Coming to play in LinkedIn has been quite a ride. After years as a casual attendee of the world's largest business networking site, I finally took thew time and go trained in using LinkedIn. And as an incentive to complete this, I agreed to teach a 4-part training program at my local co-working site, OfficeXpats on Bainbridge Island!
And here's what I learned: there's a fair amount to get your head around this big site, but it is worth your time.I notice many people clump LinkedIn in the same category as Facebook and Twitter: Social Media. Stuff just zips by, sometimes with a splash or a catchy video, but without much substance or impact. What I've come to realize is that LinkedIn is a lot more than that for a lot of reasons. From Pulse to Slideshare, Groups to Publisher, Google optimization to CRM integration, LinkedIn is truly a suite of offerings. Here are three big values for you to consider: Your Profile, the Search Capability and Analytics.
- Profile: In an era where your account profile takes a back seat to the content that the provider is constantly streaming, LinkedIn is one of the few free spaces that allows you to directly affect what people see and how they see you. This of course is by personalizing your profile page. The customization ability is significant while remaining uniform and professional, and it's designed to highlight your breadth of activity, experience and demonstrate your expertise. It's your digital first impression, what does it say about you?
- Search Capability: The gold just under the surface. In the past I only looked for folks I knew, or connections that I'd heard of through the search parameters. But the search criteria are so much more powerful, and include boolean search compatibility (http://talent.linkedin.com/assets/Product-Pages/Training/TipSheet-BooleanSearching.pdf). To be able to effectively narrow down the results by choosing effective criteria is nothing short of amazing. That I can find Joseph Hopkinson when I'm looking for a sales manager who's a graduate of Windsor University in Software sales who lives in Zanesville, Ohio and shares a common interest in Amnesty International and follower of Guy Kawasaki all from search criteria, that's impressive. Narrowing your focus specifically to the connections you want to make allows the specific results to be far more actionable enroute to your goal.
- Analytics: I like to think of these as insights. LinkedIn does an extraordinary job of providing insights to the user who takes the time to look. You can see who's visited your page, you can find out how your profile compares with other people in your field. You can see what fields people who ARE coming to your profile work in, their geographic location and even their job titles. This can dramatically inform whether your message is being communicated effectively, and inform where you might shift your focus.
With just a bit of time and practice, you can transform LinkedIn's effectiveness for your needs. No one needs to be a full time prospector on LinkedIn, although there are plenty who do! Whatever your intention with LinkedIn, it can be an effective part of your professional growth and success!
See you all, on LinkedIn!