Friday, March 28, 2008

Linked In Tips

If you're like me, you have a drive to know a lot of people through networking. I personally try to hit 1-2 industry / social events per week to get to know peers in my region. My favorite tool for online networking is Linked In. I've been amazed to see who I'm one degree away from.

I wanted to give all of you Linked In novices a couple of tips to get the most out of your experience and leverage it to build your contact base.

1) Set up a complete profile - The more items in your profile, the more accessible you will be to people searching for "X". Whether it is school, past employers, technologies, groups, etc. their AI will help to pair you up with people you used to know.

2) Load your contacts - Dumping your contacts into LI will allow the application to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. You'll be surprised at who you already know.

3) Write personal invitation letters - The people you want to link in with may not remember you so a personal note with the invitation goes a long way. It also helps to have a photo in your profile.

4) Write personalized thank you letters! - This little bit of civility goes a long way the next time you ask for recommendations, introductions, etc. You'd thank someone for their time and say "Nice to meet you!" if you met them at a reception wouldn't you?

5) Write recommendations for others - The first rule of networking is never ask your contacts for something first. Do something nice for them and recommend them! This a very powerful tool for staying top of mind, relevant and to build a very positive online brand.

6) Pass along introductions - If someone asks you to introduce them to a contact, first read their profile and if you feel comfortable, pass them along to who they asked. Good things come back to those who help!

7) Join Groups - This was a puzzler for me when I first joined but a simple solution was to just click on the Group logo and you can ask to be a member. Only join Groups that you feel you can contribute content to but it is a great way to meet people with similar interests.

8) Don't be afraid to ask - Business people of all levels use LI and the only way to link with them is to ask. See Rules #3 & #4 above when dealing with execs but you never know unless you ask. They will be getting something out of your contacts as well.

9) Politely decline when you don't want to connect - Bad karma travels fast in the online space and you can get blackballed pretty quickly if you're just not a nice person.

10) Answer Questions - This is a great way to build your online reputation and get to know people on LI. Answer a lot of questions and you'll get a ton of invitations by like-minded individuals with huge amounts of contacts for your network.

Best of luck all and if you want to Link In with me, check the link on the right. Happy networking!

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