SMS' Can Relieve Stressed, Lonely People

SMS Text Messages Relieve Stressed, Lonely PeopleBERKELEY — Text messaging often gets a bad rap for contributing to illiteracy and high-risk behaviour such as reckless driving. But a social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has found an upside to texting, especially for people who feel stressed out, isolated and alone.

Text messages in cognitive behaviour therapy can make people feel less isolated

Adrian Aguilera, a clinical psychologist who treats many low-income Latinos for depression and other mental disorders, said his patients report feeling more connected and cared for when they receive text messages asking them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions, and take their prescribed medications.

“When I was in a difficult situation and I received a message, I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved,” reported one Spanish-speaking patient in Aguilera’s cognitive behavior therapy group at San Francisco General Hospital.

The project began in 2010 when Aguilera developed a customized “Short Message Service (SMS)” intervention program, with the help of UCSF psychologist Ricardo Munoz,  in which Aguilera’s patients were sent automated text messages prompting them to think and reply about their moods and responses to positive and negative daily interactions.

The psychologists published the results of the project last year in the journal, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Aguilera has since been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities,” said Aguilera, whose passion for addressing mental health issues among the poor was sparked while growing up in a Mexican immigrant community in Chicago.

Recent statistics bear out Aguilera’s outreach strategy. The 2011 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project survey found that African American and Latino mobile phone owners send and receive more text messages than do Caucasians.

Of the 2,277 adult cell phone users surveyed by the Pew Foundation, the most active senders and receivers of text messages (at least 50 messages a day) were non-whites, earned incomes below $30,000 and did not graduate from high school.

Aguilera came up with the texting idea when he realized that many of his patients had difficulty applying the skills they learned in therapy to their daily lives, possibly because of the many stressors they routinely faced. They could not afford laptops, electronic tablets or smart phones, but most had a basic cellular phone and a prepaid monthly plan.

“The people I wanted to impact directly didn’t have as much access to computers and the Internet,” Aguilera said. “So I thought about using mobile phones to send text messages to remind them to practice the skills covered in therapy sessions.”

The feedback from patients offers new insight into the human need for regular contact or check-ins for mental health professionals, even if only through automated technology, Aguilera said.

While the text-messaging sessions are designed to last only a certain number of weeks, about 75 percent of the patients requested that they continue receiving the messages. When the program stopped for a week due to technical problems, some really noticed the difference.

“When it stopped, I missed it,” the patient reported. “My life is so crazy, I need a reminder to think about how I feel.”

Adrian Aguilera, a UC Berkeley social welfare professor and clinical psychologist


LinkedIn Coach helps you capture business opportunities

LinkedIn is the global leader in online business networking. In 2011, the company successfully listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and announced it has over 120 million active users. According to some reports there are more than 1.1 million South African business people using LinkedIn and the growth continues.

Business networking has never been more critical as more and more people are trying to find the right business partners, the right staff or the right leadership. Your LinkedIn Coach is a valuable partner to sidestep the complexity or confusion when trying to navigate the social media landscape. One of the strengths of LinkedIn is how it empowers your company to avoid the lengthy recruitment process, and is some respects avoid using recruitment companies completely. When you find you are ready to start using LinkedIn in your business, engaging with a top LinkedIn coach helps to accelerate the advantages you can derive from using this social network.

In today’s modern business environment, great emphasis must be placed on business intelligence to stay competitive. You can spend hours researching, reading article after article, report after report, without finding the right sources of intelligence you need to make a decision. With a professional network of contacts organised with help from LinkedIn, half your problems disappear. You can easily reach out to your network via a status update, or via a participating in a closed industry specific group, and gain valuable information and help from your peers.

Professionals worldwide have banded themselves into a structure using LinkedIn, like a global network, with the main aim of exchanging business intelligence among them. It is a common fact that information is doubling at a more rapid pace as each year goes by. This private business network, allows you to tap into the combined resources of your peers without leaving your office. This site is so enormous that there is a need for a Linkedin Coach to guide you on how to use this giant website as a source of knowledge or a vehicle for disseminating information.

You can download my free LinkedIn Lessons guide or contact me for a LinkedIn consultation.


Business networking tips – How not to network

Today I conducted a trial run for my new business social networking workshop. It was well received overall and I’ll be formally launching this in March. Anyone in sales, marketing or self-employed, entrepreneurs or small business owners will benefit from this workshop.

In the mean time enjoy this hilarious clip…


The Connections Show, an excellent business networking podcast

Stan Relihan Sydney Autralia LinkedIn userThe Connections Show is a weekly podcast hosted by Stan Relihan, one of Australia’s most connected LinkedIn users, and a professional recruiter based in Sydney. This is one of the most practically useful business podcasts I’ve discovered on the Web. And it’s a real surprise that it comes from Australia, not America like most of the other podcasts I subscribe to using Apple iTunes. So far there’s been 23 shows and I listen to them religiously. One of the motivations is that it’s only 20 minutes long. This allows you to digest the information quickly and easily in this attention deficient age we all live in.

Some of the shows that stand out for me are the following:

  • Conversations with a LION – Christian Mayaud
  • A Taste of LinkedIn Intelligence – Scott Allen
  • Talking with the Queen of LinkedIn Q&A – Sheliah Etheridge
  • Secrets of Successful Selling – Craig Elias
  • King of Yahoo! Groups – Vincent Wright

There is a great need for short, high quality podcasts like this one, which is also exceptionally well targeted to a growing niche. Stan Relihan, the host of this podcast does a good job most of time in getting the best from the guests. Every now and then there is a disconnect between the topics discussed and LinkedIn or business networking. And this could create problems for future shows if it continues to be a weekly. That would require over 50 guests, some of which deservingly could feature a 2nd time like the above mentioned people.

So I recommend you subscribe to The Connections Show or at least listen to a few shows directly from the Podcast Network, where it’s hosted. You may also be interested in my new business social networking workshops in South Africa, where I teach how to use online networking tools to increase your sales, grow your revenue and boost your profile in your industry.


Download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook

This week I’m expanding my LinkedIn connections. This has become a weekly ritual to expand my network and reach. You’re welcome to connect with Ramon Thomas on  LinkedIn, the business social network.

Anyway, here’s the problem: Business social networking is something I believe is truly valuable. So download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook. You’re welcome to share it with anyone.

Learn how to use business networking with superior social influence by reading my CNBC Africa interview or listen to my interview on LinkToYourWorld podcast

LinkedIn Lessons Ebook

This ebook is an update and revision of How to Double Your Income in 6 Months Using LinkedIn written by Joe Bartling, now more than 2 years old. I have unsuccessfully tried to contact him to seek his permission to update this document. His own blog was last updated in 24 Feb 2007 so I am not sure if he’s still around.

Anyway I’ve always been naturally good with connecting with new people, building rapport quickly when meeting them. At the same time I’ve maintained friendships all the way from primary school to date. When I discovered Joe’s ebook I finally understand, scientifically, how to begin realising the potential of my network. Since then I’ve also become student of communication and influence. In my own business, NETucation, which I started in 2004, I help help people understand online opportunities using the psychology of technology.

LinkedIn is a service designed for one purpose: to help professionals find and connect
with one another more effectively. It’s not designed to be a portal, sell products on eBay,
or search the web for one of a billion innocuous web pages or bargains. I should say up front that I am not a principal, employee or otherwise connected to LinkedIn, Ltd., its investors, or its principals and founders including Reid Hoffman. I’m just another fan of the technology, and if I were to build one focused on business executives and professionals, it would be exactly what LinkedIn already is.


This ebook is only an introduction to social networking for business people. You can explore the following additional resources once you’ve mastered the strategies contained here:

Guy Kawasaki blog postings:

More excellent articles:


My CNBC Africa interview on Business Networking

MANDLAKAZI MPAHLWA host Kaleidoscope CNBC AfricaOn Wednesday I will be interviewed for the 2nd time on the Kaleidoscope show on CNBC Africa. The focus was on business networking and social networking. Here’s some of the what I covered in the interview with Mandlakazi Mpahlwa:

MM: How does a delegate begin to Network?

RT: Learn to ask questions. You do not have to have all the answers but if you can ask good questions you allow the other person to open up and tell you what’s most important to them. Once you know what’s important to them you can link what you have to offer to that. And that could be another person in your social network (not something you are selling). Building trust should be your #1 objective.

MM: When and where should one Network?

RT: You should network everywhere. Therefore you must always, always carry your business cards with you. And don’t wait for the other person to ask for it. After speaking to someone for a few minutes give them your card. Now when they give you there card DO NOT put it away immediately. In Japan its customary to accept a business cards using both hands and bow. And then you keep the card in your hand UNTIL the other person puts it away. By glancing at the card you can begin to remember the person’s name before putting it away. And also looking at the info on their card you can make fairly accurate guesses on the nature of their business. I have networked with people in book stores, coffee shops, conferences, parties, the plane, buses, you name it. There is not perfect place.

MM: What are the No-No’s when networking at a function / conference?

RT: The biggest mistake is trying to sell somebody on your products or services. People are coming together to meet and network to help them solve problems not to buy something. That always comes later. You have to listen, ask questions and once you have an understanding of their pains you can make suggestions. The key is taking time to build trust and find out what’s most important to the other person.

MM: What tools does one require to successfully network?

RT: You can use online tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or MyGenius to manage your growing network of business or social connections. It’s important to touch base with people within the 1st week after meeting them and then once every 90 days. In additional your email software like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook can help you keep track of birthdays and you can go as far as sending automated emails using a CRM system.

For me LinkedIn is the most powerful business networking website because:

  • it has very strict built in privacy management so you cannot spam people
  • it has very high quality members: many CEOs, Directors or Specialists
  • over 35,000 South African business people
  • A goldmine for research, competitive intelligence in the LinkedIn Answers

On the other hand Facebook floods your Inbox with more information than most people can handle, even though you can turn it off. Also many of my business connections are on Facebook, however, they use it to share more personal experiences like family photos, etc.

A Networking Example:

If I meet you at a function and you tell me you’re in the media and you have your own show, etc. I will tell you about some people I’ve met who I think will make good guests. So I’m not saying you should interview Me. I’m suggesting other people and other things in which I’ve have no vested interest. What I’m doing here is playing the connector role. I’m helping people connect the dots. I always play my own role, my own abilities down. I’m being humble.

You may be interested in my business social networking workshop.  You will learn how to become more interesting, improving your social intelligence, increasing the depth of your business relationships and most importantly substantially improving the results you get from business networking.


How to Increase Your Online Profile with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very popular business social networking website. The primary aim of LinkedIn is to help you connect with other professionals directly within our own country and worldwide. It now have over 9 million registered users. South Africa currently has 24800 users and I’ve just entered the top 5. This is up from #8 which I’ve been for the last few months. My goal is to reach number 1 before end of 2007.

View Ramon Thomas's profile on LinkedInLinkedIn in allows you to create a Public Profile with a unique URL. My own LinkedIn URL is currently ranked number 7 on my the Google SERPs for my name. This is one of the ways you can ensure that when people search for you – they find you – and more specifically they find the information about you, that you want them to find. Your LinkedIn profile becomes like a live online resume with endorsements which keeps growing.

LinkedIn recently launched a Q&A service which allows you to post questions to the entire network. My own questions were answered by several different people within days. And this is amazing when you consider the value or how much you would have to pay these experts to gain their insight. Why bother answering other people’s questions you may ask? Well it boosts your profile inside the LinkedIn network and therefore brings more opportunities to you. It really comes down to a different mindset that understands how value is created i.e. By giving more, you receive more. And you need to give first before expecting anything in return. And the less you expect, the more you are surprised by does end up coming your way.

You may be interested in my half-day workshop on online social networking for entrepreneurs, consultants, contractors and anyone who’s freelancing. If you work in recruitment industry LinkedIn is something that you should really pay attention to because its completely changing the way executive search and talent management is taking place.

LinkedIn Resources


Interview on Radio 2000 discussing LinkedIn

Tonight, Monday 29 January at 7pm I will be interviewed on Radio 2000 (99.7FM) by Allon Raiz with my friend Brian Carl Brown discussing LinkedIn and Social Networking for Entrepreneurs. This is just one of many recent interviews I’ve done in the month of January. So the year is getting off to rockin’ start. This a must for entrepreneurs, small business owners, sales and marketing, event managers, recruitment consultants; and all those who’s job it is to create new partnerships and build relationships quickly as well as people who would like to improve their referability.

Other recent interviews include:
3 January: RSG discussing Online Dating / SMS Flirting (Afrikaans 😉
19 January: Cape Talk / KFM news segment discussing Online, SMS, Corporate Dating
20 January: Al Ansaar Radio (Durban) discussing Online Safety on Mobile Phones, Chat Rooms and MXit.

Coming up: Online dating feature in March edition of Cosmopolitan magazine. And Identity Theft feature in April edition.

More breaking news: I’ve been invited to write a regular column on Biz-Community, the largest portal for advertising, media, marketing news in South Africa. My friend Mike Stopforth, a Web 2.0 blogger is already a regular contributor to BizCommunity.

Checkout the details of my Social Networking Success Workshop here.


Guy Kawasaki on LinkedIn

Guy KawasakiI’ve just broken through the 500 connections on LinkedIn and wanted to share a great new article by Guy Kawasaki, someone I have great respect for, discussing this amazingly useful website. Guy Kawasaki was the Chief Evangelist at Apple Computer for a long time and came from the Jewellery industry. You must read his excellent blog post: Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn.

And next to that I highly, highly recommend you watch (download) this 40 minute video where Guy delivers one of the most brilliant presentation based on his book, The Art of the Start.

If you are want to have a real impact when using LinkedIn I also highly recommend this free ebook: How To Double Your Income In Six Months Using LinkedIn