Monday, January 28, 2013

LinkedIn: Everyday... Sometimes Twice

I am often asked if "LinkedIn really matters?"  In our social media crazy world many people pile into what ever communities they hear are the place to be seen, but often are lost in finding real value.

My opinion is that LinkedIn does matter.  When I talk to recruiters they assure me they use it when seeking candidates, and if you ever hope to have future job opportunities, I recommend having a robust LinkedIn profile so that you can be found.  Waiting until you are laid-off to jump into LinkedIn is like waiting until you are thirsty to dig a well (hat tip to Harvey Mackay who wrote a book called "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" - although the book was written long before LinkedIn was founded).

More importantly it is being used by people every day before they show up to have a meeting.  This is true for sales people, those being sold to, and anyone having a chat.  LinkedIn, when used properly, can be an outstanding way to discover basic information about others.  In our time sensitive society there is rarely enough time to build rapport and discover connections.  But jumping to the purpose of a meeting can bypass the human-to-human connections that are necessary for a mutual understanding.

Without getting to the personal side, many meetings are quickly forgotten, and thus useless.

A brief visit to LinkedIn can tell you where a person went to college, previous employers, and whom you know in common.  There is no guarantee that this information will lead to a deeper conversation, but sometimes it is a goldmine.  One little thing in common is enough to explode a discussion and set the foundation for a more powerful connection.

You should never attend an appointment with someone you are meeting for the first time without visiting LinkedIn. If they have completed a rich profile, then you may see something that will lead you to a more meaningful conversation.

Additionally, you should complete your profile so that others can do the same thing.  It is not stalking, it is good business.  When someone takes the time to browse your profile it shows they valued meeting with you.  To sit down and say "tell me about yourself" is a clear sign that little forethought was invested.  Better is to say "I see on your LinkedIn profile you worked at Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison LLP, tell me about your experience working there".

For a small fee per month you can also get access to see who is accessing your profile.  I am not sure this is necessary for everyone, but it does show you what type of people view your information.  I have seen an increase in meeting professionals and association executives coming to view my profile, which confirms that some of my marketing efforts as a speaker are working.  It also gives me a head-up when one of them calls me, as I can familiarize myself with their organization in advance.

Are you ignoring LinkedIn?  Have you thought about ways to use it to expand your understanding of the people with whom you do business?  Is it something you imagined could have value, but have simply not invested the time?  What are you waiting for?  Most people would benefit from visiting LinkedIn each day to do a little research.  Heck, maybe twice a day!

I invite you to visit my LinkedIn profile. Maybe it will spur a thought that will lead to a conversation, and extend our relationship.

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Steve Harper said...

Good post Thom. You might enjoy this article from Inc. Magazine about how to leverage LinkedIn to work for you. Further supports your take.

Dave Lutz said...

Tom, no question that LinkedIn is my best power network. I'm fortunate to have a lot of very high level connections. While some of these are also on Facebook, nearly all of the decision makers I know are on LinkedIn. If you trying to get to the budget maker, instead of the budget spender, investing time there will pay the greatest dividends.

I find that the two best ways to catch the attention of your connections are 1) Link TripIt to LinkedIn. People often comment on my travel and/or want to meet up when I'm in their backyard 2) Two or three times a week update your status to show that you are doing interesting work.

Groups are also worthwhile, but only if you help others. Generally speaking, most decision makers I know spend little to no time in LinkedIn groups.