4 LinkedIn No-No’s

LinkedIn is a social media platform specifically for businesses. It offers a way to connect with people who not only could be potential customers and consumers, but people who were in the same industry. Yet, almost every day I see things happening that are irritating to the point that you just want to slap somebody. Okay, that might be a bit over the top, but they make you mad. And some of those people trying to reach out to you which makes it even worse.

Untitled

Leon Fishman via Compfight

All of you know the saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Well, there is a of bad first impression. I’m going to name four of them, and hope that none of them are you.

1. Connecting with someone new but not changing the default description. This is probably the most irksome because the default description says that someone has indicated you are a friend. Every once in a while it says I find you a trusted person. The thing is these people don’t know you, and you don’t know them, so who can trust who?

Don’t be a lazy first connector; if you’re looking to meet someone at least right something different, even though you don’t get a lot of space to do it. You’ll be more memorable and people will be more likely to connect with you there.

2. No picture and no flushing out what you do. People trust what they can see and what they can read better than seeing almost nothing. There are some people who join the site and immediately start sending out invitations for people to connect with them without giving people a reason why they should even think about connecting.

Unless I know who you are, if I’ll see a picture I’m not connecting with you. If I go check out your page and all I see are three or four separate lines of things you’ve done in the past without saying anything about it, I’m not connecting. I know some people who will connect with anybody who reaches out to them, but the quality of your connections has to count as much as how many connections you have.

3. Don’t immediately start selling after someone connects with you. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who look at the profiles of people who want to connect with me. I have found over the years, and I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for nine years, that people whose profiles have nothing to do with anything that I’ve listed on my profile only want to sell me on something or try to get me to help them do business.

Unless they’re local, or I see a number of people that I actually know who are connected with that person, I’m not connecting with that person because I know what’s coming. Trust me, a short introduction saying hello and telling the person you’d like to know more about them goes a lot further in networking that that person then immediately trying to sell them on something.

4. If you join a group with an intention to actually participate, don’t start off introducing who you are and telling people what it is you do. It’s always best to stay on topic, and if people are intrigued by what you have to say it will follow you back to your profile to learn more about you. And if you’ve taken the time to flesh out your profile (see #2) you’ll intrigue people and on their terms.

I’ve written before that every business should be on LinkedIn, but just being there isn’t enough to give you the opportunity for proper business networking. Work on some of the things I mentioned above and you’ll be well on your way.
 

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Why List Posts Work So Well On Blogs

Well, here’s a topic I haven’t touched upon in a very long time, so let’s look at it again shall we?

If you’ve checked out any blogs on the topic of blogging, you’ve probably read that one of the post popular types of posts are list posts. It is what it sounds like; it’s a post where you have anywhere from 3 to 20 numbered lines where each one tells something about the topic at hand. I’ve written lots of list posts on this blog, some long, some short, as well as my other blogs.

From the deep (Explored)
John Ryan via Compfight

Why are these posts so popular? Here’s a list lol:

1. Lists are easy to understand because they usually begin with a highlighted line so you know what each line is about. Sometimes the list only consists of lots of single lines.

2. Lists can be pretty easy to read, and fast as well. If you only have to take in a few words, less than 20, things move along fast.

3. List posts indicate in the title most of the time how many points there are going to be. This can be a misleading indication of how long a post will be. You can bet that a post with only 3 points is going to be much longer than you think, whereas a post with 10 points could be either long or short, as this post of mine on another blog listed 10 points but was close to 2,000 words; I’m kind of proud of that post, just so you know. 🙂

4. List posts can help you get people to ask you questions. You can use a list to highlight things without getting into detail, and if people are interested you can bet they’re going to ask you more. That could be good for business if used properly.

5. List posts are very easy to write. As opposed to having to write a lot of words to try to draw readers in, like I do, a list could just be a bunch of random thoughts strung together and yet still convey everything you want it to.

Go ahead, try it out to see how it feels. Just so you know, there are many blogs where every post is a list post, and it probably suits the writer and their readers just fine.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Don’t Get Caught Looking Like Your Business Is Unethical

Imagine you’re searching the internet looking for someone to provide services for you. Imagine that you come across a website that looks pretty neat and professional. It not only offers the services you’re looking for but many others. And look, there are lots of testimonials on the site, and even pictures of the people who gave those testimonials, just like this one:

contentproz

Looks pretty good, right? Now imagine you’re someone going about your business, and you find out about a site like this, go to take a look, and lo and behold, there’s your image clear as day, supposedly advocating for a site you’ve never heard of, with a totally different name and in a business that’s not your own.

In this case the lady’s name is Kristi Hines of Kikolani, not Pamela, and she’s one of the top internet writers in the country. She knows a lot about SEO, but that’s not her primary focus. She was stunned to find out that this company had someone obtained her image and used it in their advertising.

I’m not going to mention the website because I don’t want to give them the publicity; she might be trying to do something about removing her image as we speak. It’s possible that the company hired someone else to do the work and that company scarfed up the image from somewhere, figured no one would ever find out, and, well, it’s a super cute face with a great smile, so why not.

As you can imagine, within her circles this is getting a lot of buzz. And since these people profess to do something among their multitude of services that she does, and I’d have to say does better than them, word will be getting out all over the internet & social media circles (that’s where I learned about it), and it will put this company into a compromised situation because this is someone a lot of people like.

The point is that it shouldn’t have come to this. Most of us know that the people shown on many websites, especially in the header area, don’t really work for the company. We’re used to stock images and the like; we get it, because no one stands around posing like they do in some of these pictures.

There are so many sources for finding images that one can use for free that it’s amazing whoever decided to grab this image for its use didn’t go that route. It makes them look bad and, online, once word spreads that you’ve possibly done something unethical, even if it wasn’t specifically you, it’s hard to regain any momentum you or your business might have gained.

Remember, your website is your business, not the business of the person who created it. Don’t get caught up like this, and if you’re thinking about doing it don’t do it. I might say who this is one day… let’s see if someone comes along to identify them so I don’t have to.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Blog Themes, Free Or Paid?

On Monday I wrote about how I got hacked last year and what I had to go through to fix everything because it also ended up taking out some of my other websites for awhile. I also mentioned in that post that it was due to some free themes that I’d downloaded years earlier that I never used, but forgot to remove from my blog at the time.

Woman's Home Blog Book
Mike Licht
via Compfight

This brings us to the discussion about paid versus free themes. Often you’ll read where some blogging “professional” is telling people that a paid theme will help you make more money because it’ll work better with your keywords and thus Google will love you. They’ll also tell you that if you want to look like a professional you’re going to need to get a neat photo icon to pop on there to help your branding.

I agree with only one part of this; you want to have a blog that looks nice and professional. It turns out that you don’t have to go the paid route to get that, although you’re probably going to need some technical expertise or a couple of friends to help you out. I’m telling you this one from experience as someone running 5 blogs.

What makes a blog look professional? That’s kind of a tough question to answer because there’s no one way to look like you know what you’re doing. Instead, let’s go from the aspect of what makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

First, colors. If people can’t read what you have to say then you’re just wasting time. Hey, my favorite color is red, but a bright red background, no matter the color of the print, is going to freak people out. The same would apply if I had red print against almost any color. This blog stands out because my print color is burgundy; how many other blogs have you seen using that color? But it fits well with the overall color of the blog if you ask me.

Second, your header. You want something that’s at least a little bit unique. In my case I use the banner that’s also at the top of my website. Some people use colors, some have images created that fit well up there. Going with the WordPress header is quick and convenient but truthfully, so many other people use it that you not only won’t stand out from the crowd, you also won’t look very professional. If you don’t care and just want to write then it’s fine. But if you hope to do business, you’ll want to change something up.

Third, your sidebars. There’s nothing wrong with pimping a product or two on your sidebars, but being too busy can be distracting for people who you hope are there to read your content and learn more about what it is you do or can do for them.

With all of these things, if you go the free route then you’re probably going to need some help, at least initially, to help you get it right. If you pay for your theme then your learning curve is much easier and you can get some expert help. Still, you’re paying for it whereas you might not have to pay a friend. Or you might if you want a nice fancy business logo.

What I want to mention in closing is that even paid themes can get hacked if you don’t keep up with software changes. WordPress is great because they’re always updating for security, but if you’re not updating your blog, the theme won’t matter. Decide whether you want to spend more money or more time getting your blog correct, and then go forth and write.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Hacked, And How I Recovered From It

In July 2013, on a Monday night, as I was getting ready to head to bed, I started having some trouble on one of my blogs. I didn’t think much of it, figuring all would be right the next morning.

SIGNAGE
Neal Fowler
via Compfight

Next morning I woke, came to the computer and tried to access that blog; access denied. I then tried accessing other blogs; some I could see, others said access denied. I then tried to look at my websites; some I could see portions, others access was denied; yeah, that’s a big problem.

I called my friend Kelvin, with whom I share the space, and asked him to look into it, as I had to get to work. He wrote me with the bad news; per the host, I’d been hacked through two of my blogs. Luckily, the host caught the attack and froze access, which was why I couldn’t access anything. He forwarded me the email which explained part of the problem, and what I had to do to fix it.

When I got back to the hotel (as I’m out of town right now) I went to work on the problem. I’m telling you what I did so and what you should do if it happens to you you’ll be able to fix it quicker than I did.

First, the email mentioned that I’d been hacked through the footer of themes on two different blogs that I wasn’t using. Truthfully, when I saw the names I didn’t even remember having those themes on those sites. It didn’t matter; they had to go. The email recommended certain files to remove through a FTP (file transfer protocol) program. I mainly use WS-FTP, but I’m going to recommend Filezilla for those times when you have to delete lots of stuff. WS-FTP lets you delete things, but it won’t delete any folders that have files in them, which can be a pain as I’ll bring up; Filezilla will take care of the entire thing for you.

I went in & deleted the files recommended, and while I was at it I decided to delete the entire theme as well off both blogs. However, all my sites were still closed down afterwards.

The next thing it recommended was for me to go in and update all the software on my blogs. Here’s where, if I’d known something I’ll mention in a little bit, I’d have bypassed. The reason I’d have bypassed it is because I had already updated all the blogging software; all I ended up doing later on was delete and re-add what I already had. If I hadn’t updated it would be a different story; I wasted a lot of time on this step, one I could have skipped if I’d had Filezilla already on my laptop, as I have it on my main computer at home.

Hacked
Nina Helmer
via Compfight

Here’s the problem. My assumption was that the hack, which wasn’t major but still problematic, had infiltrated all my sites. What happened instead is that once my host, 1&1, locked everything down, it shut down all my sites, not just the two blogs that were hacked. If I’d thought of what I’m about to tell you now I’d have saved at least 3 1/2 hours, as I spent 4 1/2 hours on the problem.

The other thing I want to tell you about is using free themes from other people. Most people who create free themes add things into the footer and hide them with some type of scrambling program. I learned that a long time ago when one of my blogs was being found for certain terms that I’d never written about. I obtained some software so I could see what was in there, stripped it out, and never had another problem with those terms after a month or so.

However, the blogs hacked are my oldest blogs, and I had downloaded a bunch of other themes that I never used, thus I never thought about those footers. I got away with it a long time, but in retrospect I should have deleted themes I was never going to use, other than those that WordPress gives you; take that as a major hint and recommendation.

Anyway, I spent hours deleting files and folders, first with WS-FTP, which took a very long time on the one blog I used it for, then with Filezilla, which went way faster but I’m on a hotel’s internet connection, not the speedy 30 MBPS I have at home, so it still took awhile. Truthfully, it’s possible that if I hadn’t reloaded that software I might not have been able to get into my dashboards and would have still had to go through the process, but I should have done this other thing first, which would have been a snap and maybe might have saved a lot more time.

Ondra  Soukup via Compfight

When the host locked down my sites, what they did was change the file permissions to 644, which basically shuts everything down; at least it did for me, as I couldn’t see any of my files online, though I could get in through the FTP. To make sure everyone else can see what you want them to see, you need to change the file permissions to 755.

You can do this a number of ways, but the fastest and easiest way to do it is to use a FTP program that can do it for you. WS-FTP can’t do it, but Filezilla can. I went online and downloaded it, as it’s free, loaded it up, then used the username & password that accesses all my sites at once so I could work on multiple accounts at the same time. What you do is right click on the file or folder you want to be accessible, see what the permission is, and change it by typing in 755 over the 644 or, possibly, xxx if that’s what you see. Then you hit okay and it releases those files and your stuff can be seen once more. When I was done, all my sites were back up, looking like they were supposed to; whew!

By the way, you might have an occasion to have files on your site which you don’t want anyone to know exists, hence you’ll want to be perspicacious in determine whether you want all your folders or files having their permissions changed.

Here are the major lessons to take away from here.

Preparing maize samples for molecular analysis, Kenya
International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center

via Compfight

One, stay cool; by staying cool I didn’t do anything really stupid.

Two, if you don’t already have a preferential FTP program I’d recommend Filezilla. The program I use is pretty old, but I’m most comfortable with it for the most part, even if it can’t do everything Filezilla can.

Three, follow the initial instructions recommended by deleting bad stuff they tell you to get rid of.

Four, I should have tested the file permissions on one of my blogs first to see if I could regain access and if I could get into my dashboard before reloading everything; I could have always done it if I hadn’t gained access after the test.

Five, always keep your software up to date when recommendations for upgrading come your way for security reasons. At least I had that part covered.

And six… well, lucky for me I was hacked only to mess with me. They couldn’t get into my blogs or content because I have some plugins on it that protects the blogs, as well as passwords hard enough to figure out to make it more of a chore. That and quick thinking from my host saved me.

Lots to learn here; I hope it helps someone in the long run if this situation comes your way.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell