Bill Vick was one of the early adopters of LinkedIn in the recruiting industry and has been one of its strongest evangelists. He is coauthor of Happy About LinkedIn for Recruiting and the recently released Big Biller Audiobook, which features over 10 hours of audio interviews with 30+ recruiting Big Billers and industry leaders. Recently Bill shared his top five LinkedIn tips. I’ve listed them below, along with my comments:
- It ‘s often more important to be found than to find. It’s also very important that, when you are found on LinkedIn, your LinkedIn Profile page is up to date. So take the time to make sure your profile is complete, regularly updated and reflects who you are and what you are currently doing. And don’t forget to sprinkle your profile with the keywords that somebody looking for you might use when searching for you.
SA: One of my favorite quotes about networking online comes from Phil Agre’s article, “Networking on the Network”: “[T]he most fundamental way of finding people online is to help them find you.” Remember, every data point that you include in your network is another opportunity for someone to connect with you, either because they have that same data point or because they’re looking for someone who does. For more on improving your profile, check out Guy Kawasaki’s LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover.
- Remember You are your brand. Google your own name, strive for consistency in your online image and try to have the same message whether somebody finds you on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, or any of the other networking sites. By the way, if you don’t find yourself on Google, or your name is not as prominent (i.e. front page of Google) as you would like, it could be time to think about promoting yourself better online.
SA: LinkedIn is just one piece of the big picture. Participate, or at least have a passive presence, in multiple sites. It’s really not that time-consuming if you do it right. We offer some strategies on how to do this in chapter 15 of The Virtual Handshake, which you can still download for free or even obtain a print copy of for free.
- Gain visibility and branding by participating in the new LinkedIn Answers. You can ask questions of your own network, or the entire LinkedIn network, as well as offering answers where your special knowledge and information will help others – and in the process add to your visibility. It’s not only good karma to help but gives you the stamp of expertise and special knowledge. It’s essential to be genuine in framing the question. If you try and game the system by framing a blatant self-promotion as if it were a genuine question you won’t have to wait long for someone in the network to flag your “question” as spam. But genuine, interesting questions are bringing people great, positive exposure.
SA: I love LinkedIn Answers. The question I asked this week saved me hours of research for an upcoming article. Truly, I don’t know where else I could have asked the question and gotten both the depth and quantity of responses I did. It’s a great tool and I’ve been hearing tons of success stories, including using it for market research and to find solution delivery partners.
- Connect with power networkers or ‘hubs’ in your industry, company or job function. You can be confident the ones near the top of any search when sorted by connections are in the thousands, and their 2nd degree is hundreds of thousands, which now becomes part of your 3rd degree network.
SA: I’m not generally an advocate of the practice of “open linking”, i.e., connecting with anyone and everyone who asks. For most people, I don’t think it’s a very effective use of their time and furthermore, it undermines LinkedIn’s value proposition of “trusted referrals”. That said, there are a handful of people, including recruiters, venture capitalists and professional networkers (people who run networking organizations), for whom that strategy makes sense. The main upside of the strategy is that it increases visibility within the network. But as Bill points out, you don’t have to engage in that strategy yourself. Connect with a couple of mega-connectors and you’ll gain most of the visibility. Yes, I’m even connected to a few — of course, I really do know all of them well professionally. If you’re going to connect, I’d still encourage you to try to develop a bit more of a relationship with them than just the link. Otherwise, what distinguishes you in their mind from the other n-thousand people in their network?
- Install the Outlook toolbar and consider joining Plaxo. http://www.plaxo.com . The new Plaxo 3.0 not only works with PC’s and Mac’s but offers automatic synchronization with your address book of choice, various web mail systems and now LinkedIn.
SA: Plaxo has always been a great idea, and the 3.0 version does have some really cool features that might even persuade me to give it another shot. There is one feature of Plaxo, though, which I think you should never use, and that’s the ability to automatically send messages to your contacts asking them if their contact information is correct and current. Just don’t do it. Consider the possibilities:
- It’s not correct and they don’t have the old e-mail forwarded, in which case it won’t reach them anyway.
- It’s not correct and they do have it forwarded, in which case you’d be able to contact them anyway.
- It’s correct, in which case the request is a nuisance.
Much better approach: just send a periodic (once or twice a year) personal update to your contact list letting them know what’s going on in your life and your business, and ask them to do the same, including providing current contact information. It’s much more personal. Remember, nobody wants to be treated like a number.
Great tips, Bill – thanks for sharing them!
Bill’s latest project is another collaboration with my fellow b5media blogger Des Walsh entitled “The War for Talent – Timeless Lessons from The Masters”. They don’t have a web site up for it yet, but you can get a free copy of it by contacting Bill at talent AT big biller DOT org.