Posts Tagged ‘ LinkedIn

Getting the Most from Your LinkedIn Network

Once you commit to building a social network around a business or a cause, you will find that your network can be an essential tool in a variety of areas. For example, you can use it to:

1. Build a base of potential prospects and partners to grow your business/cause
2. Identify experts and colleagues that can remove roadblocks and add value
3. Find qualified future team members and/or employees
4. Create idea flow and innovation in your business, cause and life
5. Build confidence in your access to opportunities and ideas

Getting full functionality from your network does require that you spend time each day priming the pump in each specific area. For example, here are just a few things you can do with specific aspects of your network:

1. Prospect and partners
When you land on an interesting profile, save it in an appropriate folder*. One good way to find profiles of interest is to review the connections that your network makes twice a day. You then can save the profiles of the most interesting connections that the people in your network are making. (Hint: You can click to see more updates and review the list of connections on the right side of screen.)

2. Experts
When you face a challenge, use your network to search for experts in that area. One way to do that is to label one of your folders Partners and then add experts to that file on a regular basis. When you run into a problem, combine people search tools with a review of your Partners file to find specific advisers and problem solvers.

3. Finding team members and employees
Similar to the guidance offered in the Expert section above, create a Talent file and then populate it as you encounter people who might be of interest to you in the future. This is what good recruiters do, so why not do the same yourself? You will need to decide on how you will qualify candidates. For example I use a geographic filter and only save contacts who are in cities and countries where I am doing business. In this economic environment I also recommend that you pay special attention to people who are underemployed. These people could be in a position to help you grow your enterprise or cause by initially working on a part time basis and then going full time as the venture expands.

Coming in a future blog: Some examples for categories 4 and 5 listed above.

*Many of the activities I have described here are significantly easier to manage if you become a basic subscriber to LinkedIn. At that rate you are provided with 5 folders for saving individual profiles. If you are not a subscriber, these recommendations require a few more steps but they are of course still feasible.

New techniques for staying connected make the old ways obsolete (from an installation at the Whitney Museum by Ann Hamilton)

Networks as Visualization Tools

Concentricity (view of the sculpture garden at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh)

Envisioning solutions often depends on a pragmatic view of the people who can help and the social networks they can in turn influence.

From the thousands of blog postings and articles about social networks, one of my favorites is by Greg Satell and his excellent blog, Digital Tonto. He’s consistently smart without being arrogant, thoughtful without taking himself too seriously. It is also significant that he is an American who has spent the last 13 years living in Poland, a perspective advantage IMHO.

One of his classic posts is The Primal Forces that Drive Social Networks. His introduction is succinct:

Social Networks are revolutionizing how we view our world. People are connecting, businesses are being created or transformed, and the world seems like a smaller place. As with any transformation on a grand scale, a plethora of consultants, gurus, blogs, and how-to books have risen to meet the demand for information about the social revolution.

However, it is very rare to hear anything about the underlying forces that actually drive the social network phenomenon.

It’s a shame because the story is a great one that has implications, not only for social media, but for fields as diverse as counter-terrorism, ecology, economics, organizational theory and cancer research. Network Theory has fundamentally changed our understanding about how the world works since its inception a decade ago. Most of all, by understanding how networks form and grow, we can build better ones.

The rest of the article is worth the read and will certainly give more context to my view of things.

I just broke 400 connections on LinkedIn, which probably wins me a solid B in the grading curve of LinkedIn users. The important thing I learned in the process of building my connections is that my network became seriously robust when I reached around 175 connections. By robust I mean that it was at that point that I could see several million participants and through them, larger networks and company ecosystems. At that number of connections two years ago, I could see around 4 million of LinkedIn’s 40 million population. (LinkedIn’s community is now closer to 60 million.) You can test the reach of your network by clicking on “network statistics” under “Connections.”

My experience is that it is worth your time to assemble those first 200 connections. Next post: I will start a conversation about how to obrtain more value from your network.

Social Action Networks

Thesis: We are just beginning to appreciate the potential that exists in the burgeoning social networks expanding across the globe. Learning to innovate and act together to change the world is the most important growth business the Web is creating and has the potential to explode exponentially.

Each of us is making decisions on a daily basis about time spent on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (for me that list is a declension, with LinkedIn being my social network of choice.) Those cumulative decisions demonstrate a remarkable worldwide desire to connect and collaborate, even if aspirations rise just to the level of quiet or boisterous conversations over a tall glass.

During more reflective periods we each might consider whether our respective news feeds actually have news that would better our family, friends, neighborhood and/or world. Those of you reading this post who are employed understand that you are one of the most fortunate people on the planet.

That realization can lead to a desire to enhance our news feeds with ideas and actions that share that good fortune with others. The distinction between social media and social action is sometimes a leaky margin, but the distinction can be life changing for millions of people.

Building powerful and impactful social action networks is a challenge and it is something we will write about here frequently. We have some inspiring examples to talk about. We also hope you will share your successes, inspiring others to allocate more time to the social action end of the social media spectrum.

Living in a world with thousands of ways to connect (reflections on a sculpture at MASS MoCA)