techtools_000.jpgIn January 2007, Guy Kawasaki wrote about “The 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn” on his blog. In it, he described how most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. At the time, the online network included an estimated 8 ½ million experienced professionals from 130 industries. (By the way, today LinkedIn is approaching 17 million users in 170 industries.)

reids_law_chart.jpgIt is interesting that his Top 10 list to increase the value of LinkedIn holds true a year later. As a recap, here are Guy’s Top 10 (with a few updated additions):

  1. Increase your visibility.
  2. Improve your connectability.
  3. Improve your Google PageRank.
  4. Enhance your search engine results.
  5. Perform blind and “reverse” company reference checks.
  6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.
  7. Make your interview go smoother.
  8. Gage the health of a company.
  9. Gage the health of an industry.
  10. Track start-ups.
  11. Ask for advice.
  12. Integrate into a new job.
  13. Scope out the competition, customers and partners.

Here is our Top 10 list for 2008 (well, Top 14):

My Contacts Tab

1. Go through your contacts and remove connections you do not recall, ones that are no longer relevant, or those whom you simply do not recognize. Go through your contacts and apply the old adage: “If you haven’t worn that ugly shirt in the past year, you are not likely to wear it any time soon.” Or, if you are a more subtle type, reach out and re-engage those contacts with a friendly note such as, “I was cleaning out my LinkdIn contacts and with age comes the parting memory of how we know each other. I would appreciate getting an update on your progress in 2007.”

2. Expand other contacts, colleagues or classmates. If you joined a new organization, for example, add them to your other contacts. Find past colleagues through “View All” in past positions and add other schools to your profile to find classmates already in LinkedIn.

3. Revisit your stagnate invitations. Take a look at those you have previously invited – those that may have expired, are pending, or have been ignored. If appropriate, re-invite. Otherwise, archive.

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My Profile Tab

4. Review your profile. Please – update your picture from 1976! Create a content-rich profile that shows you in your best light. But buyer beware: there is no Spell Check or grammar capabilities in LinkedIn, so you may want to create your profile in Word and then upload it to LinkedIn.

5. Recommend those you trust for the value they have delivered. The season of giving isn’t over yet. What a good opportunity to recommend those you trust for the value that they have delivered. Make those recommendations reflect not only you, but the nature of your relationship. And when writing these recommendations, take the time to use accurate and appropriate language to convey that you have a command of the English language. Give it some thought. Don’t be haphazard and generic – really take the time to convey how you feel about who you are recommending.

6. Promote your profile. LinkedIn provides buttons, HTML codes and e-mail signatures to help promote your presence and drive traffic to your profile. Update your recommendations and arm your trusted partners and past employers with the appropriate ammunition to illustrate the real strengths you are after.

7. Update your groups and associations, honors and awards, interests and contacts. Also ensure that you don’t have multiple profiles, as it is sure to create confusion.

Answers Tab

8. Take postings with a grain of salt. Although for the life of me I can’t fathom anyone answering 145 questions this week (it’s only Tuesday as of the writing of this blog), the Answer section certainly seems a viable approach to establishing thought leadership, recommending other experts, and engaging others in productive dialogue. However, similar to Wikipedia, you don’t know the authenticity or credibility of the answers. Remember that they provide just one perspective or point of view and should be used as such. If you are a viable service provider, the services section and recommendations as to the quality, value and effectiveness of services delivered could be a great way to toot your own horn. (And remember – if you don’t, there is seldom any music!)

Jobs and Hiring Tab

9. Scan the Want Ads. Early in my selling career (B.G. – Before Google), the Help Wanted ads were an interesting indicator of a company’s direction and growth prospects. If a company is hiring the types of positions that your solution requires, wouldn’t that be a fair indication that they need your products and services?

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People Tab

10. Play-up your international appeal. I am headed to Dubai for the second time in a few short months and the LinkedIn search functionality has proven invaluable locally, regionally and even domestically. Did you know that there are thousands of current and past LinkedIn users with some connection to Dubai? Sort by titles or industries for a targeted Who’s Who list of hubs you should see while in town.

11. Identify regional and industry trends. Trends from regional or industry access can alert you to invest more intentionally in a more diverse and broad-based network. If your top locations and industries are heavily skewed, what happens when you need access to or answers from someone in another geography or industry? This should highlight for you where you invest in your portfolio of relationships.

12. Consider Co-Opetition. Have you ever come across a prospective client opportunity in which you needed additional bandwidth or access to a SME to further improve the client’s condition? My industry is management consulting. By identifying, building and nurturing key relationships with other SMEs in this industry, I can easily turn perceived competitors into huge cooperative assets towards delighting a client.

Home Tab

13. Don’t ignore Network updates. Network updates are perfect conversation starters for those with new roles, connections, recommendations and, yes, even new profile photos. Don’t simply ignore any of the above, but leverage them to stay in touch, engage new contacts, and reconnect with those most relevant to you who may have recently joined LinkedIn.

14. Display your name and headline. Have you noticed who is viewing your profile? By showing your name and headline, you can view when others have viewed your profile. If your focus is business development, or if you are in job transition, what better way to gain some insights as to where you are getting traction?

A lot of people claim that LinkedIn doesn’t work or that there is nothing in it for them. But, like any other tool, you have to invest the time and effort to not only learn what it is, but how it can be most useful for your specific relationship-centric goals and strategies. LinkedIn is simply a social networking tool. Nothing will ever replace a warm call, cup of coffee visit, and the personal touch that drives the Favor Economy.

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