Marketplace (NPR): “Everybody Uses Linkedin”

Do you ever wonder if your time investment in social media is worth it?

Let me be more specific. LinkedIn. Does the famed business networking site help you if you’re looking for a job or work of some kind?

The NPR program Marketplace recently filed a report on LinkedIn. You can listen to it by clicking here. Here’s the opening from Marketplace contributor Sally Herships:

Looking for a job hunting can feel like dropping resumes into a black hole. And what about your LinkedIn profile? Is anyone actually reading it? Or your updates? Turns out–yes. Someone, many someones, like Dwight Scott, a recruiter with ExecuSearch in New York, are searching LinkedIn, potentially for you.

BONUS: Herships’s five tips for getting a job on LinkedIn.

5 Content No-No’s on Websites

I still read the newspaper. But only on Sundays. There’s good stuff in my Sunday Roanoke Times, such as “Well-built websites can give small businesses a boost,” an article penned by Caroline McMillan Portillo of The Charlotte Observer.

Portillo interviewed Charlotte-area ad agencies and marketing and web-design professionals. She came away with a list of tips, including what not to do.

Here are five don’ts related to web content:

1. Don’t use too many words.
Go easy on the words. No War and Peace. “People scan websites,” Randy Smith of Synchronicity was quoted as saying. “They’re looking for the best content in about the first top-third of what they read.”

2. Don’t overlook typos and grammatical mistakes.
Mistakes have a way of sabotaging your professionalism. They happen, but are more easily corrected online. Whenever possible, have others proof the work.

3. Don’t forget search engine optimization (SEO).
Identify a list of keywords, terms and phrases for your profession, business and industry to incorporate on your site. This should help your site in Google and other search-engine rankings.

4. Don’t have stale content.
This makes the site (and business or organization) look static. Not good. One way to avoid this common problem is to connect an active blog and social media feed(s) to your site.

5. Don’t have outdated calendars.
If you have a calendar on your site, keep it current. An out-of-date calendar is a dead giveaway that people are visiting a dead site.

8 Credibility Killers from Inc.

In “8 Conversational Habits That Kill Credibility” at, Geoffrey James warns readers about some common errors that can sabotage your sincerity and trustworthiness.

Here’s a sampling, one of my favorites:

3. Prolixity

“Using big, impressive sounding words rather than smaller, common ones can leave listeners with the impression that you’re pompous and pretentious. Examples: “assess strategic options and tactical approaches” (i.e. “plan”) or “implement communications infrastructure” (i.e. “add wireless”). Fancy-schmancy wording adds bulk and extracts clarity.

Fix: The core problem here is the need to feel as if your business and your activities are more important and impressive than they really are. The fix, therefore, is a big dose of humility. Business is neither rocket science nor brain surgery–it is, in fact, a place where plain talk is both valued and appreciated.”

I’m afraid No. 3 is far too common. A good guideline: Write (or speak) to express, not impress.

Read the entire article

The Daily Progress: ‘Book Festival Blossomed with Damon’

Nancy Damon.
Nancy Damon.

The thank-you note arrived a little more than two weeks after I sat on a sports stories panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book. The note was signed by festival director Nancy Damon.

“At the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, we thank you for your participation in making the Festival the amazing event it is,” wrote Damon. “We are so happy to present a sports-oriented program.”

I’m not David Baldacci, who was at the festival this year. Nor am I John Grisham, who appeared in 2013. But I felt special nonetheless, thanks to Damon. She apparently wrote, signed and sent similar thank-you notes to the hundreds of authors who participated at this year’s festival.

I was told by a reliable source that Damon does nearly all of the work. That surprised and impressed me.

Now she’s retiring and is deserving of the accolades that appeared in the The Daily Progress (Charlottesville):

It will be hard to imagine the annual Virginia Festival of the Book without the quicksilver, whirlwind presence of Nancy Damon.

But next year we won’t have to imagine. We’ll know.

Ms. Damon is retiring as the festival’s director.

She’s led the event for the past 14 years and has been involved since its founding 20 years ago. And she’s done an amazing job.

Read the entire article

Reading on a Long Flight and Trip

A week ago I was departing on a trip to California. I’ve been reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, but I didn’t want to lug that massive hardcover through airports and elsewhere. I left it at home.

I don’t have a Kindle or Nook–yet. I still like to read physical books.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, I discovered a used bookstore called 2nd Edition Booksellers. I would never have expected a secondhand book outlet in a major airport but there it was, and I happily searched the stacks for a paperback I could take on my flights to and from Los Angeles. I picked up a novel by David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars.

I can be a slow and distracted reader, so even though I’m home from my trip I’m still working on Guterson’s novel, which is interesting.

What do you like to read on trips and vacations? What is your preferred format?

My March Writer’s Retreat at Ambrosia Farm Bed & Breakfast

Neil Sagebiel

AmbrosiaSign_06 There are still a few spots available for my upcoming writer’s retreat at Ambrosia Farm Bed & Breakfast in Floyd, Virginia. It begins on Friday evening, March 7 and runs through Sunday morning, March 9. The cost is $120 plus lodging.

Here’s the fancy-pants description:

“Writing and Publishing Your Nonfiction Book”

Author and blogger Neil Sagebiel of Floyd, Virginia, will lead a writer’s retreat on nonfiction book writing and publishing. Neil will cover topics such as story development and research, the book proposal, the writing process, literary agents, publishers, working with editors, and related areas. Participants can discuss and work on a current project and/or simply bring their ideas and questions.

(Once all participants are identified, Neil will email questions related to their background and interests and work to tailor the time accordingly. This retreat will include time to work on a current project and/or other fun writing exercises.)


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Citizens Celebrates Centennial Anniversary

Citizens1Congratulations to Citizens, our local and regional telecommunications provider, for 100 years of service to Floyd and surrounding communities.

Citizens extended this invitation in its February newsletter:

Citizens2Come join Citizens 100th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, February 28, 2014 as we celebrate YOU, our loyal customer. Stop by our office in Floyd and enjoy a pictorial history of our company, refreshments, and more. It’s our way of paying tribute to those who have helped us stand the test of time.

The company also announced the completion of its regional fiber network.