Beware of Referral Key

So when you’re in the process of looking for employment opportunities, you tend to pay a bit more attention to emails and your LinkedIn profile.

On Feb. 11, I received an odd email from one of my LinkedIn contacts about what sounded like a lead to possible work. Since it was from someone I knew on LinkedIn, I trusted the link and opened it.

Note: I removed the sender’s name and business.

To read the entire message, you need to join the site, Referral Key, which as we all know only takes a few seconds to do. The message itself included this YouTube video, which instructs the user on how to export their LinkedIn contacts to their profile.

However, the video does not inform you that completing the process will email ALL OF YOUR LINKEDIN CONTACTS.

For someone who has 730+ LinkedIn contacts, that created quite the mess. I’ve already had to email countless friends and colleagues who messaged me to see if I had been hacked. (Apologies if you were one of them…)

Mashable endorsement?

Mashable endorsement?

So was I hacked? Technically, no. Apparently this site is real. I’m still having difficulty figuring out what its exact uses are, though. All I know, is that a few clicks can easily damage your reputation, so I advise you NOT to join this site.

The same exact thing happened to poor Cathy Miller…”How Referral Key’s Spammy Practice Embarrassed Pollyanna.” AND this article is another one I wish I would’ve read before this happened – it would have saved me a ton of grief.

Needless to say, I have already emailed the site and deleted my account. I also messaged the contact who initially invited me to the site.

Have you heard of this website? Has the same thing happened to you? I’d love to hear about it. Definitely NOT how I intended to spend my Wednesday afternoon…

*Update (2/13/14)*

It appears the site has removed the “Contact Page,” which is where I sent my complaint. Instead, they now have a “Support” page, which gives a quasi-FAQ. It conveniently has buried the fine print that the user is “100% responsible” for how they use the site. However, none of this verbiage was even on the site before. And, not surprisingly, I haven’t heard anything back from them.

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The world of Twitter chats!

So what exactly is a Twitter chat, you ask? Well, they are events that allow Twitter users to talk to each other about a specific topic by using hashtags to easily organize questions and answers!

They sound more complicated then they actually are and they are a great networking tool! Think about it – you can network in your Snuggie if you wanted to!

I’ve observed quite a few twitter chats but have actively participated in two. My very first Twitter chat was back on September 27 and it was through PR 2.0 Chat. At first I was a bit intimidated because most of the chatters appeared to be professionals in the field.

I felt like I wouldn’t have much to contribute since I’m still an undergrad, but I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway. I was quite surprised when people actually started replying and re-tweeting what I had to say!

The account asks questions and you can reply to anyone you want! The first few questions were about stunts and content.

The first few questions involved publicity stunts and questioned whether or not they work and if they should be considered tactics or strategy. I replied that they only work if they are clever and if the public does not feel like the stunt is desperate.

I received a tweet questioning my response, to which I replied but received no tweet back.

However, I did manage to have quite the Twitter feed going when one of the questions asked what to do when a client’s goals aren’t being realized. I applied things I’ve learned in class to common sense and I found the dialogue fascinating.

The hosts even re-tweeted me on their page! Not bad for my first try, eh?

The second Twitter chat was on October 19 and was through the handle PRStudChat. Two moderators facilitate the chat and stimulate a conversation between students, educators and professionals.

I really enjoyed this one because it asked questions like: what is your favorite assignment? This was an easy one for me because my favorite assignment was a social media campaign (see my portfolio) that I worked on just recently.

And GUESS WHAT?! My tweet was published in an article the following day!

It was published on: http://www.examiner.com/

See the last tweet!