5 Ways to Have Fun with LinkedIn

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749004_beach.jpgI know, I know… using LinkedIn is fun, right? That’s why so many power users spend several hours a week on it, right?

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

In honor of this month’s b5media Business Channel May theme day on “Work & Play“, I thought I’d do something a little different and take a look at some ways to use LinkedIn to enhance your personal life, not just your business.

  1. Reconnect with old classmates or colleagues. Your odds are probably just about as good of finding them on LinkedIn as on Classmates or Reunion.com (but try them too if you don’t find them on LinkedIn). Who knows? You might even find your childhood sweetheart on there!
  2. Connect with Meet new people with common interests or to learn a new skill. Who says all your searches have to be about business? Want to learn about skydiving or scuba diving? There are hundreds, maybe thousands (all I know is it’s more than 500) of people on there who can tell you about each of them. Some of them are even instructors. Limit the search to your local area and see who your common connections are, and that will help you have a better experience meeting that person.
  3. Play “Who am I connected to?” Think of an incredibly high-profile person you’d like to meet (and ostensibly have some reason to) and use LinkedIn to try to get an introduction. You may have to go one degree short of them, though. For example, Bill Gates isn’t a member, but several other past and present Microsoft executives are, as well as over 100 past and present Gates Foundation employees. Donald Trump? Not a member, but several past winners of “The Apprentice” are, as well as dozens of Trump Organization employees. Give it a shot – what have you got to lose?
  4. Join one of the dozens of LinkedIn discussion groups. Whether you’re into success books, philosophy or just plain FUN, there’s a Yahoo Group where you can connect with other LinkedIn users who share that interest. Some are less active, others quite active, but if one of them strikes your fancy, you can certainly go spark up the discussion yourself. That can be fun too!
  5. Make a bet with your kid to see whether you get better answers on LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers. He told me there were a lot more people on Yahoo, and that there were some really smart ones who often give high-quality answers. I said I didn’t doubt him, but I thought that even with fewer members, LinkedIn would produce better answers. You be the judge: Yahoo or LinkedIn? OK, so maybe you don’t have to make a bet with your kid, but still, even though the categories are limited somewhat to business-oriented topics, you can use LinkedIn Answers to ask questions that have nothing to do with your business, just to satisfy your curiosity.

What about you? How do you have fun with LinkedIn?

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  1. In Answers model the number of users online at the same time is the major factor of quality and quantity of answers to the question. So I think LinkedIn will lose to Yahoo in most cases.

  2. Well, that’s not quite accurate, I think, William. It’s not the total number of users online at the same time so much as the ratio of users to questions, right? Or perhaps more accurately, the ratio of askers to answerers.

    Judging from the two somewhat incomplete answers my son got on Yahoo vs. the 14 thorough answers I got on LinkedIn, my vote goes to LinkedIn.

    Of course, some questions, there’s no appropriate topic on LinkedIn, while Yahoo is wide open, so it’s not entirely an either/or decision.

  3. You mentioned connecting with new people, which to me means people you’ve never met before.

    I’ve always understood a Linkedin connection to be someone you know, my litmus test has always been “if I called this person, or they called me, would we eventually remember each other” (I use eventually because I’ve got a terrible memory and sometimes need reminding 🙂 )

    By coincidence I managed to join some sort of LinkedIn group for people in a particular field. I don’t remember how I got on, but now I’m getting a few requests to connect with people I’ve never heard of before.

    This obviously doesn’t pass my earlier test, but on the same token, I look at this as a form of networking.

    I’m curious as to how you evaluate potential connections.


  4. My bad, Sean! Even though I’ve been writing about LinkedIn for years and am a stickler for using precise terminology when referring to it, every once in a while I slip and use words like “connect” in the generic sense, rather than the LinkedIn-specific context. I was in no way suggesting that you send connection requests to people you don’t know, but rather that you send introduction requests or InMail.

    As far as how I evaluate connection requests?

    1. I search for them in my Outlook to see if maybe I should know them and am just not immediately recognizing the name.

    2. I check their profile to see if they’re someone who perhaps I should know by their reputation or the common connection and potential for a relationship is very clear.

    3. Did they send a personalized invitation?

    If it’s yes to any of the above, I send a reply explaining my practice of only linking to people I’ve actually worked with or otherwise have known well in a professional context for some time, then invite them to e-mail me or call me and let’s get to know each other better. I then usually defer the invitation to later. If it’s no to all three, I hit the “I don’t know ” button and they’re 20% closer to getting a letter from LinkedIn telling them to change their practices.

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