LinkedIn. Whats that all about? Isn’t it just for people who are looking for a job? 
No. No. No.

LinkedIn is more than that. Its a great way to make new business connections, its your always-up-to-date Rolodex for contacts and email addresses, it’s good for discussion groups with like minded professionals around the world and the best part is seeing who has checked out your profile. We all love that bit.

There are now 101 million users on LinkedIn (including 400,000 from right here in NZ). Not quite as many as the 500 million or more on Facebook, but still – quite a lot of people. Nearly 60% of them are male – more than your average social network which tend to be favoured by women. Why is that you ask? Well thats another blog….!!

LinkedIn has a high Google Page Ranking so its worthwhile having your profile there as its likely to be one of the top search results when someone Googles your name. (Try it and see. Go on). 

Through LinkedIn, I’ve been approached to present at overseas conferences, had some of my blog posts published in NZ magazines, and connected with people around the world in similar industries who I would never had had the opportunity to meet.

Here are a few tips on how to use it if you are new to LinkedIn.

  • Fill out your profile. It’s quite hard to get to 100% complete of your LinkedIn profile, but give it a whirl. Most importantly, you need a photo. A few years ago on LinkedIn, no-one had a photo, now its the opposite. Take a look at some of the other people on LinkedIn – the community sets its own tone, and in the case of LinkedIn professional looking headshots are the norm. Photos of you on summer holiday, cuddling your new baby or having a beer with your mates are not. Also,  if you don’t have an authentic looking profile, no-one is going to accept your connection requests (spammers pop up everywhere).
  • Connect up with your email contacts, search for colleagues in companies you have worked in previously, schools or universities you’ve attended. Where possible, change the default message to something more personal. Its a nice touch and shows you weren’t just ticking down a big list of people you might know.
  • Follow some Companies. Good way to keep track of movements within a company, as well as who has started or left, or upcoming opportunities that may interest you.

  • Join a few Groups. This is a way to connect with others outside your network on topics that are of professional interest to you and can also allow you to build your personal brand and credibility in your area of expertise. You can elect to receive email alerts if new content is posted.
  • Connect applications such as SlideShare, your blog RSS if you have one, your Twitter account. But don’t spam your LinkedIn connections with all your Twitter posts! Its a different audience.
  • Get a Recommendation or two. I’m not a big fan of these myself. Have you ever read a bad recommendation? Thought not. They are a bit like employment or personal references – it would be rare to encounter a negative one, so I take them with a grain of salt.. 
Once you have a few connections, you can map them with InMaps which groups your connections and colour codes them in a fascinating big multi coloured spaghetti galaxy looking thing.

Here’s mine

And here’s the LinkedIn video which explains it all. Note that you need to have a LI profile which is at east 75% complete (another reason to fill it in!), and at least 50 connections.

On the flipside, here are a few things about LinkedIn that I’m really not fond of.
  • No login using Twitter/ Facebook/ Google profiles (OAuth). I can never remember my LinkedIn password! Never!
  • No notifications if someone Likes your LI status update. And its difficult to find out who Liked it. (Tip: click on the Comment hyperlink under your post and the name(s) of the person who liked your post will display).
  • Some posts or status updates don’t have a Share option. Why? Thats not very social for a social network.
This post did have a share
But this post did not

  • The Help is very hard to find, and is actually not very helpful. At all.
  • The resources for Share and Profile buttons for your blog or website could do with a polish (the Twitter resources are a doddle to use as a contrast).

Overall, LinkedIn is a valuable resource for connecting with others, participating in discussions and creating your own brand or profile. It has a few usability issues and features that could be improved – and at the rate of current growth this will only be a matter of time. 

I hope. 

Update – LinkedIn have announced they will be releasing LinkedIn Today which is a news aggregation service based on your LinkedIn connections (only available in US and UK at present). Here’s the launch video.