Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to LinkedIn IMHO

Mel Kleiman, CSP asked an interesting question on LinkedIn that I responded to this evening. Mel's question was "If there was one piece of advice you would give someone who was new to LinkedIn or had not really been effective at using it. What would you tell them or show them?"

Here is how I responded:

The "one" piece of advice I would offer is to use it fully, which has many subtasks, some of which follow:

1) Fill out your profile completely. LinkedIn will tell you when you hit 100% completeness.
2) Use the Contact list integration so you connect quickly to everyone you know who is on. Connect only with people you truly know. The value of the service gets watered down quickly for everyone when people just invite people they have zero real-world connection to.
3) Raid your connections' connection lists for other people you know and have worked with. You'll notice that you can simply add people in your friends' lists. Be judicious. ONLY add those people you actually know.
4) Join Groups either by seeing what your colleagues have joined, or by searching in the Groups area. ONLY join groups in which you have some actual reason to be there. The goal is not to have the most groups possible, but the most appropriate selection of groups. In particular, join alumni groups for organizations you've worked with.
5) Update your home page to include portlets for categories of Q&A that you are interested in/expert in. Link your blog, maybe post your reading list.
6) Participate regularly in Q&A to demonstrate your expertise. Be genuinely helpful to those asking questions, without any thought of direct transactional reciprocity. Think of your answer as a way of sending good professional karma.
7) Update your status fairly regularly to talk about what you're working on. Now that LinkedIn has added commenting on statuses, it gives your friends something to respond to.
8) When your home page flashes a message that an old colleague has taken a new position, send them an inbox message to congratulate them and ask about their new gig. Only do this if you're genuinely interested.
9) Ask a question in the Q&A about a specific topic related to your area of expertise. If you work at a car dealership, for example, ask "What kind of incentives are you most interested in right now when it comes to buying a new car?" When you get responses, thank the respondents personally with an inbox message. Let them know you would be happy to help them if they should ever need your services. Select one of the respondents as "Best Answer" -- it will give their LinkedIn reputation a boost.
10) Last, but far from least... All those connections you've made? Some of those people are people you merely got acquainted with, but some of them saved your day, project, career, life... Give them something back by proactively sending them a Recommendation. It will enhance their LinkedIn reputation.

If you're wondering how any of this directly leads to new business, a new job for yourself, that next sale? It doesn't lead directly, and that's the whole point. LinkedIn does not, in and of itself, create opportunities. But, when opportunities arise, the time and energy you spent building and maintaining a healthy, thriving network will be there to support you in seizing them.

Best of luck to you!


Mel's question originally appeared on LinkedIn.com, the leading professional networking website. Click "Mel's question" at the beginning of this post to respond to Mel yourself.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. Your feedback is welcome!

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