How to use LinkedIn

Since I wrote the book I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??? a few years ago I’ve been regarded as the LinkedIn expert, and have spoken many, many times on using LinkedIn.  At first, I was one of few people who talked and wrote about it.  Now, it seems everyone and their dog talks and writes about it.

That’s fine… with one exception.  There’s a lot of bad information out there.

Some advice comes from people who are looking for the “easy button”… in other words, people who say “do these __ things and then you can sit back and wait for the job offers (or networking inquiries) come to you.”

Other advice comes from people who are bought into what the experts seem to be saying, without really thinking about what people should do.  Their advice is, in my opinion, wrong, even though it sounds good.  Perhaps they are just regurgitating and haven’t thought through what they really should do?

Other advice comes from people who don’t understand or care about networking and relationships.  They might be the marketing spammer, or the person who hasn’t really networked for ten years, but they sure know how to tell YOU what to do.

With LinkedIn there is no silver bullet.  But There are some solid things you should do.  I’ll list those below.  Before I list them you can check out a post titled How to use LinkedIn to be found by Headhunters and Hires.  I don’t agree with all of the points, but in general it’s a pretty good post.

1. Beef up your profile.  I’m not big on the 100% completion for a couple of reasons(a. people focus on the number, even when the content they write is weak, and b. LinkedIn adds new stuff, and can bump you down 5% or so each time they add something new … it’s a moving target), but you should have a high percentage complete.  And it should be HIGH QUALITY, not just filler stuff.  For example, more than 90% of the Summaries I see are really poorly crafted.

2. Make connections in your field.  As you connect with others you can tap into their networks, and become more visible to their contacts.  If they are in your field, the connections are much more relevant.

3.  Communicate with others.  Too many people join LinkedIn, put up a skeleton profile, and then complain that it doesn’t work for them.  They need to proactively engage and reach out to others.

4. Search and reach out.  I know it sounds simple, but you need to use LinkedIn as a tool to find prospects and reach out to them (whether it’s a cold-call type message, or a warm introduction). Again, this is a proactive tactic, and you need to employ it.

There are dozens of things I *could* tell you to do, but the bottom line is this is a great tool, and you need to work it.  Not just get on it, but do something with it!

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