Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Coming Age of "Deep" Reputation

For a decade personal "reputation management" has mostly meant online reputation. People have been creating online content with the aim of appearing more visible in search engines like Google, usually with some success. I have written myself about this in posts like Five Simple Steps To Improve Your Online Reputation. But now changes in search technology mean that in a few years the text search as we know it, basically unchanged since the 1990s, will be replaced by alternatives that are less easy to manage, bringing n a new age of "deep" or "fundamental" reputation management.

You see this trend already when you search for famous people, companies and so on. Google puts an answer box on the right, next to the search results. Their aim is to give you the answer to your question, not just a list of possible sources. In part this shift is driven by technology -- it couldn't be done in 1998 when Google started -- and partly by the shift to mobile devices. With a smartphone, smartglasses or smartwatch you don't have the screen space for traditional Google result pages.

At the same time Google's secret search algorithm seems to be favoring more and more independent authority sites like Wikipedia -- already the number one for many topics -- newspapers and other independent organizations. Newer devices also embed technology like apple's Siri which is effectively a gatekeeper, choosing which responses to give you. Again these tools rely increasingly on sources that are based on recognized authority sources.

Traditional online reputation management relies mainly on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and websites where you create the content yourself. When independent authority sources become more important what will count more are the fundamentals -- not the number of profiles you created yourself, but the times you are mentioned in media, articles you have published, conferences you have spoken at, books you have written, patents in your name and so on.  All of this takes more effort and more time than creating and maintaining social profiles, so to be ready for this shift you should really be working on a long-term plan today.

What this means in practice is that instead of spending a few hours building sites and populating social profiles people will need to return to more traditional PR methods, either directly or with professional help. Once again your reputation will not be defined so much by your activity managing web properties you control yourself, but by media and other independent authorities. In this scenario what will be more useful is to have strong PR and influencing skills.

There will always be individuals and companies who try to game the system, and it is inevitable that they will approach this business, but emerging technology is going to make this increasingly difficult and expensive. The days of picking the low hanging fruit are already numbered.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing on this and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81 in France and 0046 730 894 475


Related Posts on Reputation Management

Online Reputation: How to Deal With Five Difficult Cases
Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation
Why Having Accounts on Photo Sharing Sites is Good for Your Image

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why You Should Personalize LinkedIn Connection Requests (and How)

Since this was written LinkedIn has changed the site again so this post is now moot. For the latest on this topic see How to Personalize LinkedIn Connection Requests of 2 February 2015.

For many years I have been telling everyone who attends my networking and influencing workshops that you should always personalize the message in LinkedIn connection requests.  This is one of the tips in my post LinkedIn Etiquette: How to Approach People You Don't Know.

Personalizing messages is important because it shows that your request is personal -- that you didn't just send out a mass connection request blindly to all of your contacts. It is also an opportunity for you to remind me how we know each other, or why we should connect.

But updates to LinkedIn are making it harder and harder to personalize your invitation as the old forms are replaced with quick CONNECT buttons that often don't allow messages to be personalized.

LinkedIn's quick connect button that often doesn't allow messages to be personalized.

At the time of writing the only place where you could still be sure you can personalize messages is in the People You Might Know section -- the main page, not the little box on your home page. There the buttons have a symbol on the right that you click to personalize the invitation message.  28 Oct 2013 UPDATE: You can also personalize the invitation after clicking the CONNECT button when you send cold requests, the problem is that when you see a CONNECT button you don't know if it is an instant request or one you can change. [See Kristen Sukalac's comment below].

The LinkedIn connect button used in People You Might Know, which has the personalization option.

One way to address this problem is to ask LinkedIn to use these expanded buttons with the personalize message buttons in every situation where there is a standard connect button. That is exactly what I did this week, sending the request through Twitter to make sure they saw it. And they did.


Perhaps this will be fixed one day, but in the meantime how do you work around the problem? Here are three suggestions:

1. FORCE PEOPLE INTO "PEOPLE YOU MIGHT KNOW". You might have noticed already that if you view someone's profile without connecting you will soon see them in the People You Might Know sectionso try looking at the profile and then watch that space. Other ways people could appear there are if you both worked in the same company, studied in the same university or belong to the same group, so look what groups the other person belongs to and join one. Make sure also that you have added all your workplaces and schools to your profile so that more people are open to connection requests.

2. SEND A MESSAGE THROUGH ANOTHER CHANNEL FIRST. Before I send a LinkedIn connection request I often mention this first in some other channel, suggesting that we connect and explaining why. Sometimes the response is that the other person sends a connection to me; other times they agree and suggest I do it. Check what other channels they use. If they use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Quora, Vine, YouTube or anything else you have an opportunity to engage them there then suggest a LinkedIn connection. If they do not use any other channels try email, or find out which events they attend and go there, too.

3. GET INTRODUCED BY SOMEONE ELSE. An alternative is to check which of your trusted connections is already connected to the person then ask them to introduce you. This will only work with people who are selective in their connections, so be careful about asking open networkers. It's possible that they do know the person well, but it is also possible that there is no relationship between them other than the LinkedIn connection. You can use LinkedIn's introduction feature, but many people prefer to use more personal channels.

Personally I am hoping that LinkedIn deploys the enlarged connect button across the entire website and also on the mobile app so that these workarounds will not be needed, but even if they don't you can still personalize your invitations with a little more effort. This effort is definitely worth making because it can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing about networking and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call +33 6 79 61 42 81 (France) or 0046 730 894 475


Related Posts About Networking

Three ways to be more confident at networking events
Why being a connector makes your networking more effective.
Why you should be networking even if you are not looking for a job
How Encouraging Networking Makes Your Workplace More Effective
How to Make Photos for Professional Profiles and CVs
Why Networking is About Building relationships
How to Use Twitter for Professional Networking
LinkedIn: Why Unanswered Messages are Wasted Opportunities
LinkedIn May Be Hacker's Dream Tool But Attacks Easy to Foil
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How to Separate Work and Private Networking
Linkedin Etiquette: How to Approach People You Don't Know
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Selling Your Ideas: Influencing Your Way to Success

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Ways to be More Confident at Networking Events

Even in the age of online networking you can't beat face-to-face meetings for meeting and building relationships with strangers. But for many people a networking event can be an intimidating experience: One of the most common questions I hear in networking workshops is how you deal with this problem.

Like other skills, face-to-face networking is a learnable skill and anyone can do it with practice, but there are a few tips and techniques you can use to make it easier, especially at the beginning while you build up confidence. Here are three of them:

1. ARRIVE EARLY. If you have time to learn only one thing it should be this: if you are not comfortable about face-to-face events always arrive early. If you arrive an hour later the crowd has already coalesced into tightly-bound mingling groups that are difficult to penetrate. If you are the first to arrive then the second person has to talk to you, then the third joins you and so on. If you are lucky some of the early birds are also expert minglers and will move from you to another person by using the technique of introducing you to someone else, which was exactly what you wanted.

2. GET INVOLVED. If you are a member of some professional organization or networking group you will get more results by volunteering to help. That way it is easier to meet other people while you are doing your duty. You will feel more confident having a defined role to play and you will be more visible. It also makes sure that you are known to the organizers, who tend to have the best connections anyway. You don't need to volunteer for life, but take on some role for a year and it will boost the depth and quality of your network.

3. DEFINE REALISTIC GOALS. Don't go to an event expecting to meet hundreds of people. Start with a more modest and realistic goal to meet at least one person, then two and maybe three. Better to have a modest goal and reach it than to rush around shaking many hands but not really getting to know anyone and leave feeling that you failed. Having a goal that you can meet means that you succeed, and this gives you more confidence for the next meeting.

There are many other things you can try: talk to other people who are on their own, talk to speakers, talk to people who ask questions during lectures, talk to the organizers and so on.  But the most important thing is to practice. You can't learn to play piano in one sitting and you can't master the art of networking in one event. Accept that it will take a certain number of hours to achieve competence and just work these hours.


More about professional networking

There's much more about professional networking in the second edition of my book Payforward Networking. Paperback & Kindle editions on Amazon.



Lectures, Workshops, Coaching, Writing

For lectures, workshops, coaching and writing about networking and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email speaker@andrewhennigan.com or call 0046 730 894 475 in Sweden.


Related posts about Networking

Why being a connector makes your networking more effective.
Why you should be networking even if you are not looking for a job
How Encouraging Networking Makes Your Workplace More Effective
How to Make Photos for Professional Profiles and CVs
Why Networking is About Building relationships
How to Use Twitter for Professional Networking
LinkedIn: Why Unanswered Messages are Wasted Opportunities
LinkedIn May Be Hacker's Dream Tool But Attacks Easy to Foil
Recruiters Not Only Check Social Media They Use Them to Identify People
How to Separate Work and Private Networking
Linkedin Etiquette: How to Approach People You Don't Know
Professional Networking: Five Sites You Should Be Using for Your Career
Three Keys to Networking
Selling Your Ideas: Influencing Your Way to Success