How Being a Social Network Butterfly Can Help You Land a Job and Improve Your Career

Posted on October 20, 2008. Filed under: blog, BlogSpot, Facebook, Google, Heroes, iPhone, MySpace, Obama, Red Sox, Social Network, Star Trek, Twitter, TypePad, Web 2.0, WordPress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This article was originally written as a 3-part piece for Talent Zoo. I got enough positive feedback (and found it slowly getting buried beneath new blog posts), that I thought I’d re-post it here in it’s entirety. Since this was written alot has happened with Social Media, social networks and the job market. This has not effected the overall message in the blog post, as a matter of fact, it has made it even more important to get involved in social networks.

It’s no secret that Social Networking is huge. It’s also obvious that it is continuously changing. Friendster gave way to MySpace, which is fighting to retain users that are quickly immigrating to Facebook, all the while; many of us have snuck off to Twitter and FriendFeed. If these are the only sites you know, you only know about 1/10000th of what makes up the social network universe. Don’t feel bad, few can wrap their head around the breadth and depth of SoNets, and no one is omniscient enough to have even heard of most of them.

SoNets are a fact of life and business. If you’re reading this, you’re on Talent Zoo, which means you’re looking for a job or an employee. Businesses can feel free to hire me to consult with them about SoNets and Social Media (SoMe), this one is for the job hunters.

So you’ve got your resume perfect, it gives a brilliant overview of your skills, talent, and experience. You’re already a step ahead of me! You’ve briefed your references so they talk about your strengths and not what you did at the last company outing. If you’re a creative, you’ve got your portfolio book, site, or iPod full of your best work. That should do it right? Not exactly. What happens when your future employer’s HR staff Googles you? They’ll get to know you really well or not. They may find nothing, not a big deal; unless you’re a creative, marketer, advertiser, programmer, you get it. If you’re in the business you’d better be online. ‘Why’ should be obvious, we’ll get to ‘where’ later. Let’s talk about ‘how’.

How you present yourself online, in SoNets or otherwise is as important as how you present yourself in person. Even more so since this may be your first impression to potential employers, and you know what they say about first impressions. This goes not just for job hunters involved in advertising or interactive, but for everyone. Most savvy employers won’t hold your MySpace pictures against you, some may. The Internet is public domain. Everyone can see anything you’ve posted online. So those party pictures, blogs about Star Trek and forum rants are just a click away for anyone who wants them. If you want be treated as a professional, take care to establish a professional persona online. Keep your comments, blogs, etc. professional. This isn’t to say you can’t be yourself online. On the contrary, be as personal and wacky as you want. Just do it with a non- related screen name that you only share with friends. Speaking of which, if you’re on Facebook, get two accounts. One for friends that’s private and one for professionals. Don’t let friends or non-business contacts friend you. You’d be surprised how inappropriate your college buddies or that girl you just met might be on your Wall! (update: soon you’ll be able to use, so you won’t need multiple accounts. Just one account and multiple public pages)

For those thinking, ‘this is such a pain, why bother’, remember that first impression I mentioned? By presenting a skilled and experienced face on social networks, you can get a jump on the competition. By getting involved in professional forums you can position yourself as an eager learner, a helpful pro, even as an expert in your field.

You can get much more from social networks than just a chance to show your mettle. SoNets are a great source of education. Other users can help you solve problems, point you to tutorials and other resources, turn you on to industry news and events, even hook you up with contacts.

“Okay, I get it, give a little, get a little, put my best face forward. But where?” There is no right answer. If I was talking just to 3D artists, I’d suggest niche sites like You’ll have to spend a little time Googling to find the best niche networks to get involved with. For SoNets that aren’t so niche, a good place to start is our old friend Facebook. FB has a great many groups, some as random as My Name Is Durwin (of which I am a member of course), or as obvious as Design & Typography. Professional groups aren’t just on Facebook though, MySpace and others have some worth joining. There are a bunch of great sites dedicated to professionals only, chief among them, LinkedIn. If you don’t have an account here, you’re, quite frankly, nuts. Talent Zoo is a great site for job searching. Not only does it offer great articles (feel free to agree below) and job boards, but also gives you a chance to interact with colleagues and potential employers.

If you have a unique interest, alot to say, or ADD (all of which I’m very proud of), consider subscribing to or starting a blog. There is no end to the number of general and niche industry blogs, from technology to job hunting, advertising to life hacking. Got something on your mind? For free you can create as many blogs as you like with sites like WordPress, Blogspot (which somehow became Blogger when I wasn’t looking), to name a few. It’s as easy as using Word. Much more than an online diary, it’s a great way to discuss your ideas and get feedback from readers. If you want to develop a larger social network, consider using Ning to launch a blog that can turn into a fill-fledges, multi-member social network. D.C. Insider Ariana Huffington turned her blog into a multi-author, political blog network worth millions.

Of course, everyone is talking about Twitter now. It has actually become my #2 news source, after CNN and tied with the Huffington Post. I’ve made tremendous contacts and learned an enormous amount of helpful and professional facts, as well as a tremendous amount of inane and personal facts! “Isn’t that where geeks go to talk about their latest podcast and what happened on Heroes?” Of course it is. But it’s much more. There is nowhere that the conversation is more raw and to the point than Twitter. In 140 characters, you’ll get everything from Red Sox plays to the latest on the McCain and Obama campaigns, behind-the-scenes images and commentary from industry events. You’ll also get help with technical problems, employee referrals, heads-up on new products, new sites and new jobs. There is a fun movie on that explains the service. Your best bet would be to begin by following some people whose user name you know (like mine) and see who they’re talking to. Pick the ones having interesting conversations and follow them, then see who they are following. It’s as exponential as it is experiential. Twitter isn’t just for online chat. I’ve met dozens of the people I converse with everyday at industry events. As a matter of fact, that’s how I found out about the event in the first place. Even out-of-town Tweeps come into town; they get treated to a Boston Tweet-up!

Twitter is not a place to join and start begging for jobs, or beating people over the head with your CV. LinkedIn is not the place to start Friending everyone at a company you’ve never worked at in hopes of getting an inside referral. In any social network, just like when visiting a foreign country, get to know the local customs. See how people interact, what they are interested in. You may find it’s not the right place for you. But, don’t worry, there are so many social networks, you’ll very easily find one that suits you whether you are job hunting, trying to change careers, or looking to hire.

If, like me, you find it difficult to focus on several disparate social networks, or find time to run or keep up with a blog, you may want consider microblogs. Twitter us the best known, but Pownce and Jaiku offer similar services. Twitter’s limited 2 140 characters, so u need 2 learn 2 Twitter shorthand + b concise w your comments 2 fit them in2 1 microblog submission. Everyone using these services is restricted to the same limit, but despite, or perhaps because, of this, you can very quickly pick up some gems. Just this evening I learned: of new OpenSource training videos, that Twitterers rather than major media first broke the news about the LA earthquake, and found a colleague in need of traditional and online branding experts to write for her new site. Looks like I’m going to be spending more late nights typing away at the virtual keyboard of my iPhone while watching man-movies on Spike (Jaws 2 finished, I’m on to The World Is Not Enough)! Like any SoNet, there is great deal of irrelevant junk, but, thanks to Twitters newly purchased search engine and third party sites like TwitterPacks, you can search for subjects and people of interest and Follow (subscribe) to that person’s feed. Who knows, you may gain your own Followers. I’m following 170 people ranging from CNN to Digg’s Kevin Rose and Robert Scoble and am being followed by 184. Just remember, even in microblogging, keep it professional or at least make sure you don’t say anything you’ll regret.

Everything I’ve mentioned will work to increase your search engine visibility, your networking possibilities and your name recognition. Kind of like building a brand isn’t it? Brand YOU. Brand “you need a job”, brand “you are an asset”. Use these channels to promote yourself but don’t spread yourself too thin. Some networks are a great place to

just sign up and post your resume and contact info. Some are full of colleagues and friends that will overrun your inbox. Decide which require minimum effort and stay on top of the ones that require more. Above all, make sure you keep your contact info and resume up to date.

There will be a lot to manage at first but you’ll get the hang of it. Don’t worry, relief is on the way. There are a few people, including myself, that are working on ways to aggregate, or bring together many of these social networks into one manageable tool.


Don’t mix business with pleasure – keep your private-self jus that, private, and make your professional-self public.

Find the way to interact online that best suits you – join a SoNet, subscribe or start a blog, Twitter away.

Be easy to find, be up to date – Spread yourself around to as many SoNets as possible without spreading yourself too thin.

Always put your best face forward – be professional, don’t say anything you’ll regret.

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Twitter Spam. It Had to Happen Sooner or L8r.

Posted on July 12, 2008. Filed under: blog, Google, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, SXSW, User Generated Content, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was introduced to Twitter back on March of 2007. Everyone at SXSW jumped on it. I dropped it for awhile as only a few people I met at SXSW were using it. Since then a ton of folks have jumped on board. It’s become a very important part of my social media, technology and all around cool stuff networking. I use Twitter for a variety of things; to communicate with friends, to engage in discussions with others of similar interest, to find out what others are interested in, to share my interests or thoughts with others and to learn. This last one is key for me. There is so much going on in this web2.0 world that no one can stay on top of it all. Luckily, so many others are keeping up on it, collectively we can stay on top of it all, by searching, learning and sharing.

I don’t follow a huge amount of people, only those I’ve mentioned above, friends, acquaintances, and a few of the Twitteratti (big shots like Kevin Rose and Robert Scoble). I follow about 50 folks, and about 60 follow me. I’m always flattered when someone decides to follow me. After all, they must thing what I’m Twitting is interesting right? Recently I began to receive a few follows that got me curious. Usually someone uses a Twitter handle (mine is mdurwin, I use it everywhere, just Google it!), their name, nickname, combination of first and last name or initials, etc. I’ve seen very few Tweeps (or Tweople, or whatever us Twitter geeks come up with next) using first names and numbers, a common practice with AOL chat and other IM services.

Lately I’ve been getting follows from users with names like Valerie434, or Stella214. I just excepted them and moved on. Then, in one day, I received follows from Lisa1961, Tammy1961, Jessica1986, Angelina1986 and a few more. Twitter spam had caught up with me. Most of these users had a personal page with a link, most to and a picture that looked like it was either stolen from a MySpace college girl or a Russian bride site.

So, it’s here, Twitter spam. Luckily the most they can do is follow you and hope you click on their link. Only if you follow them will you allow them to push anything on you. The lesson learned: you know it’s gone mainstream when spammers start using it. Here’s a complete list of my spam followers so far:


I’d love to hear from other Twitteratti on this. Is it just me?

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Are Social Networks Losing their Sparkle? Yeah right!

Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, BlogSpot, Boston, Consumer Generated Content, Facebook, Google, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, TypePad, User Generated Content, Web 2.0, WordPress |

This blog is a response to this blog:

I think that what’s hot or not can be misleading or misunderstood as a vague announcement. MySpace may not be where the hippest users flock or the site that gets the most cool press, but with over 24 million users, I’d say it’s far from being a ghost town. Fads stop being fads as soon as it has permiated the general public. So what makes it hot? Press? Hipsters? Users base? Features? Buyouts?

I think that social networking is in the beginning phase of a shakedown in which each will capture it’s audience, similar to the browser wars of the 90s. Alot of users and developers jumped back and forth with each release until they settled down with their favorite with a content sigh.

For those on the cutting edge that are bouncing over to Virb, there are thousands of 30-60 somethings every day discovering that they can put up pictures of their kids and their modl train sets on MySpace, thousands more every day flocking to Facebook because their business decided they needed to “get into” web 2.0.

Blogs are doing the same. While there are a few of us who maintain presences on Blogspot, WordPress, TypePad, etc., most bloggers find one their like and stick to it. This can be based on user interface, widgets, target audience, friend recommendations, visibility, etc. Like most media, site usage is as fractured as consumer markets. Goggle is in Beta-mode for Blog Search that spiders all blogs presumably.

Social networks are here to say, duh. 47% of all internet users in the U.S. are visiting social networks. I think they will become more narrowly defined environments for sure. The public has been given the power of choice and they are anxious to swing their weight around.

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Michael Durwin in a Google

Posted on March 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, Boston, Eternal Gaze//Scope, Google, Matt Hanson, Michael Durwin, RSS feed, Second Life, Warcraft, |

Google search bar with Michael Durwin's name in it.

I’ve been a bit self-obsessed I do admit. Over the last year or two I’ve been searching for my name, Michael Durwin, on Google. I’ve spoken to several companies who have Googled me prior to business meetings. It’s been very interesting to note what they have found, online community comments, Amazon book reviews, old portoflios, etc. I can’t tell you how many people looking for information on Michael Durwin have found my old portfolios. Granted, all designers evolve, but the last thing a designer wants to hear is that someone saw their work from 4 years ago and be judged based on that!
Because Google is such a big part of just about everyone’s online experience, it’s important to be mindful of your online image. Many are talking about avatars in reference to 3D characters in Second Life, Warcraft, etc. I’d suggest that users create an avatar the second the begin building their online representation, usually with an email address. Web sites, blogs, email addresses, online community comments, etc. are all facets of our avatar.
That means that everything you say or do online becomes part of your avatar. Users who act like pricks in community forums, put up pictures of them with their drunk buddies on MySpace, videos of parties in YouTube, etc. should expect that anyone looking for information on them such as human resources, recruiters, fathers of girlfriends, the government, clients, press or anyone else wanting to know you better, is not going to have the best impression.
I believe that it is very important to manage your avatar or online personality. Not to say that any of us should censor what we discuss online, but we have to be prepared to accept the consequences.
I recently ran into an interesting situation. While searching for my name on Google, a new entry popped up on a web site called Eternal Gaze//Scope, which is apparently a blog from UK writer Matt Hanson (no, not one of the Hanson brothers of 90s pop fame). THe site is intended to be a blog but pulls reviews of motion graphics clips from a site called is an awesome motion graphics site. It is comprised of some of the most amazing motion artists I have ever seen. Users post their work for review by their peers. I have several pieces posted on and to be honest they pale in comparison to some of the other work there. That however, is the point. I’m posting to a site that, while I know it is accessed by the general public, is primarily used by other motion graphics artist. Those users feel free to be as harsh as they want in reviewing work, which is not always pleasant but it is constructive for the most part. My issue began when I found a couple of comments that, in the context of’s site are fine, but when taken out of context, shed a negative light on me personally.
As mentioned above, everyone should expect that any thing they say or do online is accessible to anyone. What is tough to take is when online comments, articles, etc. are made on one particular site and repurposed on another out of context. Of course you can’t do anything about it because those who do this have a certain sense of entitlement and hide behind the anonymity provided by the web. Eternal Gaze//Scope’s writer Matt Hanson expecting me to speak to him in a concilitory manner if I were to contact him again. I’d already requested that he discontinue pulling reviews and posting them out of context. Matt Hanson doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong. Why Matt Hanson needs to pull RSS feeds or repurpose other sites’ content to fill up his blog is beyond me. Matt Hanson could just post a rant like this one bitching about some punk emailing him about to remove his name from his blog!

So, to sum up my rant… We all need to be aware of appearances even if they are in the form of email, forums, pictures, etc. because you never know who’s looking and you never know when your personality is going to be co-opted, and you can’t control how, where or by who either.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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no movement in newark

Posted on March 14, 2007. Filed under: Google, Linden Labs, Newark Airport, Second Life, SXSW |

pictureStuck in newark, nj. I’ve been thinking of nothing else but virtual words, video blogging, personalization… I met alot of great people with alot of great ideas. Not too many seemed to talk among themselves though. Noone at Linden Labs or Google have talked apparently. I told them both that Google needs to prepare to make searchable not only links to Second Life but to other virtual or synthetic worlds. They should allow you to upload Second Life URLs in reference to companies. I can see the Google search bar now SEARCH: Web | Images | Video | News | SWURL
Get it? SWURL: Synthetic World Universal Resource Locator. It’s 8:07 pm in Newark. I came up with it first!
I also started a new company. SyntheStaff – Virtual Staffing For Your Virtual Strategy. Like a cross between a call center and store clerk for Second Life. What do you think?
Well this is my first WordPress blog, since I never have time to visit my blog on MySpace. I’m a little burned out. I’m just coming back from SXSW and I arrived on Friday. I’ve been to at least half of the parties there, and if you think that’s not much, I’ve had about 8 hours sleep in 5 days!
My last night was fun. I got to see at least one movie though I wanted to see more. I caught the screening of Knocked Up. I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie in a really long time. Great cast, great dialogue, fun story. I highly recommend it as not just a date movie but as a bring-your-better-half-along-on-a-double-date-with-your-college-buddy-and-his-date movie. My coworker Amy and I went to the after party with some of the cast (Paul Rudd, et al and director). We met up with Cory and Marc, two other directors with great projects (Marc’s The Toll is amazing, I hope it wins!). I met up with the guys from Doctor Doctor and their friends Kelly, Tawnie and their indian friend whose name I can’t spell. We were met by one of the stars of Confessions of a Superhero, Superman himself! The Hulk couldn’t make it. I missed it but apparently some members of Creem checked into out hotel that night. AMy saw them but didn’t know who they were.
Other great parties were the Suicide Girls and Robert Rodriguez ones. Bobby can jam!!!
I also caught What Made Milwaukee Famous at the Knocked Up party. I grabbed their CD, they are amazing!
Did I mention I’m burned out? Here’s a picture to prove it.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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