Several months ago when I got caught up in the frenzy of thinking I needed to get involved in anything that came into my line of sight (see previous post), I was told about LinkedIn.
Immediately I visited the Web site and realized that a) it wasn’t a porn site and b) it was in English – so I signed up. If you had asked me at the time what LinkedInwas exactly, I could not have told you.
Several weeks after that, someone sent me an e-mail and said they had seen my name on LinkedIn. “How,” the person asked, “are you using this?”
Huh, I thought, I kinda wonder that myself. “Not sure,” I quickly responded. “How about you?”
The reply: “I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Welcome to the evolving world of LinkedIn, where everyone seems to sign up but is still learning how – or if – it has value for them. It’s been called everything from the “digital equivalent of chain mail” to “a dorky service” for the "never weres" while others say it has netted them millions of dollars worth of business in a matter of months.
I spent some time talking with Kay Luo, LinkedIn’s director of corporate communications, whose job it is to answer pesky questions from journalists who want to know the answer to this burning question: So, how the heck do you use LinkedIn?
Luo says that LinkedIn is trying to make it clearer how to use the networking site for professionals, providing guidelines online. Luo’s criteria seems pretty straightforward: “I connect with who I would give my cell phone number to,” she says.
In other words, connect with those people you trust, believe in, or know to have qualities you admire. No serial killers, no bullies and no spammers need apply.
There are some great ideas from others who have learned to use LinkedIn effectively, and I’ll post some of those thoughts, as well as my own. If you have anything to add, please let me know in the comments section. We can all learn together.
1. Add connections. This means more people will see your profileand want to work with you because you know some of the same folks they do.
2. Customize your public profile. Luo told me to select “full view” instead of using the default URL and customize my public profile’s URL to be my name.
3. Check your messages. Try to do this at least once a week. I’ve sent messages to some people and they haven’t responded for weeks simply because they didn’t know to look for e-mail on their site.
4. Be clear about your intentions. Be direct about why you’re approaching someone, and they’re generally happy to help out. Don’t lie or puff up your credentials. The truth will come out and you’ll look like an idiot – and get lumped in with those serial killers, spammers and bullies.