I place quite a bit of emphasis on LinkedIn because it is widely regarded as the most appropriate social networking site for developing business and professional connections.
LinkedIn is a social network made up almost entirely of business professionals. It is not really about social interactions; rather, it’s designed for networking between people within the same industry and across industries. As social networking sites go, it's not very glamorous but for business purposes, it's got the best practical advantage since it allows anyone to build a network.
LinkedIn’s Features and Advantages:
· Maintain online resumes and link with friends, colleagues, and business contacts
· Find experts that can help you with career or job search problems
· Connect directly with any LinkedIn account holder without the need for an introduction (provided you have a premium membership).
To really appreciate the power and value of LinkedIn, you first need to appreciate the concept of “six degrees of separation.” This principle states that if we are each one step away from every person we know, then we are two steps away from every person they know. That means everyone on Earth is, at most, only six degrees away from every other person.
A simplified illustration of six degrees of separation might go like this:
You probably know Clint Eastwood!
Well, not directly. But you know David Jones (someone you know directly, called a “LinkedIn Level 1 connection”); David knows Melissa Stone (and therefore has access to her network); Melissa knows Julie Smith, a media consultant in Los Angeles; Melissa knows Mike Simpson, a talent agent for many Hollywood stars, and Mike, of course, knows Clint Eastwood. If you trace the path of these connections, you’ll see a pattern in which you are never more than “six links” away from someone you’d like to reach.
LinkedIn’s Popularity Trap
Some LinkedIn users get trapped into thinking that the name of the game is to gather as many Level 1 connections as possible. They put themselves in an undeclared popularity contest, proclaiming that they have, for example, "8,477 Level 1 connections." While their Level 1 numbers are certainly impressive, they regrettably miss both the point and the power of LinkedIn.
The real power of LinkedIn lies in the linkages that feed into your Level 1 connections, that is, the Level 2s and 3s that are available to you via your Level 1s. It is here in the “2/3 Zone” that the magnitude of your network becomes far more quantifiable; for example, 297 Level 1 connections balloon out to possibly tens of thousands of contacts at Level 2, and perhaps hundreds of thousands (or more) at Level 3.
This is an important point because research shows that the vast majority of LinkedIn users who are actively engaged in a job search find their next job through their Level 2 and Level 3 connections, not their Level 1 connections.
LinkedIn’s Biggest Benefits
There have been many books written about LinkedIn, most notably I’m On LinkedIn – Now What? by Jason Alba. Jason uses a no-holds barred style of writing to explore all the good points about LinkedIn and to expose its weaknesses, too. It’s a well-written and balanced analysis of the application by a man who truly understands how online applications are best engineered to serve the needs of users.
The biggest benefits of LinkedIn are as follows:
· Use connections to explore a treasure chest of hidden opportunities: The Hidden Job Market – (Chapter 6 in my book).
· Get your name and brand circulating right from your computer.
· Build your database of connections to strengthen your network.
· Quickly attain expert status.
· Get instant feedback.
· Network 24 x 7 x 365. Unlike traditional face-to-face networking, the Internet never sleeps.
· LinkedIn Groups give you access to individuals who are passionate about what you’re passionate about. This makes for easier, faster connections.
You now have the basics. Frank and I will cover the advanced LinkedIn techniques this Sunday!
I'll see you on the radio this and every Sunday morning at 8am (EST) on Your Career Is Calling on 107.7 FM and online on www.1077TheBronc.com. We look forward to taking your calls at 877.900.1077. This Sunday our topic is “LinkedIn – The Untapped Oasis for the CEO of ME, Inc”.
Best wishes and own your career,
Master Connector, Professional Development, Executive Coach, Speaker, Author
Weekly Co-Host of Radio Show "YOUR CAREER IS CALLING".
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