My daughter has 615 friends on Facebook, I have 59. I suppose if I counted up all the people I was even vaguely acquainted with I could also have hundreds, but would I want to friend them all on Facebook? The answer is no. Even the thought of trying to follow all those posts and conversations would overwhelm me, and I know many people who have already signed off of Facebook permanently for that reason. There is, however, a lesson to be learned from the way our kids handle all the digital information that comes at us. Where I see a masses of unwanted “junkmail” filling my up my news feed, or email, like a flood threatening to drown me before I can deal with each one, our children see these ever-streaming messages as just that – streams, flowing past them; they pluck out what they want and let the rest flow by.
When I start thinking of information as streaming by me instead of piling up on top of me, it is much easier to relax, and even to turn on a few more spigots. The Internet provides business people today with access to more resources than ever before to stay on top of their fields. If you’re just jumping back into the workforce as I am, the issue becomes one of how to manage it all.
Here are a few tips for the newbie that I have found helpful:
1. Separate Your Emails
Open different email accounts for your personal life, your business contacts and your potential junkmail. It’s easier to sort through them all when they’re not mixed up together. I keep a Yahoo account for personal contacts, a Gmail account for business, and a Hotmail account for when I have to give my email information out on the internet to sign up for things that I know are going to get me flooded with mostly unwanted offers. I use different email services so I can keep them all open in different tabs on my browser at the same time instead of having to sign in and out of them in one place. Also, make sure your business email is easy to remember for your contacts and states exactly who you are.
2. Join LinkedIn
With over 200 million members, LinkedIn is considered to be the world’s largest professional network. Once you create a LinkedIn profile you will have access to all those members as you make connections within your fields of interest and join groups as well. This is where you can get an inside track on the latest industry information, networking events, and job postings. According to many professionals, LinkedIn has also become the go-to tool of employers to check you out before your hired, or even interviewed, for a job.
The one issue I had with LinkedIn when I started joining groups was that my email was filling up much too fast with daily posts, not all of which interested me. If this becomes an issue for you as well then just just click on the “more” tab when you are on the group page and choose “your settings”. Scroll down to digest email and choose “weekly delivery” in the delivery frequency drop-down menu to receive a weekly summary of posts.
Although my husband had been encouraging me to join LinkedIn for quite some time, I never got around to it until I interviewed here with StudentAdvisor’s Editor-in-Chief, Dean Tsouvalas. Dean asked me what would I want people who searched my name on the Internet to know about me. Using LinkedIn, he explained, gives each of us the opportunity to take control of our “digital brand” instead of allowing it to happen randomly. Read Dean’s recent post entitled LinkedIn: Enhance Your Profile & Get The Job Of Your Dreams for more.
3. Manage Your Login Information
I keep my user names and passwords to a minimum so I don’t forget them. I used to use a simple word as my password because I had no reason to believe anyone would guess it and I never understood why it would need to be any harder. During a computer science course that I took (Coursera’s Computer Science 101), the professor explained that hackers run dictionary-based programs to guess passwords, so if the word you use is spelled in a dictionary it can be discovered. That’s why websites suggest combining letters, numbers and symbols in your passwords, which I now do.
Working at StudentAdvisor, I am responsible not only for writing blog posts, but also for monitoring relevant news and information on the internet and sharing it through our website as well as through social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest. There was a time not too may years ago when visiting any of these sites during office hours got people fired, but the fact that businesses are now embracing them as valuable tools of communication with the public makes it necessary for us to learn to manage them to remain valuable as employees.
What advice do you have to make using the Internet more manageable?
For more of Diane’s insights on returning to work, read her blog series: