Online Bully Defense

Yesterday I wrote about how one’s email address has become their online identity. As I think about online identity, it occurs to me that a difference in strength of identity might be enabling online bullies. Just as a physical bully seizes initiative to exploit another’s physical weakness & lack of vigilance, online bullies can operate in the same way. If your whole online life revolves around one site, and the bully has a stronger presence, bullying is enabled. It’s a difference in strength of online presence and reputation.

The internet is so new, has moved so fast, its not surprising that this is happening. Even well-funded corporations who have devoted huge resources to PR are still challenged to manage their reputation online. No wonder kids can find themselves exposed.

Helping my kids develop a stronger online identity, in advance of them really needing it, will help them be more bully-resistant. Having their own place to publish content is also a hedge against social sites changing terms or moving from free to paid. At the end of the day, what will matter in the long run is what comes up when someone types my daughter’s name into a search engine.

I’ve pulled their firstnamelastname.com domains, and when needed we’ll develop sites for them. They have control over the content, and can build whatever presence fits them. They can probably manage the SEO of their own site well enough to make it place higher than Facebook or other pages, which is a hedge against the inevitable, regrettable social media content. It can be the site they mention to prospective employers (preferably, investors) or whoever else they need to impress.

They can still enjoy all the fun and drama that comes with Facebook and other sites, but they will have their own presence on the web as the anchor. This is the same strategy recommended to businesses, and the same logic is applicable to personal brands as well.

Try to look like a genius on Linkedin…and fail

Want to try to look like a genius on Linkedin’s Answers?

Pick a question, any question, and draft an answer drawing from the following sure-fire ways of providing what looks like useful input without answering the question.

For example, suppose the question is “Is it time for lunch yet?”

  1. Suggest that the question would be better asked in a different way. Provide a link to this tangential subject. “I think what you mean to ask is “is this the right time for ME to consume lunch?” Please see the attached link on Zone Dieting and the Hindu Clock Diet.”
  2. State that it is critical for business today, mention coordination, and include the magic phrase “it can be challenging!” “This is critical thing for business today, and I now that in my experience I’ve often run into this problem. Coordinating with others is key – it can be challenging!”
  3. Always, always mention that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. For some reason people think this is a profound statement. “I’ve dealt with this in a variety of ways: Clocks, growling stomach, pestering coworkers, etc. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.”
  4. Ask what the goal is, then simplify and answer: “What is the goal of eating lunch? If you’re hungry, I would eat.”
  5. Ask backgrounder questions, then make some assumptions about the answers, choose an easy set of assumptions and answer that: “In what context are you asking? Does your employer have a set lunch time, or is it up to you to set your own time? If it’s up to you, then I would go when you’re hungry.”
  6. Write an elaborate response on how to search for existing answers. The key is to make it long enough that one gets the impression would have been easier for the author to do the search than to write about it: “I think this has been answered before. It might have been in Management, or maybe it was Organizational Development. Anyway, you should be able to find it by doing some searching: Go to “Q&A”, then “Advanced Search”, in the search box I would try phrases like “chronology of lunch, lunch, time, eat” etc. You might need to change the category, or use the category ALL. If you get too many responses, just use aditional search terms to narrow the search. You should be able to pull up the answer.

Fortunately, along with a fair bit of noise, Linkedin’s Q&A usually provides some great input.

A shrinking world

Today I did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I shrunk my network on Linkedin.

I got started in Linkedin back in 2005 when I accepted an invitation from Brendon Connelly, and after about 4 months of inactivity I learned better how to use it and as of this morning I had 4,050+ connections. When I was doing competitive research Linkedin was a pretty useful tool (I even used to do presentations on the subject), and it’s value as a research database exceeded it’s value as a networking tool.

But being an open networker has it’s price. Linkedin offers a lot of notification tools to keep you in tune with what your network is doing. When your network is thousands of strangers, those tools are pretty much meaningless. It was easy to see what was going on with lots of people I didn’t know, but it was very hard to see what was happening with the folks who I did know, and this became annoying. After working with Linkedin for 4 years with a huge network, I decided to see what it is like with a small network.

I have nothing against open networking, and making this decision was a very tough choice. Today I took a few moments and disconnected from all the folks who I didn’t know, didn’t trust, or just didn’t feel connected to.

Some open networkers may read this and think I’ve thrown away a huge asset. I didn’t. Between Toplinked.com, the Meta Network, and a few other techniques it’s not hard to get scads of folks sending you invitations every day. If it turns out I’ve made a bad decision, I will simply open the floodgates once again. Until then, I’ll see how life is with a much smaller, more manageable network.

Linkedin no longer worth paying for

I’ve been an avid user of Linkedin.com for years now, but today I asked them to cancel my business subscription. I’m tired of paying for services not received. I’m tired of features that come and go with no notice to users. I’m tired of glitches that cannot be fixed, with no apology or explanation beyond “Gee, we don’t know what’s wrong.”

I get 2 questions per month, everyone else gets 10. They’ve taken away the stats on who is looking at my profile, which xing.com and other sites have given from the beginning without limitations. No reason why, no notice of if or when it will come back. That’s unfortunately how Linkedin operates these days – one day you have it, one day you don’t. That’s if the site is up, as they’ve had a number of outages lately as well. Assuming your account hasn’t been frozen because someone you met decided to forget about you and complained. My account was never frozen, but the threat is enough to keep me from inviting people.

I’m not even sure the features I’d get with a Personal Plus account are worth $60 a year. I really don’t want to give them any money at all.

I’ll still keep my account open because I think the service holds great promise. It can be a great resource for research. I hope that Linkedin can learn to live up to their brand and value proposition. But until they do, someone else can fund them.

In the mean time, there’s Xing.com, Facebook.com and various others I’ll be taking a look at.

Ironically, of all the requests I’ve made to Linkedin over the years, the one request that was most quickly & easily responded to was the one to cancel my subscription.