Sunday, September 6, 2009

Social media: LinkedIn

There is a lot of talk about social media in business today and even more confusion about how to leverage some of the more talked about / successful sites.  I'm not an expert on all forms of social media, but I do particularly like two: LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social media is defined by wikipedia as media that can be disseminated through social interaction, that is highly accessible and has scalable publishing techniques. Social media are distinct from more traditional media (e.g. newspapers, television, and film) and is relatively inexpensive and accessible.  It is precisely this accessibility that makes social media both great and a great pain.  For that reason I wanted to share today's article by Scott Kirsner in The Boston Globe entitled, "Make better introductions". This article focuses on the benefits of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is often considered a networking website designed solely for career advancement.  While the site is an excellent tool to leverage and meet people if you are searching for work, it is so much more.  As with so many social media tools - sometimes the full potential is either not fully realized at first or is perceived "too much work".  In both cases these assumptions are incorrect. I won't write endlessly about ways one can leverage LinkedIn since the Sunday article does a good job.  However, I will list the ten recommendations - check out the article here for more detail.
  1. Spell your name wrong.
  2. Get recommended.
  3. Take advantage of the toolbars.
  4. Write a compelling headline.
  5. List everything.
  6. LinkedIn can replace business cards.
  7. Automated searches.
  8. Stealthy vs. public prowling.
  9. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.
  10. Build your network now.
I'll also add a few of my thoughts / recommendations, which I've found provide nearly instant responses and results; they include:

Use the Question & Answer feature.  Asking the right kind of questions can result in possible leads for your firm and answering questions can lead to increasing your profile online by making you an expert in certain categories.
Don't accept connections of people you don't know.  The purpose of this site is to connect so it might seem counterintuitive, but if I'm connected to someone I don't know what does that say about the stregnth of my network?  While I might not regularly stay in contact with everyone, if I were to reach out to someone in my network they should know who I am.  Sometimes the "Facebook-affect" takes place on LinkedIn (a desire to increase contacts no matter how tenuous or estranged they might seem).  Recruiters often have these profiles and it suits their needs as they can reach out to a large pool of candidates but that is not why I'm on LinkedIn, and I don't view someone's worth by the number of connections they have - neither should you.

Lastly, visit this site regularly.  LinkedIn is constantly adding new tools that help connect people.  Even if this site does not have obvious benefits - realize this is a lost opportunity for you to connect and strengthen your existing contacts.  Your professional brand is yours to promote or let languish - nobody is ever going to give you a performance review on how you market yourself, but free opportunities that have real value are rare in business.

Later this month I'll write about another social media site I love - Twitter.  Until then you can reach out to me at

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