At the NCTA December meeting, guest speaker Florencia Pettigrew explained how to get the most out of social networking sites and techniques for building and managing your online reputation. BY SARAH LLEWELLYN

Florencia Pettigrew details LinkedIn's advantages.

Florencia Pettigrew details LinkedIn's advantages.

The final General Meeting of 2008 was held on Saturday, December 6th. NCTA President Tuomas Kostiainen began the meeting with a presentation of annual awards. Three NCTA members who had made a significant contribution to NCTA were honored this year. The first recipient was Alison Dent, who was named Volunteer of the Year. Alison served on the Board from 2007 until her recent return to Europe. Normally board members are not eligible for this award, but an exception was made in Alison’s case because of her singular effort in developing the Translorial archive. Naomi Baer was awarded a one-year honorary membership for her outstanding service to NCTA, having served on the Board for four years, two as secretary and two as membership director. Lifetime Honorary Membership was given to Steve Goldstein for his work on Translorial. Steve founded the magazine in 1978, was its first editor, and served a second term as editor until just recently. As Chairman of the Nominating Committee for the upcoming board elections, Paula Dieli introduced the candidates for the five available positions: Tuomas Kostiainen for President, Yves Avérous for Vice President, and Raffaella Buschiazzo, J. Mónica Pérez and Sonia Wichmann for the three director positions. The election results will be announced at the February 2009 GM; those elected will serve a two-year term.

Next, Clare Roby of CSU Chico gave a brief outline of a workshop offered by the university as part of a program leading to localization project management certification. The workshop will be held over two days in San Francisco at the end of March.

Your own brand

The guest speaker was Florencia Pettigrew, international marketing manager for the professional networking site LinkedIn. Born in Argentina, Florencia was educated in the U.S. and has a Masters degree in International Communications from American University in Washington, D.C. For the past decade she has been involved in marketing communications for both the private sector and multilateral institutions in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America.

Florencia’s presentation focused on the advantages of social networking sites to build and manage your own brand. These sites are a highly effective means of showcasing your skills, acquiring new clients, and gaining visibility and knowledge through collaboration with others.

To get the most out of such sites, it is important to learn how to use all the available tools. Then you control how people find you and determine what they can learn about you. The most business-oriented site is LinkedIn; Facebook tends to be more social. Decide upon your aim in joining and then find the site that best suits your goals.

Social network profiling

Once you’ve joined a site, build as complete a profile as possible. Use your name, business name, and a professional photo to make it easier for people to remember you. Do not create a profile that reads like a résumé, but do feature information that will highlight your skills and strengths.

Always include in your profile key terms that people might use to find you. Include names of clients and include links to any work on the web, or upload documents.

Customize your URL so that it appears as your name, rather than as a number, and include this in your email signature. LinkedIn also offers the possibility of status updates, which can act as a “virtual conversation opener.”

Viral power of networks

Once you have created your profile, the next task is to build a network of trusted contacts. Build your network BEFORE you need it and invite into it only those people you trust. Personalize your own invitation to others, and before accepting an invitation from someone you don’t know, check out their profile and ask yourself if you would be willing to introduce that person to someone in your network.

Join groups to extend your access to people. Members will not be “first-degree contacts,” but you will by default be able to communicate with them, regardless of whether or not you know them. When deciding which groups to join, look at the groups your peers belong to. These sites are a form of viral marketing, meaning that whatever action you take, your entire network will see it.

The NCTA extends its thanks and gratitude to Florencia Pettigrew for her interesting and informative presentation. RB