Monday, February 11, 2008

LinkedIn 101 - Ten Tips to Help You Ace the Power of LinkedIn

I just finished reading Liz Ryan's book Happy About Online Networking which offers some great tips for leveraging the power of online business and social networking tools to build relationships and an online professional identity. Liz makes some great points about how to build credibility on several sites and I particularly liked her comments about building authentic relationships on LinkedIn. She reminds us that users should not just use the LinkedIn database to find people, but they should also share enough information about themselves to indicate how they might help others. Liz and I are on the same page when it comes to making the most of LinkedIn. Here are some of the tips I recommend for optimizing the benefits of LinkedIn.
  1. Take the time to create a robust profile. Write a summary section that clearly outlines your personal brand and value add and gets readers jazzed up about what you do. Build out the specialties section and make it keyword rich and industry relevant. Many profiles on LinkedIn are just a shell with a name and an abbreviated chronology. You would never submit a resume to a potential employer that only listed the names of the companies you worked for with no supporting information, so why would you use this tactic online where your information is available for millions of people to see?
  2. Use the endorsements feature to request and offer endorsements. People are more likly to contact you if you can showcase that others have been satisfied with your work. Adding endorsements can expedite the decision making/hiring process.
  3. Keep your profile up to date. People who use LinkedIn for a job search campaign often abandon the tool after they find new employment. By keeping your information up to date, you are more likely to keep your network strong and be able to reciprocate to others.
  4. Educate your connections. If people join LinkedIn and don't invite others, they won't get as much out of the tool and will remain several degrees apart from the people they want to meet. When you introduce friends and colleagues to the tool, take the time to explain to them how to maximize its utility.
  5. Remember that LinkedIn doesn't replace traditional networking, it facilitates it. Always supplement your online efforts with face-to-face networking.
  6. Use the questions and answers feature to start conversations, create community, and position yourself as a subject matter expert. By answering questions, you are simultaneously endorsing your candidacy and expertise.
  7. Don't add a connection that you would not feel comfortable introducing to someone already in your network. Having 500 connections doesn't have much value if you can't "share the love".
  8. Avoid the "invitation to connect" templates. They lack authenticity and are inferior when compared to a personalized message.
  9. Create a public profile. This is an easy way to start building an online presence for yourself, since LinkedIn ranks high in the search engines.
  10. Take advantage of available resources about LinkedIn including I'm on LinkedIn...Now What???, Linked Intelligence and LinkedIn Blog.

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