The Social Media Plan: How Sam does it today

MILIT032I am not rich or famous and most assuredly I am very average in intellect and capability. I have an on again and off again relationship with social media and networking. I am not what you would call a social butterfly. I know many people and meet many people. I have this social stigma of being a cloistered academic and monkish in my life style. Most of my hobbies involve getting away from people for long periods of time.

I and LinkedIn have had an interesting time over the last dozen years. I have been afraid I’d get pwned in a Robin Sage style attack. I have been on a student PhD degree committee and when I linked with his previous advisor he was like, “WTF do you think you are doing linking up with me?” I killed my LinkedIn account after that because I could not figure out what it meant if somebody I was doing business with was a total jerk about the LinkedIn invite. I had this incorrect idea about social networking being social and took a break for awhile.

Since I am a relative nobody and media reports of my awesomeness are just as overblown as most media reports. Getting pwned by Robin Sage would help not hurt my reputation. However, sitting around waiting to be made fun of was not why I put the time into constructing a social media profile. I did it for my students. They wanted to be able to show prospective employers who I am, and a technology professor who was not using technology seemed silly.

I incorrectly thought having a blog since the 1990s running on high tech software would be enough. My students disabused me of that notion. So I came back to LinkedIn.

My search for relevance was planned. I set out and looked for all my co-authors on papers. I linked to them and then I looked for all my previous students. I linked with them. I looked for fellow professors I had worked with. I linked with them. I looked for people I knew very well and I had a very specific profile.

  • I have met you in person at a conference. You are an acquaintance.
  • I have broke bread with you and shared a meal. You are a friend.
  • I have drank alcohol with you. You are family.

I do not drink much so that last one is a short list. After awhile I had a good list of people to attempt to link with. I then started looking at strategic linkages. I may or may not be an academic for the rest of my life. If I saw a job that was interesting I linked to various recruiters. I hold those in my back pocket so that I can put my students in front of people. If you link up to me near graduation hiring dates you will see my best and brightest students show up in my updates. If you need digital forensics incident response or information security people it is a treasure trove.

Of course, if something ever comes up to draw me out of academia I have a bucket of recruiters to contact. After I linked to some recruiters and some recruiters decided not to link with me. I took note of who they were and made sure I followed what companies they move to and from.

I am in a new phase now and using LinkedIn to find the people I know who they know and they know who I know. I started out with people who knew 40 percent of the people I know or we are sharing connections. If I found somebody at that level I attempted to link with them. I’m now looking at people I share 15 to 20 links with and a few people are in previous categories that are just showing up in my suggested connections.

So, if you get an out of the blue link request that may be the cause. I am not trying to be evil, cause people issues, and I will not give you a bad time. I am seeking like-minded people who I can help.

What do you get if you link to me? Nothing is promised. I hope and have found by posting my speaking schedule on LinkedIn and on my blog that people show up to ask questions. By posting my slides after I talk I find that I am being invited to give more presentations at other venues. As an academic, this doesn’t count much towards promotion or pay increases but I think it shows I am relevant within the domain of information security.

Are there security risks for what I post on LinkedIn? Sure there is, but there is also nothing that is on my LinkedIn profile that is not also on my blog. In fact, some stuff is protected on LinkedIn better than what is on my blog. If the risk is somebody will notice I was a police officer at some point in my life, or somebody will become a new friend or acquaintance. I’m going to go with friends and acquaintances. What are the opportunity costs for not participating? I got my last job through a social media contact. I will likely get my next job the same way. Opportunity is walled off by the doors of our own choosing. I have helped people who contacted me through social media decide on jobs and colleges. I have had long and in depth discussion with people I have never met who thanked me in their resulting research. I impose nothing on anyone and hope to help those who seek it.

To put things into perspective between my blog and LinkedIn. As I write this I have 560+ connections on LinkedIn. I feel that is a nice number. On my blog, I have 1500 RSS subscribers and I get around 10K unique IP web connections a month. The numbers though belie a fact. I want to use the LinkedIn profile to be a coordination point for more targeted access and response in both directions. I do not follow everybody else’s blog and LinkedIn lets me see what they are reading and doing by what they post. It is part of me keeping my finger on the pulse of others too.

As I said, I am not rich or famous and most assuredly I am average in intellect. I wonder what the opportunity costs are on being closed off and hiding from social media. If you get a LinkedIn request from me, I hope you accept it. If not I will miss seeing what you have to say about the world. If you want to shower me with glory, fame, and fortune for gosh sakes, send me an email soonest.

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