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How to: Get Linked-In?


LinkedIn logoThe benefits of getting Linked-In should not be underestimated, says Andy Headworth. Its a powerful tool with massive potential for the training community to tap into. Here's his guide to starting out on Linked-In.

Most people have heard of Linked-In, but many are not sure what it is and how it can help your training business.

Linked-In is a professional networking group whose purpose is to provide its members a way to search for new contacts, jobs and business opportunities. Unlike other social networking sites (like Facebook for example) Linked-In is mainly focused on the business community.

Your individual network consists of your immediate connections, and two further levels of people with links to any of your contacts. This means that your searchable network can expand quickly. Just to highlight the power of this network, I currently have over 600 connections but my total network is currently over eight million people!

Photo of Andy Headworth"It is worth spending some time filling your profile out fully, because you never know who could come across you online"

When you start on Linked-In, you'll have to build a profile of yourself: what you do, who you work for, etc. It acts like an online CV and if you’re serious about using the site, you need to spend some time getting this right and keeping it updated.

People can find you by searching so it is worth putting a smattering of keywords across your profile that reflect your key skills, products or services. It is worth spending some time filling your profile out fully, because you never know who could come across you online – business contact, ex-colleagues, prospects and even potential employees. As an example of a completed profile, here’s a snapshot of mine:

One of the biggest mistakes people make after joining Linked-In is sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Any form of networking - whether offline or online - needs you to be pro-active to increase your network. The difference with Linked-In is that it makes this very easy for you to do. My key phrase with regards to this and other social networking sites is a simple one – you only get out of it what you put in.

Building a network

Top 10 ways to grow your Linked-In network:

1. Take out your business card collection - or use your contacts in Outlook, or even on your PDA or Blackberry. Go through each one and do a quick search on Linked-In. If you find them there, send them an invite using the relevant page. Make sure you personalise the emails in the box shown below with the red cross. There is nothing worse than boring template emails.

2. Think of people you have worked with during your career, and if you can find them link to them. They may have gone to the same school, college or university, or you may have worked with them at current or previous organisations. You will be surprised at how many of these people are on Linked-In.

3. Each time you get a request to join a network, either accept it or archive it. Do not choose the 'I don't know this person' as once a person gets five of these their account is frozen, and you could then be responsible for having them removed. My advice in the beginning would be to accept all requests to link up.

4. Get into the habit of being a 'name magpie'. Each time you think of people you haven't yet linked to write them down somewhere safe. Next time you are online, go searching on Linked-In and as before, when you find them, link to them. It is also a great way of finding what people have been up to since you last met.

5. If you do find someone in your network who you would like to connect to but don't have an email address for, then you can still contact them. Request an introduction through someone in your network that is connected to the person you want to connect to (if there are multiple connections here, you can even choose which introducer to use!). Just make sure you explain succinctly why you want to be introduced, as the introducer does have the power of veto.

6. Don't be afraid to ask current colleagues, ex-colleagues, business partners etc for recommendations. They do help in building your profile further, but my advice is to only look for recommendations from people that you would recommend yourself.

7. Regularly go through the connections of all your first level contacts. They are also expanding their networks and it is likely you will find mutual contacts that you will be able to link to.

8. Connect with power networkers or 'hubs' in your industry. These are the people who have thousands of contacts and are usually only too pleased to link with others. They are often referred to as 'open networkers' and most have their email address in their profile. Don't be shy with these people - they are motivated by expanding their networks. When you next do a search for someone, sort the search by connections (drop down box) and you will find them.

9. The Advanced Search is the key to getting the most out of LinkedIn, get used to using it – you will reap the benefits.

10. Tell everyone about LinkedIn! LinkedIn offer a button (see below) that you can add to email footers, websites, blogs etc.

Make sure you use it (go to your profile, 'Promote your profile'), it is great advertising, and you will get people inviting you to join their network.

Linked-In is a great business tool, and one that I firmly advocate using for business purposes.

From this perspective, I use it in a number of ways:

  • A source of high quality prospective employment candidates
  • A business development research tool
  • A prospecting tool to identify contacts within organisations
  • A cost saving tool – I consult with companies about helping them reduce their recruitment costs – Linked-In is a great tool for this
  • It keeps me updated with all my network's changes – if they change job or get a promotion etc. This can of course present a business opportunity.
  • When you get used to using Linked-In it will become second nature to you, and you will find yourself 'checking out' every potential business contact you deal with before you meet them.

    If you are just starting off on Linked-In and want to further expand your network to tap into my millions of contacts, then please just send me an invitation and I will happily oblige.


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