Facebook: Are Your Friends Trusted Sources or Naggy Noisemakers?

People have been worrying for a long time about mixing business and pleasure on Facebook. Much of the conversation centers around how much of their personal lives people want to reveal to colleagues and bosses. But lately I’ve been interested in the flip side of this. How and how much should people talk about their businesses, their work, or their causes on Facebook or other social networking sites?

The answer depends on how interesting your work, your business and your causes are to your friends. If what you post is interesting or useful, your friends will view you as a trusted source, someone they turn to for inside information, much like a personal news service. But if it’s all self-promotional blather, your friends will vote with their mice by either silencing you (using the handy Facebook “hide” feature), or worse, hitting the “unfriend” button on the bottom left of the page.

It’s one thing to see friends promoting their own interests, but now companies are paying people with large social networks to tout their brands on Twitter. {Read the rest on Yahoo!}

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How to Deal with Post-Conference Overload

Last week I returned from a conference, which put me into my usual state of post-conference overload. My bag was busting with business cards; the conference agenda and my notebook were filled with notes I must have thought important at the time I scribbled them; and a tsunami of to-dos had landed on my desk and in my inbox. I spent my first day back trying to processing what I learned at the conference while muddling through the rest of my work. I started thinking about what I’d tell myself if I wanted to make the most out of my conference experience. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Try to have a light schedule on your first day back. {This is really something you need to do before the conference to make your life easier afterwards. Because I violated this rule, I lost nearly a full Saturday playing catch up.} If you can keep at least the morning blocked off for conference follow-up, you’ll have the best chance of doing the other things on this list. The more time that passes after the conference, the less likely you’ll be to actually do the follow-up, connecting, and reflecting you should do.

2. Do something with the stack of business cards. At the very least, write something on them that will jog your memory of who the person is. After years of collecting business cards, I’ve finally accepted the fact that I won’t take the time to input contact information for most of them into my various address/email systems. That said, connecting with people on Facebook or LinkedIn takes almost no time and assures that you can find the people you want to keep track when you need them. I learned this from my cousin Jennine whom I stayed with while at my conference. She had just returned from an adventure travel conference and was linking up with all her new connections online. With each invitation, she included a note to jog the person’s memory of how they met. Connecting on LinkedIn also helps if you’re trying to find someone months after the conference since it allows you to search by keyword in addition to name. (Hat tip to Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder of  In Good Company Workplaces for that handy tip.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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The Secret to Good Introductions

As a congenital connector, I make introductions all the time. Usually I have good results. I’ve had an uncountable number of successful career matches and even ignited a few romances (one of which resulted in a strong marriage.)

But sometimes I mess up and when I do, it usually boils down to one thing: I made an introduction where I thought two people would want to meet, or accepted a request from someone to get an introduction to someone else, but in the end both people weren’t interested in the introduction.

Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who writes the excellent blog A VC, recently wrote a post that distills everything you need to know about introductions into one simple rule: “When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.” He calls it the “Double Opt-In.” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to survive a bad boss

To mangle Tolstoy, good bosses are all alike. They are good mentors; they care about your happiness and advancement; their interests seem aligned with your own.

Bad bosses, on the other hand, come in many flavors. And a new book, “Working for You Isn’t Working for Me,” by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, provides a field guide to the many species of bad boss. There’s the “checked out” boss (can these really survive in this kind of job market?), the “rule changer” (who tells you to take a lunch break then seems surprised you’re not at your desk), the “underminer” (who asks you for help and then makes it impossible for you to assist), the “chronic critic” (needs no explanation), and a slew of others. For each bad behavior, the authors give sample scenarios to help you recognize your situation, and then walks you through a process to take back power and correct it.

This is is a book that should sit next to your all your other reference bibles so that you can consult it as difficult situations arise. Meantime, I asked Katherine (KC) and Kathi (KE) to take a answer some questions that seem common enough we’ve all encountered them.

Q:  How is dealing with a bad boss different than dealing with a difficult family member?

KC – Bosses and family members share often many characteristics, but by the time we’re adults, most of us don’t depend on difficult family members for our livelihood. A boss, on the other hand, has direct control over your paycheck and your daily experience at work.  A bad boss is like having a bad business parent who can have a negative impact on your career, your financial future and your confidence.

KE – Fortunately, the workplace offers clearer cut boundaries than home. There are employment laws, and people around who can monitor, filter and support your relationship with your boss.  But, in the family we have fewer options. The four-step process that we lay out in Working for You Isn’t Working for Me (detect, detach, depersonalize, and deal) would in fact work at home as well as in the workplace. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to work a conference, even before it starts

You know the feeling. You sign up for a conference, scan the list of panels and keynotes trying to find out which you’ll go to, which you’ll snooze through, and when you’ll escape for some alone time or a workout.

But how often do you have a strategy for meeting the few people you are really hoping to meet? You know, the ones who have a crowd of people surrounding them and then zip off for a pre-arranged coffee date with some other person who looks important.

Basically, how do you become the kind of person who has those pre-arranged coffee dates (or at least a good shot at some spontaneous ones) with the interesting people at conferences.

Here’s a few ideas:

Spend some time online.  Visit the conference’s website and start studying the speaker list. If the conference is using a social networking tool like Crowdvine to encourage people to meet one another, take the time to fill out your profile and see who else is attending. Find out the conference’s Twitter hashtag and start checking Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it. If you’re active on LinkedIn or Facebook, mention that you’re going to the conference in your status update. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Upsides of the downturn: My chat with Kurt Andersen

We’ve heard the cliches: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us strong;” “Something good will come of this;” “A blessing in disguise;” “Find the silver lining.” And when it comes to the impact of the current recession, they are the kind of empty words that don’t usually make us feel much better. But after reading Kurt Andersen’s book, Reset, I started to believe that once we come out what he calls this “economic emergency,” we may be living in a culture that is a lot more sane and healthy than the one that brought us down.

Andersen traces the crisis of the past few years to the excesses that began in the late 1980s — the increasing size of the average American house, the rise in consumer debt, the ubiquity of state-sanctioned and state-run gambling, even the expanded girth of the average American. He uses the vocabulary of addiction to explain how America needs to get back on track — “to teach ourselves to buy and sell and borrow in healthier, more moderate ways.”

I had a chat with Kurt Andersen, an acclaimed journalist (New York Magazine, Spy magazine, Vanity Fair, Time), novelist, and radio host (and a lot more), about what this all means for the future of work. Below is a condensation of our conversation: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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5 reasons women should focus on finances

At first, I didn’t get it. Shouldn’t women and men be seeking parity in everything?  If so, why do financial advisors like Suze Orman write books called “Women & Money,” and why are women opening brokerage houses catering to women? I spoke to financial expert Manisha Thakor, one of the rising voices in the financial-advice-geared-towards-women set to get some answers.

As Manisha put it to me: In the new economy, where many financial decisions formally made by employers (particularly with regards to pensions and healthcare) are now squarely in our hands, a solid knowledge of personal finance is important for both men and women.  That said, financial knowledge is extra important for women – because the place that women are ending up right now is a financially ugly one. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Does unemployment insurance keep people from working?

One of the best ways to find work is to work part-time in the hopes of it turning into full-time employment. Another strategy is to try to work for yourself as a freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur. But either of these have one giant downside — if you collect unemployment insurance and you earn more than a certain amount a week from work, you’ll jeopardize your unemployment earnings.

Here’s how it works in NY, where I live (it varies state by state, but most states have a similar system):

If you work less than four days in a week and earn $405 or less, you may receive partial benefits. Each day or part of a day of work will result in your weekly benefit rate being reduced by one-quarter. For example, if your weekly benefit rate is $100 and you work three days and earn less than $405, you could potentially receive $25 in benefits. If you work two days, you could potentially receive $50 in benefits. If you work one day, you could potentially receive $75 in benefits.

As I talk to people, I’ve noticed a pattern. Though almost no one could support themselves on the paltry sum they receive from unemployment insurance, many folks (especially at the lower end of the income spectrum) use unemployment benefits as a cushion that supplement with some other income until they find a full-time job. But in order to preserve their unemployment benefits, they look for off-the-books work.  Sometimes they do consulting or freelance work, again only if they can find clients willing to pay them on the sly. By doing this, they might be taking steps towards finding full-time work. But they are probably living in fear of being discovered (and facing severe penalties, including jail time in some states). {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Marriage makes for safe conversations at work. But not for everyone.

I’m back in business after taking pretty much the whole month of September off for my wedding and honeymoon. And since we returned on the night before Yom Kippur, back-to-work was further delayed by another day.

I’ve had quite a few work/life interruptions over the years — times in which I’ve said no to almost everything that comes up on both the personal and work front because life is just too busy. Some of them have been for awful reasons like when people have been ill or passed away. In those cases, people usually understand that you’re going to be out of commission for an indefinite period of time. And they usually leave it to you to tell them when you’re ready to re-engage.  When you’re lucky, they offer the right kinds of support.

But few reasons for dropping out of work and life feel as good as taking time off to get married. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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LinkedIn for complicated resumes

Creating a LinkedIn profile is pretty straightforward when you have a job with a well-defined title. But I’ve been getting questions lately about how to create a profile on LinkedIn when what you’re doing isn’t so tidy. Two scenarios that come up a lot are how to create one of these profiles if you have a slash career (e.g. yoga instructor/caterer), or if you’re unemployed (or, as they say, consulting).

There’s some overlap between the two scenarios because in both cases you are taking what feels like a standard tool and tailoring it to fit your needs. And the good news is that when you spend a little time with it, LinkedIn allows for a lot of customizing.

Here are a few ideas: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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