LinkedIn is the de facto online social network for business types. The thing is, lots of people are “on there” but aren’t necessarily using it to the fullest. There are books out there about it, like I’m on LinkedIn–Now What??? (amazon affiliate link) and LinkedWorking: Generating Success on LinkedIn the Worlds Largest Professional Networking Website (amazon affiliate link). Some of what I’m about to say complements these books’ advice. Some of what I say is counter to the books, and/or might be against LinkedIn’s requested best practices. But here are the ways I’m using LinkedIn right now, and why I think it’s effective.
I had no idea that people still used the status update in LinkedIn. Here’s what NOT to do: link Twitter to it. People don’t really want to read “@dogguy – Lol me too” on LinkedIn. Instead, craft business updates for business people over there. I’ve actually received two leads from status updates alone, so that’s already paid for itself as a tactic.
Link in Your Blog and Slideshare
At the very least, import your blog and your SlideShare accounts in there. And for extra bonus material, make one of the slideshare decks that you share something that’s both useful content and a lead generator for your business. I’ve found lots of value in that (six leads so far from a slide deck I uploaded a month ago or so).
Join Some Groups
Don’t immediately make a group. Join a few. There are some great groups in there. I’ve enjoyed them because it means I can connect with people in a forum area before linking to them. I also find myself hearing what’s on people’s minds so that I can adjust my own offerings and strategies accordingly. Finally, I can always offer some help. I’m spending maybe an hour in groups every three days. If I added more time to it, I might get more from it.
We all kind of know this one, right? If you sit around inside questions and answer ones that relate to your business, you can get some business. You might also ask questions in such a way that your company/product/whatever is the answer to the question. I mean, people see through that quite often, but you’re always welcome to try.
This is where LinkedIn wishes I’d shut up. I have a different view than they do on connecting. I’ll connect with anyone. I don’t see much in the way of negativity to connecting via the service. I think that by my connecting with people, I’m opening up potential networks so that people can see and reach out to more like-minded people. I do sometimes turn down connection forwarding requests, because I have some very high profile connections who might not feel the way I do, but for the most part, I can’t see anything wrong with making the offer.
But Recommend Only People You Can Vouch For
Here’s the gold of LinkedIn. The reputation engine inside the referral system is where I think LinkedIn’s biggest untapped value hides. I only write recommendations for people that I can vouch for in a professional way. Sometimes, I’ve given recommendations for the perceived character of someone, but I don’t do that any more. Why? Because if I recommend someone and they’re not really worth it, then MY reputation drags down a bit, too, and I sure don’t need help doing that.
Schedule Some Time
Go in there and look around for about 20-30 minutes every week to start. See what you see. Are there opportunities in there? Download your contacts as a spreadsheet and pore through them every now and again. See someone you should connect with? See someone you haven’t talked with in a while? Drop them a line. That’s the real meat of this. You can do lots once you get into a few really simple habits. But it requires you to schedule the time and go through with it.
If you want to risk it a bit, invite people to join you on LinkedIn. Here, I’ll invite you to Connect with Me (use: linkedin @ chrisbrogan . com for my email). So far, that really hasn’t hurt me. I hope you have the same results.
And once you’re in THERE, is there somewhere you want to invite people that’s off-site? Now you’re thinking.
A Few Other Resources
Chris Brogan: Use LinkedIn Effectively.