Useful Tools to Save you Time


As a social media professional, I am always seeking ways to make more efficient use of my time.  I belong to a couple of forums and groups that often discuss free tools or low-cost options.  I would like to share a compiled list here with you:

  • Hootsuite – one of my faves – up to 5 social media accounts for free, up to 20 for $5.99 per month
  • If This Then That – will help you do just that with about 11 social platforms – ex. if [Twitter mention] then [thank them] – will work with Facebook pages.
  • Buffer – share your posts at a later time on any Twitter account or Facebook personal pages
  • Dreamstime – free photos for use in your materials – they also have photos for purchase.
  • DIIGO – similar to Dropbox for websites you want to save for later – lets you bookmark in a cloud favorites by keyword.  You can even highlight things, place sticky notes on pages and share it with connections.
  • FanTools – the free side lets you set up one Twitter and one Facebook page, upgrades available for planning, coupons and deals.
  • YouSendIt – sending large files through email is no longer a problem, use YouSendIt.  You upload, the receiver downloads.  You must stay under a size limit for it to remain free.
  • Morgue File – more free photos. Has a connection with Dreamstime.
  • CutePDF – makes pdf files for any of your printable documents for programs that don’t already convert them.
  • – screen sharing
  • Skype – video calling and screen sharing, have a group video conversation for a monthly fee.
  • IWOWWE – video email and conferencing.
  • MailChimp – e-newsletter system free up to 2000 emails
  • FreshBooks – on-line accounting, up to 3 clients for free, up to 25 clients $19.95 mos.
  • BeFunky – photo effects editor
  • Zoho – CRM on-line tool.
  • Gimp – photo editing software – you download it.  You don’t need Photoshop with this one.
  • Inkscape – modify vector art similar to Illustrator.
  • ClipArt – open clip art library
  • AVG – anti virus
  • Adobe Browser Lab for website testing
  • WeTransfer – for sending files
  • PrimoPDF is also free PDF converter
  • Hamster – another Free video converter
  • MyPictr – Avatar creator – for profile pictures on social networks – not sure if its up to date but you can manually change the px size
  • DaFont – Free Fonts
  • OpenOffice – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
  • LastPass – Online Password storage.
  • Malwarebytes – Don’t run windows without it – not free
  • Nitro PDF Reader – recently added thanks to SME club thread
  • Toggl – Time tracking, great when you are billing by project
  • Avast! – Anti-virus, some free, but all the bells and whistles cost
  • Audacity – Sound recording and editing
  • TeamViewer – Screen sharing and more.
  • Jing – screen capture. pro version for a small upgrade is no longer available.  Will have to switch to Snag-it or Camtasia.
  • FileZilla – FTP management
  • CCleaner – keep your hard drive clean and optimized
  • Synergy – use one mouse and keyboard to connect multiple computers (from Zoho)
  • Any Video Converter – convert any video, aptly named
  • Dropbox – store and share files online
  • Google Docs, Calendar, mail, keyword tools, alerts, analytics, insights for search – access docs that you share, share with others, check your calendar, multiple email accounts from you desktop, phone, or laptop, find what keywords you need to use, set up alerts for anything you want to track from the web and blogs, add analytics to your website and track traffic to your site, .
  • Evernote -remember everything, anywhere
  • Readitlater – don’t have time to read that article now, save it to readitlater.
  • SimpleNote – similar to Evernote, jot yourself a note anytime, anywhere
  • KeePass – another password compiler
  • Free Conference Call – teleconferencing line available 24/7. Each call accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.
  • SuveyMonkey – free survey tool
  • Evite – free party planning tool
  • Producteev – task management app, helping to organize office days. It’s cross-platform, desktop and mobile.
  • AnyMeeting – web conference meetings
  • – link shortener and tracking
  • – add files to this on-line application and link it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Scribd – post your pdf files and documents to share on your social networks if you don’t want to post them on your website.
  • – create your own infographic
  • Get Listed – enter your business name and zip code.  The tool finds the location sites on which you are or aren’t listed.
  • Timeline Image Tool – helps you build custom tab images without needing design software.

What have I missed?  What do you like best?  What wouldn’t you use?


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Accepting LinkedIn Invitations

Invitations from people you don’t know can be frustrating!

Frustrating because you may not know how to categorize the person for your method of communication system. Personally I like to tag all of my connections.

When teaching LinkedIn workshops, I make the participants promise to never send a generic invitation again. Usually I hear an “Oops!” from one of the people, because they had just sent the generic invitation. Well, they haven’t broken their promise, because it starts from that moment.

So many people fall into the trap of sending out invitations to the people in their email address book because LinkedIn suggests it and they think it is a good idea to increase their connections. Instead I suggest that they send them one at a time and make sure to personalize them.

Since so many of the millions of LinkedIn users have not taken a class with meLI reply don't accept, they don’t know the benefit and importance of personalizing the invitations so I get scads of generic invitations. I like to “Reply don’t accept yet“. LinkedIn has recently changed the way their messages work and the option has moved. I thought I would share how the changes now look.


  1. You need to hover over the small message icon on the pending invitations.
  2. In the upper right corner of the box that pops up is an arrow that indicates you can reply to the invitation. Right now it is a bit finicky, but if you can actually get it to click, you can send a message to the person to help you figure out how you will tag the person for future reference.

If the person replies to me, I will 99.9% of the time connect with them. This is just one way to help me keep my LinkedIn connections a bit more organized.

LinkedIn Changes Message Center

Message Center in LinkedIn made some big changes!

As I was teaching class on Monday for some job seekers at the Illinois workNet Center in Arlington Heights for Harper College, one of the students said he couldn’t find the option I was showing on the screen. I took a look over his shoulder and sure enough LinkedIn has done some updates to the message center.

Here are the highlights – LinkedIn message changes

  1. Messages appear by person – the whole string of the conversation is in one spot, instead of numerous messages for one back and forth conversation.
  2. All invitations are in the invitation tab. What this has done is taken away the ability to “reply don’t accept yet”. This feature was very useful for me and if there isn’t an alternative offered, it will be a great loss especially when people do not personalize their invitations.
  3. You can start a new conversation with someone with the pencil and pad icon.
  4. The other thing they don’t point out is if you send a group message, it shows the image at the top of the message string of who was included and then who responds, very similarly to the way a text message stream looks.

What do you like or dislike about the changes?

Ask for recommendations

Recommendations will help you get to All-Star status!all star status on LinkedIn

If you have ever attended one of my LinkedIn classes you have heard me speak about the advantages of placing your personal branding keywords in your profile to help you show up more prominently in searches done without using your name. One of the lesser known areas that can really benefit that search algorithm is your recommendations. LinkedIn wants you to have three recommendations from your connections. Many times, people will write a recommendation for you, but they are based on what they want or choose to say.

Let’s see how you might make these recommendations work to your “keyword” advantage. Afterrecommendation1 you determine what your keywords are and you have placed them in your profile in the right places, the additional area you want to include is the recommendation. Follow these steps:

  1. Select a keyword upon which you want to focus.
  2. Select a person that knows you well enough to write a recommendation about your expertise in that keyword area.
  3. Find the recommendations section on your profile.recommendation2
    1. Hover over Profile in the menu bar,
    2. Select Edit Profile,
    3. Scroll down to the Recommendations section,
    4. Hover over the section to recommendation3reveal the “Ask to be recommended” button.
    5. Click it.
  4. Follow the steps in the Recommendation sequence.
    1. Pick a position
    2. Pick a person
    3. Select relationship
    4. Select person’s position
    5. Write your message
  5. The message should never be the generic message generated by LinkedIn. Whenever possible always try to personalize any of those messages. For the purpose of your recommendation, you are even going to offer them some suggested language. Why make the person have to add more work to their busy day when there is really nothing in it for them to write you a recommendation. Here is my suggestion – Use the keyword that you want to highlight in the recommendation. Write 2-3 sentences about how you demonstrate that keyword. If you need help tooting your own horn, work with a someone who knows your work. It is very difficult to sell yourself. Think about what you would write if you were writing your own performance review.
  6. Repeat this process to request a review from different individuals to cover each of your most prominent keywords.

In most cases, the person will use your words in the recommendation. In one situation when I was working one-on-one with a client, we used this technique and the person from whom we requested the recommendation went above and beyond what we had used in the request and wrote a couple of paragraphs.

I would also recommend that as you add a new skill, or as your recommendations “age” you may want to request recommendations to keep the keyword fresh on the top of your list of recommendations. A good rule of thumb is obtain a new one every four to six months. Remember, if you pay it forward, it will come back to you!


Do you own your LinkedIn profile?

LinkedIn Profile – is it yours or not?LinkedIn connections from your profile

Years ago as LinkedIn became more popular, I noticed people who left their jobs and abandoned their profiles. In some cases, it may have been a non-compete situation, or it may have been a lost password. Some folks just didn’t know that they could add new work experience to their existing profile.

Now that LinkedIn allows you to start a profile at the age of 14 in the United States, individuals who start at that early age will definitely own their profile.

“Minimum Age” means (a) 18 years old for the People’s Republic of China, (b) 16 years old for the Netherlands, (c) 14 years old for the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea, and (d) 13 years old for all other countries. However, if law requires that you must be older in order for LinkedIn to lawfully provide the Services to you (including the collection, storage and use of your information) then the Minimum Age is such older age. The Services are not for use by anyone under the age of 13.

Who owns the contacts on your profile?

If you have been using LinkedIn for a number of years and have built your connections up, you may be a valuable commodity to an organization who wants to broaden their reach. Personally, I worked for an organization where one of my major duties was to network and spread the word about the services offered by that organization. Everyone I met was added to my LinkedIn connections if they had a profile.

If your company relies upon you to be their data collector, shame on them. They should employ a CRM of some sort to track their clients, not your LinkedIn profile. In my case, not everyone I met was because of the organization for which I worked. I was involved in community organizations, a family business, and other activities where I met people besides on the job.

The biggest reason you need to be aware of company policy for any organization for which you work is what they deem as appropriate use for their clients in your contacts. This news item from February 2015 on a Fox News Station in St. Louis reminds us to read what you are signing when you enter into an employment agreement with any company. Know whether your clients can be your connections. If you bring a robust profile with you, your profile is yours, but the connections you gain related to your employment may become the non-compete property of the company.

Fortunately, with the tagging function in LinkedIn, you can easily tag any new connections with a tag related to that company so you know down the road what you can or cannot do with that connection.

It is a different situation if you are managing company profiles. Whatever the contacts are that follow a company social media profileIf you are personally

This brings up another question: What happens to your contacts if you bring contacts to the table when you are hired? I asked Jim Voigt of Lavelle Law to help me out with an answer. Here is what he offered:

  • In the rare situation where you actually have an employment contract, the use of your contacts should be spelled out;
  • If there is and employer handbook, you need to review it to see if your employer is making a claim to your contacts – read it!  Even if that claim is made, it does not mean the employer will prevail.  But it is at least good to know that your employer considers your contacts to belong to the company so you can head off misunderstandings early.
  • Whether an employer could legitimately make a claim to your contacts would very much depend on the circumstances.  Were you hired specifically because you had several, or perhaps certain key contacts?  Were you separately paid for those contacts beyond your regular salary and benefits?
  • Analysis in any potential law suit will be very fact specific.  If an employer is making a claim to your contacts, it would be worth your time to at least talk it over with an attorney.  Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

Here is my profile tip to you:

Make sure you have at least two email addresses associated with your LinkedIn Profile. People will often invite you to connect based upon the email address that they have for you. It isn’t the correct way, but it happens. When you have a work and personal email address, you will always have access to your account. If you get terminated, just go into your account and switch which email address is your primary email address.

Let us know if you have any social media needs with which we can assist you!

It’s a Numbers Game

Do the Numbers Add Up?

Recently I was asked by a colleague to help her with a debate she was having with a coworker about posting frequency.  Here is the advice I offered:It's a numbers game
How engaged is your audience? The frequency that you post depends upon the engagement level that you see. It also depends upon the type of post you are making. If you are constantly pushing promotional items, the audience will disengage. For example, if you are a B2C business and you are sharing pictures of people you will probably build your engagement level. Videos these days are the rage on Facebook, especially if they are short and make someone laugh. Use it to your advantage.
My rule of thumb is 70-20-10.
  • 70% content in your industry from other sources
  • 20% content from your industry that you create
  • 10% promotional information
The exception to that rule is if there is an event coming up, that 10% may rise to about 25% especially closer to the deadline for registration or the event itself.
Here is the tricky part – the frequency. Because of the algorithms, the more often you post, especially on Facebook, the higher the likelihood of your audience seeing it. The algorithms have dropped to about 3% of the posts you put out actually make it to a followers news feed. That number, at one time, used to be 16% of your followers would see your posts. If you want higher engagement with fewer posts, you have to make sure that all of your posts hit! This won’t happen. Try to arrange some “ringers” who will like and share your posts. This could drive the engagement rate and up the % of your followers that will see the posts.
Here is what I suggest to the “average” business user:
  • LinkedIn – 3-5 times per business week
  • Google+ – 3-5 times per business week
  • Twitter – as often as you can, link from Facebook, Pinterest, and feeds from other sources
  • Facebook – 1-3 times throughout the day for your business week. If you are a restaurant, that might mean Tuesday -Sunday, for a CPA firm Monday- Friday
If you are following the 70/20/10 rule, you should build the engagement level as well as find out what kinds of posts are drawing the engagement.
If you use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can use the auto schedule features they offer to pick the best time for follower interaction.  But remember that as frequently as you post, you need to have someone checking to see if people are engaging with you. If they comment, you need to be able to respond, SOOOOO don’t post more frequently than you can manage to check back and follow-up if necessary.
It really is just a numbers game.
This 2014 article from FastCompany sums up more details that you can use as reference.