Category Archives: LinkedIn Info

LinkedIn And The Mutable Rules Of Social Networking

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By – Natasha Lomas

What is a social network? In general terms, Facebook is a network of friends and family.

Twitter is a network of people/things you find interesting. And LinkedIn is a network of colleagues – to cover off a few of the big ones. (I’m still trying to figure out a neat description for Google+ — feel free to add yours in the comments.) But those neat descriptions are simplifications of more complex and changeable realities.

The rules of social networking are mutable. Necessarily so. As the services shift and evolve – to encourage more people to join and do more interacting – your individual use has to change to keep up (or drop off entirely as you abandon the service). And as the size of your network grows it can also demand new rules of interaction that work with a larger audience.

Plus, the more you use a social network, the more it can change you – the more personal info you share on Facebook, say, the more normal sharing that info becomes, maybe encouraging you to share even more. Even if you start out with hard and fast rules a careless click or two can soon reconfigure all that.

With all that in mind I’m curious to know how people approach LinkedIn. What are your rules for connecting with people on LinkedIn? And how have they changed?

I ask because I feel I’m at a juncture where my current rules need updating. When I started using LinkedIn (in 2008) the service put a lot of emphasis on only connecting with people you had indubitably ‘done business with’. Which made it pretty straightforward to decide when to click ‘accept’ and when to pass by on the other side. In any case, the vast majority of LinkedIn requests came from direct or indirect workmates.

But in recent years – and even more so since joining TechCrunch – I’ve been getting increasing numbers of LinkedIn requests from people I haven’t worked with, even tangentially. Sometimes these people are in a similar line of work or in the same industry. And sometimes requests appear entirely random – with no apparent connection at all — and not all look like mistakes/spam. (Being a journalist complicates the picture, of course, since it’s a line of work that necessitates getting in contact with people you don’t know yet.)

Put simply: The old rules of LinkedIn interaction aren’t working anymore.

I must admit to not being a particularly involved user of LinkedIn. Twitter has been my network of choice for years. But taking a fresh look now, LinkedIn looks to have evolved from being a service that links you with the people you work with right now, to one that’s about building networks of people you might work with in future and/or who might be able to facilitate your career in some way.

Which makes perfect sense – that’s what traditional business networking is all about — but it also means using the service requires a lot more thought than it used to, deciding who it makes sense to connect with and who to avoid, on a case by case basis. (Interestingly LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner approached the question of what LinkedIn is from the other way round, when he described it as a service for connecting talent to companies.)

LinkedIn has got a whole lot bigger since I joined – membership has climbed from 32 million to 175 million+ since January 2009. Over the years it’s also incorporated Facebook and Twitter style features such as status updates and Likes, and most recently the ability to follow key influencers – so again, it’s a whole lot more involved than it used to be.

Another way LinkedIn appears to be trying to steer/encourage users to broaden their networks is by polarising the options for responding to connection requests – to either ‘accept’ or ‘report spam’ (though procrastinators can still just ignore the request).

In an effort to get a sense of how people are using LinkedIn these days, I queried my Twitter followers to ask what their rules for accepting LinkedIn connection requests are – asking whether they A) accept every request they get; B) only accept requests from people they know personally/can vouch for their work; or C) accept requests on a case-by-case basis.

While the responses spanned the range from “I only accept if I have met or spoken to the person” to “Mostly a). Why not?” – most people said they accept requests on a case-by-case basis – presumably connecting with people they haven’t personally worked with where they feel the link might be relevant/useful to them.

But almost as many people said they only accept requests from people they know personally/can vouch for — suggesting a lot of people are still treating LinkedIn as a strictly limited network of current colleagues.

While interesting, this was only a snap poll so I’m keen to hear more views on how people are using LinkedIn — tell me your rules of interaction in the comments.

Judging from this small sample, LinkedIn use appears to be transitioning from a network of ‘known knowns’, to a broader network of ‘unknown knowns’. (And the user uncertainly during this state of flux explains this additional response that was tweeted back to me: “D) only log in every six months, take one look at the list of total strangers wanting to connect, and run back to Facebook.”)

From LinkedIn’s point of view getting more people connecting is essential to continue growing its user-base and therefore its business. Which explains its shift in emphasis from a tight circle of current colleagues to a network of virtual strangers with the potential to further each other’s careers.

But when it comes to getting a large swathe of its user base to get over their aversion to connecting with total strangers — well, there’s clearly some work to be done there.

Brought to you by: Carole Sanek – The Social Butterfly Media Marketing

Email me at: The Social Butterfly

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Creating Solid Business Relationships Through LinkedIn

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LinkedIn has rapidly become the number one B2B social networking tool with over 175

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

million users from around the globe. Of those users, 2.2 million are in the C-suite and not too far behind that at 1.7 million are business directors or managers of enterprise-level companies. Finally, for those interested in engaging small business owners, a whopping 13 million entrepreneurs are in the network.

So how do you create long-term business relationships through LinkedIn? You know your target audience lives there and you have the opportunity to talk to them through content, direct messaging, advertising, and the like. You can also receive a warm introduction to exactly who it is you want to do business with through the LinkedIn “Get Introduced through a 1st level connection” feature.

It’s not as easy as one-two-three. To have the real opportunity to create solid, long-term direct client and quality business referrals in LinkedIn, you need a personal brand, a value, a mission, ethics, and a real commitment to delivering value to your LinkedIn connects. So where do you start and what are some LinkedIn success stories?

Let’s start with an analysis of your personal brand and your target audience. This type of analysis yields an effective LinkedIn marketing plan that if done correctly will ensure your business development success. Your personal brand needs to reflect your primary strength as a business professional. Your personal brand style must be natural to how others view you. It’s not unlike how you impress others in ways you may not necessarily be cognizant of on a daily basis. And so, to uncover your personal brand and related style, you will need to ask your clients and colleagues to tell you what they feel are your strengths and what it is about your personality that attracted them to do business with you in the first place. You will find that you will realize a common thread among these people – they like and trust you and hence, they decided to work with you. Now you need to understand why.

Let’s go on to your target audience. Who is it you want to have engage around your personal brand and why? Who is your qualified client? Who is a qualified influencer (who may refer LinkedIn business to you)? Get granular in how you think about who this is. In LinkedIn language, this means understanding what groups your target is participating in, what categories of questions this person cares about and where she needs help, what type of information she cares about, and understanding who she has in her concentric LinkedIn networks. On a company level, where does your target work and what does LinkedIn say about this company? Follow the companies that represent the people you want to do business with.

Now, let’s look at why someone in your target audience would choose to do business with you in LinkedIn. To start, you must have a solid, complete, engaging personal profile that supports your personal brand. This means a number of crucial items:

  • Having a professionally shot headshot or picture of you delivering your service.
  • Having a solid headline that supports what you do, your experience, and who you do it for.
  • Having a summary that goes beyond your resume. A summary that supports your achievements, years of experience, awards, and accreditations.
  • Having a complete contact card to include your business phone, your Twitter ID, your Facebook ID, your website link, your blog link, and your email address.
  • Having a job history that has congruency and supports your headline statement.
  • Having ongoing, frequent recommendations from your clients.
  • Having compelling, fresh content in blog posts, presentations, PDFs, and video work.
  • Completing the skills, awards, accreditations, education, and publications sections of the profile.
  • Choosing your top (up to 50) LinkedIn Groups that support your personal brand.

Now that you have defined your personal brand, established your target audience, and completed your personal profile, you can start finding qualified leads and engaging in frequent communication. You can easily start by doing a contact import from your email program and pull in university, client, colleague, employer, vendor, and partner contacts. The minute you ask someone to connect with you on LinkedIn or accept a LinkedIn invite request, you are starting a business relationship. It is so important that you personalize your invite request and that you immediately reply to anyone who you accept an invite from to ask for a real, live phone conversation.

LinkedIn networking is just that – a way to network with other business professionals, so do it. Whether you are inviting someone into your network, accepting an invite, or requesting a warm introduction to a target client, remember that you must speak to that person in a similar fashion to a business networking meeting. You want to introduce yourself, ask and listen to them talk about what they do, offer valuable insight that may help them, and only request a call/meeting next if they express a real interest.

Once you have a network in LinkedIn and a full profile, you can now start real business development. To do so, you will need to commit to time daily to create and deliver compelling and valuable content across your LinkedIn network, stay aware of your target network’s updates, and comment when appropriate and participate in Groups that matter to you, your industry, and your target audience.

To truly stand out in LinkedIn – and an easy way to get your target to pay attention to you – is for you to spend time and honestly answer questions on LinkedIn where you can provide real support. People will appreciate free advice that drives direct results and will more than likely then ask to connect with you on a real level.

Remember also that journalists, reporters, conference leaders, and the media are using LinkedIn to find experts for articles and stories. The more you focus in on creating and delivering a personal brand that provides real value to your target audience, the more opportunities you will have to share your story with these folks, which will, in turn, positively affect your online branding efforts.

In the end, creating solid business relationships in LinkedIn takes strategy, execution, and commitment, like any other successful marketing program. LinkedIn as a B2B social networking tool will only grow as enhanced features and awareness of the tool becomes a daily news item on the Internet. Create a compelling personal brand on LinkedIn and deliver it effectively with a target plan and you will find that LinkedIn will be your business development tool of choice.

Jasmine Sandler

Brought to you by: Carole Sanek – The Social Butterfly Media Marketing

Email me at: The Social Butterfly

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Profile Design

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LinkedIn on Tuesday started rolling out a revamped design for its profiles which will make it easier for users build a professional identity. The updated LinkedIn user profile is available immediately for English-language users, and will be rolled out for all users over the next few months.

Addressing a media presentation at LinkedIn headquarters, the engineering team of the professional networking website said the new profiles come with several enhancements and new features. Some of the notable enhancements are in-line editing, sidebar for adding profile sections, high resolution images and drag and drop profile sections, to sort according to users’ preferences.

LinkedIn also added a new feature for users that allow them to follow world’s ‘most respected thought leaders’ on the site. The company says the new “follow” mechanism allows users to keep up with select group of individuals, a “natural extension” of existing tools for following news feeds and organizations. The company ruled out possibilities of monetizing the new feature.

“The ability to follow thought leaders on LinkedIn allows members to engage directly in professional conversations with influencers, comment directly on professionally relevant topics, and share them with their peers,” LinkedIn said.

“For our influencers who will be regularly posting content and updates, LinkedIn offers the ability to reach the largest network of professionals around the world and be able to have professionally relevant conversations with them.”

The revamped profile redesign is quite reminiscent of the Facebook profile, though LinkedIn clarifies it has making efforts to simplify the website for some time, and that similarities to larger social networking were due to offering “the best experience for members” “simplification efforts” have been made.

The redesigned LinkedIn also offers users better access to their professional connections via “rich and visual insights on the people and companies in your network,” the company said. If you’d like to be one of the first ones to get the new LinkedIn Profile, you can sign up here.

By: Kul Bhushan

Brought to you by:  Carole Sanek – The Social Butterfly Media Marketing

Email me at: The Social Butterfly

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