Resolution idea: Use LinkedIn better in 2012
Do you use LinkedIn? I mean other than throwing up a profile and accepting connection requests?
My unscientific observation is most people don’t seem to do much else on the business-oriented social network, but there are lots of opportunity–especially if networking is important to you. Hint: if it’s not it definitely should be!
A huge mistake most people make with networking is only worrying about it when they are looking for a job or need something from the network… I hope we all know by now it’s important to build it now so it’s there when you need it. Have you ever had a friend who only ever called you when he or she needed something? Wasn’t that annoying? You probably aren’t even friends anymore, right? Right. Don’t be that person.
Here’s a few ways I use LinkedIn which I find to be to my advantage:
Five ways to use LinkedIn effectively for business networking
1. Edit your profile… Often!
Your career actually changes a little everyday, whether you have a new client or project, skills, or coworkers, whatever happens at work potentially shapes what you do. LinkedIn is like your resume, but they key difference is it’s also available 24/7 which means you should keep it updated as frequently as possible. (Remember they told you that about your actual resume? Well now it’s time follow through my friend!) Visit your profile weekly or monthly and give it a good objective read through. Think about updating your skills, or headline or really anything that could be better written. Like any good writer knows, there’s always room for improvement!
Why it’s a good idea: In addition to just being a generally good idea to have the most up-to-date profile as possible, LinkedIn also sends an alert to your connections via the home page. It’s a good way to passively stay front-of-mind with your connections. Also it usually just tells you that someone updated his/her profile, and since we’re all curious beasts, it entices us to click through and review that person’s profile, so it really works!
2. Invest some time in LinkedIn Answers
Admittedly, I don’t spend as much time doing this as I used to, but the value still remains. First, I’ve made a few valuable connections from people who have seen an answer I wrote and took the time to send me a personal message or request an invitation and we’ve stayed in touch since. You also get to learn a lot from reading answers from other users. It’s a win-win and a fun and productive way to spend some spare time.
Why it’s a good idea: Your profile just talks about your expertise and value from your point of view, but Q&A is your opportunity to demonstrate it. Also when you get voted for best answers (by the question asker) it displays in the side bar of your profile so your profile visitors know you’re a smart cookie (and not just because you say so). Round it out with a few great recommendations and you’ve got one bang-up profile!
3. Participate in groups
Again, how often do you join groups and never look at them again? I *used* to do this, and I wish LinkedIn could come up with better email/notification methods so that this feature is better used by a wider audience. LinkedIn Groups contain a captive audience of people who share a similar interest to you… What are you waiting for?! It’s practically a virtual water cooler waiting for your input. Wait, think this through a little first though.. When you start a new job and you run into a new coworker at the water cooler do you instantly start promoting your business/event/blog whatever? I hope not and that’s not the way to participate online either. Start an interesting discussion or participate in an existing one. Like any online community you can start thinking about promoting yourself when you’ve established trust and made friends.
Why it’s a good idea: This is all about networking remember! Perfect opportunity to actually “meet” people through LinkedIn.
4. Pay attention to who’s creeping your profile
I wrote this past summer about how this is my favourite feature of LinkedIn which prompted some interesting discussions. Reflecting on this since then, I do think there’s a lot more that can be said about who’s viewing your profile. For example, think about how you want to be perceived and who your personal target audience is… Are you looking to be findable and desirable to employers? Is there a certain industry or sector you want to be known in? Are those people viewing your profile? If not, then you may not be marketing yourself effectively. Whether formally written or not, you should understand who you want to reach, why and what you’d like them to think of you, and profile viewing is valuable feedback for this. Maybe I’m just a nerd but I love this stuff!
Why it’s a good idea: Self-reflection and evaluation is probably the best thing you can ever do for yourself, personally and professionally.. So I call this one a no brainer.
5. Connect online and offline
If you want to be great at networking than you absolutely-no-doubt-about-it MUST get out in the “real world” and meet people face to face. I suggest collecting business cards (the old fashioned way), writing down something interesting you spoke about with that person and following up with a personalized LinkedIN update.
Three behaviours I *hate* on LinkedIn
Ok spare me the “there’s no wrong way in social media” argument, but these are three things that I see on LinkedIn that I find irritating. Maybe it works for you, but I can at least promise it won’t work at winning *my* love and affection. And surely some of my readers have my back on this? Come on, pitch in guys!)
1. Sending the default invite to someone you barely know (or don’t know at all)
If we just met once or twice, or know each other from Twitter or some other obscure-type relationship than please take a minute to fill in the personalized message in the invite and jog my memory. Also there’s no harm in sending an invite to someone you don’t know but would like to know, but take a minute to flatter them and let them know WHY you are sending an unsolicited invite. Maybe they run a company you’d really like to work for, or perhaps you have 10 connections in common and really SHOULD know each other… Bare in mind that some people restrict connections to only those they know personally, so don’t be offended if someone doesn’t add you.
2. Auto push ALL Twitter updates to LinkedIn
I follow you on Twitter to read your tweets. I connect with you on LinkedIn to maintain a business relationship. Not the same thing. Especially if you tweet completely non-professional related updates. Also if you are pushing ALL your updates to both networks (and/or Facebook for that matter) it tells me I’m wasting my time following you on multiple social networks, rather than building a deeper relationship. If you must, use the #LI or #IN tags to sync the occasional tweet but usually you’re better off just writing custom messages for each network.
3. Sending mass messages to gain business or promote yourself
If you are doing something for charity or for the benefit of others, I don’t really mind.. but if you’re soliciting or promoting yourself to your network at least take the time to send personalized messages to your contacts who would be interested, otherwise you’re just spamming. No one likes spam, not in email, not on Twitter and not on LinkedIn and DEFINITELY not through multiple media at the same time. This also goes for blanket recommendations, don’t ask someone for a recommendation unless you
Do you agree? Do you used LinkedIn in other ways? Let me know in the comments!Tweet