Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Sandra Long Is Totally LinkedIn

Sandra Long did not like my LinkedIn profile.

At first, I didn’t care.

In my social media life, the networking website ranked far below Instagram and Facebook (not to mention “06880”). It hovered just above Google Plus — but not by much.

Yet when Sandra — a longtime Westporter who offers LinkedIn training for businesses and individuals, as well as profile makeovers for executives, consultants, attorneys and other professionals — offered to spruce mine up, I said, “why not?”

Yet I was about as enthusiastic as when I had a root canal.

Sandra Long offers LinkedIn training to individuals and organizations.

Sandra Long offers LinkedIn training to individuals and organizations.

But then I met Sandra. And once she went to work — drilling down through my profile, into my life, work, passions and dreams — I was all in.

All LinkedIn, I should say.

I had been agnostic about LinkedIn’s potential. But Sandra is a true believer. “You’re missing lots of opportunities,” she said.

I considered myself a freelance writer. I didn’t see how LinkedIn could help. Yet Sandra had already stalked me — I mean, done her homework — and thought that tying together everything I do would help my overall “brand.”

“You write. You coach soccer. You’re an expert on Westport. You’re an LGBT activist and mentor,” she noted. A stronger LinkedIn presence — including keywords, which I sorely lacked — could help people find me, leading to paths I never expected.

And, she pointed out, my entire internet presence was a mess. My LinkedIn profile was not, um, linked to my Amazon author page (which, she added with a sympathetic smile, was pretty weak itself). My YouTube channel did not even showcase my speeches.

There was some good news. My name is unique enough that I could really capitalize on it. Sandra would have a fairly easy time finding my scattered web life, then tying it together.

My LinkedIn main page before Sandra Long got to work. Sure, it says 500+ connections. But I hadn't really "connected" with many of them in years.

My LinkedIn main page before Sandra Long got to work. Sure, it says 500+ connections. But I hadn’t really “connected” with many of them in years. Plus, my photo was from before LinkedIn was even born.

Quickly, we got to work.

Talking about myself was sort of like going to a therapist — without the anxiety.

Sandra is a master at asking the right questions, analyzing the answers, and organizing it all in a coherent, presentable fashion.

I am not (for example) an “independent writing professional.” That was my old headline. My new one is much more inclusive.

Turns out I’m a “community builder.” My writing, coaching, LGBT and Westport work — all of it develops community. Who knew?

Part of my new banner. Ta da!

Part of my new banner. Ta da!

I should note here that Sandra drew from me that 2 sidelines are teaching writing, and consulting on writing projects. Somehow I had forgotten to include that on LinkedIn. Oops!

Also, my photo sucked. Thanks to Sandra: not anymore!

On we plowed. She rewrote my (very important) personal summary; added “Experience” sections with new titles, descriptions and images, as well as more publications, organizations and awards; rejiggered my “Skills” section; gave me a way-cool background banner of Westport scenes; threw in my contact info and a customized URL — and linked to “06880.”

All that was just for LinkedIn. Soon, she worked similar magic on my Amazon and YouTube pages. For the latter, she discovered videos about me in cyberspace I never knew existed. Fortunately, they’re good ones.

My Amazon author page before Sandra Long went to work. Only 2 of my books were listed -- and I had no author bio.

My Amazon author page before Sandra Long went to work. Only 2 of my books were listed — and I had no author bio.

The process took just over a month. It was empowering. It was also painless. (At least for me. I was the duck you see on the surface. Underneath the water, Sandra paddled furiously.)

My new Amazon page. It has many more of the books I've written -- and every "06880" story appears as soon as it's posted. Crazy!

My new Amazon page. It has many more of the books I’ve written — and every “06880” story appears as soon as it’s posted. Crazy!

The results were impressive — and not just to look at.

Throughout the process, Sandra kept telling me that I underestimated the power of LinkedIn. I was missing opportunities, she preached (always, thankfully, with a smile).

The day after my fresh, comprehensive, tied-together profile went live, I got a “notification.” I clicked it. (Sorry, Sandra, but yeah — the first time I’ve ever done that).

A woman developing a new website about sports had searched for “soccer,” “writing” and “community building.” My name popped up.

She liked my “interesting bio,” and wondered if I’d be interested in working for her.

Instantly, I felt linked in.

(Sandra Long’s Post Road Consulting has offices in Westport and Stamford. Click here for more information. To learn more about Sandra’s book, “LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide,” click here.)

Bonus feature: My new YouTube channel.

Bonus feature: My new YouTube channel.


Everyone Into The Pool!

Westporters love their privacy. 

And their pools.

But here, counterintuitively — and from the very exclusive Burritts Landing neighborhood on Long Island Sound, off Saugatuck Avenue — comes this story from Bruce Kasanoff. It originally appeared on the “What Inspires Me” section of LinkedIn:

My neighborhood is a bit odd, in that a few dozen houses share one swimming pool. This is because 50 years ago, one large property was subdivided and the developer left the existing pool intact. He specified that all houses would jointly share in its usage and upkeep.

The 100-year-old pool has two-foot thick walls and is larger than a typical residential pool. It is great for swimming laps. (I say this theoretically, as someone who doesn’t actually swim laps.)

Very few people aspire to share a pool with a few dozen neighbors. Instead, people want their own pool.

After 15 years of sharing, I can tell you that sharing is much, much better. You pay less for upkeep, yet enjoy a bigger pool. But that’s not even close to the best benefit.

Bruce Kasanoff wasn't kidding. That's one giant swimming pool!

Bruce Kasanoff wasn’t kidding. That’s one giant swimming pool! (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

Thanks to the pool, we have an extremely social and friendly neighborhood. Instead of hanging out in our own yards, we hang out together at the pool. We meet each others’ friends and relatives. We share food and sometimes have communal dinners.

Here’s where it gets really interesting, at least to me. Sharing the pool created a culture of sharing in our neighborhood. When my kids were younger, our neighbors approached us with a proposal. Our swing set was getting pretty shaky, and our kids had mostly outgrown it. So our neighbors offered to buy a much nicer new one that we would share, but — because they didn’t have a flat spot in their yard — they asked to put it in ours. We agreed.

Then another neighbor bought a trampoline, that everyone shares. Another bought a soccer net. Same deal. Today, the swing set is long gone but we share a garden with our neighbors.

I’d like to think that this is where we are headed as a society: sharing more.

Increasingly, technology makes this easier. For example, The People Who Share website lists over 8,000 companies and organizations that facilitate sharing. Share a car, house, meal, artistic event, or even a dog.

You don’t need a venture capitalist and a programming team to start sharing. You just need to adopt a sharing mindset. Once you do, don’t be surprised if you discover that sharing is contagious.

(Hat tip: Maxine Bleiweis)

Mark Mathias: Part Of The 1%

Westport Board of Education member/Mini Maker Faire co-founder/all-around good guy Mark Mathias does not consider himself part of the 1%.

But LinkedIn does.

Mark Mathias

The site just welcomed its 200 millionth member. So, Mark notes, he shares his distinction with 2 million others.

“I have no idea why I would be in this 1% designation,” he says.

But he does know one thing: “I’m going to shovel 100% of the snow at my house this weekend.”

Digital Immigrants

In early 20th century America, youngsters in the new country had an advantage over their immigrant parents:  the kids learned English.  They translated for their parents, some of whom clung to their native tongues and never assimilated.

In the early 21st century, young people again have an edge:  They’ve mastered tech-speak.  This time though, the old folks have no choice.  To live in today’s world, they have to learn the language.

“It’s not like just a few years ago, when you could wait for some 12-year-old to program your VCR,” says Westport Library director Maxine Bleiweis.  “Now, every day, there are technological problems people have to solve.”

And — for more and more people — the library is the place to solve them.

What's on Maxine Bleiweis and Bill Derry's iPads? The library's website, of course.

Libraries have always been a center for learning, Bleiweis says.  But many Westporters don’t realize it’s a hub for not only books, periodicals and author talks, but  technological knowledge too.

The Westport Library offers 3 types of technology education.  One is through regularly scheduled events.

“Tech Tuesdays,” for example, are held from 2-4 p.m. through August 3.  Bring a tablet — or a question, like how to download music.  Staff members are on hand to help.

“Jobseekers” programs — held Wednesdays throughout the summer — highlight topics like using LinkedIn and Twitter.  “If you’re out of a job, you might have missed out on hearing about things like this,” Bleiweis says.  “The workplace changes quickly, and this is a great way to keep up.”

The 2nd type of education takes place every day.  “We’re not a repair shop,” Bleiweis cautions.  “But if you’ve got a new eReader and don’t know the features, or you’re having problems attaching a photo file to send to your grandchildren, we can help.”

Reference librarians — best known for answering questions about obscure Mongolian dynasties, or pointing people to perfect online databases — are a tremendous technological resource.  If you’re searching for printers, say, or software or synching programs, reference librarians are happy to help.

The 3rd type of education involves teaching people things they didn’t know they needed to know.

In case you wondered: These are tags. The library explains how to use them.

“Tags” are an example.  They’re those words of various sizes you see on various websites — the library’s, for instance.  They’re an entree to more information on a particular topic; their size indicates relative popularity — but you have to click them to use them.  If you didn’t know that, you’d likely overlook them.  Mentioning them in the library’s newsletter — a friendly, familiar format — is a good way to teach non-native tech speakers about them.

The same with podcasts.  At every library lecture, someone announces it’s also available as a podcast.  You may have heard the term, but ignored it as just another newfangled word.  By explaining what a podcast is — and how you can download it — the library provides an important, but subtle, education in tech-talk.

The Westport Library also provides hardware.  They’ve got 30 computers, with color printing; scanners; a MacBook Pro; Kindles for a 7-day loan (loaded with titles); an iPad, plus Nook and Sony e-readers for sampling, and wireless printing from laptops.

Library cardholders can also download music from Freegal.  What’s that?  Just ask!

The library’s tech cred got a big boost recently.  Bill Derry – formerly coordinator of info and technology literacy for the Westport school district — joined Bleiweis’ staff as assistant director for innovation and user experience.

Children instinctively know the language of 21st-century technology. The rest of us have to be taught.

He knows what students know — and what adults don’t.  Bleiweis uses the analogy of parents who get frustrated when they can’t help kids with their “new math” homework.

Derry has the skills — and patience, and energy — to teach the older generation the language the younger one instinctively knows.

And the Westport Library is the place to do it.

“It’s intimidating to ask a 20-year-old geek at a store some question you’re embarrassed you don’t know the answer to,” Bleiweis says.

“It’s much easier to do it in the familiar setting of the library.”

A library, she says, is “a place to learn — no matter what you need to know.”

(In the works:  an iPad users group.  Got another idea for a a tech service that will serve and support the Westport community at the library?  Email Bill Derry at bderry@westportlibrary.org, or call him:  203-291-4846.)

Trying To Be A Boy Scout

Leaving an office building restroom the other day, I saw something gold on the floor.  That’s weird, I said to myself.  How did my American Express card end up there?

Except it wasn’t my card.  It had someone else’s name.  And it was a business credit card, with the company’s name listed too.

The card I found looked like this, except it did not belong to C. F. Frost.

The normal procedure — normal, that is, if you’re not a crook — is to hunt down the cardholder, ask a few questions to make sure it’s theirs, and return it.  But the name on this card was absurdly generic — let’s say, “Susan Smith.”

After thinking to myself “Wow, I knew a ‘Susan Smith’ in high school,” I figured I’d contact the company.  I’d never heard of it, but it had “Entertainment” in the name, so I assumed it was a small local business.

It’s not.  It’s a large firm, based in California.  The website had no directory of executives, and an extensive search of the site didn’t help.

On to Facebook.  Of course, there are a squintillion Susan Smiths — black, white, young, old, gorgeous, not — but none from around here or with an entertainment profile.

Next up:  Google.  “Susan Smith” plus the company name brought no exact matches.  But the top link was to a Susan Smith’s LinkedIn profile.  She worked in the entertainment field, for a media firm.

I’m on LinkedIn — though I haven’t figured out why — so I sent Susan Smith a message.  “Did you lose your Amex card today?” I asked.  “If so, tell me where, what color, and what the business name is.”

But that was a long shot.  If I were Susan Smith I’d probably be freaking about my lost card.  So I called American Express, to say I’d found it, and all was well.

Easier said than done.  The recorded AmEx voice asked me to say “my” card number.  “Mine” was Susan’s — no problem.

But then I had to answer the security question:  something about my her elementary school.  I was stumped, but I got a 2nd chance:  the last 4 digits of my her Social Security number.

After passive-aggressively informing me that she could not hear my response, the voice gave me a set of options.  None, of course, resembled “speak to a customer service representative.”

So I did what I always do in such circumstances:  I yelled into the phone, “I just want to talk to a f—ing person!”

“Sorry!” she chirped.  “I did not understand that request.”

The customer service representative I spoke with was quite perky, and helpful.

Punching in several not-what-I-wanted prompts — “Membership Rewards” was one, I think — finally got me to “talk with a customer service representative.”

Sort of.  I waited on hold for a while — surprise! — until finally a helpful woman without an Indian accident — another surprise! — greeted me warmly.

I’ve long ago learned that it’s not her fault her company’s phone tree sucks.  So I explained what happened.  She told me to destroy the card, and thanked me for my help.  That was that!

But I had to convey my frustration, so I told her my story.

She apologized on behalf of American Express’s tens of thousands of employees, and said:  “Just so you know, sir, in the future you can punch ‘zero-pound-zero-pound’ any time.  That will take you straight to customer service!”

How simple!  Silly me!  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

PS:  The next morning, “Susan” emailed me back.  She’d gotten my LinkedIn message.  She was the one whose card was lost.  She thanked me profusely.

And she added that yes indeed, she was the Susan Smith who had been in my class back in the day at Staples.