I’m still a little green when it comes to social media. I’m still learning and I’d be crazy to call myself an expert. But isn’t that what makes it fun? While I haven’t been writing one myself, I’ve been an avid reader of blogs for several years. I have an RSS reader full of ‘em. And I’m completely amazed at the number of people blogging, the wide range of topics, and the vast difference in quality. When I find a blog I love, it’s like finding gold.
But mining for gold, can be tedious. Not that I know about gold mining personally, but those little tourist operations where people pan for gold in a stream have always looked kinda fun. It can be fun on the web too--spending hours browsing, jumping from link to link, seeing what’s out there. But sometimes I need something specific and I need it fast, and it’s annoying not to be able to find it.
So on that topic, I want to share some tips on how to find people on My developerWorks. That's one of the things I think My developerWorks has to offer – the ability to connect with real people who have real-world know-how and technical expertise. My developerWorks is designed with that in mind – this isn’t just a place to network with people you already know – it’s meant to help you meet new people you can learn from and network with.
5 ways to find the people you want to know on My developerWorks
1) Use “Find people” on the My developerWorks Connect page.
Okay, this is a killer spot, I really like to use to find new people… Go to the My developerWorks: Connect page and look under “Find people”. You can search by Keyword, Role, Skill, or Interest.
2) Search Profiles in My developerWorks
Go to Profiles. Click on Advanced Search and then you can look by city, country, name and keyword. This is good to use if you're looking for someone in your area.
3) Look for people with similar interests in Groups
Are you already a member of a group? Groups are an ideal place to look for colleagues interested in similar topics. And if you haven’t joined a group, you can easily browse them for topics you’re interested in by using the tags. Interested in Java? Click on the Java tag, find groups tagged with Java, and find new people you may want to get to know in those groups.
4) Get to know your local, friendly blogger!
If you’re reading blogs on My developerWorks, don’t be shy about getting to know the blog’s author. Bloggers blog because they want to share their thoughts and because they want to hear what you think in return! Just click on their virtual business card and send them a request to add them as a colleague!
5) Take a peek over your neighbor's fence at their bookmarks
One way to find someone you have something in common with is look at public bookmarks and browse them by tags. Find bookmarks you like, and you’ve probably found someone new you may want to connect with
Oh, one last thing… Now that you've found someone, how do you make contact with them on My developerWorks?
On their profile page, or from their virtual business card request to add them as a colleague. Once they’ve accepted your colleague invitation, it’s easy. Just go to their profile page and how you’ll see “Message this colleague” available as an option. Click on that link, type in your message and it will reach their email inbox.
Have ever done a Google search on your own name?
If you have, then you’re already familiar with the concept of having an “online persona”, even if you don’t think of it in those words. I also think of it like an online reputation or online resume. Your online persona is your representation of who you are in the “online” world, and to a large degree you control it!
Your online persona can be personal, like your Facebook page or Flickr with your latest vacation pics. Or it could be professional, you might be on LinkedIn or have a blog about topics related to your area of expertise. And it's also all the blurry areas where your personal and professional life overlap. When you approach social networking from a professional perspective (which is what I'm focusing on here), building your online persona is like building your online resume.
Your online persona can be negative, neutral or positive. No one wants a negative online persona. So don't go there! Be conservative about what you share and post, what you meant to be private or personal can also get noticed in the professional arena. Social Networking mistakes that can break your career Tips on cleaning up your online reputation
You may start out just wanting to keep your online persona neutral. Maybe you don't want to see anything come up when you do your Google search. It's your choice to stay "off the grid" but consider whether you're missing out on an opportunity. If you choose to, building your online persona can give you an edge in a competitive job market.
How do you start building a positive online professional persona?Find the right sites to participate in
There are general networking sites that don't focus on a specific industry, such as LinkedIn. But you may be better served by seeking out an active site focused on your industry. Vertical social networks target a specific set of users who connect around a specific set of interests. If you’re a developer, IT pro or student, I'd recommend My developerWorks
as the place to start.Set up a "rock star" profile on the sites you participate in
Connect with other people on the sites you participate in
- Add a picture - consider how the picture represents you. Think about the community you're a part of and the impression you want to leave. You may just want to "be yourself". You may want it to be more formal or casual. Think about what you're wearing, your facial expression, etc. There's nothing wrong with a fun, casual picture, as long as it fits with how you want to represent yourself.
- Include as much information as you can about yourself - specifically your professional self. What are you good at? What projects have you worked on? What company do you work at? What's your current role? What are you interested in learning?
- Spend a little extra time on your profile. Someone may be reading this like they read your resume. Edit until you're happy with how it represents you (and don't forget spell check).
- Simple steps to a great profile on My developerWorks
Share what you know (and what you think, and what you care about)
- Look for people you know, people you work with now or in the past, and look for people with similar interests to yours.
- Invite them to be part of your network.
- Join groups based on your projects and skills, and interests to expand your network.
One step at a time
- Find ways to speak out in your community, such as group discussions, comments, and blogs.
- If you're not ready to start posting videos or writing a blog, start out by commenting, rating and bookmarking.
- Sharing your experience and opinions helps demonstrate your knowledge and experience and show off your innovative thinking.
It may seem overwhelming, but you don't have to craft your online professional persona overnight! Take it one step at a time, slowly. Get to know the communities you are a part of before jumping in. Think about what you want to accomplish. Do a little research and learn before you take each next step.Now, I'd love to hear from you... Are you actively trying to build your online professional persona? If not, why not? If yes, what are your challenges or obstacles? What's working for you?
In another blog post I shared tips on finding other people on My developerWorks.But that's only half the story what if someone is looking for you?
Get discovered - You can make it easier for people to find you:
- Edit your profile and share your role, skills, and interests in About me section of your profile
- Join My developerWorks groups related to your interests and abilities - this is a natural place to find people with common interests.
- Add tags to your profile this lets someone find you when they do a Keyword search of profiles.How do I add tags to my profile?
Consider what they'll find on your My developerWorks profile when they get there.Do you have a blog or are you on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, LinkedIn?Link to it in your favorite links, so your colleagues on My developerWorks can connect with you there.
Take a little time to polish up your profile it's like making a first impression.
Add a photo to your profile or if you'd rather not, you can add an image that represents you!How do I update my profile photo?How do I add additional photos to my profile?Do you have any tips for getting discovered on My developerWorks? Let me know in the comments!
Take a little time to polish up your profile it's like making a first impression.
Do you have any tips for getting discovered on My developerWorks?Let me know in the comments!
- Share what's relevant about yourself in this community.Do you have certain skills, talents, passions, or achievements other developers or IT pros would want to know about?Don't leave them out!
- Share your bio and professional expertise in your profile.The more people know about who you are, projects you've worked on and what makes you tick, the more they'll be interested in connecting with you.
- Your profile is also a key place to promote other social media you're involved in and related work that you've done.Just by linking to my Twitter page on My developerWorks, I've gotten new followers! How do I add favorite links to my profile?
Have you written articles on developerWorks?Have you written a book? Do you have a web site? Include the title and the link in your professional expertise section!
- Do you have a blog or are you on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, LinkedIn? Link to it in your favorite links, so your colleagues on My developerWorks can connect with you there.
Add a photo to your profile or if you'd rather not, you can add an image that represents you!How do I update my profile photo?How do I add additional photos to my profile?/a>
If you know me for any length of time, the question is bound to come up. Out of the blue, I’ll ask you, “So, do you know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is?”. It’s kind of nosy when you think about it, but I’m a little Myers-Briggs obsessed. I find people fascinating – I’m always trying to understand them – and me – a little better. Just so you know, if I ask you your type, I’ve probably already been trying to figure out what type you are anyway. I’m just looking for confirmation.
That fits right into my personality by the way. I’m an INFJ
- which has been nicknamed “The Contemplator.” Truer words have never been said. That’s me for sure. And that’s what has been so surprising for me about Myers-Briggs typing - how well my type describes me – and my friends and family too.
You may be one of those people who says “Don’t put me in a box” and I sympathize! No personality test can capture all the facets of a unique human being and sometimes you don’t fit exactly into one bucket or another, but with sixteen separate Myers-Briggs types, they can capture quite a bit of nuance.
So what does personality have to do with work? How can understanding personality help you on the job? As much as I’m a fan of Myers-Briggs in particular, I think understanding personality and improving the way you work with people isn’t about sticking a label on each other. Whether you ever take a personality test or not, you can still benefit from some basic ideas
The first and most critical principle: Accept that people are different. They see things and approach things differently. And accept that it’s okay that everyone’s not like you and they don’t all have to be like you. Stop trying to change them to be like you and meet them where they’re at.If you apply nothing else, this one thing can improve your interactions with people you work with, your kids, your spouse, your friends, and random strangers.
At work, for instance, some people are chatty, some withdrawn. Some people like to meet in person, face to face, some like to talk on the phone, others email, or instant message. Some people like to draw things out on a white board, or talk out a problem, others like to think things through by themselves. Some people like processes, routines and definitions, others hate them and like to keep things loose. Some people like shiny, pretty presentations, others think only the value of the content matters and see packaging as artifice.
I could go on describing the ways we’re different, but you get the idea. The evidence is clear – people are different. If you don’t accept that people are different than you, they’ll be driving you crazy – because they’re not doing things the way you would. This can be a recipe for stress – at least if you’re the sensitive “Feeling” type like me.
But, if you accept that people are different, you can expect it, learn from it and use it to your advantage. You can start to improve outcomes by adjusting the way you work with different people. And you can even start to see it as an asset – a good thing. All our strengths and weaknesses can complement each other.
I’ll be talking more about applying personality in the workplace in future blog posts so, if you haven't done so already, subscribe to my RSS feed. I’ll talk about:
Know thyself – understanding what makes you tickAnd more!
Know the people you work with – observe, understand, adjust
Innies meet Outies – no, not belly buttons - Introverts vs. Extroverts
Fire meets Ice – Feelers vs Thinkers
Spontaneity meets Schedule - Perceivers vs. Feelers
Understanding the executive mind
Learn more about me and make me one of your colleagues on My developerWorks profile
Follow me on Twitter
In my first post on "Personality on the job"
, I talked about the first principle - Accepting that people are different! The second principle is "Know yourself".
A relationship is a two-way interaction, and you are one half of that interaction. It does no good to merely observe and understand others, if you don't understand the role you are playing too. One way to get to know yourself is to take a personality test. There are many out there, and I'll include a list at the bottom of my post. But taking a personality test isn't required - start by looking in the mirror!
Here are some questions to help you explore who you are on the job:
- What do you enjoy working on? What activities make you "lose time", looking up and realizing hours have gone by?
- What makes you energized? What are you most passionate about?
- What drags you down, sucks your energy, bums you out?
- What makes you see red?
- Do you like to work in quiet solitude? Or frenetic activity with lots of people around?
- Do you jump in and solve a problem on the fly, or think about it first?
- Do you feel compelled to work through every detail? Or do you prefer to look at the big picture?
- Do you tend to plan things out in advance? Or go with the flow?
- Is it natural for you to lead a team effort? Or do you like to join in and follow someone else?
- Do you like a defined roadmap? Or do you like to blaze your own trail?
Cut yourself some slack
Remember the first principle was accepting that people are different? Now, accept that you are different. You can change some things about yourself, and probably should, but many things are just the way you're hardwired. Don't fight it - work with it.
For example... I work with people alot, but I'm an introvert and I can get worn out. As much as I wish this wasn't the case - but it is, so I have to work with it and schedule in down time when I'm not in meetings. Make the most of what you've got
Once you understand basic things about yourself, you can start to put those to use. If you enjoy working on the start of a project, conceiving it in the brainstorming phase - try to find areas where you can apply that. If you're passionate about perfecting things with testing and trouble-shooting, look for opportunities to do that. If working on detailed reports drives you nuts and slows you down, see if you can pass that on to another team member who eats spreadsheets for lunch.
For example... I've discovered, I enjoy analyzing data. That might sound dry to you, but as a kid, I loved Nancy Drew books, and I think something about putting together puzzles and playing the detective gets me going! So I volunteer to do a little data analysis when the need comes up. Know your hot buttons - then cool down
We all have hot buttons that short circuit logic and go straight to our gut. They might make us feel frustrated, angry, or deflated. Many times, these hot buttons aren't serious, just the kind of thing that irks you because of your particular personality! Unfortunately, the instant emotions hot buttons evoke can cause a meltdown over something minor. Pinpoint your hot buttons, so that when they get triggered, you can remind yourself that this isn't worth arguing about - it's just a personality quirk.
For example... Years ago, I received a flaming ALL CAPS email that was very pushy and critical and it seemed the entire universe was copied on it. I felt like I was being run over with a bulldozer. I received wise advice to just pick up the phone and talk to the person, instead of trying to defend myself in email. Looking back, I can see that this is just the way this person dealt with everyone - it wasn't directed especially at me. And since I now recognize I can be thin-skinned, when things like this happen again, I don't take a forceful style personally and get upset - just focus on solving the problem.
Want to get to know yourself better? Here are three free online personality tests:4 question personality test
(for those of you short on time...)Keirsey Temperament SorterHumanMetrics Jung Typology Test
When introverts and extroverts meet strange things can happen. They may end up completely misunderstanding each other. Or they may end up a powerful pair - after all, one talks a lot and one listens a lot - if that's not a match made in heaven, what is? But if you're not aware of the dynamics in play you may find yourself irritated by others differences or misunderstanding them.
What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?You might be an extrovert if...
- So first, you need to be able to recognize yourself. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
- Second, you need to be able to make some observations about the people you work with. Are they introverts or extroverts?
- Third, you need to be able to apply this knowledge at work to have the best possible relationship and outcome.
You might be an introvert if...
- You're the life of the party
- You like to talk (a lot)
- You get bored being alone
- You're energized from interacting with people
- You sometimes feel wiped out after spending time with people
- You need to retreat to solitude to recharge your batteries
- You think about what you say before saying it
- You're energized from time alone
These are polarities, but you can fit anywhere in the spectrum. You may not be one or the other - you could be right in the middle, not really a clear introvert or extrovert. That's okay! Just try to get a feel for where you fit. Now, what about the people you work with? Are they introverts or extroverts?
You can't necessarily know just by looking whether someone is introverted or extroverted, because it's not about their external social interactions, but about how they get their energy - whether they get energy from within, being by themselves or from without, being with others. But you often have clues...
In the extreme, extroverts often seem chatty, talkative, energetic, open, outgoing, uninhibited. They may like to work in a group and meet face to face to talk things through. Introverts may appear to be shy, reserved, quiet, thoughtful and serious. They may like to work alone and meet with others only when necessary.Now, once you understand where you fit and more about the people you're working with, how can you work better together?Working with extroverts:
Working with introverts:
- They like to talk things out and this is part of their process for solving a problem.
- They work things out as they speak, versus working things out before they speak.
- Don't expect them to come up with a fully formed plan right away, but to be working it out as they talk through it.
- White-boarding style brainstorming sessions are a good forum for this.
- Be prepared to spend extra time listening.
- Be prepared to spend time listening about non-work related personal topics, but set boundaries if you need to, if extroverted socializing starts to intrude on getting your work done.
My personal experiences...
- They like to think things out before they speak. This can lead to long pauses and blank looks as they are considering what to say.
- If you ask them a question, they may not be ready to answer right away, but may want to go off and consider it first.
- Realize that just because they're not talking, doesn't mean they're not paying attention or trying to solve the problem.
- Extroverts may dominate group discussions, so don't miss out on the good things an introvert might share. If they're not speaking up, you might ask "What do you think about this, ______?"
- Help them mentally prepare for a meeting by sending out an agenda and meeting materials ahead of time.
- If you need them to share something specific in a meeting, give them forewarning.
- Don't be put off by their reserved nature - go out of your way to get to know them better.
I am an introvert. Others have had the impression that I am shy or stuck up and as a child I was nicknamed "bookworm". Here are some of the things on the job I've discovered that help me out. My work is often full of interpersonal interaction. Sometimes I am overwhelmed and need to regroup. I try to include downtime to think things through. I also try to balance out my workload during the day and the week - so if I have many meetings I also spend time doing solitary work that involves things like writing or number-crunching. I'm learning to be more comfortable not forcing myself to come up with an answer when I'm put on the spot, but instead to say "Let me think about that and get back to you". I find I do better in meetings when I'm prepared for them ahead of time, so if I'm leading a meeting, I put together an agenda, so I can stay focused. I enjoy working with extroverts I've encountered, but it helps to recognize and accept their unique differences. I'm prepared when I'm talking with certain people, for the conversation to be a little longer and range a little further afield, but knowing that in advance makes it easier for me.What about you? Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does it affect your style at work?
I like to bake.
In my family, when there is a gathering, I get called upon to bring dessert. And I’m glad to do it every time. All this baking got me to thinking about what a cake has in common with social networking, social media, online communities, creating a following for yourself, etc.Making it is a messy job
In the beginning a cake just some flour, sugar, eggs and butter thrown together. It’s raw dough. It doesn’t look like a master creation, but that’s where you start. Starting out with social networking is no different. In the beginning.
You have some raw ingredients to work with:
- Who are you? What makes you special, unique? What do you want to share with the world – or keep private?
- What are you passionate about? Let’s face it, social media and networking can take a lot of your time. If you’re not passionate about something, why bother?
- What are you good at? What do you know a lot about?
- What social networking sites, tools, and applications do you want to use?
- How much time do you want to spend?
- What kind of outcome are you hoping for?
Take these raw ingredients and decide what flavor of cake you want to “bake up” in the world of social networking. You’re not always sure how it’s going to turn out (and sometimes it flops)
If you’ve spent any time at all baking, you know, that sometimes a cake just flops. No rhyme or reason. It just does. Forays into social networking are no different. Making a name for yourself, gaining a readership, and forming connections are things that come over time, with many repeated consistent ongoing efforts. Some of those efforts will flop. Not every blog posting will hit it big, not everyone will answer a question you pose in forum, or join in your group. It’s a process of experimentation – try to learn what works and what doesn’t. Then keep trying. When a cake flops, I don’t swear off baking, I just grab a fork and dig in, then try a new recipe next time. Same thing with social networking – don’t sweat it, just keep trying new things.There are lots of layers
Putting together a fancy cake sometimes involves layers of cake, fillings, frosting and glazes. Social networking isn’t as simple as creating a user id and password. It takes several steps, at least, to start to your social networking foundation. Start by building a solid profile – that’s your first layer. Then visit regularly and see what other people are doing. Start to get active yourself by making connections and joining groups and activities. And top it all off by coming back regularly to see what’s new and interact with your new network.Presentation is crucial
A well-presented cake has that little
extra something like toasted coconut or white chocolate curls. It's not
only pleasing to the taste, but to the eye as well. Successful social
networkers take similar pride in how they present themselves online.
Consider what you’d like your image to look like and whether it’s
inviting. Does your profile represent you well? Do you like your
photograph? How can you use graphics and words to bring extra polish to
your online activities?If you find the right place for it, it’ll get gobbled up fast
Take your cake to a gluten-free convention and you may not have many takers. But leave that same cake in a breakroom at my office building, and it will be gone fast. Same thing applies in social networking. You want to pick the right “virtual place” for your venture. If you want to make professional connections, My Space is probably not the best place for you! But social networking opportunities like My developerWorks
offer you the ability to connect with professionals interested in similar topics, in a learning and sharing environment. Who doesn’t like cake, but you can only eat so much in one sitting
When you bake a delicious cake, it can be tempting to go back for second helpings (and thirds, too). But eat too much cake at once and the enjoyment fades into a sugar hangover. When you’re first discovering social networking, it can be such a buzz that you overdo it and burn yourself out. I've spent many happy, addictive hours exploring new social networking sites (uh, Twitter, anyone?). But you don’t have to eat the cake all at once! There will be more tomorrow. Pace yourself, and plan to spend some time social networking each week. Wishing you all a slice of social networking heaven here on My developerWorks!
p.s. The cake above is an Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing from one of my favorites - The Pastry Queen, Rebecca Rather