Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Get the latest version of LinkedIn’s iPhone app 1.5

I’ve stopped carrying business cards to networking events and conferences cos I can connect with folks when I meet with them, thanks to LinkedIn’s iPhone app. The easiest way to do that was to find out their email and shoot them an invite through the app, but now we just launched v1.5 of the iPhone app that additionally allows you to navigate your Inbox (both messages and invites) on the iPhone when you’re on the go.

What’s New?

A far more robust Inbox pane that allows you to receive and send both invitations and messages. Here’s how it looks.

LinkedIn iPhone app v1.5 Invitations screen

Clicking through a message is similarly gonna allow you to either reply to the individual, reply to all if it’s a group thread or archive the message. BTW, I scrubbed out the message contents in both the above and below screens for obvious reasons.

LinkedIn iPhone app v1.5 Message screen

So, a quick summary of what you can do with LinkedIn’s iPhone app, besides the latest enhancement:

1. Browse Network Updates

2. Search the connections you have and search by keywords (associating the name to a picture definitely helps)

3. Update Status

Got iPhone? Here’s the download link for LinkedIn v1.5 on the iPhone.

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Filed under: Linkedin

Over 10% of all blogs are corporate! What are the Top 10?

Quick Update: Coca-cola whom I included in the corporate blog rankings a few months ago, just announced an ambitious program to send three corporate bloggers into space. Nah! Just kidding. They’ll be sending 3 bloggers across all the 206 countries they’re sold in, to chronicle happiness.

Quite an ambitious and buzz friendly theme. Read all about it here and check out their current blog here. Now back to the Top 10 corporate blogs on the planet…


Did you know:
Nearly 13% of bloggers interviewed for the State of the 2009 blogosphere (conducted by Technorati) either blog for themselves, their own company (I’d consider small businesses part of this category) or for a larger organization?! Not too shabby for a space that was in its infancy when I started blogging three years ago?

2009 State Of The Blogosphere - Corporate Blogging
State of the Corporate Blogosphere

The above slide from Richard Jalichandra’s presentation at Blog World gave me another reason to dust off the Corporate blog rankings that I’ve assiduously crafted over the past few years (July 2006, May 2008, and CEO blogs in 06). I’ve decided to publish these rankings annually to coincide with Technorati’s State of the blogosphere announcements.

So, what are the brands that have continued to effectively communicate to their users through social media such as a corporate blog? The permanence of many of the 15 companies listed was altered by two fast rising brands, Twitter and Mint, both of whom have been in the news this past year. [Disclosure: I maintain and run a corporate blog for LinkedIn that can be found in the rankings below].

Top 10 Corporate Blogs in 2009 (per Technorati Authority)

1. Google [Authority: 826]

2. Twitter [Authority: 733]

3. Facebook [Authority: 657]

4. Yahoo! [Authority: 656]

5. Dell [Authority: 641]

6. Mint [Authority: 633]

7. Yahoo! Search [Authority: 631]

8. LinkedIn [Authority: 610]

9. Adobe [Authority: 553]

10. General Motors [Authority: 537]

Bonus: 11 through 15 of the corporate blog rankings are below

11. Garmin [Authority: 502]

12. Monster [Authority: 123]

13. Southwest Airlines [Authority: 118]

14. Delta [Authority: 114]

15. Digg [Authority: 104]

Note: Click through the above brand names to get to their corporate blog and feel free to bookmark them or subscribe to their posts on your favorite RSS reader.


Methodology:
I’m using the New PR Wiki (Corporate blog listings) and Technorati authority to help navigate the corporate blogosphere terrain. This term made most sense to rank corporate blogs for 2 reasons.

1. Popularity

“It is the # of blogs linking to a website in the last 6 months. The higher the number, the more authority the blog has”.

Not only does that give a clear indication of the popularity, it also provides context for this rank in the past 6 months. You’ll be surprised at the number of dead blogs in the list, since the last ranking.

2. It’s the number of blogs vs. number of links that’s being measured

It is important to note that we measure the number of blogs, rather than the number of links. So, if a blog links to your blog many times, it still only count as +1 toward your authority. Of course, new links mean the +1 will last another 180 days

Also, if you find any corporate blog (official) that find themselves in the middle of the above rankings, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Given my experience, both starting and running a corporate blog myself, I’ll continue investigating best practices and sharing them here. If you’re interested in learning more, please consider subscribing to this blog.

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Filed under: Business Blogging

Social Media Policy: Not too Heavy, Not too Light!

Quicker Update: Ari Herzog adds his $0.02 on this topic for the Huffington Post, debating whether companies in the survey are blocking or banning usage of social networking sites. But, as I’ve mentioned in the below post, I’d like to reiterate that the focus here should be the opportunity for companies here. Encouraging correct usage of social media for employees is a great way to build your company brand. Thoughts? Leave a comment.

Quick Update: Ben McConnell (Church of the Customer) weighs in.

FACT: “54% of employers have completely prohibited their employees from their employees visiting Facebook, Twitter or MySpace while at work” according to a recent survey of CIOs of companies across the United States (via @Mashable)

The survey, which was developed by Robert Half Technology, is consistent with other recent reports that show companies are quickly moving to block social media in the workplace. Of course, even when companies allow social media, it doesn’t always end well for employees. Another recent report indicated that 8% of companies in the US have fired staff over social media misuse.

Companies are grappling with the emergence of social media tools like Twitter that allow for a rapid dissemination of content and ideas. Now, this could be a double edged sword for any organization but as I’ve been advocating on LinkedIn’s Talent Advantage blog – this is also a great opportunity for companies to build their brand through their employees. [Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn, a professional networking site not covered on the survey, as Community Evangelist]

Poll: Employers embrace of social media

As you can see from the above breakdown, over half of the employers polled seem to have banned any use of social media in the company, while 19% allowed it only for business and 26% allowed employees to use social media sites for personal purposes as well.

For lack of a better analogy, I think a good approach would be similar to the ads titled “Parents: the Anti-Drug” that you see on TV. Surveys have shown that listening to a kid’s concerns makes them far more communicative with a parent and has proven to be more effective at reducing risky behavior. Ditto for employers and social media guidelines.

Responsible companies will take time to educate their employees on how best to utilize social media to build their brand, explain what’s at stake and help clarify how improper use of social media could inadvertently end up destroying both the employee’s professional brand and hence the company brand.

To policy or not to policy (I meant police v.)

Still wondering how best to approach this seemingly intractable problem? As I mentioned, I just published part 2 on my series on helping companies craft social media guidelines and it’s about the 5 questions you should ask yourself before you craft a social media policy for your company. Here are some tips:

1. Ask yourself: does your company need a social media policy?

2. Find your existing company evangelists

3. Find alignment with your company values and culture (read my entire post with all 5 tips for companies here)

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So, in essence, while crafting a social media policy – don’t keep it too heavy,  nor too light; don’t ban complete usage, nor allow unfettered personal access while at work. And, remember that this is a great opportunity to build your employees brand, where they could share information about their company brand with the rest of the world. And, for employees – with great power comes great responsibility.

What is your company’s social media policy? Leave a comment (after the jump) in the comments section. If you like this content, feel free to follow me on Twitter.


Filed under: Best-of, Business Blogging, Employee Engagement

What’s the deal with post conference follow-up calls?!

How many times have you wondered after attending a conference or event, what you were supposed to do with all these business cards you collected as you try to justify the flight, boarding expenses to your boss or worse still to yourself (if you’re a consultant).

It’s kind of Seinfeldian: the question of how many hours or days after you meet someone at a conference do you follow-up with them or should you follow-up with them at all? Or, let me back up a bit – should I’ve attended that conference in the first place?

What's the deal with post-conference follow-up calls?

What's the deal with post conference follow-up calls?

The Simple Dollar (via Lifehacker), pretty much reads out a chapter from Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone”. And, it answers many questions that range from “what value do you get from attending conferences?” – to – “I’ve a stack of business cards, now what?”

The problem with events and conferences

I’m sure everyone reading this post has attended quite a few conferences or “networking events” in their careers, but unfortunately many of us don’t do the homework or follow-up necessary to derive some meaningful value from it. As Trent describes in the post, there are two inherent problems with attending conferences:

1. The Boondoggle

I began to realize that there were two problems. For one, I was often connecting with people who were just at the conference to goof off on someone else’s budget.

&

2. The Follow-up

The second problem is that I just wasn’t good at following up – so why should I expect that the other folks would be?

So, I thought it’d be interesting to break down the tasks one must do before and after attending the conference, so as to get maximum value from it.

PRE-CONFERENCE: Do your homework identifying goals before the event

Once you’ve figured out the Boondoggle problem by candidly answering the question: what lasting value is this particular networking event gonna bring me and / or my company, you now have to ensure that the $ you spent on travel / lodging be put to good use. It’s time to make some lasting connections.

Keith Ferrazi outlines some of the homework worth doing before you attend the event, which includes offering to help the show organizer if he / she needs an extra hand.

First, review the event’s materials, visit its web site, and find out who the main contact is for putting together the conference. Put in a phone call. The person responsible for these kinds of events is generally overworked and stressed out.

I’d just add, more importantly find out if the conference is listed in the LinkedIn events database for one reason, it allows you to find common connections who plan on attending the event and better yet allows you to check out their LinkedIn profile to learn more about them. This is of particular significance for those individuals you’d like to meet at the event.

In addition to LinkedIn, also try finding the same folks on Twitter (Try Twitter User Name Search or if you’re on the iPhone, the Tweetie app should allow you to do the same) and start following them. If you use Tweetdeck create a separate group for them so you’ve a clearer, less-noisy environment to follow individuals you’re gonna meet at the event. Finally, also check out Facebook events to see if the event’s listed there and find out if you’ve missed out on any common connections on that platform as well.

POST-CONFERENCE: How soon (after you make contact at a conference) should you follow-up?

Upon returning from the conference, promptly try connecting with the folks you met and interacted with. Try to recollect the individuals you struck a chord with and follow-up with them. It’s the most important part of building those relationships.

Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Then you’ll be miles ahead by following up better and smarter than the hordes scrambling for the person’s attention. The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95 percent of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit.

In fact, FOLLOWING UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY FIELD.

Trent from The Simple Dollar outlines three simple steps to any post conference follow-up action. Of course, you can choose to reach out to the individual via email. But, I’d recommend you reach out via a site like LinkedIn where connecting once allows you to stay in touch with these folks through the lifetime of their career. Also, use this as an opportunity to add them as a contact on LinkedIn instead of just sending them a message:

STEP 1 – The first follow-up: 24 to 48 hours is always the optimal time to remind them of your recent conversation. This minimizes the chances that they’ll ignore your request. Also, have a recognizable / professional profile picture on your LinkedIn profile to help them recognize you more easily.

STEP 2 – Remind them of your conversation at the event: While sending a connection request or friend invite, please start off with a personalized intro reminding them of your recent conversation vs. the stock message that LinkedIn allows for.

STEP 3 – The 2nd Follow-up: Finally, you may want to catch up with this connection after a month or two when you’ve had some time to get back into the swing of things at work. As Trent suggests, make it a point to add this either to your to-do list or on your calendar.

How does a social networking site change the dynamic of a follow-up call?

Finally, I think it’s important to maintain a history of contacts you’ve aggregated over the course of your attending different events and your communication with them. And, I couldn’t think of a better tool to do that than the recently launched Profile Organizer from LinkedIn (Note: this is a premium LinkedIn feature that has a one-month free trial in Oct 09).

I’ve been using it for some time and I’ve got to say it’s an effective tool to organize the profiles of various individuals you’ve met at the conference by moving them into different folders and adding notes around each interaction. This then serves as the history of your communication for each of those business relationships. As mentioned earlier, you should also follow these individuals by sorting them into groups for e.g. on Tweetdeck.

Once you’re connected to these individuals, you’ll notice their status messages in your network updates field which frankly obviates the need for the 2nd follow-up mentioned above. IMO, a relevant status message goes a long way in re-initiating that contact at an appropriate time rather than by your reaching out to the individual a month or two after your connecting with them.

These are just some of the ways I think you could get value out of events using social networking sites. How else do you think have sites like LinkedIn changed the dynamic for events or conference based networking? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. (disclosure: I work at LinkedIn as a community evangelist, but have been talking about social networking best practices on my blog way before I started working there)

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

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