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5 Reasons to Care About Your Online Presence, and 3 to Forget About It

5 Reasons to Care About Your Online Presence, and 3 to Forget About It

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    It’s gotten to the point that you just aren’t keeping up with the times if you don’t have a Facebook account, a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter feed and a presence on a dozen other websites. It can be crazy trying to keep up with all of it — and there are new social networking websites coming out every day. What can you do? It’s absolutely imperative that you’re on all of them, right?

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    Well, there are some clear benefits to spending time on all those websites that make up your online presence — but there are also plenty of drawbacks. It’s worth taking a look at the reasons you should care about creating social networking profiles and updating them, as well as considering the negative aspects of dealing with all of those sites.

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    5 Reasons to Care About Your Online Presence

    1. Employers and clients look for you online. While many of those people interested in offering you work are looking for your contact information and your references, plenty are looking for all the bad things about you that may have be listed online. Having social networking profiles can give you several pages that pop up on a Google search that are more or less under your control. They’re usually highly ranked and can help you show off your talents in a more recognizable format than a blog or personal website.
    2. You can make contacts and find friends online. Stories of long-lost friends reconnecting on Facebook and other websites are becoming common. And social networking sites don’t just limit you to friends you already know: they provide an easy forum to find business contacts without any requirement that you actually leave your home or office and go to a networking event.
    3. You can communicate even without contact information. Many important people in a variety of industries have at least a placeholder profile up on a variety of social networking website. And while you could never get a direct phone number for some of the people higher up the food chain, you can still easily send them a message on LinkedIn or whatever other website they frequent. It’s possible that some sort of assistant will review your message — but you can still get a lot closer to bigwigs via social networking.
    4. If you don’t claim your name on all the various social networking sites, someone might do it for you. Seth Godin, the author of numerous marketing books, provides a classic example: despite the fact that someone has claimed the name ‘sethgodin’ on Twitter, it wasn’t actually Godin (who blogged about the fact). In Godin’s case, the account was not used maliciously — but it also wasn’t a case of someone with the same name getting there first. If you don’t grab your name on every social network that pops up, you may not be so lucky. Someone could easily use such an account to spread false information or otherwise cause trouble.
    5. Everybody else is doing it. Peer pressure is a poor excuse — but if it’s becoming an industry standard in your field to have an online presence, not having one can be problematic in the long run. And if all of your friends stay in touch through a particular website, you certainly don’t want to get left out. Merely putting together a profile and updating it can be a small investment of your time, compared to not having the ability to connect to customers or friends online.

    3 Reasons to Forget About Your Online Presence

    1. Employers and customers don’t actually care that much about your social networking abilities. Sure, just about everyone will run a search on your name these days — but as long as they don’t find anything bad, it doesn’t particularly matter what they do find. If you have a particularly common name, you’re likely to get lost in the shuffle anyhow. You’ve got plenty of other ways to describe your abilities and connections, and you can probably do a better job of that fact than a standardized profile page.
    2. Putting too much information out there isn’t necessarily safe. Even assuming that identity thieves aren’t monitoring your every move through all your online accounts, telling your clients, family and everyone else every detail of your life just doesn’t sound like a good idea. There are so many horror stories about over-sharing, and having a thorough online presence just asks for such a story to happen to you.
    3. Social networking and crafting an online presence take a lot of time. If you get going, it isn’t hard to spend hours on a site like Twitter. You can call it networking or marketing, but either way, you’ve spent time that certainly could have been put to better use on trying to connect with the kids in your third grade class.

    Finding Some Balance

    It seems like social networking and online presences only have the value that we give them — and giving them too much value isn’t wise. That said, I think that maintaining a profile or two is a good idea. It’s worthwhile to grab your name on multiple sites, but I don’t bother with constantly updating every site I have a profile on. Instead they all point to either my website or the two sites that I do interact with regularly.

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    Like most things, caring about your online presence in moderation can be useful. It’s when a person tries to update every site under the sun that it becomes useless. It’s worth thinking about just what level of moderation makes sense for you.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    1. Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    2. Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    3. Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    4. Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    5. Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    6. Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    7. Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    8. Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More Note-Taking Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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