[05.30.11] 10 Things to Immediately Do on LinkedIn [Featured]

10 Things To Immediately Do On LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is the premier business networking site for job seekers at all levels and all ages

There are some things newbies need to know about LinkedIn, though, before it will be valuable as a job search tool.

Things To Immediately Do On LinkedIn

In fact, whatever you’re using LinkedIn for, you should follow these 10 tips.

1. Put up a photo. What do you think on LinkedIn if you see someone without a photo? Well, I think they have something to hide, or they just aren’t a very experienced LinkedIn user. Either way, there is nothing good about not having a photo. Women often get weird about this, citing stalkers, etc. But, realistically, no one has ever been stalked through LinkedIn. My wife, in fact, has her photo, e-mail address and company phone number on her profile (all good things to have), and has never had any problems at all. And, yes, she is much, much better looking than I am.

2. Join about 45 groups. You’re allowed up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Join almost that many. By joining 45, you still have “room” for another interesting group. Groups are how you get things done on LinkedIn. I’m always amazed when someone just has one or two groups, or, even worse, no groups. By joining groups people can get to know you and your business.

By the way, please feel free to join my groups, “Getting Employed,” for job seekers anywhere at any level, and “Spirituality in Business” for those who value a business model that incorporates spirituality. Be aware I require photos on the profiles to join my groups.

3. Post discussions on groups. What’s the use of belonging to groups if you’re not out there as an influencer? None, really. Don’t be a vapid bystander. Participate! Post discussions on your groups on a regular basis.

But be careful. Make the discussion to be something of actual interest to the group. Posting a link to your website to sell something or, even worse, a sleazy video like one person did in a discussion I following, will just make people avoid you like the plague. Post articles (that aren’t self serving), announcements, real events (not promoting or selling your product or service), requests for real advice, and discussions about a topic relevant to the group. Again, no selling!

4. Participate in threads. If you’re just a poster and not a participant, it will become clear you are just in it to promote yourself, rather than be a fully participating member of the LinkedIn community. Participate in threads with useful remarks. Again, no selling! And no “trolling,” either! If you must make political comments, be polite. Don’t attack people. I’m not saying to weasel your words. I am saying to be civil. If you participate in threads, follow the same rules as above. Be useful, not self-promoting.

5. Let it be known you are an open networker. There are two philosophies on LinkedIn. One is more effective than the other. The first, and, in my opinion, completely lame philosophy is you only connect with people you know well. That is LinkedIn’s official philosophy, although they really speak with a forked tongue on this one. This will keep your connections pretty low, and will not build your network.

The other philosophy — the one to which I subscribe — is to accept all or almost all connection requests, at least from individuals. I don’t really like connecting with companies, and I am cautious about connecting with someone without a photo (because it could be a fake profile).

The second philosophy will build your network much more rapidly. Here’s the deal. You may have no interest in networking with the individual who invites you. But you might have an interest in someone in his or her network. Connecting gives you access to that network. The more connections, the more likely it is that someone you want to meet will be “in network.” This makes your life on LinkedIn much easier.

I see LinkedIn as a very large networking party. Now, at a networking party you don’t just go up to people you know and talk to them. Or, if you do, you’re a lousy networker. So why should I only talk to people I already know. LinkedIn has helped me meet some great new friends, business associates, and networking partners. I’ve gotten clients through LinkedIn. I’ve contacted hiring authorities for my clients through LinkedIn. And I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet very interesting and dynamic people through LinkedIn. All of this is because I’ve ignored the bovine effluvium that says I should only connect with people I know well! Connect and be an open networker.

6. Get recommendations… lots of them. Recommendations are essential to you. Seek them proactively and seek them passively. Proactive recommendation seeking involves reaching out and asking someone to recommend you. Passive recommendation seeking involves recommending someone, at which point LinkedIn asks them to recommend you back. The latter is actually a bit more effective.

7. Accept everyone, but invite strategically. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to build your business in a particular city? Then invite people from that city for the most part. Are you trying to go international? Make sure you invite people who can help you internationally. Don’t just invite everyone who pops up on “people you may know.” Invite to build your network the way you want to build it.

8. Diversify your contacts. I noticed a while back my contact list was looking pretty homogeneous. Almost everyone in there was white, 50-ish, and male. So, in my inviting, I have made it a goal to invite women, people of color and younger people. Part of the problem is, of course, that LinkedIn itself is predominately middle aged, white and male. But there are plenty of others if you look. And you should look. And, of course, feel free to invite me. I accept all invitations from individuals (not companies or fake profiles).

9. Use your network. While I really don’t like my network selling their products or services to me, I am fine with announcements or questions. I make it a point to answer every question I get through LinkedIn (or from my readers of my columns). If you have a question that needs asking — ask the network. If you have something stupendous — share it with your network. You will get to be known this way and people will naturally come to you for many different needs.

10. Update regularly. If you go to your home screen, you can see a place to update your network. Use it frequently. It is like a tweet, but it goes to LinkedIn. You can also tweet your update if you wish. Also update your profile frequently. Your job and needs are changing. Don’t keep the same stuff in your profile. Update all of the time.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

John Heckers

John Heckers is president of Heckers Development Group, LTD, a consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado, specializing in Strategic Executive Coaching.

39 comments

  1. Great article! I am fairly new to LinkedIn and I’m a Pre-Med/Pre-Pharm student at Ohio State and I was wondering how exactly I should approach LinkedIn since it’s predominantly filled with business and law specialists. I’m trying to use the page to appeal towards hospitals/businesses around Columbus that would accept me as a volunteer or worker so I can gain experience for my resume when I apply to pharmacy/medical school (still haven’t made up my mind). Any tips on how I can do this? Thanks!

  2. Thank you for your article. Quick question that might be of interest to others too. Do you recommend adding people to your network who have viewed your profile but didn’t send invite to connect?

    Thanks

  3. Thank you for article. I am new to LinkedIn and wanted to ask you for advice . If someone views your profile and that person is in the sphere of your work or could be useful to you, do you add them as connections jand send invitations to connect? In other words, does the fact that they viewed you, gives you the liberty to send them an invitation to connect?

    Many thanks in advance for your advice
    Anna

  4. Some really, really bad advice regarding LinkedIn.

    “Accept connection requests from anyone”?

    “Join 45 groups”?

    Wow. Anytime I see someone with 500+ connections on LinkedIn, a member of 40+ groups and comments, recommendations and tweets out the wazoo, I think one thing: where is this person going to find the time to actually do any meaningful work for me if I hire them?

    • Dave,

      It depends on your purpose for being on LinkedIn. As a recruiter I need to quickly find candidates for my clients. That’s why I accept all invitations. With two accounts, representing close to 34,000 first degree connections, I have literally found qualified candidates for new clients in as little as 10 minutes. I once found a candidate in Columbus, OH for a position as a bank economist, through a Columbus connection who owned a beauty parlor. One of her customer’s was married to an economist looking for a new job.If I had not “linked” with her, I never would have found him.

      As for taking a great deal of time, not so. If I want to send out messages, let’s say for my upcoming webinars, I use Hootsuite and schedule them all at once, in advance. Takes only a few minutes.

      Finally, belonging to 50 groups doesn’t mean you are actively involved with each one. In my case, I use them when I need them. If I have a position for a CPA, I let the group know. If I don’t, they don’t know I exist. Because of my account settings, they don’t hear from me and I don’t hear from them – unless it’s about a job.

    • Well, would you rather him say “Women, black people, and younger people” or the respectful “People of color”, because that’s technically what they are, white isn’t a color. The literal black is a shade. Anything else technically is. He was being respectful.

  5. What is the value of connecting to people on Linkedin? You can search the entire database with absolutely no connections.

    1. Shannon Van Curen told me that you can now see the email addresses of all 1st level connections.

    2. With more connections, you can see more last names if you have the free plan.

    Anything else?

  6. Open networking and LinkedIn becomes another Facebook. Do you hand out business cards to everyone on the street?

    Photos – there are as many fake photos as there are fake profiles.

    10,000 first level links – that’s not linking in, its carpet bombing. Do I believe someone has 10,000 solid Links and connections? Not on your life, it almost sound like phishing. I would be more cautious with a person with too many links than one without a photo.

    • Adrian,

      It depends on your purpose in being on LinkedIn. As a recruiter, I want to have as many contacts as possible because I never know where I’ll be looking for candidates or in what profession. For me, having 30,000+ first degree contacts is an advantage.

    • Number of contacts is a moot point, as it depends on how you engage with them. Every “brand” functions differently, and with a different network. If you’re paying attention to amount of connections as opposed to the proactive use of those connections via Group activity, Answers, shared resources, and updates. The useless metric of followers, friends, and connections is merely a misunderstanding of value. Sure, there is a correlation, but, personally, some of the most influential professionals I have met, have not even reached that point where LinkedIn “stops counting.”

    • This is a great article for our clients as they are finding out that job searching in 2012 means social media and networking!

      Thanks for a concise “how-to”!

    • I agree with Adrian 100% on the remark about photos, and besides the author makes a grandstanding presumption that those without photos “have somethng to hide”. Really!!?? Has it ever occurred that maybe there are people who simply prefer not to post pictures of themselves. And then too, there are some profiles whose photos makes me NOT want to connect with them.

  7. John, great advice. I’m going out on a medical leave soon and want to use the time at home to look at opportunities to transition from workforce development into a different industry or use my skills to be more of a consultant and possibly work from home. What advice do you have?

  8. Great advice! Thank you. My only two cents – about the groups – is beware of how you sign yourself up for notifications. I – as per the suggestion – had joined a TON of groups many years ago but didn’t check how often I wanted to receive notifications. Big mistake! Pretty soon my inbox was flooded with updates. It was out of hand. I never left the groups but just fixed the settings (which you have to do manually, with EACH of the 45 groups – Pain in the bum) so I was only notified once a week (or less). So when you do join, check the box then as to how often you want notifications.

  9. Rosana Patricia G. Cunha

    Thank you very much to share these tips with all of us! It is a great article! It will certainly enrich our knowledge about the social network. Greetings from Brazil!

  10. When today’s CAREEREALISM e-mail arrived it was deja vu all over again! This is a great article, one of the best on the topic. Originally posted on May 31 of last year, it’s a pity that there was no link included this time to CAREEREALISM TV’s YouTube video back on June 6 that highlighted it. If you have the time, it’s worth watching. Here’s the URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gb8aEjdWko – or just Google “10 Things to Immediately Do on LinkedIn” and click on the link.

    Ignoring the technical contradiction between selectively inviting people to join one’s network but accepting invitations from everyone, there is one thing about which I would like to caution readers and it deals with recommendations. I now have over 30,000 first degree connections on LinkedIn. Almost daily, I get requests from members of my network for recommendations, even though we have never actually met or worked together. It’s always the same thing; you recommend me, I’ll recommend you. I would trust a recommendation from Angie’s List before I would trust one from LinkedIn. The minimal number, I think it’s three, will suffice to make your profile 100% completed. In any event, no recruiter or employer is going to trust a LinkedIn recommendation in making a hiring decision.

  11. That was very informative thank you, I have been on linkden for awhile now and really haven’t got anywhere with it, I am in desperate need of a job and I was hoping to find something through linkden.

  12. Thanks for the tips, John. I’m new to LinkedIn myself and your tips make a lot of sense. I LOVE Colorado! Hoping one day to make the move there. . .

  13. I am new to LinkedIn having just lost my job of ten years. Thank you so much for the advise. I will be taking action on some of these points! One question is how do all these connections actually land me a job? I would like to understand better how this should work. Thanks.

    • Hi Judy, the idea is that you connect with peers, friends, former colleagues, former superiors, subordinates,etc. and that you let them know that you are actively looking for a job. Some of them might have moved on to another company in a similar field and might value your services at the firm they are now. In addition, they might have connections/know people who are looking for an individual like yourself. 

      By joining groups that are of interest to you/are related to your industry/occupation, you can read up on what the current issues/trends are. This allows you to stay informed and you might want to comment on the discussion topics if you have something worthwhile to say. It is possible that what you share may be appreciated by others who read your comments and they may want to connect with you, perhaps even offer you a job.

      This will not happen overnight — you need to keep working on it, but I believe that you will find it enriching. Also, you will be interacting with fellow professionals, some of whom may have experienced being laid off and may be able to provide advice. Others might be in the same position as yourself at this very time and give you an opportunity to discuss your situation which may help. 

      I use linkedin to stay in touch with former colleagues,etc. Jobs for life are a thing of the past…things change quickly and moving out of your comfort zone help[s you to learn new things, broaden your knowledge and stay current. Experienced knowledge workers will always find another job — it might take a while, perhaps longer than desired, but it will happen.

      Embrace your current status to learn new methods, trends, etc. You will be busier than ever before.

  14. I personally know someone who used the photo that came with a frame he bought as his LinkedIn photo, so I place less-than-zero faith in a LinkedIn photo to sniff out fake profiles. A quick Google search of a name is much more reliable.

  15. Good and useful advice.  I have noted that many folks I don’t know use the “we’ve done business together” or “friend” workaround to get connected on LinkedIn.  I haven’t been dissapointed yet by the ones I accept.   Thanks

  16. Fantastic article. I have tended to be a lurker in Linked In because I’m happy with what I do, but I can’t guarantee that such will always be the case. One must plan ahead.

    Thank you for the gentle nudge.

  17. Great article.I have found that the ability or rather “daring” to network is strongly influenced by one’s culture. At the risk of stereotyping, Americans are generally better at it than any other group of people I know. Being European, but having grown up in Asia, studied in the U.S., I have no problem to network in America, but have to think carefully about inviting someone in Europe where people tend to be somewhat more stratified and in East Asia, networking is easy among your group, which is of course the exact opposite of the advice given in the article. It has something to do with not wanting to “disturb” or “alienate” people and one does not want to be thought of as “unduly forward”. All this having been said, it is becoming more acceptable to “cold call” in the rest of the world, but while people in the U.S. may be cautious about potential “stalkers”, in other parts of the world the “caution” is more about not wanting to bother someone; in collectivist societies one does not want to stand out too much and there is always that trend to “perfectionism” — the fear of expressing something that others might not approve of or think analytical anthought-through enough. It’s the darndest thing!

  18. I agree with many of your points except one: I don’t believe in open networking at all. What is the purpose of connecting with just anyone when the point of your network is to be able to refer people? Having tons of contacts who you don’t know at all is a bit like being in a bar and hoping to meet “the one”. You never know when you might meet him/her but it’s a total crapshoot. Networking can and should be more strategic, which is the point of LinkedIn.

  19. Jennifer Fanello

    Thanks this posting has actually answered a lot of questions about Linked In.  I do have a question though, when you post an update on your home page who sees that?  Is it your contacts only or all of your groups that you are connected to?

  20. ACTIVE participation seems to be the overarching theme – makes perfect sense.  Some very solid and useful advice, thanks for sharing John.

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