LinkedIn has recently brought in some changes to the structure of their website, and its properties. If you're on there, or are thinking about going on there, the social network is a great way to reconnect with colleagues and friends, and find professional opportunities.
I've been doing some coaching for colleagues who are looking to increase their effectiveness on the site, and here are some key points that I hope help you too, to make the most of the opportunities available out there for you – whether you're looking for a business partner, clients, or just to reconnect with old friends:
LinkedIn lets you go through their step-by-step process of making a profile. It may seem boring, but trust me, it'll help. Make sure you go through the information they ask you for, and fill it out to your best knowledge. Time and time again, my clients ask why in the world would someone be interested in knowing about a job they did in their past life. The thing is that LinkedIn is your professional profile, and every little bit about your professional life counts, and people may be interested in you, depending on where you went to school, what University you attended, and even information about past jobs in industries you've left may help people form an idea about who you are, and whether they want to connect with you, buy from you, or something else. For many people it's also a way of understanding your history, and how you've come to do or be who you are today.
A new function in LinkedIn profiles is the Skills and Expertise section – this is a place where people you're connected with have ‘voted' that you know something about something, or have skills in certain areas. This is a stamp of approval online – when someone openly puts their name to an endorsement for you. Utilize this function – all you need to do is ‘accept' the areas people have voted for you in, and it will automatically appear on your profile.
When you go through the people that want to connect with you, don't be quick to push the ‘Ignore' button. You may find that those wanting to connect with you may have been people you met briefly, or worked together in the past, or perhaps someone you haven't talked to in a few years time. Building a network is important online, just like it is offline, so make sure you're open to having a wide circle of connections. On a side note, if you look at a person's profile, and have no idea why they want to connect with you because you don't know how they know you, chances are, they probably want to connect for that very reason – because they don't personally know you, but would like to connect because you may have mutual colleagues, interests, involvement in an organisation, or perhaps they are wanting to connect so you can introduce them to one of your contacts. Once you get your head around understanding that this is what LinkedIn in about, i.e. connections for professional purposes, it will all make sense, and hopefully over time, you'll start reaching out to people that may be of value to you too in similar ways!
Many think these are a waste of time to join, but I see a big opportunity with joining groups. Firstly, you'll be joining a community of like-minded people (provided you join groups that are relevant and interesting to you!), but more importantly, these communities of people could be a potential market for your business, future supporters of your projects, or even future friends. The opportunities are endless, and it's all about how you utilize these groups that will help you get whatever you're looking to get out of the social network.
If you need help with coaching to get your LinkedIn going, let me know by getting in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org
But here's the main question for you, if you are already using LinkedIn, what do you mainly use it for? Comment below!