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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top 10 Tips to Supercharge YOU on LinkedIn

One of the best things about using LinkedIn is the power to share information and insights throughout your network, but you can only do this effectively if you are using LinkedIn effectively. To that end, here are my top 10 suggestions to help supercharge YOU and your efforts on LinkedIn.

Please share this with a worker-in-transition (you could help someone), a hiring manager (they could help the former), a friend, a coworker, or anyone you feel might benefit.

1. Whenever you are at a networking event, make sure you ask people these magical four words: Are You on LinkedIn?

You will get two answers to this question
1) yes - and your response should be -- "Let's connect!"
2) no.... what's LinkedIn? (or some variation) Use this a conversation starter to talk about how you're using LinkedIn. My guess is that it takes 5 or 6 conversations before someone joins LinkedIn, but this is just a guess.

Either way, the more people you can connect with on LinkedIn, the more powerful your network. Being active on LinkedIn gives me access to so many great people that I would probably not stay in touch with, if it were not for LinkedIn. I help my network, and they help me. That's Social Media karma!

2. Simplify your LinkedIn URL.
When you first sign up for LinkedIn, they will automatically assign you with a page address that is some variation of your name and an alpha-numeric code.

Change it. Immediately. I'll wait here...

I suggest simplifying it to your first name.last name. Ex: (note: you only change the code after "/in/").

This makes it MUCH easier for people to find your LinkedIn page. Trust me. You don't want to frustrate that HR manager who is trying to look up your LinkedIn page.

3. Use a Profile Photo.
The use of a photograph helps to personalize your LinkedIn page. If I can't place you based on looking at your profile, your photo helps to jog my memory. Plus, it helps me to build a stronger connection to you if I can see who you are. If you don't use a photo on your profile, you seem mysterious and secretive to me...

4. Use a Pleasant, Professional Photo
Have a friend take a head and shoulder picture of you against a white or light colored wall. You should be wearing professional attire. The background should not be cluttered. The focus should be on you. And you should be smiling pleasantly. Makes me happy to see you happy!

5. Personalize Every Invitation You Send. Yes, EVERY invitation.
LinkedIn offers a lovely standard invitation that shows me and everyone you connect with that you do not care. Take a moment or two to personalize your response and you'll see your connection acceptance rates increase. Example: "Hi Joe, it's Brenda from Walsh College. We met at the ABC Conference on Monday night. It was great hearing more about your company, and I'd like to connect on LinkedIn. Let's stay in touch!" (yes, it's that simple.)

6. Send Your Connections a Thank You Message When They Invite You to Connect.
I think of every invitation to connect as a gift sent to me. Because after all, a connection can open many doors for you. So accepting this "gift" without saying thank you just doesn't seem proper to me. Example: Hi Chris, thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. It was great meeting you at the workshop tonight and I'm glad to hear you're thinking about writing a book. Keep me posted!"

If you take this simple step, your connections will feel appreciated. Which brings me to #7:

7. Create Good Social Media Karma
I used to work for a call center company and one important step in every customer service call was to end with a "Bridge to the Future." This "bridge" was in the form of offering contact information for the company, and inviting the caller to call anytime with questions. I try to create this "bridge" in all message interactions. In the above example, I asked Chris to keep me posted on his book, showing him my interest in his new aspiration. Also makes him feel good about our interaction. And that's good karma. Chances are, if I were to ask Chris a favor in the future, he would be more likely to help me out. Which brings me to #8:

8. Use Your Manners: Say "Please" and "Thank You"
I'm always so impressed by people who exhibit good manners on LinkedIn. These are the people who send me questions in the form of questions, using those magical words of "please" and "thank you" that would make a mom proud. On the other hand, I'm always a bit irritated when people in my network TELL me to do something rather than ask for assistance. Even if it's your job to do something, it makes you feel better when you are asked rather than told. By asking permission, you are involving the other person in the request and working with them. And if you don't say please or thank you, people will notice your (lack of) manners.

9. Please Don't Send Me Your Resume Unless I've Asked for It
On behalf of everyone you're connected to on LinkedIn, I'd like to remind you that sending your resume to all your connections does not show that you are a brilliant and assertive job seeker. It only shows me that you don't know how to use LinkedIn effectively, and it might even deter me from helping you. If I want your resume, I'll ask for it.

10. Remember all the Little People When You've Found Your Next Job
If I've helped you out during your job search and we're 1st-level connections, I would love to receive a message when you're back to work. It shows me that you value our professional relationship and that you understand how to use the site. Plus I get to tell you congratulations, and that supercharges me, too.

Good luck and happy job searching!