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LinkedIn Best Practices

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Not that you asked but I thought I’d share my LinkedIn methodology. While I certainly don’t boast the most LinkedIn connections (nor am I close to cracking the Top 50), I do consider myself a heavy user. Heck, I even built a businessaround my network. So maybe you’ll find some good nuggets here…

1. Send a LinkedIn request to anyone you meet in a professional setting. Even if you don’t see immediate opportunity, there’s a chance something may materialize down the line with that person or someone in their network. It’s also a great way to keep your contact info updated. People may change jobs or email addresses but they typically update their contact settings in LinkedIn accordingly.

2. Send LinkedIn requests to people you’ve been introduced to but haven’t met yet. Sometimes I’ll get teed up with someone via email in the context of a business opportunity and set up time to chat with them on the phone. I like to invite them to connect on LinkedIn before our convo so we can get a feel for each other’s background prior to the call.

3. Use the LinkedIn toolbar for Outlook. It makes it very easy to invite people to connect straight from Outlook. Any time you add someone to your contacts, you can press one button to send a LinkedIn request at the same time. Great habit to get into.

4. Invite only people you know personally. Not only will you get dinged by LinkedIn if too many people reply that they don’t know you, you dilute the power of your network if you fill it with people you’ve never met.

5. Send requests in a timely manner. Don’t wait a week after meeting someone to hit them up on LinkedIn. It’s all about immediacy. Fire off the request while you’re still top of mind. Anytime I meet someone in a business setting, I hit them up on LinkedIn as soon as I’m back at my computer.

6. Accept invitations only from people you know. Merely having someone in your network means in some ways you are vouching for that person. Remember the phrase, “Guilty by association.” Bum connections can come back to haunt you.

7. Fill out your profile completely and accurately. Just like your resume, it’s critical that people can find out key info about you. It helps when people are deciding to hire you, do business with you, or make referrals to you. Also, the search engines index LinkedIn content and all those links in your profile carry weight for SEO. (That is, the links listed under “My websites” — for some reason you can’t embed links into the other fields.)

8. Leverage the applications. LinkedIn is slowly but surely building out apps via API similar to Facebook. You can share your presentations via Slideshare and snippets from your most recent blog posts. Take advantage of the opportunity to promote yourself and your company. Although I’m not yet sold on the TripIt plugin. Personally, I don’t really care where you’re coming from or going to. Save it for Twitter. I do find value in the Events app that shows what industry shindigs you’ll be at, though.

9. Reciprocate testimonials. When someone writes a testimonial for you, write one back for them. It’s just good karma. This can take time (I should know, I’ve done it over 100 times) but it shows good etiquette and the people you recommend will really appreciate it. That said, don’t recommend others solely for the purpose of getting a reco in return. That kind of passive-aggressive behavior is generally not tolerated. If you want a reco, ask for it. Worked for me.

10. Request introductions via connections. Is there someone or some company you’re dying to meet with? Either to find a job or solicit new business? Don’t waste time cold-calling. Search the person or company on LinkedIn and see how many degrees away you are. Then set off the chain of introductions to get to that person. With each person testifying for you along the way, you’ll find yourself with a nice warm intro. Sure, sometimes the request will die on the vine but it can’t hurt to try.

11. Message your connections only with critical updates/offers. The quickest way to get un-Linked is to be that guy who sends off messages to his network every time his company announces a new deal. Pick your battles. I’ve sent off 2 mass messages in the 5 years I’ve used LinkedIn. The 1st was to share plans for my new venture and solicit recommendations I could use on my website. The 2nd was to announce the launch of my new business and provide updated contact info.

12. Keep your company profile updated. Make sure you or someone at your company is updating your firm’s profile. This is accessed by potential employees, partners, clients, etc. And there are some cool stats that LinkedIn provides such as what other companies your employees are most connected to, recent promotions, etc.

13. Stay professional. Remember, LinkedIn is a business network. Don’t update your status with mundane made-for-Twitter crap. And don’t use silly images for your profile pic.

I’ll update this post over time as I think of more good ways to leverage LinkedIn. Please add comments with your best practices and other LinkedIn tips and tricks.

Overall, I can’t say enough about this platform. If I had to choose between LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter… LinkedIn is the one social network I couldn’t live without. Well, I suppose I could live without it, but I’d be living feebly because my business would be crippled!

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Categories: social networks