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 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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5 simple ways to share articles online

One of the best ways to stay connected to people or to stay on their radar is to send clippings. If you just want to send something to one person, nothing beats old-fashioned snail mail. But if you want to share articles with a wide group of people, there are some fantastic and easy ways to do that online. Each of these lets you easily share articles widely with just a few clicks.

Delicious: Delicious is a service that lets you bookmark articles you’ve read, add a description or editorial observation, and tag them by subject matter. That makes it a useful way to keep track of articles and blog posts you don’t want to lose, in a addition to a way to share what you’re reading with anyone who sees your Delicious tags. Ben Casnocha, one of my favorite bloggers, posts his Delicious Bookmarks and tags on the home page of his blog, creating a public record of what he’s recently read and what he’s thinking about what he’s read. Handy both for him and for anyone who wants to know what’s in his head. Facebook also has an application for Delicious so that every time you bookmark new articles on Delicious,  those links can show up on your Facebook profile.

Twitter: Though people think of Twitter as a place where people answer the prompt “What are you doing,” much of the action on Twitter answers the question, “What are you reading?” If you read something you like anywhere on the Web, posting it on Twitter is a two-step process. First, you’ll need to shorten the URL because if you leave it long, it will use up the 140-characters Twitter allows for a message. (See URL shorteners below). Then you can add some observation about the piece: “Brilliant post from Yahoo! Shine on how to share articles online.” Then you plop in the shrunken URL and hit send. Anyone who follows you will see your articles and because Twitter is public, your posts will also appear in the public timeline. Which means you might even get into conversations with people you don’t know because they are interested in an article you posted. Like Delicious, you can share your recent Tweets on a website or blog (Check out the right-hand column of Jennette Fulda’s blog, PastaQueen, to see how Twitter updates look on a blog. You can also have your Twitter updates show up on Facebook. (Caveat: some people find this annoying.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Social media: revolution or fad?

You might have seen the video.  It’s called Social Media Revolution and it’s already gotten over 400,000 hits on YouTube since its release only a few weeks ago.  It tells a story through numbers about the furious growth of social media around the world. Facts appear on the screen in rapid succession with haunting music in the background: “If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.” “By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers. . . 96% of them have joined a social network.” “Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web.”

It spews its facts so fast you can barely digest them, which is how many people feel about the pace of virtual updates on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Will it ever stop coming at us and demanding our attention, fractured as it is because we’re sifting through emails, texts, all while uploading our latest photos to Flickr?

According to Erik Qualman, who created the video to promote his new book, Socialnomics, it won’t be stopping any time soon. And if you don’t want to be left behind, you’ll embrace the social media revolution:

I had a chat with Qualman about what all this means for us and our careers. Following is a condensed version of our conversation. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Do you need an avatar

If you spend any amount of time online, you’ve probably needed to post a head shot or other image of yourself. If you’re lazy, you leave the photo area blank or go with a random photo you have lying around. But some folks are adopting avatars, those tiny cartoon-y images which are becoming increasingly common.

During the election, Obamicons (avatars in the style of the iconic Shepard Fairy Obama poster) were flooding the Web thanks to a free program offered on Paste Magazine’s website. Now, during the “Mad Men” frenzy, images like the one here are cropping up, courtesy of the “MadMenYourself” campaign on the show’s site.

So, why would you want one of these avatars? I’ve been talking to lots of folks who use them, and here’s what I’ve learned: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Are you ready to friend your doctor on Facebook?

When we talk about the next generation of health care, we tend to focus on the issues being bandied about in Washington right now. Will coverage be universal and deliver good care to the poor, the rich, and those in the middle? Will it be publicly funded, privatized or some combination of the two? Will all our doctors have access to digitized versions of our medical records?

But there’s another aspect of medical care that people don’t talk about too much — how can patients get their doctors to be better communicators?

I’m lucky. I don’t have that problem. My internist is an old friend, which means that I have his email address, his cell phone and even his home number. I don’t abuse these things, but I do use them. And it has completely transformed the way I manage my health. I often email him with a quick question that doesn’t require a face-to-face visit.  I don’t use his receptionist for appointments because we usually just make them by email. I save time. And I feel spoiled.

Jay Parkinson, a doctor-turned-health care entrepreneur, wants to deliver the kind of relationship I have with my doctor to anyone who wants it. And he wants to take it a step further, giving patients access to an entire team of doctors all available for online visits and chats, specialist referrals, second opinions. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Are your work habits making you look old?

A new book, “How Not to Act Old,” by Pamela Redmond Satran is climbing the ranks of the Amazon humor section. I’ve read it and like most humor, there’s a lot of truth behind its snarky advice and tips for middled aged folks who are starting to feel like they “just don’t get those young people.” Satran dissects and contrasts the habits of the old (basically, anyone over 40) with those of their children (or those young enough to be their children) decoding everything from the way different groups use technology (old people leave voicemails; young people assume people will see a missed call and return it), to the way they use language (old people smoke pot; young people call it weed); and even attitudes towards bikini waxing (fodder for a whole mini chapter).

As someone who has been working long enough to remember wearing pantyhose to my first two jobs as a lawyer (yes, I’m that old) and who now wonders whether I can get away with wearing leggings to a professional event, I appreciated Satran’s take on how not to act old at work.

I asked her for some customized tips for readers who want to appear a little younger in their use of technology in their careers. Here’s what she had to say: {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How much should you reveal online?

We’ve all heard the stories of those whose imprudent online postings (usually involving some choice words about an employer or a poor choice of photos of themselves) cost them a job. In the past few weeks it happened to a New York City government staffer, who resigned after posting her views about the President (whom she dubbed “O-dumb-a”) and his handling of the brouhaha over the arrest of  Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

These are gaffes, and the people who made them should know better.

But lately I’ve been pondering the opposite situation. In this era of online engagement and revelation, can it ever be a problem to reveal too little or to have no online persona at all? {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to write a killer bio

For a growing swath of the workforce the resume has been replaced, or at least supplemented, by the bio. If you’ve ever had to be introduced by someone at a conference, you know it’s wise to give the person introducing you a written bio rather than sit back and hear how she decides to describe you. Written bios are posted on websites; abbreviated bios show up on sites like LinkedIn; even shorter ones appear next to our profiles on Twitter; and snappy taglines trail the bottoms of our emails.

With the bio in full bloom right now, it pays to take some time to write yours in a way that that reflects how you want to be perceived. Perhaps you want to show a sense of humor or wit. Maybe you want to show your technical prowess by delivering your bio in a video format. And while you’re at it, why not let your bio accomplish some personal branding for you. As you write yours, consider a few things.

If you’re a writer, show off your writing

While writers should have an advantage in crafting well-written bios, it’s remarkable how few unleash their facility with language when profiling themselves. Which is why I love the bio and “about Laura” sections of novelist Laura Zigman’s website. They are composed entirely in the third person and the opening few lines of the bio give you an idea of her tone: “Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn’t fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in).” {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to stay in touch without stalking

Have you ever been in this situation? You meet someone new, have an instant rapport and a feeling that the two of you would be able to help each other. You know you want to stay in touch or at least stay on the other person’s radar. But you have no idea when you’ll run into the person again and don’t want to rely on chance.

This issue comes up all the time. It happens when you want to keep up with people who might be helpful in a job search or when you want to let prior clients that you’re around and available for work.

So how do you stay in touch without looking like a stalker or someone who is just lurking around waiting for something to happen?

Here are a few ideas:

Write a newsletter. This idea works for anyone who wants to reach out to their contacts on a regular or irregular basis without picking up the phone. I send an email newsletter to my mailing list roughly four times a year. And each time I do, I get several inquiries and bookings within a few days of sending it out. I also get a lot of hellos from people I’m happy to hear from. The key to writing a good newsletter is to give your readers something useful rather than using it solely as a self-promotion vehicle. The “Casnocha Beat,” a periodic newsletter sent by Ben Casnocha, a blogger/author/speaker, always leaves me with something juicy to think about. He includes an “estimated read time” at the top, a clever way to convince you it’s only a small investment to read it. Colleen Wainwright, a communications consultant who goes by the name “Communicatrix,” sends a newsletter that does a good job of reminding people of her services while giving volumes of helpful stuff. (It’s no surprise that she wrote an excellent post on how to write a bulletproof newsletter.) {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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