Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LinkedIn - How Do You Use It?

Kevin O'Keefe asked me a question the other day about how I use LinkedIn. I think this is a burning question that leaves many who network perplexed.

LinkedIn has grown to be a common tool for business professionals, but most do not know how to use the on-line social networking service. Because they do not know how to use LinkedIn (or other similar sights), they simply ignore them altogether.

I will admit that I am not a LinkedIn Power User. While I have had a profile on LinkedIn for many years, I have not actively perused links to people in my network. I have 200 connections on the system, but my personal database has many more.

Since not everyone uses LinkedIn, or uses it in the same way, the system has flaws, so you cannot utilize it as a primary way to manage your contacts. Instead, it is a good way to supplement your own CRM system.

LinkedIn does have some advantages which make it important to have a profile. One is that it makes it easy for people to find you if you have an up-to-date profile. Former co-workers, college friends, potential employers and others can easily conduct a search on LinkedIn and discover your current whereabouts.

Additionally, LinkedIn has a tool called "Answers". This allows you to post a question to everyone in your contact list. The tool will email them with your burning question, and allow them to respond directly to you. When you are facing critical choices in your career, sometimes you want an easy way to seek the advice of those you trust. When used correctly, "Answers" can be a great tool. The trick here is to not abuse or overuse this tool, as people will quickly sour on you if you ask things like "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" (yes, someone in my network actually asked that!)

My advice is that everyone should use LinkedIn, but remember, that it is just part of your networking, it does not replace the importance of real human interaction. You still need to reach out cultivate our friendships or they will wither away.

Have A Great Day.


****If you have a question you would like me to answer on this blog, go to www.askthomsinger.com


Anonymous said...

Now, we need to get on facebook too. This next generation of college grads thinks linkedin is antiquated.

Evan Sohn said...

I love LinkedIn for managing my business colleagues. I felt that it doesn't capture the true need for business to grow their businesses and for selling professionals to monetize their relationships. This is why I started Salesconx, an online marketplace for selling professionals. Check it out at www.salesconx.com.

Thom - feel free to delete this post but I wanted to reach out to you to check it out. Let me know what you think. Evan