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LinkedIn for Newbies

By John S Veitch    john.s.veitch [AT] gmail.com

LinkedIn Homepage
John S Veitch on LinkedIn

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn now has in excess of 12 million members, with a strong business focus.

It's not very clear what LinkedIn is useful for when you first join. There are huge numbers of people who have joined, but because they have close to zero contacts they sit isolated and inactive.

Would you prefer an Invitation?

If you would like me to invite you to join LinkedIn please send an email to
john.s.veitch at gmail dot com
Put "Invitation to LinkedIn Please" in the subject line, and your name in the body of the message. I'll try to oblige within 24 hours.

Making Your First LinkedIn Profile

If you are about to make your first profile on LinkedIn, I've written a First Profile Page for you with a lot of extra detail here.

Understanding LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a network that business people like. It doesn't require a lot of personal time, because there is no requirement to join groups. However in the beginning you have to look for people to join your network. Once people have 35 or more connections, they seem to reach a tipping point where the usefulness of those connections becomes apparent. Sadly the mean number of connections for the 600 people in my sample is 4. To have 20 connections is to join the top 25%. Once people get 30 or 35 connections they seem to take off, and it becomes easier and easier to make new connections as people start to flow into your network.

I'm making a special effort to get NZ business people to join LinkedIn.

Here is a sample of 340 Christchurch members of LinkedIn. It's important to see these numbers and to understand what they mean. If you don't connect, on LinkedIn you don't exist. Christchurch is not any different to many other places I've looked at. LinkedIn is an opportunity misunderstood and neglected by most of it's members and unknown to the wider business community.

Most of the people who have joined LinkedIn have not made a good job of completing their profiles. LinkedIn does well in encouraging you to enter all your qualifications and work experience. I'm going to focus below on some areas people neglect.

The Summary

The summary is a self written description of who you are and what sort of things you are interested in doing. Since "who you are" is changing all the time, and will change more quickly as your online experience grows, you should try to rewrite the statement every six months or so. There is no perfect way to do it. The key is to be honest with yourself and with others. Be clear: are you looking for a job, or are you looking for people who you can collaborate with in other ways?

In my experience missing or badly written summaries are the key failure visible in most LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn Contacts

The median number of contacts for all LinkedIn members is about FOUR. Since LinkedIn starts to be useful when you have 30+ connections, building contacts is the first task new members should take on.

If you are a member of Ryze, Viadeo, or Xing use the names and email addresses of your contacts or friends from those networks and send invitations to join you on LinkedIn. Select the "Invite" button that appears on several screens. Enter the given name, the family name and the email address of the person you are inviting. You might also point them to this file if you found it helpful. The URL is http://www.ate.co.nz/linkedin/

You should also look through your own email folders for likely candidates. Anyone who is in business or who holds an executive position is a likely prospect. LinkedIn suggests that you download your entire address book from Outlook. The instructions to Upload Contacts are here.

Contact Settings

Go to the "My Profile" page. At the top there is a tab called "Contact Settings", click on that. There are some check boxes which you can adjust as you please, and a text box at the bottom. In that text box state exactly what you want and expect in the way of offers, requests, or help you are prepared to offer. Be plain. Also, although LinkedIn recommend that you do not include your email address, I think you should make it available. You might also include links to your business web site, or to your homepage in some other networks.

Recommendations

You will notice on many LinkedIn pages that people have recommendations. In the great majority of cases the people making the recommendation have been asked to write that statement, and may have joined LinkedIn to do exactly that. So first; if you know members of LinkedIn who know you well, by all means ask them if they could write a recommendation for you. You don't need to publish all the recommendations written, and you can ask for a recommendation to be re-written.

When you read a recommendation check out the person behind it. Very often the LinkedIn Profile page of that person is minimal. Clear evidence of a "jacked up" recommendation. On the other hand if the person behind the recommendation has a full profile and many contacts, someone who is active online, the recommendation can be read with more confidence. This is so even if the recommendation was a "jack up" as most recommendations are.

Join a List

There are several help groups for LinkedIn on Yahoo.

As a free member of Linked In you can use the In-Mail system to invite 10 people into your network at any on time. Once you have built your own contacts into your network, do a search using find people. Search for instance for people in your profession or with your interests. You can restrict the search to your country if you choose. If you find someone interesting two or three degrees away from you, ask for a referral.


Now you are established on LinkedIn you also need to join one of the networks that has active discussion forums. It's in the process of discussion that you learn who's who and what's going on. This is vital knowledge and it can't be gathered quickly. However once you begin to accumulate that knowledge, the process of discussion helps you make that knowledge part of yourself. The process of discussion empowers you to speak and act effectively, to know the difference between up and down with certainty.

You need to find between 6 and 10 "sources of rich data" which will be the groups that you join. Those groups need not be in social networks, but for newbies, that's the easiest way to find suitable groups.

Ryze: The grand-daddy of the social networks.

Xing: The favoured network for Europeans.

Academici: Especially for academics.

Viadeo: Now available in English


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