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The Power of Linkedin – Part 3

Group ConnectionIn part 1I discussed the benefits and limitations of Linkedin and in part 2 I discussed taking full advantage of your connections.  

In the book I’m on Linkedin – Now What?, author Jason Alba lists three powerful tools to further strengthen your networking proficiency. The first is the Recommendation feature. Find a contact you want to recommend, go to their profile page and click on the link “Recommend this person.” Then click on the button that best describes your working relationship. Then there are several drop-down boxes to clarify the relationship. It is at that point that you will write a recommendation what should be no longer than a paragraph. Then hit send. This person can view the recommendation and choose whether to post it, but they can’t change it. This lends an air of credibility to the recommendation.

Recommendations are valuable endorsements, so it’s wise to not be casual about them. Jason advises that the best way to get recommended is to recommend one or more of your contacts. Having recommendations on your profile is another way to strengthen your relationships and substantiate your skills and talents.

Linkedin Groups are established organizations that are part of the networking structure of Linkedin. The main value of joining a group is that it gives you access to people you might not normally have contact within your three degrees. You can communicate with them as if they were a first degree connection. And it makes your profile available to additional contacts.

The best way to search for members within a group is to click on the “Groups” button at the bottom of your Linkedin home page and search the group categories to locate a group or association which may fit your interest. Just follow the steps to add that group to your profile. You may have to wait for approval from the moderator, but once you are accepted you can take full advantage of broadening your network contacts. New groups are being added on a continual basis and if there isn’t a group that matches your interest you can add an established group.

Linkedin Answers is the last feature that will be addressed and may be the most powerful. Answers allows you to post a question and invite your network to respond. You are limited to posting 10 questions per month, which limits potential spamming problems. There are no limits to how many questions you can answer. The questions can range from help in finding a job, resources needed to further your business, or assistance in resolving business related issues.

First click on the Answers tab at the top of your home page. When you submit a question you can choose up to 200 people from your fist degree contacts who can submit answers. Jason recommends using the email notifier to invite your contacts to answer your question. Your contacts are more likely to see the question if it comes to them through email than by logging on to their Linkedin home page. Each question is open for seven days and closes automatically after the seventh day. The questions and answers are available in archived records.

During the seven days, you can clarify your question or close it if you receive a fabulous answer. Using the Answers feature not only gives you a rich source of knowledge, but you learn more about your contacts. When you choose an answer it builds the credibility of the contact who answered it. Their profile will display with the answer they have contributed. That is why it pays to answer questions as well as pose them. Using this feature allows you to display your depth of knowledge as well build your reputation and brand.

A final note about Answers, the Linkedin staff monitors the Q&A and if they deem something inappropriate it will be flagged and taken down. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to participate in an intelligent and professional manner. Also, don’t forget to thank those who took the time to answer your question. It is proper “netiquette” and they will be more likely to respond to your next request for help.

Links for further information on Linkedin and online networking:
http://www.linkedintelligence.com/– Scott Allen talks about getting the most from Linkedin
http://blog.linkedin.com– Official blog for Linkedin
http://www.thevirtualhandshake.com– Most comprehensive resource for online networking


The Power of Linkedin – Part 2

Connecting In part 1 I discussed the benefits and limitations of Linkedin and in part 3  I will discuss several features that will help you to take full advantage of Linkedin.  

Connecting to Others
 Using Linkedin to connect with others would seem to be the obvious benefit, but what is the optimum approach for connecting to others? Linkedin can be used in the “open format” whereby you can extend invitation to all your business contacts. The theory behind having more connections gives you more opportunities to reach key people who may benefit your business. If you truly want to gain business form Linkedin it may be better to have a larger, more diverse contact list.

If you choose to be an open net-worker you can download the Outlook toolbar and invite all your Outlook contacts to join. You can also import contact lists from other accounts such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, and Gmail. But be aware, your limitation is 3000 connections before having to upgrade to higher version of Linkedin, which will include an annual cost. Also, if five people click the button in your invitation that says, “I don’t know your name,” your account will be disabled and you will have to call Linkedin to get your account reinstated. The reason for this limitation is to prevent spammers from gaining access and using Linkedin for shady purposes.

Six Degrees of Separation
Everyone has heard the phrase “six degrees of separation,” but how does that relate to your Linkedin account? Your contacts are your first degree connections. Below that are your second and third degree connections. You can see how many people are in your three degrees. For instance I have 34 first degree connections and 1000 second degree connections. They are friends of my connections. And through an introduction to a second degree contact of someone I know directly, I have access to 68,500 people who are my third degree connections. You can view these statistics on the bottom of your Linkedin home page. There are all kinds of impressive statistics when you click on the button, “View full network stats.”

I have access to the email address of my first degree contacts and their contacts (second degree) but even though I can view the profile of all 68,500 people in my third degree I can’t see their email address. I would have to contact the person I am connected to, explain why I need to connect with that third degree person and ask them to pass my request to their contact (second degree connection) and they would pass my request to that person. The downside is this process could take a couple of days, but at the same time it should carry weight as it is coming from a reliable source – one of their direct contacts. This is the reason why it is beneficial to only add people to your network with whom you are comfortable and who are reliable. But even there are a couple of small drawbacks, you still have access to potentially thousands of people you previously wouldn’t have known existed.

I will address the advantages to using the Recommendations, Groups and Answers features of Linkedin in Part 3 of this series.

The Power of Linkedin – Part 1

Linkedin cover

 In part 2 I will discuss taking full advantage of your connections in Linkedin and in part 3  I will discuss how to use several features in Linkedin.   

Over the past year I’ve received several invitations to join former co-workers on Linkedin. I didn’t accept because I didn’t know what Linkedin was. But the word Linkedin kept popping up – in Newsweek, in USA Today and additional invitations kept arriving through e-mail. Then about a month ago USA Today reviewed the book I’m on Linkedin – Now What? by Jason Alba. I ordered the book from Amazon.com that day and read the short book in a couple of hours. I immediately created my profile on Linkedin, perused my contacts and invited 26 people to connect to me. But as I talked with my connections over the past several weeks, no one knew what to do with their Linkedin accounts or how to benefit from their connections. So I made the decision to write a quick summary of the book so my connections can take full advantage of a great business networking tool. Linkedin currently has over 17 million profiles and each member can be a source of knowledge about business, career management, job leads, consulting opportunities and an online presence for your business.

What are the benefits of Linkedin?

  • The ability to find other people within your industry, community, or the schools you’ve attended.
  • The ability to be known and found by participating in “Answers” and in e-mail forums. The way you participate will help define your brand and reputation. As for being found, recruiters have books on how to use Linkedin to find candidates. And even if you aren’t currently in the market for a new job it never hurts to advertise your skills and strengths.
  • Linkedin Answers is a great place to receive expert advice on business related questions and to find new opportunities for your business.
  • Linkedin has hundreds of groups and associations you can join in which you may share commonalities such as location, industry, interests, education and industry knowledge.
  • Once you join a group you have access to those group members.
    Joining and participating in Linkedin lets others know you are serious and competent about networking and expanding within your career.

What are the limitations of Linkedin?

  • Linkedin is not a social environment like FaceBook or MySpace, it is strictly business networking.
  • Linkedin should not represent your entire contact list such as your physician or barber.
  • You will not have complete control over your relationships. You can only connect to me if I am on Linkedin and I agree to be your connection.
  • Linkedin doesn’t allow you to control or change any information on your contacts or store information about your contacts so shouldn’t be used as a contact management tool.
  • Linkedin doesn’t provide much privacy as your profile is open for the public to view.

BOOK REVIEW: Power Speaking by Achim Nowak

Power SpeakingI am a voracious reader and passionate about books so if I want to learn anything new I purchase a book. When I wanted to hone my public speaking skills to become a better workshop facilitator I of course, purchased several books on public speaking and voice power. One of the best books on the subject is Power Speaking: The Art of Exceptional Public Speaking written by Achim Nowak.  Mr. Nowak has coached hundreds of Fortune 500 presenters as well as spent many years as a seminar leader and actor so his credentials are noteworthy.

The book is divided into three sections. Part one is “The Art of the Craft.”  Here you will find informative suggestions and numerous, fun practice exercises on voice techniques, body movement, gestures and eye contact.  Part two is “The Art of Connection.” Here Mr. Nowak describes the difference between someone who technically delivers a very good speech versus someone who can really connect with the audience and thus inspire and move an audience. There are chapters on intention, forming the talk, and how to use humor in a speech which is very helpful chapter if like me you have no joke telling skills.  There is also information on how to create discussion and overcoming a resistant or hostile audience.

My favorite section was the third and final section titled “The Art of the Flow.”  In this section Mr. Nowak talked about how the truly powerful speaker presents to the audience the core of themselves. “It is rarely about the content of what we are saying: it’s about what we radiate from the inside.”
Now many people might not buy into that statement by Mr. Nowak, but I have found that when I have discard my notes, start connecting with each member of the audience and began speaking from my heart about the essence of the topic versus the exact wording, the audience can feel my interest and compassion. How do I know the audience feels this?  Because I see their posture change and their eyes begin to light up. It makes for a very different experience for the audience and I then begin to loosen up have fun. I am learning to let go of the idea of making every point written in my talk and go for the essence of the speech and rapport with the audience.
The book addresses this topic with chapters on clarifying core values which then shine through the speaker, tips on how to release fear and embrace vulnerability before an audience and how to create spontaneity. All of which remind us that the content is less important then showing that you really care about your audience.