Social Networking Primer – LinkedIn

I actually joined LinkedIn before FaceBook, in early 2007. I figured as a “professional”, I needed to join the “professional” social network, and leave FaceBook to the teenagers. I am now of the opinion that BOTH can be useful, personally and professionally.

My focus this week, however, is LinkedIn. As a long-time lingerer on LinkedIn, I was intrigued by some of the features that are now available, and started toying with them a little bit.

My Profile

First thing I did was update my LinkedIn profile. Some of the information was dated, some was poorly written, and some was just wrong.

  • Tip #1: When selecting your website(s), use the “Other” option.  I noticed that the websites under any other categories didn’t show up on your public profile (a LinkedIn bug, perhaps).  Furthermore, for search engine optimization, it’s probably better to have a real name as anchor text, versus “My Website” or “My Blog”.

LinkedIn also really pushes this “Profile Completeness” business, which they define as follows:

  • Your current position (easy)
  • Two past positions (this makes sense for people who remember you from…)
  • Your education (this is embarassing)
  • Your profile summary (write one, and write it well, think about keywords)
  • A profile photo (I now use the same one on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter)
  • Your specialties (write it well, think about keywords)
  • At least three recommendations

Recommendations

I wrote a recommendation for one of my connections; it’s pretty easy.  With 41 other connections, I shouldn’t have a problem writing a dozen more.  Don’t have 41 contacts? Find them by searching (LinkedIn will mine your email account for you).  Once you have a connection, check their connections. Never add people you don’t know, but I’m always surprised at how many I do know!

I also requested recommendations from others.  I considered the following when requesting:

  • Is my contact a well-known, trusted contact?
  • Are they skilled at writing?
  • Will they do it out of the goodness of their heart?

Consider also that writing good recommendations not only gives a boost to your client or colleague, but also draws attention on their profile to your profile. Furthermore, if you write a nice recommendation, they may just be inspired enough to write one about you!

Applications and Geeky Stuff

As a computer geek, I wanted to know what sort of RSS stuff I could do.  Not much, apparently.  Forget about Twitter and FaceBook tie-ins (the competition, I suppose).

What I did manage to do is create a fancy link on my contact page.

    View Paul Holmes's profile on LinkedIn

Also, I managed to pull my WordPress blog (this one) into my LinkedIn profile page (the “Full Profile” only). This was one of 10 applications they list on their site. I suspect there are more cool features like this to come.

Groups

Next, it was on to “Groups”.

Every time I added a contact, I’d end up defaulting to some “easy” connection option (like “Friend”), when in fact it didn’t define them particularly well.  I realized that most of my connections come from some existing group or another.  But LinkedIn doesn’t let you just type the name of your group in your invitation, you actually have to select an “existing”, registered LinkedIn group.

That got me thinking.  At least a dozen of my connections are contacts through the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.  But they had no group.  So, I e-mailed the Chamber and asked if I could set up a group for them, and they didn’t have an issue.  That was the hard part.

  • Tip #2: You must have image files for your group.  They don’t explain what they are for, so I will.  When setting up a group, make the 100×50 logo a small but complete “official” logo with name, and the 60×30 logo the image only (the name always appears next to the image file on LinkedIn, and 60×30 is way too small to read anything from).  Another issue with the group logos is that LinkedIn sometimes has a blue blackground and sometimes white.  We went with a white background (which means it looks bad when the blue one comes up).

Premium Membership

I had a look at the “Premium” membership options with a serious consideration of paying for extras.  I discovered that they start at US$24.95 per month.  I think this might be a good idea for “hard-core networkers”, but I’ll give it a pass for now.

That’s all I have on LinkedIn for now. Stay tuned for more Social Networking Primers to come.