One of my New Year's financial resolutions was to get set up on LinkedIn. I have been recommending it for quite some time and tell you all how important it was in developing your network -- and yet I wasn't using it myself (which I freely admitted.) So the guilt finally got to me, I took the plunge, and signed up for the service in early January. Let's start with what I did and the results:
- I set up my profile simply by cutting and pasting sections from an old resume. It needed some updating (I haven't needed a resume in almost nine years), but only for my most recent job.
- I then went through my Outlook contact list and invited people I knew very well to connect with me on LinkedIn. Most did, but many others looked like they had set up a profile but were inactive. Anyway, after I was done I had a good start -- about 75 connections or so.
- At this point, LinkedIn started suggesting people I might know and want to connect with (it had earlier as well, but it started getting better at recommending people once I had a good based of connections it could use for background). I invited those I knew fairly well and quickly got up to 175 connections or so.
- At this point, I was connected to pretty much everyone I knew fairly well (that was on LinkedIn). The suggestions from LinkedIn now were people I had run into infrequently or only had "heard of" (didn't know). However, I wanted to expand my network further, so I started selecting some of these people to invite to connect. This was a person by person decision, but basically I invited people who: 1) had impressive backgrounds who I thought it would be an advantage to know, 2) had a large number of previous connections in common with me, or 3) had similar interests/background as me.
- In addition, I started receiving invitations to connect with others. Most of the people I did not know, and I decided whether or not to connect with them based (loosely) on the criteria above.
- When this was all said and done I had just over 300 connections after about a month worth of "work." From here on out I expect I will add contacts at a much slower pace, but I'm happy with the base I've built at this point.
After this process, here are some of my thoughts on the site/service:
- I was amazed at what some of my peers have accomplished. One of the guys I worked with 15 years ago is the president of a $3 billion division of a Fortune 500 company. An ex-roommate (right out of grad school) of mine is the president of a nationally known clothing company. Some of the connections are in companies/jobs that could help out my present employer. I will be exploring these more closely.
- I have already been asked to help someone through LinkedIn. A friend of mine emailed me and asked if I could help his future son-in-law with a job hunt (the SIL wants a job in my city in my field of expertise). I talked to the young man on the phone and sent his resume to a couple friends I know who may be hiring. I also got his resume to the hiring manager (someone who had once worked for me) at a local firm with a posted job opening. He hasn't been hired yet (this just happened a week ago), but he's certainly gotten exposure to jobs he wouldn't have had otherwise.
- I have re-connected with a few people I previously worked with -- most by email but some even in person (we set up lunch through LinkedIn). Got to keep working that network to keep it alive and growing!
- I have been "endorsed" by a few of my connections. This is basically where those in your network can recommend you in a certain area/skill set based on their past interactions with you. I haven't endorsed anyone myself, but I may in the future.
- LinkedIn provides articles on career-related issues to my profile (as well as posts on LinkedIn by my connections), but I don't spend much time reading them. Perhaps I will in the future, but who knows? I also may post some things there, but I'm not sure exactly how it works (and what's the benefit.) I have a lot more to learn!
So that's it for my initial interaction with LinkedIn. For those of you out there who are already "masters" of the site, what am I missing? What do I need to do to make the most of this service?