In 2014 I would argue more and more, LinkedIn became the definitive and current winning social media tool for business networking or at least, the B2B networking Haven (heaven?).
Whether you are trying to:
1. Grow your reach
2. Find content (and their truly are some excellent articles appearing)
3. Explore opportunities
4. Recruit talent
5. Learn about collegues and prospects - this virtual meeting place is for many the first and last stop.
In this article we are going to explore several strategies for using LinkedIn, that may or may not be appropriate for each one’s unique circumstances in Work, networking and exploring this useful tool.
The LinkedIN Profile Categories:
LION stands for Linked In Open Networkers, or just open networkers. These users are totally open and will accept any invitation. The idea here is to connect to as many people as possible in order to reach out to more people. A larger network is particularly useful when prospecting for leads and doing research on people and companies.
An open networker will publicize their LinkedIn URL at any chance to entice others to send invitations. As a LION, you will be expected to accept invitation from complete randoms and usually their friends as well. If you are not comfortable with this, you will probably want to pick another strategy.
Open networkers will have the largest networks, usually well over a thousand first connections. As you cannot see how many connections people have beyond the 500 mark, we can only guess how large some of the true LIONs networks are. Ron Bates claims to have over 44,000 connections and if you are a prolific member of LinkedIn I would venture to guess he has invited you as well (not sure how he does it!).
So for whom is LION appropriate?
- The Recruiter: We’ve all met these talented human agents, maybe we’ve even been recruited by one or offered to apply to a position.
- B2B specialist
- The Socially gregarious
- The job hunter (stuck in a rut)
This is what I believe LinkedIn was intended for, professionals connecting up to further each others’ careers. This would be the most typical LinkedIn user. A salesperson would connect to his or her clients, the client would connect to their suppliers etc. You don’t actually have to have met the other person but you will have dealt with them and deem there is a value being connected for both your careers. Professional networkers will normally have anything from 200 to one thousand connections.
So for whom is PN appropriate?
- The Established Professional
- Someone who works in a big Corporation or Firm who needs to manage their image and online reptuation
- A way to socialize with existing colleagues that you know by face, but not necessarily by name or at the X-mas party!
This category of people will only ever connect to people they know well, trust and respect. This type of network is likely to be very selective and can be drawn upon for passing on introductions and recommendations. You could say that the exclusive networker is actually not increasing their connections, merely storing them digitally on LinkedIn. There can be several reasons for wanting to be an exclusive networker, keeping your connections and activities confidential is certainly a major one.
While most recruiters are open or professional networkers, some choose to stay exclusive for the simple reason that they don’t want their clients to know what other clients they speak to or they don’t want to bring attention to hot candidates in the market by connecting to them. Yes, you can change your settings more private but your connections can still see who you are connected to in common for instance. Exclusive networkers will rarely have more than 200 connections, remember that these are tight relationships formed over the years.
So for whom is EN appropriate?
- The securty/privacy conscious individual
- A manager who does not wish to disclose too many personal details
- A baby-boomer for whom social networking is either irrelevant or down right annoying
Good to Know
Whatever type of networker you choose to be will be dependent on what the purpose of your LinkedIn membership is. Some industries might favor one type, I wouldn’t expect anyone working for secretive government agencies to be open networkers for instance. I would however expect anyone that represents the “Canadian Pharmacy” we have all learned about in our webmail accounts to be a very open networker.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you put your LinkedIn URL on your email signature, blog or business card, you are expected to accept invitiations from people you deal with. So in case you would like to be an exclusive networker, keep the URL to yourself. This goes for phone numbers, your primary email address as well. Even if you are an open networker, you will probably not want every random having your primary email and direct telephone number.
It’s also worth noting that as with most things, most people start out with the greatest intentions. They try and stick to exclusive networking at first. They then realize it takes time to build up a strong network this way and increasingly become professional and sometimes even open (LION) networkers over time. There is nothing wrong with any of the 3 strategies, as long as you know what the implications are.
How is LinkedIN Useful?
How many times have you lost your resume and had to trawl through your email accounts for an old copy? By sticking all your career data on LinkedIn, you and everyone else can see exactly what you have done in your working life by simply clicking on your name. By having it online constantly, it’s obviously easier to update it and it can be done from any computer anywhere in the world.
- So it’s a time-saver to have not only your Resume online in this manner, but your educational background, a portfolio of projects, even your volunteer experience and things you may not have room to fit on a 1 or 2 page resume.
Making a Good First Impression
How you first connect on LinkedIN is a key ingredient to managing your first impression:
- Do NOT use the generic request to connect (about 90% just use this)
- Rather, make a Personalized message like: “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you on Twitter and appreciate your retweets. How about we connect here, too? I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
- Be “Authentic”
- IF WE HAVE MET, HOW WE MET- If you are at a large gathering, your intended connection might not remember every person he or she met. It’s always a good idea to say, “I enjoyed meeting you at the breakfast this morning”, or “It was a pleasure helping you get set-up with the account.”
- Job Search
In this day in age of transitions, moves and rapid change, your online reptuation and resume of contacts means more than ever! If you are considering moving jobs, LinkedIn is the place to be as it gives you a presence in your industry and a visibility to recruiters and HR folks that pull up searches based on key words and location. LinkedIn allows you to be found, as opposed to you searching for a job, a project or the other way around. So whether you are actively looking for a job or passively ‘open for suggestions’ – you can let others do the work for you. If you are happy in your job, don’t worry as LinkedIn is not solely based around changing jobs like for instance Monster is.
In fact, LinkedIn say they want to create a ‘professional identity‘ for their users, meaning your profile will be your online hub. Unless you have a site or blog in your own name, you are most likely to find that your LinkedIn profile is the first search result on Google for your name.
Choose your Skills Wisely!
- Choose skills that match your in-real life professional skills
- Pick skills that others will readily endorse you for having, what you consider your strengths and maini interests!
- The keywords of these Skills & Endorsements must match the kind of jobs you have done, wish to have and apply for. So careful consideration of which keywords to highlight will be one of the most important things you do on this site!
- The skills in a quick 10-second summary view of your file, (that’s the reality of views) is what summarizes your core attributes, direction and abilities to the audience best.