One of the first online social networks I ever joined was LinkedIn. Even in those days when the network for professionals was a collection of resumés, I treated LinkedIn as a collection of professional contacts I knew and could recommend. You could call me up and I could tell you something about the person in my network and would very likely be happy to make an introduction.
Something changed along the way
At the time, I was a sales and marketing professional and nobody was talking about Social Media as a tool that would revolutionize all aspects of our lives. When I joined Twitter, Facebook and a whole bunch of other social networks, my focus shifted from using LinkedIn as a rolodex to connecting with people directly in the other platforms. LinkedIn got less and less important for me. At the same, time LinkedIn increasingly became a platform for self promotion. I mainly missed the real-time conversation.
LinkedIn spent a few years in a dormant state that almost made it obsolete. The lack of innovation made it fall behind the emerging Social Media Platforms like Twitter and Facebook. However in the last two years LinkedIn has woken up and is now innovating on a constant basis.
I have to admit that I am more drawn to the faster pace of the other social networks. A large number of LinkedIn users use the platform purely for broadcasting and self-promotion. I absolutely hate the generic contact requests “Join my professional network on LinkedIn”. I get a large number of these every day – often from accounts without even a profile picture and mostly from people I’ve never even heard about. This is probably either because they are using LinkedIn’s generic invite function (The mobile app doesn’t even let you customize that) or some Social Media guru told them that the one who has the biggest number of connections wins.
I don’t know about you but I go in waves about accepting these invitations and not – but I never feel good about adding people to my network that I don’t know anything about.
Plus for the last two years I thought I wasn’t using LinkedIn right because I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) until I finally took a Seminar from my favourite LinkedIn Expert Colin Parker who is an experienced sales and marketing trainer. The seminar was called “How to use LinkedIn to Grow your Business” and Colin opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at LinkedIn.
This is how I want to use LinkedIn going forward:
From now on I will only accept connections that I know from my other social graphs – people that I have met either in person or on other social media channels. I will not accept connection requests from anybody without a profile picture especially if I don’t recognize their name.
Why? Because I now realize the real power of LinkedIn is in the network. I want to get to a point where I can make valuable connections, a brave new LinkedIn world where
- you can call me up and ask me to make a recommendation to someone in my LinkedIn network and I will be able to say: “Sure, I know this person”
- I have looked at all my connections and contacted the ones I accepted without knowing them. (before deciding whether to delete them or not)
- I know who of my connections is likely able to really connect me to the person that could really use my services
It’s going to take some work
It takes more work to build a network this way.
I hope that LinkedIn will continue showing only a maximum of 500+ contacts in each profile. This prevents the focus on misunderstood social proof by collecting numbers instead of connections that plagues most of the other networks.
Once I am done with all that hard work of weeding and nurturing my LinkedIn garden I will again have a usable tool featuring real contacts. I can then use the most professional of all Social Media Platforms to really do what I need it to do: Facilitate professional networking to help and connect others and become a useful tool to connect to new valuable contacts and grow my business.
It fascinates me that we can use Social Networks in so many different ways. How do you use LinkedIn? Are you a LION?
If you are interested to see how I use other platforms – check out my about page.
*This is a guest article by Frithjof Petscheleit*