT version) runs full apps like Excel and Word. They demo’d a little docking station for it and advised that you could hang 2 monitors off it and it also connected to your keyboard and mouse. So it became your full desktop solution. This little slab of tech could do it all. No more laptop and iPad needed. No more dropping stuff in dropbox so I could grab off the iPad. No more switching between devices depending on what I needed to do.

The device was very fast and responsive. Windows 8 was very easy to use on it. Of course as with any new OS there will be a learning curve and bugs to work out but initial view was very positive. The new version of Office interface was very clean with similarities to new interface. An added bonus was the pen\stylus. Unlike the iPad, that needs capacitive touch tip for writing, the Surface can us a fine tipped stylus. This tool meant that accurate writing was easily achievable and it means hand written note taking on the device is a real option.

The iPad is a wonderful device. For many it will continue to be so. The Surface however is a more complete tool especially for business. The ability to have full applications installed, the integration of the operating system with SkyDrive, the ability to dock it and use external monitors, a mouse and keyboard, the fine stylus all mean that it’s not just a real iPad competitor but it could spell the end for PCs and laptops as we currently know them. For the majority of people this device should be enough. There will be exceptions as there always is for those who need lots of processing power and memory. However, for the majority, like me, who need to access email, the Internet, and run Office applications for the most part then this device is ideal.

Over time as apps are added to the Microsoft store then it may turn from the ideal device into the perfect one. I hope it lives up to that potential.

The Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone

So as we gear up for Windows 8 with new phones and tablets a few thoughts on the current Windows Nokia Lumia 900 phone after using one for a few weeks.


  • Really liked the form factor.  Nice phone in the hand for shape, weight and size and easy to operate.
  • The device was very fast.  Never felt the device was struggling to do anything with always quick response in apps.
  • A nice touch screen that was very responsive. The slightly curved aspect made interacting with it very easy (pleasant even!).
  • Excellent integration with Windows Live, Office 365, Twitter and Facebook. E.g. from a text message I could jump onto my Live skydrive and attach an image. Posting to Twitter or Facebook from within apps worked better without logins such as those you get on the iPhone.
  • The OS was very clean with a real Windows 8 feel to it based on my exposure.  I really like the minimalistic aspect.  In parts it made the iPhone feel dated and clunky (and I love my iPhone!)
  • Phone piece of it was excellent with very nice interface and excellent call quality – a piece Apple all too often have forgotten.
  • Good battery life.  Better than both Blackberry and iPhone in recent comparison.
  • MS Office mobile such as Word, Excel, Onenote and Powerpoint.
  • Really liked the customisable tiles on your home screen.


  • While I liked the OS it did have an unfinished look and feel to it at times.
  • Poor Camera – especially indoors and in poorer light compared with other phones.  It  often was quite difficult to take a good quality picture, or a picture with the same quality as the iPhone.  The camera app does has a lot more ‘real’ camera settings that many may like but for me I want to point and click and not spend 10 mins picking from 20 different settings just to get a good picture.
  • Obviously not the same volume of apps available for it so I could not replicate everything from my iPhone.
  • The phone was expensive.  The same cost roughly as recent iPhones or other devices we have got.  Considering it can’t quite offer what other devices offer they should be cutting their margins to make it more appealing.

So overall I was very pleasantly surprised with it.  I will seriously consider switching to the new Windows 8 version when it comes out if the camera is better and once the selection of apps improve.  Personally it would work better for me as my email is with Microsoft and work is on Microsoft Office 365.  The excellent integration with these products that the Windows phone offers might just get me to give up my iPhone!

Twitter’s missing piece?

Twitter’s missing piece? It is missing the whole check-in piece similar to what Foursquare offers. I hear foursquare haters shout ‘No! I don’t care where you are!’ but please hear me out.  I don’t just mean for places but for events like concerts, conferences, topics, news pieces, emergencies, TV shows, movies and of course places and companies like Starbucks! Anywhere or anything you can start a conversation on.

Why? Well Twitter is where the conversation happens now. Having to filter topics or search based on hash tags is cumbersome and awkward. There are different hash tags for the same event, idea, debate or show. Often where I am or what I am watching is not the same as those I follow on Twitter . That is fine but it should be easier to connect with those people who are. I should be able to check in to any thing or place. e.g. a TV show Madmen. Twitter would then auto build a search\view and include all other tweets from others checked in here. I could make it geography specific if I choose.  There is no point in having a list with people from another geography that may be an episode or 2 ahead or behind in the conversation. Any tweet I compose when in this list\view is auto tagged by Twitter as a ‘Mad Men’ tweet and could be easily filtered for those who follow me but who are not interested in Mad Men.

If I return to my standard Twitter stream and tweet all is normal and my tweets are not tagged but as soon as I return to the Mad Men check-in the filters and tags are auto built into each tweet I compose. When I check out that list\view and all those auto built views and pieces disappear from my Twitter app or web page. I can check-in again in the future to re-create.  Mad Men may not be the best example but replace that with Presidential Debate, X-Factor, TED Conference, New Zealand Earthquake, etc…etc…

I think it would offer better options for companies or shows to ‘own’ their check-in areas and provide info and offers while not being able to necessarily filter comments or feedback unless profanity was used. This could also be revenue generating for Twitter. So e.g. your local book store wants an advertised tweet to display with the latest offering upon each check and it pays a simple very small fee as with promoted tweets per check-in.

I could talk and talk about specifics about how each piece should work but think it really would be a great facility and help to easily connect people across this great medium. There is very little new above. The problem is some of it is in Foursquare, some in Twitter and some in other apps that try to link your TV viewing with conversations. It’s disjointed and awkward. If Twitter offered it in one place it would a great addition to what it already offers us. I think Twitter should purchase Foursquare and incorporate it nicely into your current offering. It goes back to that comment on social media ideas and solutions – ‘Is it an app or a feature’ and I think Foursquare should be a feature of Twitter.  What do you think?

The Blackberry 9900, an iPhone too late.

 I was initially a big Blackberry fan but unfortunately in recent years I lost faith like many others.  However, for anyone out there looking to Blackberry the newish model 9900 is the first one in a while that seems worthy of a recommendation.  Forget the Torch, or Curve or any other model and get the 9900 (if that doesn’t sound too arrogant!) .  So it’s not full screen like the Torch but it is a great little performer and its back to Blackberries best if a little too late.  The Torch (in its various guises) always feels a little lagging and I don’t like the size and balance of these devices.  The 9900 however is very well-built, nicely weighted and perfectly balanced in the hand. Thus a great device for typing with its superb keyboard.  The screen resolution is very good and the screen touch sensitivity\responsiveness is the best on any BB in my opinion.  It is also a very fast little device with items opening up immediately on touching.  Combined with a very good camera it’s almost perfect or at least for many who like a proper keyboard and can live with the resulting smaller screen.

The main downside is a lack of serious apps or at least serious options in apps.  However if apps are not your focus then this may just be the best business partner for you.  Pity it wasnt around a year or so ago it may have stopped many a person from jumping ship.  All in all it is a great little device and worth a consideration.