I recently hosted a LinkedIn Best Practices Webinar. We had 500+ attendees, a testament to the popularity of this site as a professional social networking platform AND the fact that most people on LinkedIn (or most of the social networking applications out there) really don’t know how to get the most out of it!
To reiterate, here are my top 10 recommendations:
- Build a Content-Rich Profile – see template under Global Resources on RENetworks
- Download the Outlook Toolbar and learn how to integrate the two
- Invite your most trusted relationships to join your LinkedIn Network via Outlook or CSV upload
- Join up to 10 strategic groups from your education and professional background / affiliations
- Explore LinkedIn Applications to see if you can tie your blog, presentations, or other functionality into your profile
- Include your LinkedIn public profile (looks like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidnour) in your email signature, articles, event announcements
- Create LinkedIn Events for your upcoming programs and include links where they can learn more (ideally back on your website)
- Engage your network with daily invites & introductions, questions and answers, and group discussions
- Recommend only those you wholeheartedly endorse
- Use ping.fm to update 30+ social networking sites at once!
We had a very lively exchange on the webinar. Many questions I was able to answer, but certainly not all of the 200+ submitted. So here are some of those with my answers – will continue to post future Q&A on this blog – the entire FAQ can be found on RENetworks, under Resources – Global – Social Networking Best Practices (for registered users who have heard me speak or have attended our training only).
Q1 – How do I get new requests to connect accepted?
A – Start with a content-rich profile, link your blog and presentations to your profile, so when others look at your profile from the invitation to connect, you’ve given them a compelling, value-based reason to do so!
Q2 – Is LinkedIn going to address the needs of those who use Linux?
A – LinkedIn along with a host of other social networking sites are driven to develop rich functionality for platforms which address the largest portion of their addressable market. Although incredibly powerful, Linux simply doesn’t have the mindshare and wallet share of Outlook or even Mac. LinkedIn is feature-rich as a website, but I doubt you’ll see much investment of time, effort or resources from them addressing Linux users. Sorry. Feel free to start a movement though…
Q3 – How can I create a content-rich profile that attracts potential collaborators [as in people who are willing to co-labor or work]?
A – You have to become an object of interest. You want to attract potential collaborators – give them something to get excited about collaborating with you about! Social networking best practices isn’t “built it and they’ll come.” You have to promote, create awareness for it, get others to talk about it, give them an unbelievable experience when they do try it, and build on that early success. So, write your profile from the eyes of the consumer of that information (vs. you as the producer of that information) and aim to influence conversations – one tip for you here, if you leave them wanting more, they’ll seek you out…
Q4 – How do I – or is it advisable to – have multiple profiles on Linked In?
A – Can you – sure; simply use different email addresses, which social networking sites consider as unique identifiers – that’s how they know you’re you. Is it advisable – I wouldn’t because a) it’s yet another site you have to keep up with, if they search your name, both profiles will come up, you’re going to confuse you connections – why did you invite me to this profile and not that one. Instead, try using different social networking sites for different profiles / purposes, i.e. Xing, Naymz, etc.
Q5 – Is there a significant benefit in upgrading to one of the fee-based LinkedIn profiles over using only the free profile?
A – It really depends on what you’re using LinkedIn for and how comfortable you are with the tool today? My recommendation is to use the free version to learn your way around, grow your presence, build a content-rich profile, connect with your most trusted relationships, get recommended by those you’ve done great work for, etc. When and only when you feel that you’ve outgrown the functionality and have a need for more InMail, read more messages at once, see a bigger list of who’s viewing your profile (all premium functionality found at the bottom of the LinkedIn page under – “Upgrade Your Account”) then sign up for one of the premium offerings.
Q6 – I want to get the most from social networking tools by providing value to others/myself, w/out creating another ’email’ program which I frankly dislike – how do I do that?
A – If you’re heard me speak about social networking best practices, I recommend that you build your website or your blog to be the desired destination for those who want to learn more about you. As such, you need to put great content up there, consistently and use social networking applications (LinkedIn, Twitter, ZoomInfo, Slideshare.net, etc.) as outposts to create awareness for your value-add and drive traffic back to your website or blog. By the way, you may also want to explore the user settings / preferences in each social networking site and select NOT to be notified via email every time someone posts a message, makes an introduction, “friends you,” etc. That’s what presumably you’d revisit the sites for. I keep notifications from these sites to an absolutely minimum as the last thing I need is for 100+ social networking sites where I have a presence is to add to my already overgrown inbox…
Q7 – There must be a better process than just answering the “questions” in the Answers section of LinkedIn…….would like to be a quality investor and a business development specialist. How to do that?
A – I’d submit people on the web are browsers and not readers; think of them as digital tourists and not necessarily residents. As such, most people like tips, techniques, best practices, brief case studies, etc. Practical and pragmatic takeaways, often much more than theoretical, deep, or perceived elitist as the “smartest guy in the room” – still not sure what’s wrong with that, but someone called me that recently, so I’m writing an article about it. As a business development specialist, I’m sure you can create “Top 10 lists” of all kinds – both on what to- and not-to-do, aimed to excite or disturb your audience – getting them to think differently about a particular situation. Put these best practices on your website or blog and tease people in the Answers section or in various (LinkedIn or Twitter) Group discussions, driving them to the blog or website to learn more if they’re interested. Write white papers or special reports on Biz Dev best practices and give them away as free downloads – obviously with your contact info on each page. Submit unique content to various Biz Dev specific trade publications or industry associations; if they choose to publish them, create links on multiple social networking sites back to those articles. Is there a better process? Always!
Q8 – Should you add a profile picture? I heard you really should not when looking for a job since the hiring manager could decide right there if they want to interview you or not.
A – Absolutely add a picture with a couple of caveats: 1. Make sure it’s a professional headshot (vs. the one of you by the pool with your skimpies on having a beer!) and 2. Make sure it’s a recent one – big hair and wide collar-shirts went out a few years ago. We’re a visual society, I may not remember your name, but good chance I’ll remember your face. And by the way, if a hiring manager decides to interview you or not from your picture (alone), they’re stupid and probably not someone you’ll want to work for – unless you’re interviewing for a modeling job!
Q9 – How to avoid age discrimination as Experience and Education sections on LinkedIn ask for dates in a position or in college.
A – Build a compelling case that your age is an asset with what you’ve accomplished over the years – remember the famous presidential debate one liner between Ronal Reagan and Walter Mondale when age came up? Two other options: only list your most recent positions and avoid going back to what you did in WW I (my seven year old daughter recently asked me if I’ve ever met Abraham Lincoln), and don’t list your education – although I wouldn’t recommend it. I recently found out that someone wasn’t putting Juilliard (as in the world-renowned performing arts school in NY) on their LinkedIn profile because they attend it in the 60s! I asked her if she had lost her mind! Have you searched Juilliard grads on LinkedIn lately – they’ve all done quite well over the years for some reason – go wonder!
Q10 – What is the difference between a blog and RSS Feed?
A – A blog is a “web-log” – a collection of ideas – written, visual, audio and video clips, etc. I write a blog weekly sharing content that I think may be of interest of value to others off of our website. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (you can substitute Subscription for syndication if it makes it easier). By clicking to “subscribe” to the RSS feed, the updated content of that blog will appear as a drop down in your internet browser. There are also host of other tools called RSS Readers which can help you organize the interesting and valuable content you find on the web that you subscribe to. Think of a blog as a newsstand – 220 million blogs are out on the web (a big newsstand, I know). Think of RSS as the subscriptions you receive at your home or office – selecting only the publications you care about / want to read on a regular basis. The only difference is that there is no fee / charge for RSS.