A few hours ago, I got a mail from Chris Brogan and I thought it’s worth sharing with you. I subscribed to his newsletter few months ago and I can’t but bless the day I did that. In this piece, he implores us to revisit LinkedIn with a new perspective. Here it goes:
To me, LinkedIn is a much-misused and misunderstood tool that could be so good. The only thing that makes LinkedIn “bad” in my estimation, are its users. Not YOU, of course. But those spamming spammers and those ones who send me emails with a subject that says “personal invitation” and that start with “Dear LinkedIn Contact!” You wouldn’t do that, though. You can’t.
What does LinkedIn do for you? Or what could it do for you?
Before I go too far, I should make a confession: I don’t use LinkedIn the way they intend. I am willing to connect with anyone. They would prefer that I keep everything very tight and connected to people I might vouch for. However, that’s not how I understand the service. Connecting doesn’t imply any vote on one’s reputation. It just means I am willing to connect. Recommendations, however, are where one must stay pure and only recommend people they can truly speak for, as that would be a problematic issue. See the difference? LinkedIn doesn’t like how I choose to use the service. That said, we agree to disagree.
Start With Your Profile
Most people tend to visit their profile shortly after they lose their job or right after they argue with their boss. How often should you visit your profile? I’d say about every 100 days. What should you do? Let’s talk about that.
Your profile should help people understand what you intend to do with or for them. That’s the #1 goal of your LinkedIn Profile. It is not a list of your accomplishments. It is, instead, a virtual salesperson for how you will change someone’s world, should they be lucky enough to connect with you.
My profile starts with the terms “strategy and education services.” The first thing you see after my name and my handsome profile picture is that. Why? Because you have a sense of what my company does in the first breath. Zip down to the summary and I explain what I sell. You can’t get through my summary and not realize what I intend to do for you professionally.
Go a hair lower and read my experience and view my recommendations and you’ll have the backing information you need. But that’s later. At first, I simply want people to know what I intend to do for them.
That’s my advice to you.
Contacts, Interests, and Reputation
The first three ways to use LinkedIn are in this rough order:
- You can use LinkedIn to build and manage your professional contact database. This gives me the chance to sort by location, to sort by industry, to sort by company name, and much more. It’s a lot more flowing than the process I would need, if I wanted to keep my own database. Plus, it updates every time you change roles. Works for me.
- By using the search feature and/or by joining groups or connecting with certain business pages, you can connect with people who have similar interests. This is quite useful, both in determining potential prospects (how most people do it), but also by finding potential mentors and growth partners. This second idea, to me, is the cool trick. Say you want to become a better hotel manager. You’ll find others to talk with via this service easily.
- LinkedIn’s magic, to me, has always been the reputation engine function. This is when someone writes a recommendation on your profile. This is gold. Why? Because you can talk about your experience, but having a former colleague or client or boss or otherwise write a review that nails the value you’d bring to a new client or employer is gold. This is the big deal. Of the three facets LinkedIn does best, this is where you stand to have a big boost in results. (But have you asked people who could accurately recommend you to do so lately?)
How Often Should You Be There?
This is a tricky question. It’s like answering “how long is a piece of string?” My better way to look at it is this: Can you figure out how to get some value out of it? Use your own efforts at the gym as your guide. Spending 20 minutes a week at the gym doesn’t work. Spending 4 hours a day at the gym is probably overkill. Look for something that matches the rhythm of your day and see if you get some value from it in about three weeks. That’s how long you’d give your gym effort, isn’t it?
I know this: it’s not my premier social network. It’s more like a place I go to thumb through a database of contacts and see if something makes sense for me professionally. But I know this, too: many people get a lot of actionable business value from it, and that means you should give it some consideration.
What’s your take? Are you there? What are you doing? Have you done any of the above and did it work?
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