This was written by one of my LinkedIn connections, Doug Atherton. From this article, I learned more about this fabulous resource and since I get a lot of questions about LinkedIn, I though I would pass it along. I added a few notes & observations labeled [Mindy’s Note:]
By Doug Atherton
Regional Vice President
Equity Corporate Finance, Inc.
Thank you for accepting my invitation to join me on LinkedIn. Whether you were previously on LinkedIn or this is the first time you’ve ever accepted an invitation to join, I’ve discovered that too many people who join never fully utilize the benefits of LinkedIn to expand their business and improve their prospects for career advancement.
LinkedIn is totally free and for the most part there is no reason for you to buy a membership. LinkedIn is one of the best networking tools available online and if used intelligently it will allow you to network with co-workers and teammates, past business associates, and expand your network as you make contact with people that make sense for you to add to your network. You also have access to many new networking contacts thanks to the person who invited you to join them on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is based on the concept of Six Degrees of Separation. Basically the idea is that we are all connected to everyone in the world through six people. No matter who you want to know or who you want to know you, you can probably find them or someone close to them in LinkedIn. You can find more information about Six Degrees of Separation on the LinkedIn web site.
Below are some ideas that will help you get the biggest return on your time investment in using your LinkedIn connection. You’ll get this return whether you want to increase your sales, expand your network of business contacts, or maybe find your next job.
Take some time to get your profile complete. The profile is basically your resume but you can turn it into much more than that. It’s your opportunity to promote your credentials, experience and expertise.
To get some ideas on what is a good profile and a not so good profile, do a people search in LinkedIn for people who have backgrounds similar to yours. You can also look over profiles in my networking connections. Some of them are excellent and some show a real lack of effort. [Mindy’s Note: Don’t forget to tell people what you need. Speaking engagements? Introductions to certain types of people? Nobody can help you until you let them know how they can help you!]
Another tip for getting the most out of your profile is making it very easy for people to contact you if that’s what you want. If you want to make it easy for people to contact you, leave your contact information at the bottom of your profile. If you look at mine, you’ll notice I’ve left my phone number and email address. I want to make incredibly easy for people to reach me. You may or may not want that.
Unless you pay LinkedIn, you’ll find that you have to go through someone to get introduced via LinkedIn who is two degrees away from you. You may or may not want to do this. While I’m happy to do that for anyone who asks me to introduce them to someone in my network, others may be less willing unless they get to know you.
LinkedIn makes it very easy for you to rapidly grow your network. Once you’re satisfied with your profile, the next step is to invite everyone you know to join your network.
LinkedIn can search through your address book in Outlook, AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, and other address books to find long forgotten contacts that you can invite into your network. You have complete control over who you invite into your network. If the address book search turns up people you don’t want to invite, you don’t have to invite them.
The invitation itself can also be personalized. If there is a group of people you want to invite that have something in common, you can personalize the invitation to increase the likelihood they will accept your invitation and become part of your network. [Mindy’s Note: I agree...generic invitations show no creativity or original thought. Tell me how you think our connection will support us both.]
As you meet people and get their business card, send them an invitation. To help increase their effectiveness as networking contact for you save this document to send them to show them how to get the most out of their LinkedIn connection.
ANSWERS LinkedIn recently added a section called Answers. It’s been a big success in helping people connect. Answers are where you can do two things.
- Ask other people in LinkedIn to give you answers to your business questions. There are a lot of experts in every subject you can imagine in the LinkedIn network who are very willing to share their expertise with you.
- Promote your expertise, products and services by answering questions. By doing this you’ll find people you want to add to your network and people who may want whatever you have to sell or who are interested in discussing other opportunities including employment and business ventures.
I’ve made contact with people who needed my services simply by browsing Answers looking for questions where I could share my expertise with people. It really does work. It worked for me. It will work for you. [Mindy’s Note: Ditto!!]
RECOMMENDATIONS If you want to know whether someone is good at what they do, look at the recommendations in their LinkedIn profile and who wrote them. Getting recommended by other people adds considerably to your credibility in LinkedIn. Whether you are trying to advance your career or expand your business, getting Recommendations is very important to you.
Here’s part of the importance. Part of my network includes recruiters and some of them recruit for high level positions. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates with certain experience sought by their client.
Once the recruiter locates a LinkedIn profile that appears to have the right experience and education they look to see how many recommendations they received. If you failed to ask people in your network for their recommendations of you, the recruiter will probably pass you up. I know recruiters who look for a minimum of three recommendations before they will contact someone about an opening.
You should ALWAYS ask people to recommend you. If you want to grow your network and increase your presence and creditability it’s something you have to do. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask and people who know you and like you should be very willing to do it for you. [Mindy’s Note: Be proactive, don’t wait to be asked to give a recommendation, surprise them with one given spontaneously. Here's another reason to freely give recommendations and testimonials...I once made a $1000 sale after someone saw my testimony on a friend’s website].
If I’ve worked with you in the past or you know me through my current business I would sincerely appreciate any positive recommendation you would like to give me.
NETWORKING There are people in LinkedIn who have built successful businesses entirely from networking and nothing else. It’s an essential element in marketing my services. You can use networking to advance your career, expand your business, or meet some very interesting new colleagues and friends.
I’ve found over the years that most people aren’t very good at networking. Unfortunately it’s not a subject that gets taught at colleges and universities. It really should be. My own career would have benefited greatly if I would have learned networking and how to do it effectively much earlier.
One of my contacts is a woman named Mindy Selinger. Take some time and visit Mindy’s profile after you read this. What you’ll discover is that Mindy is an expert on networking and she can teach you everything you need to know about networking very inexpensively. Some of her resources are even free to use.
Mindy markets The Link System® and how to find people to add to your network that make good links for your career and business. www.thelinksystem.com You can become a very effective networker if you get instruction from someone like Mindy. [Mindy’s Note: Aw, shucks…..thanks!]
LIONS AND OPEN NETWORKERS Once in a while you’ll find a profile in LinkedIn that says LION 500+. This means this person has crossed the magic threshold in networking and built first degree relationships with over 500 people! How does someone do that?
The easiest way is to make one LION or more part of your network. A LION is an Open Networker. Any of their contacts are open to you. You can contact them (because they left their email address in their profile) and ask to be added to their network. This dramatically increases the number of people that are available to you and who will be able to find you in LinkedIn. [Mindy’s Note: This works! I was contacted by someone from a global company who was curious about The Link System®. We are talking.]
I’m an Open Networker. One day I hope to become a LION. If someone contacts me and wants to be introduced you, I’ll happily do that unless you tell me for some reason you don’t want to be contacted. [Mindy’s Note: I have a long way to go to become a LION (Lioness?)…Right now I’m just a little LinkedIn Linx!]
Once you’ve done all or most of the things I’ve mentioned, don’t forget to revisit LinkedIn as often as you can. It’s how you’ll keep up to date on me and with my ever expanding network of contacts who you may want to know.
You’ll do the same with all the networking contacts you’re adding and keep up to date on who they’ve been adding to their contacts. Your next job or next sale may come from knowing those people.
Good luck and good networking!
DOUG [Mindy's Note: Here is Doug's LinkedIn profile ]