Happy 15th Birthday, LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is turning 15. (The birthday is the subject of this blog, along with some interesting infographics about how the world has changed over the 15 years)

As part of their birthday celebration, LinkedIn is encouraging people to share their career aspirations when they were 15 years old.

LinkedIn

#WhenIWas15

I am actually taking this post in a different direction (surprise!) but I am nothing if not a rule follower, so to answer the question about career aspirations when I was 15, here goes:

I don’t recall specifically what my big career dreams were at 15. I was still heavily involved in music (band), but didn’t plan to major in music. I was probably already leaning toward psychology/mental health, but still had strong political aspirations and a business orientation. Given that the summer I graduated from high school (at 17), I spent the summer knocking on doors trying to save souls, I’m pretty sure I also was still considering being a missionary. Whatever I planned to do, I am sure travel was a must. It always has been.

And most of our pictures are packed away due to our house being for sale, so my “Me at 14” picture will have to do for the pic LinkedIn wants.

LinkedIn

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About You, Birthday Site

It occurred to me it would be much more fun/interesting to talk about LinkedIn, which has changed so much over the 15 years. Here are 15 somewhat randomly organized observations about the good, the bad, and the mystifying.

1 – LinkedIn is an important part of the social media landscape

When Sree Sreenivasan presented How to Use Social Media in Your Career through the New York Times, he listed LinkedIn first among five social media options, noting it has 500 million members, calling it the “quintessential professional network.”

I tend to think LinkedIn is here to stay, having made it 15 years.

2-  LinkedIn is a useful and varied place to find content

One of my tasks at my freelance position is searching for timely posts about legal practice management issues that also meet specific editorial guidelines. When all my usual go-to options fail, LinkedIn is sometimes helpful.

If you’re not in a position of having to be picky about editorial criteria, I think you could find something about almost anything remotely business-related on LinkedIn.

I tried to think of something relatively obscure to search for on LinkedIn and came up with vinegar. That led me (through a content search) to:

LinkedIn

3 – Having to explain LinkedIn to someone else helped me understand it better

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to be an assistant in a LinkedIn workshop for sales professionals. Isn’t it always the case that you learn more about something by having to explain it to someone else? The experience gave me more confidence with LinkedIn as I helped participants figure out how to set up their accounts and how to get the most out of them. (Big thanks to Becky Robinson for her role in giving me this chance.)

4 – Posting on LinkedIn for a client is a great way to learn more about how to navigate LI

Two of the freelance positions I have held in the past four years have involved posting to LinkedIn on behalf of clients. Doing this has been another way to expand my LinkedIn abilities and give me a different perspective. Holding someone else’s professional image in your hands (at your keyboard?) or that of an organization is a big responsibility.

5 – When LinkedIn introduced live video as an option, that was an asset

I don’t agree with all the changes LinkedIn has made over the years, but this is one I liked. “If a video is available, 60% of visitors will opt to watch it before reading any text,” according to Replay Science. Presenting material through video is more likely to get someone’s attention (that’s what you want, right?). Also, the process of delivering material through video helps you practice your presentation and videography skills, something we all need anyway.

6 – Hashtags, on the other hand…

Call me old school, call me hesitant to change, call me whatever. I’m not a fan of hashtags on LinkedIn. I recently argued, during a conference call with a freelance team I was on, that they shouldn’t be used. Au contraire, they argued. Use them or don’t do our social. Well okay.

The thing is, the organization wanting the hashtags was right, as this post attests. Read more about Hashtags on LinkedIn here.

One reason I don’t like hashtags on LinkedIn is that, when I was posting for a client on Buffer or Hootsuite, I had to do their posting separately because a hashtag would give away the fact that I was bulk posting across several sites at once. It was a check and balance that made me try to add something unique to their LinkedIn posting. I guess I should just be happy for the streamlined workload. Maybe I just like doing things the hard way and am a glutton for punishment. I prefer thinking I care about my clients’ content being the best, most attractive, most compelling it can be.

7 – And GIFS, on the “other” other hand

I just learned that LinkedIn now accepts GIFS within its messages component.

Why, LI, why?

via GIPHY

8 – Writing articles on LinkedIn (along with other activities) can still be awkward and cumbersome

The LinkedIn user interface has improved over the years (hopefully we all get better with age), but it can still feel clunky, non-intuitive and confusing to me. Back in 2015, co-founder Reid Hoffman was quoted in The Next Web as saying:

I think some people find it very confusing. That’s absolutely the case and there’s definitely more work we can do.

Keep working on it, LinkedIn. Please.

9 – Keywords are of paramount importance

Keywords matter now more than ever on LinkedIn (and this, of course, is not unique to LinkedIn). This is one I am better at parroting than implementing, apparently, but I am learning. Former LinkedIn staff member Jeremy Schifeling of Break Into Tech says keywords are critical to making you “findable” when he lists the only four things that matter on LinkedIn.

10 –  I don’t know how long I’ve been on LinkedIn

I would have referenced how long I’ve been on LinkedIn if I could figure out how to do that. See also #7, about the difficult interface. Twitter has its faults, but one of them isn’t the ease of figuring out how long I’ve been there. (The discovery below took me one click.)LinkedIn

11 – Networking metrics are difficult to follow

This is another category that I have trouble figuring out sometimes. There’s a difference between connections and followers. I had to gather number of connections for a former freelance client, and every single month I had to dig through her profile in a byzantine manner to figure it out (it’s harder when someone has more than 500 connections). I got it right for her every month, but it was so frustrating to not have an easy way.

12 – Having a premium account gives you more benefits, but can be expensive

I have not yet personally seen the benefit of paying for a LinkedIn premium account, but it does give users more benefits. One of my clients had premium and I did have a bit of an “ooh-aah this is cool” reaction every time I used it. Here’s one breakdown to help you decide and here’s another.

13 – LinkedIn can be important to personal branding

[Note: I got this one from 5 LinkedIn tips to strengthen your personal brand (and I agree with its premise).]

Any senior leader who is interviewing, partnering, mentoring, and attending or speaking at conferences needs to create the right online impression to match their personal brand and values. – Sandra Long, author of LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide.

14 – I struggle to figure out how much to segregate the personal from the professional

In my mind, LinkedIn is for professional content mainly.

However, I don’t comply with my own beliefs.

I do think the site has become more blurry about personal vs. professional. When I was looking for vinegar-related content (see #2 above), there were several recipes and gorgeous food photographs to scroll past before I found a business article about vinegar. For a moment, I thought I may have inadvertently ended up on Instagram.

I still try to skew content to the professional side even if it is mostly personal. For instance, when I wrote about caregiving, I usually prefaced a link on LinkedIn with “your employees may be experiencing caregiving stress” or something similar.

Ultimately, though, I’m not that much of a “compartmentalization” sort of person (rightly or wrongly). What you see (or read) is what you get, and I bring my whole self to work, in general. In addition, since writing is part of my professional profile, pretty much everything I post is a potential work sample.

15 – LinkedIn is useful for job-hunting

LinkedIn is an effective tool for job hunting. Despite its good and bad points, it is a place to share your expertise, network and pursue opportunities.

Happy Birthday, LinkedIn

In the LinkedIn Turns 15 post, Allen Blue says the platform’s initial tagline was “relationships matter.” Although some of the interface issues make it a bit difficult to pursue those relationships sometimes, the platform does make a difference for those of us who commit time and energy to it.

Keep on making a difference, LinkedIn. And Happy Birthday.

Note: I am linking this post to a Kat Bouska prompt, “write a post inspired by the word time.”

LinkedIn

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

13 Life Questions to Ask Yourself

Many experts say your blog should be consistent in theme, and no one does that better than Bob Tiede, whose Leading with Questions blog does, in fact, focus on questions almost exclusively.

A recent guest post by Dr. Travis Bradberry detailing 13 Questions That Will Change Your Life especially captured my attention. After reading it, I thought, if I could truly focus on answering these 13 questions for myself, and take action on my candid answers, I could be in a better place emotionally and serve those around me more fully.

Writing about all that could lead to a novel rather than a blog, though, so I am giving myself 100 words per question. Let’s see how that turns out. Or, in the spirit of the “questions” blog, “How will that idea pan out?”

Question 1: How do people see me differently than I see myself? 

My Weaving Influence coworkers gave me a “virtual going away party” recently. When Becky asked me if I wanted to record it, I declined. No one participating in a video call (unless it’s with a client) really goes into it prepared to be recorded. I suppose the comments that meant the most were about my patience, my authenticity, and my ability to help visual learners understand concepts. The last is something I have been told periodically over the years, and it usually makes me wonder why I haven’t pursued some type of training responsibilities in my work life.

Self Examination

A quick shot I grabbed of my virtual going-away party.

Question 2: What/Whom did I make better today?

I suppose a flip of this question is to ask every morning, “what/whom can I make better today?” I’m at a pretty funky place about this question right now. Of course I have a commitment to trying to make things around me better, but we can make things worse when we think we are making them better. And my continuing fatigue two months after Dad passed away reminds me that recovery from a life-changing event isn’t immediate. At the risk of sounding selfish, I think I need to put my own oxygen mask on first right now.

Question 3: Am I being true to my values?

My biggest “aha” recently has been around family dinner time (great timing since we’re now an empty nest eh?). When Wayne Kevin’s girlfriend started eating dinner with us more often, we actually started moving the laptops away from the dining room table, he stopped taking his dinner to his room to consume while playing video games, and …. we talked! I may not be able to convince my husband to move his laptop during dinners, but I can do something about ME. I can pay attention to my food and the people at the table again. People matter most.

Question 4: If I achieved all of my goals, how would I feel? What can I do to feel that way as I work to achieve them?

In June, I wrote a post in which I recommitted to having written goals. This question’s reference to “all of my goals” is a pretty broad thing. But baby steps make a difference, and in June I told everyone that I would improve my Spanish, eat better, and move more. I committed to enroll in Berlitz’s online Spanish program, but allowed frugality to stop me. $99 may be a small leap but as of this writing, I am enrolled! ¡Bueno! I committed to eat better and move more. Time to whip up a salad and go for a walk.

Question 5: What haven’t I taken the time to learn about?

From a practical standpoint, it would be in my absolute best interest to learn more about WordPress, especially the back end and coding, so I could be less dependent on others. Next up, also a practical thing: learning to drive a standard transmission. It’s been on my list since we got my son’s car, which is manual. We have had it since November 2015; although he has moved away, the car was here in Tallahassee, the best car in the family, and I was relegated to my older car with the non-functioning air conditioning because I couldn’t drive his.

Question 6: In what areas of my life am I settling?

Life is a balancing act, and I would argue “settling” is sometimes a necessity and not that much of a sacrifice. I love well-tailored clothes and pricier pieces, but with two kids in college and some debt obligations I created for myself, forgoing some fashion fun is not the end of the world to me. I have, though, “settled” for staying put – I haven’t driven hard enough to do some of the overseas traveling I want to do, and that is a harder pill to swallow.

Question 7: What do I want my life to be like in five years?

I would like for my debt to be drastically reduced if not gone. For my daughter to have a career she loves and be personally happy. Ditto for my son. This may sound superficial, but I want my house to be cleaner and I’ve lived with myself long enough to know that means hiring someone to do it. I want less house and more travel. And to be connected with a cause (or causes), with the flexibility to give my time freely and travel to support those causes.

Question 8: What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

This one doesn’t take a hundred words: WRITE THE BOOK.

Question 9: Who has qualities that I aspire to develop?

I have a counterpoint question to this: Why is it so hard to balance the message “you are enough” and “there’s only one you” with the fact that other people’s qualities sometimes lead you to ask “why can’t I be more like [name of awesome person]?” But in the spirit of answering the question: the sales/business/promotion savvy of my former boss, Becky; the “I can move mountains and did” chutzpah of another former boss, Rose Naff. The writing chops of Jodi Picoult, Mark King and Ann Patchett (this list could go on and on…). The humanity of Malala.

Question 10: What problem are we solving?

Given my background in crisis counseling and mental health, I can count on the fingers of my two hands the times I have asked “closed-ended questions” when talking with someone about a problem over the past few decades. I’m also a big believer in finding root causes rather than being distracted by symptoms. In our current tension-fraught times, I would argue that there is a deeper challenge to be resolved than can be managed solely by taking down statues (without having a plan for dialogue and some way to document the context).

Question 11: What’s stopping me from doing the things that I should be doing?

Usually, when I feel “stuck” from making progress toward a goal, I determine to at least take a baby step. While “some progress” is usually a positive, I wonder if it has become a bit of a coping mechanism for me. I could argue that financial challenges are “stopping me” but I am also pretty creative about finding my way around those. I think I am failing to “ask for more” when I could probably get more. I love writing so much I do it for free, but why don’t I take the step of sending more queries for paid projects?

Question 12: Will you be my mentor?

Travis Bradberry says, “Everyone likes being looked up to, and it feels good to share our knowledge with others” in explaining why he recommends having a mentor and why people who are asked rarely turn down the request. This is one I’ll keep thinking about.

Question 13: What’s the most important lesson I’ve learned so far in life? Am I living that lesson?

Almost every day, I think about sitting in the car with Wayne, leaving our neighborhood, and him asking “did you call Ann (his sister)?” We were in the process of buying a townhouse from, her, we had gotten some painting done that was agreed to as part of the process, and he wanted me to let her know. I wasn’t in a hurry to make a phone call, so I put it off. She died in her sleep roughly nine hours later. It would have been a cut-and-dried conversation about a home repair detail, but I would have heard her voice. The lesson? Don’t assume you have the luxury of time.

What are YOUR hard questions?

Travis Bradberry closes by saying, “Asking the hard questions can be extremely uncomfortable. But we don’t learn and grow by sticking with what’s comfortable.”

He is right. Ask the questions. Give yourself grace to explore the “what if’s” while protecting your deepest “self” from the fact that other people may want you to adopt their hopes/opinions as your own.

Self Examination

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Remember Who You Are

Today was a first for me: the first time I have heard a Lion King reference used during a homily said by a Catholic priest. As I sat with my cousin, Karen, at St. Jude the Apostle Cathedral in St. Petersburg this morning, Fr. Anthony referenced Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and Nala during his remarks. He reminded us of the line “remember who you are.”

I had the good fortune to spend the weekend in Tampa and St. Petersburg. As I scrolled through pictures from the weekend, it occurred to me that this trip rather succinctly sums up much of “who I am” (if you put aside the fact that my husband and kids were not along).

READING (no picture for this one …)

My audiobook choice was a horrible choice if I was trying to escape (because it is about a son being the caregiver for his elderly mother). BUT I am thoroughly enjoying Bettyville and am impressed at the author’s ability to interject humor into a situation which (believe me, I know) is often devoid of humor.

FUN WITH WEATHER/NATURE

Isn’t this sunset over Old Tampa Bay glorious?

Sunset

Although my iPhoneography didn’t really do it justice, this rainbow over St. Pete was beautiful!

Rainbow

This morning’s sunrise over Coffee Pot Bayou:

sunrise coffee pot

RUNNING

My friend Diane Berberian and I ran the Lowry Park Zoo Run Run 5K yesterday morning. The course ran through the zoo and along the river. Seriously, running friends are the best!

Diane

FOOD!

Back when I was making my way along the Tallahassee Burger Trail, Diane had said “if you’re ever in St. Pete, I’ll show you a great burger.”  She did! And I enjoyed a Black and Blue Burger from The Burg (and voted for it in the 4th Annual Grand Central District Battle of the Burg(er))! Yummy!

burger

FRIENDS / COWORKERS / FRIENDS

Being part of a virtual team is great because of the flexibility but there are just times when you want to look each other in the eyes! Megan and I have been social media friends for a while, then became coworkers with Weaving Influence when I joined WI in October 2014. She recently moved to Florida (yay!!!!!!). Her husband Frank and I have been Swarm friends for a while, and narrowly missed a Newark Airport meetup in March. And then there’s Blake, who truly fits that “for this child I prayed” verse. I so enjoyed meeting them IRL and face timing Becky (our founder!).

megan

FAMILY

The genesis of this trip was my desire to visit with my Aunt Faye. I was unable to attend the memorial service in June after my Uncle Marvin passed away, so I had promised to spend some time with her this summer. A few logistical hurdles jumped and it all worked out great — I got to enjoy dinner with her, my cousin Kathy, Kathy’s husband Bob, and two other friends (and snap the great sunset picture above).

Faye

Then, rounding out the cousin visit agenda, I went to mass with Karen (Faye’s other daughter) this morning!

Karen

Lastly, I rarely get down to Riverview to visit our family burial plot. I spent a few moments visiting Ann, Chuck, Wayne’s grandparents Stanley and Lottie, his Aunt Susan, and a few other Thomasson relatives.

Chuck

Ann

When I went up for a blessing during Communion today, the deacon’s blessing was “May you have an awesome week.”

Thanks to a weekend characterized by so much of what I love: Books, Friends (and coworkers!), Family, Food, Running, and Nature … count me “grateful” and on target for an “awesome week”!

I hope your week ahead is full of blessings and “awesome” as well!

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.