In a recent article on Social Media, I discussed the power of online personal connections and mentioned the phenomenon that is Facebook. There is another social media tool which is similar to Facebook but is more intended for business contacts. It is called LinkedIn.
This service allows you to create a profile much like you would on Facebook, and to make connections with other people who you can then keep informed of business activities. Note that these are called “connections”, not “friends”.
If you browse through your LinkedIn connections’ connections, you can find additional people that you know in common and you’d like to connect with, which you do by simply clicking on their names. The next time these people are on LinkedIn they’ll see your invitation but, more importantly, they will also be emailed a link to the LinkedIn web site. If they are not already members, LinkedIn will ask them if they would like to join the service. This is how many new members get started.
Let me demonstrate a few examples in my life of the power of LinkedIn. A few months back, I received an invitation from Barry Milne, a colleague from past days. When I accepted, I took the time to ask him what he’s been up to. A few messages later Barry and I decided to meet face- to-face and I ended up hiring him to lead the project management consulting practice at Nicom IT Solutions. I suspect Barry is happy he made that connection!
Another connection of mine is Paul Kent, who sits on our advisory board. One day I received a message from LinkedIn that Paul had changed his profile to say he is now a principal at Cetas Advisory Inc. All Paul did was make that one addition to his profile and instantaneously over 100 people in his network were informed of his new business venture. Those were not 100 random people, but people Paul knew who had given him permission to communicate in this manner.
Yet another recent example is a LinkedIn invitation from a former co-worker from over 20 years ago who is now a consultant in Singapore. She had gone to our web site and saw that we sell software and services to seaports which prompted her to connect me with her husband, a business development professional in Singapore who is familiar with the seaport industry.
So you can see how powerful LinkedIn is, and the best part is that it is absolutely free.
LinkedIn gives you the facility to recommend new connections to your existing connections, with a brief message as to who they are and why you recommend them. I have a colleague in New Hampshire who sends me recommendations because he knows we hire software developers on contract.
Once you get around 50 or so connections, the network really starts to work by itself. Whenever I go to my home page, it shows me a group of people I “may know” that it’s figured out from my other connections, and I usually recognize eighty percent of the
From the LinkedIn web site, you can search for a particular name to see if a person you’re interested in connecting with already has an account. You can also join groups which share a common interest. Or you can post jobs, apply for a job, advertise in LinkedIn, or form your own group. You can also import your contacts from other programs like Outlook or Gmail. In case you are wondering how they make their money, adverting is one way and purchasing a Premium account with extra features is another.
The bottom Line: LinkedIn is a good way to expand your professional network. It costs nothing, keeps you in touch with your business contacts, and helps you make new business contacts with whom you share common interests. See www.linkedin.com.