Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  mydw lotusphere social_networking social ls10 lotus my_developerworks interview social_media 3 Comments 3,910 Visits
I'm not at Lotusphere 2010 this week, but the excitement is contagious! If you want to follow along, check out #ls10 on Twitter and My developerWorks blog posts and podcasts tagged with Lotusphere.
In honor of Lotusphere, I'm bringing you an interview with Rawn Shah, IBM social software practices lead. Rawn's moved on to new frontiers, but he was once part of the IBM developerWorks team and without Rawn's visionary ideas about social computing, My developerWorks wouldn't be where it is today. He is the author of a new book about to be published, Social Networking for Business, that I'm looking forward to reading and I hope you enjoy these insights from Rawn.
Connect with Rawn: My developerWorks profile - Twitter - Blog
You've worked in many different roles: network admin, systems programmer and author to name a few and you've gone from dotcom startup to Big Blue at IBM. What have been the most interesting transitions during your IT career?
It's hard for me to remember the feeling from the earlier ones years ago, and some roles I worked in parallel so there weren’t as many major changes. The last large software application I wrote was a TCP/IP network router in 2007, but I don’t program much anymore. I'd say the most interesting ones was either moving from being a startup to working for IBM, and another transition from being an technology editor to an online community program manager. These were very different job roles: from managing various independent writers to leading teams of folks working on social software. It truly helps you learn the differences between motivating individuals and teams. In the move to IBM, it took a few years just to appreciate the scale of difference in knowing people well, across the company, even more than trying to meet people across the industry. There was also a steep learning curve with social computing just starting to rev up in the 2000s.
Congratulations on your new book, Social Networking for Business! There's a lot of info out about social networking right now - what perspective does your book offer that makes it unique?
Thank you. The book focuses on how people work socially, the collaborative methods they use, how they experience it, how they subdivide or build up tasks, how they decide on governance and proper etiquette to working together, and how culture emerges in social groups. Unlike many other books which tend to focus on social media marketing and issues around using tools around the Web, this book reaches across both external scenarios, as well as within the enterprise. The focus is on understanding the dynamics of the social systems that these tools support. That is much more a study of human behavior, social collaboration, and business productivity, than trying to understand the technical aspects of the software.
Each chapter focuses on a different dynamic, for example various leadership models in social computing, different ways of accomplishing tasks socially, understanding elements of culture and behavior, encouraging members and participation, and more. Beyond theory, it provides examples of each of these dynamics in action. Like an architect, I hope this book helps people to look beyond the technical or physical structure and into the artistic design, human factors, social impact and practicalities of social computing ideas.
What did you learn in the process of writing Social Networking for Business?
This is the first book project I have taken on entirely by myself. My other books (a variety of other subjects) have all be co-authored with several folks. It really tested my resolve to work on a singular project several times a week for two years—this, on top of my day job of course. It was also very much a subject in constant motion, with new ideas and approaches to social computing emerging every few months. I’ve probably revised the book a dozen times. The final book itself, I trimmed down from about 400 pages to its current version of about 200 or so.
Writing for business readers rather than technical was also another big shift. My last work as co-author is intended for a deeply technical audience: SOA Compass (IBM Press 2005, and now in six languages worldwide). What’s more writing for Wharton School Press was also a little intimidating; the Wharton professor and the editorial staff were very pleasant and accommodating, but there is a different kind of rigor that goes into explaining in simple detail without expounding at length on a topic.
The topic itself is constantly reshaping itself, but I have found that adoption tends to be a top concern, once people get beyond the “What is it?” question. Companies want to know how to apply social computing across their employees, customers and partners, but they also want to know what the payback or gain of taking part may be. So far, there are many different scenarios where the rewards are real, but I have yet to find anyone who can claim a common set of methods, metrics and value that applies in every scenario. For CIOs and IT departments used to delivering very specific ROI measurements for their application installations, this lack of a systematic means of measuring ROI can make it difficult to justify the cost. On the other hand, as many will tell you, there is no question of “do you need a phone system for your business?” as a means of communication. My prediction is that social software and collaboration will eventually become a standard cost of doing any kind of business.
Your favorite and your least favorite thing about social networking?
Pros: It’s a brand new frontier of ideas especially when you become involved in trying to take this from an artistic to a scientific approach. There are lots of opportunities on an intellectual level which really drives me.
Cons: It’s a brand new frontier of ideas especially when you become involved in trying to take this from an artistic to a scientific approach. :)
It’s true both ways. On the con side, I end up talking with folks ingrained with the subject and those just entering it, and often find people rediscovering some of the same ideas over and again. There are still so many new things to be learned, but having to go in reverse sometimes can also readjust your perspective on what people need.
How has being a father changed how you use social networking?
I went dormant for a while, not posting online too often. This book writing project started when my first child was about a year old, and ended about two years later just before my second one was born. On a daily basis it was a flip-flop between deep intellectual discussions with many experts on the dynamics of social interactions, and then watching Curious George and Yo Gabba Gabba—“Don’t… bite your friends… Don’t… bite your friends”—with my son, and then back to work after he went to bed. Let me tell you, it changes the way you think. Both have their ups and downs. Since this book was dedicated to my son Ryhan, I will eventually have to write another one to dedicate to my daughter Zoe.
What advice would you give on being an active social networker but balancing it with the rest of your job and the rest of your life?
What I think many folks new to the subject find hardest is that it takes time (years, not weeks) to become involved in a social group. Much of it involves if you can, on a personal level, form and maintain relationships with people you don’t see or talk to except in brief bursts. Most folks don’t get to spend hours at a time working closely with other individuals in an online social environment. That’s okay. However, frequency and authenticity of interaction does matter. You need to connect with others just as you would with your in-person relationships.
But don’t lose your life to it. Talk about the subject in a relevant and useful manner. But, there is also nothing wrong with occasionally talking about what you do in your off-time, if that’s okay with the social environment you are in. What that does is bring up other concepts that perhaps the other members may be interested in and want to talk to you about. Therein lays serendipity.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
What I read regularly has changed quite a bit over the years. It used to be fairly heavily technical and developer oriented, but these days, they are more around social systems, economics, employee behavior, and enterprise technology
Online, I read blogs like Crave.cnet.com (for my gadget news fix), CNN Money, BBC news, the Enteprise 2.0 Adoption Council (private community for enterprise social software). Most Web sites I tend to find per recommendation from others on Twitter or on internal social sites. There are a lot of IBM internal sites and communities I read too.
I tend to read a lot offline as much as online. Having been a writer and editor, I still regularly follow a number of publications like the Economist, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Strategy+Business and Harvard Business Review.
I see Twitter as a stream of info to dip into occasionally rather than to soak in for hours. I tend to be specific on who I follow and which followers I accept. I only track several hundred folks but will read posts by rhappe (Rachel Happe), jowyang (Jeremy Owyang), kdpaine (KD Paine), rotkapchen (Paula Thornton), turbotodd (Todd Watson), briansolis (Brian Solis), ITInsider (Susan Scrupski), horizonwatching (Bill Chamberlin), and eric_andersen (Eric Andersen).
Are there any technical experts or blogs you follow on My developerWorks?
I read Luis Benitez’s and Todd Watson’s blogs often because they are both in my field and interesting writers. I was reading the Extremeblue Internship Experience blog over the summer—I was mentoring an intern team working on social computing activity metrics. I’m starting to discover new folks on there too.
What do you think about My developerWorks so far?
It’s interesting and a third home online so I visit it occasionally. I like the fact that its open to allowing any developerWorks member to get involved in. There’s a lot to growing a new ecosystem like this; and it is new because the users have not been working in such an environment for very long, even if developerWorks itself has been around for over a decade. I’m really glad to see that content from My developerWorks now appears on the main developerWorks page.
Outside of the social networking universe, what hobbies or interests keep your flame burning?
My other passion is practicing and teaching Japanese swordfighting. It’s exhausting physically but nice and relaxing mentally from work. On http://battodo.ning.com, you’ll find photos and videos of my students and me over the years. I teach mostly middle-school and high-school now. That audience requires a whole other approach to trying to explain ideas and practices. For example, “Let’s not try to get anyone hurt in class by swinging your wooden sword wildly. Now, line up so you can practice how to cut in half this target about the density of a person.”
- Thanks Rawn!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  social_media fun social_networking personality 4 Comments 5,768 Visits
I've always found Carl Jung's archetypes to be fascinating. As I've been trolling around lately in the social networking universe, I've observed some archetypes myself and thought I'd share! Let me know what you think! Do you identify with any of these?
Social Networking Archetypes
You're like a sponge soaking up information all the time and you like to share that information with other people! You blog and tweet often. It may be short and to the point but you keep it coming because you like to keep up with current events and strike while the iron is hot.
Make the most of your archetype: Embrace your strength and do what you love. Other people are looking for that timely information you provide. But consider learning from the Friend and the Personality archetypes to add a little warmth and color to your social networking.
You might be fun, sarcastic, witty, or brainy. But whatever you are let's face it... you've got Personality with a capital 'P'. You have a way of expressing yourself that's unique, and you're not afraid to put yourself out there. People like to follow you not just because of information you provide but the spin you put on it. It helps if you are passionate about a topic or share lots of information but what makes you shine is the personality factor.
Make the most of your archetype: Whatever medium you choose post regularly, be colorful and be yourself. But if you're in a corporate environment - don't forget you may need to censor yourself! Be sure to know your company's social media policy so your "Personality" doesn't get carried away.
You think deep. You might see a news story or have a small moment in every day life and it presents itself to you as a deeper revelation. You like to share these insights and your blog posts are lengthy and carefully crafted. You have wise perspective that others admire and enjoy.
Make the most of your archetype: Cultivate your philosophical musings and don't be afraid to share. Jot down ideas for blog posts as soon as they come to you. Find a topic you're passionate about so you can focus your philosophical musings on a consistent topic.
There's something that you really love - maybe it's guitars or programming or horses or french cooking or astronomy. Whatever it is, you LOVE it, and that's what's drawn you out into social networking where you can share your love with others like you.
Make the most of your archetype: Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can find others who get fired up about the same things!
One day you woke up and realized you possessed some expert knowledge. You might have cut your teeth and learned something the hard way. And you get a big thrill out of sharing what you know with other people. You like to help. You share instructions, tips, tutorials and helpful resources and you're always happy to answer a question.
Make the most of your archetype: Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can share your know-how with people who need it!
You're good at making people feel welcome. You love to read what other people write and share and then comment back. You probably have your own blog or Twitter account. And there's no doubt you love Facebook. But what you really enjoy is getting to know people via whatever medium you use.
Make the most of your archetype: Decide whether you want a wide social network or a deep one. If you want a deep one, pick a site or tool that you really love and connect with people in that environment. Consider choosing a niche - a certain topic you're passionate about - to build your relationships around.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  smarter_planet healthcare smart_healthcare web_2.0 social_media research science 3 Comments 2,775 Visits
I'll admit, in spite of working for IBM, and being exposed to many Smarter Planet ideas, messages, and examples, there are times I struggle to "get it". And then sometimes a light pops on in my mind... This time it was inspired by FlashForward, a tv show... yes, a tv show.
A little background here... I'm a Lost nut. I've watched it religiously since epi 1. In fact, I now feel compelled to check out anything springing from the creative loins of JJ Abrams. So yes, I went to see Star Trek this summer. And thus, I'm now a Fringe nut too (if you liked X-Files once upon a time, give it a try.) When I saw previews for FlashForward, I wasn't dazzled or intrigued. But I watched and lo and behold I'm now hooked despite the totally bizarre premise - that a "global event" occurs where everyone goes unconscious and has a vision of the future for 2 minutes and 17 seconds - they refer to it as a flash forward.
So, ummm... what does FlashForward the tv show have to do with IT and Smarter Planet?
Naturally, the FBI rushes in to investigate and they build a web site called Mosaic to allow anyone in the world to voluntarily describe what they saw during their individual "flash forward". Millions of people respond and now with everyone entering their experiences into Mosaic, the data is now searchable and available to create a big picture view of the event around the world. As a side note, ABC has actually created a fictional Mosaic web site to help promote the show...
I didn't consider the Mosaic web site concept until several episodes in, where it struck me that this REALLY is the future, and is an amazing, if fictional, example of Web 2.0 (or is it Web 3.0, I'm never sure where that line is crossed) and how IT can create a smarter planet. Crowd-sourcing, collective wisdom, whatever you call it... It's real people coming together, voluntarily sharing information in a single repository, for a united purpose.
I have a friend with a chronic disease that is complicated and in desperate need of years of scientific research to even begin to understand - the story of many diseases and not enough research dollars to go around. It inspired me to think, what if you could set up a web site like Mosaic where everyone with that disease went in and entered info like their symptoms, related diseases, what treatments they've tried, what worked, what didn't, etc. They could update it over a period of years with their ongoing information. You could have a running giant database of info, instead of a tiny selected scientific study group.
The way this COULD change science, research, and medicine is incredible if you could combine researchers + technology + willing participants.
The way research is done today is very controlled, and of course you'd have to give up some of that control. It would require you to trust people to tell the truth - but why wouldn't they if they have a disease and want to find a cure? And then there is the issue of who owns the data (is it a university, a pharmaceutical company, a government?). But what if instead of controlling this data, it was open - like an open source health project? If you could get past pre-conceived establishment notions of medical research you could have data on a million people over 10 years,instead of a hundred people over 3 months! Wouldn't that completely change the game?
Does anyone know of real-life examples of Mosaic-like projects going on out there?
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  groundswell social_media developerworks dw social_networking forrester 4 Comments 2,683 Visits
Very cool! developerWorks has entered the Forrester Groundswell Awards competition in the Business to Consumer "Supporting" category, for web sites that help customers support each other to solve problems. The Forrester Groundswell Awards are all about examples of excellent and effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational or corporate goal.
As a My developerWorks fan and someone trying to learn more every day about social technologies, I'm proud to see developerWorks in the running.
Check out the IBM developerWorks submission here: http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/landing.php?sc=4
And don't forget to add your review or vote on your favorite entries for the Groundswell awards!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  mydw social_networking my_developerworks social_media 3 Comments 1,962 Visits
Every place on the map has its own local culture, its own feel, its own color, its own expected social behavior. Whether you notice it or not, whether it's eccentric or conservative, it's still there.
I'm a native Texan. Where I'm from we have our own quirks that some folks find charming and others find annoying. For example, we have certain gestures we make in traffic. When someone lets us cut in or change lanes, we give a casual little wave in front of the rear view mirror. This is customary. And it makes me feel good every time I do it and every time someone waves at me. It's a little sign that says "Hey, it's all good. No rush. Happy to let you in my friend." Or at least it says that to me, because "I'm from around here". People not from around here might be annoyed at our laissez faire driving style, or surprised at our selection of gestures - or so I'm told.
These ingrained social behaviors color our world. And while destinations on a map have their own unique culture, destinations on the web do too. On Facebook, for instance, people are very casual and open, but only within their own circle of approved friends. On Twitter, things are different - most people are open with everyone. Anyone can follow anyone. It creates a culture that's less intimate, but more egalitarian.
I've been thinking about the kind of culture I'd like to see grow in My developerWorks. I'd like to see an open, friendly, helpful culture, kind of the way I think of my home state :-)
What I hope My developerWorks will become:
A place where people take IT seriously, but also have some fun
A place where people are real, transparent, and open - not artificial, corporate or closed
A place where learners and experts cross paths, mix, and mingle
A place where people who don't consider themselves to be experts feel just as welcome in the community as the so-called experts
A place where people ask someone to be their colleague if that person shares similar interests or wrote a useful forum post or leads a group they're part of or writes a blog they like
A place where people feel free to comment, join groups, and message each other
A place where information and relationships aren't limited by geography,time zone, industry, or company
A place where knowledge and questions are shared freely and ideas and projects are born
Come join in...
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  my_developerworks social_media mydw rational social_networking interview 4 Comments 4,009 Visits
This week, get to know Kelly Smith, a blogger on My developerWorks. With over 20 years of experience with the software development lifecycle, plus a wide variety of social networking activity, Kelly has a unique perspective to share. Learn more about Kelly in the interview below, plus:
Kelly's profile on My developerWorks
Kelly's blog on My developerWorks: Notes from Rational Support
Kelly on Twitter
What project are you most proud of ?
IBM's Hack Day, without a doubt! IBM's Hack Day was started in June 2006, inspired by a blog post I wrote on Blog Central about Yahoo's Hack Day program. Completely grass-roots and unfunded, the rocking bloggers on BlogCentral took the idea and ran with it, taking it global with participation from IBMers all over the world. Hack Day 7 is scheduled for this October, and we are always looking for folks to help run the event or to participate! (HackDay is a one-day competition challenging you to come up with the most interesting "Hack". "Hack", in this case refers to ability to come up with a solution to a problem or an interesting idea you've been thinking about. If you're an IBMer and want to participate, contact Kelly.)
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I and my team are working on several initiatives to help our clients help themselves be successful using our products. Rational Client Support is continuing its adoption of Knowledge-Centered Support best practices, and is exploring new venues like Twitter (@RationalSupport) and blogs (Notes from Rational Support) to connect with our clients proactively, and share knowledge.
Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
I am a sucker for anything with LEDs ... color-changing LEDs, preferably. :-) I'm also fascinated with the home automation work Andy Stanford-Clark and others are doing. I'm an Apple fan-girl, and I totally puffy heart my macbook, and my iPhone.
How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks to connect and share with colleagues and clients ... the power of collaboration, community and knowledge-sharing.
Tell me about your experience blogging so far...
I've been blogging for several years now. I have a personal blog over at http://kellypuffs.wordpress.com/. I love blogging and connecting with others. I have to say, though, that since the advent of Twitter, I'm having trouble writing anything longer than 140 characters at a shot!
The coolest thing about social networking is...
I love how social software has enabled me to widen my personal and professional networks. I have met so many wonderful people both inside and outside of IBM and all over the world through social networking. I can be plugged in to all the latest news and trends in areas I'm interested in. I'm a life-long learner, and I love learning from all the wicked smart folks out there. For me, it's all about the people.
The biggest problem with social networking is...
I'm frustrated with the transformation of “social networking” to “social media” to “social media marketing”. The value of social networking goes SO far beyond selling folks products or services. Also, I'm tired of reading about social media and from social media experts on twitter and blogs. It's all too meta. Let's go back to genuine conversations and high-value content.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
@badbanana - Tim Siedell of Fusebox Studios. Very funny.
@freshmarketNH– food and kitchen tips
Dinosaurs & Robots
Email or text messaging?
I HATE email! I'm longing to attempt the Luis Suarez patent-pending No-Email system, but haven't convinced my boss yet.
What makes you an expert? It's a tricky question we've been thinking about as we consider definitions for what "expert" means in the My developerWorks community. It's one of the things I think makes My developerWorks so cool - you can find developers who know things, who've already done things, and you can learn from them. But one of the questions that comes up is what it means if we say someone is an "expert".
It's possible to be too vague about it. For example, I could declare myself to be an expert at making desserts (because this is something I know too much about!) But what does this self-declaration actually mean? Without definition it could mean anything. Does it mean I've made a certain quantity of desserts? Does it mean I've mastered certain techniques? Does it mean I have a broad scope of dessert expertise - that I've made a wide variety of international desserts? Does it mean I've graduated from a culinary school?
But it's also possible to be too specific about defining an "expert". I could say I can't declare myself to be an expert at desserts unless I meet a complicated set of criteria. There could be various levels and subcategories of expertise and specific criteria and tests for each one that have to be tested and judged by an impartial third party.
As we think about defining the word "expert" in My developerWorks, we struggle between these two extremes. Should we leave the definition of "expert" loose and undefined risking it being meaningless? Or should we define it within an inch of it's life and make it near impossible to achieve? We don't have the answer yet, but in the meantime, this got me to thinking about expertise itself. Having talked to some (very humble, in my opinion) members of My developerWorks, they have said "Well, I'm not an expert... I don't have anything to share with the community... I'm not that advanced... I like to watch and learn from other people who know more than me." I understand and can relate to this feeling at times!
But what happens if you start to think of expertise as a continuum, instead of a definitive label? You might be reluctant to declare yourself an "expert", but if you think about it as a continuum you may have more to share than you realize.
For example, I've spent countless hours over many years working on Lotus Notes, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. If you asked me if I was an expert, I might cringe and say no. But I've actually picked up many tips and my own personal ways of working with these applications to make things faster and simpler in the work I do every day. I might not be a textbook or manual on these applications, but when it all comes down to it, I have alot of simple things I can share with other people using them. After all, that's how I learned many of them - from another user who was willing to share what they knew! When I think about it, I've learned alot more about technology from people than from reading manuals.
Maybe what you know is more important than attaching a label to it. Maybe if you think of expertise as a continuum, you have more to share than you think. So I'm happy to declare, I may not be an expert, but I have a lot to share!
What do you think? What does "expertise" mean to you? If you're looking for an "expert" in My developerWorks to help you with something, what kind of expertise are you expecting?
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  myers-briggs ibm otto social_media marketing_professional personality social_networking my_developerworks web_2.0 6 Comments 3,681 Visits
Welcome to my new, and I admit it, FIRST blog!
The truth and nothing but the truth... I'm not a developer and I'm not a techie, so don't expect any geeky posts from me. But I love geeks! I've een working with all kinds of technical geniuses at IBM for the last ten years, from web developers to ISVs to our brilliant team of people here who made My developerWorks possible. And I find that us marketing professional types (I fall in that bucket btw) have a nice yin-yang relationship with technical types. We appreciate each others' strengths and complement each others' weaknesses. Opposites attract and that's why I've named my blog "Yin meets yang". This year I've had the privilege of working on the launch of My developerWorks - working with a multi-faceted crew, collaborating on everything. So while I'm no techie, I can't resist blogging out here on My developerWorks, because I want to get to know the technical community up close and personal, plus I want to share ideas about how to get the most out of My developerWorks because that's a topic I'm passionate about! So what can you expect from my blog?
The truth and nothing but the truth... I'm not a developer and I'm not a techie, so don't expect any geeky posts from me. But I love geeks! I've een working with all kinds of technical geniuses at IBM for the last ten years, from web developers to ISVs to our brilliant team of people here who made My developerWorks possible. And I find that us marketing professional types (I fall in that bucket btw) have a nice yin-yang relationship with technical types. We appreciate each others' strengths and complement each others' weaknesses. Opposites attract and that's why I've named my blog "Yin meets yang".
This year I've had the privilege of working on the launch of My developerWorks - working with a multi-faceted crew, collaborating on everything. So while I'm no techie, I can't resist blogging out here on My developerWorks, because I want to get to know the technical community up close and personal, plus I want to share ideas about how to get the most out of My developerWorks because that's a topic I'm passionate about!
So what can you expect from my blog?
Tips, hints, and tricks on how to use My developerWorks -- things like how to find people who "know stuff", how to amp up blog readership, and how to build your inner circle.
My explorations, discoveries and thoughts about social media, social networking, and Web 2.0.
What I'm learning about playing nice with others and getting things done in a 21st century, fast-paced, highly-matrixed virtual team workplace.
My thoughts about personality in the workplace (I am a geek about Myers-Briggs testing, okay?).
Discussions about working OTTO (that's what we at IBM call "Other than traditional office) - I'm starting to work from home and still learning how to make it work for me.
I'd love to get to know you better! So please, come get to know me on my profile and add me to your colleagues. And on my blog, please leave comments, and let me know if there's anything you want to hear more about!
I'd love to get to know you better! So please, come get to know me on my profile and add me to your colleagues. And on my blog, please leave comments, and let me know if there's anything you want to hear more about!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  social_media social_networking baking my_developerworks 1 Comment 2,109 Visits
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:
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
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  social_media social_networking my_developerworks profile 3 Comments 3,035 Visits
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
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?
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  blogs my_developerworks social_media social_networking groups colleagues bookmarks 8 Comments 4,396 Visits
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. 1) Use “Find people” on the My developerWorks Connect page. 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 4) Get to know your local, friendly blogger! 5) Take a peek over your neighbor's fence at their bookmarks 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.
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.
1) Use “Find people” on the My developerWorks Connect page.
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
4) Get to know your local, friendly blogger!
5) Take a peek over your neighbor's fence at their bookmarks
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.
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.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  my_developerworks social_networking profile social_media 1 Comment 1,488 Visits
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:
Consider what they'll find on your My developerWorks profile when they get there. Take a little time to polish up your profile it's like making a first impression. 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!
Take a little time to polish up your profile it's like making a first impression.
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!
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!