Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Getting the most out of LinkedIn

The past year has seen many new faces at MEI Conferences; we believe that networking is at the heart of this, not only at international conferences but also through the professional networking site LinkedIn, which is now the major player in bringing professionals together via the internet.

LinkedIn can be thought of as a huge virtual conference, attended by millions of people directly or indirectly related to your profession, with ‘virtual coffee breaks’ where you chat with old friends, and make new ones, and more serious discussion sessions in specialist subject areas.

First of all, for those not acquainted with LinkedIn, let me show you the basis of how it works. Registration is simple and free. Once you are registered, take time to produce a good profile of yourself. Your profile will be visible to other LinkedIn members, and you will also have a public URL, which you can use outside LinkedIn, in your email signature etc. As an example view my public profile here.

You need to invite ‘connections’- people that you have worked with, or are friends. If you are a minerals engineer, take a look at who is in the Minerals Engineers group- you will be surprised how many people there are there who you will know. The Groups are the serious side of LinkedIn; here you can join specialists in your field to discuss a wide range of topics. Again, have a look at Minerals Engineers, Minerals and Metallurgical Professionals Globally, as well as more specialist groups such as Froth Flotation, Grinding Mills Technology and the Institutes, such as AusIMM.

Once you are set up, how do you use LinkedIn to get the most out of it? Using the virtual conference analogy, if you do nothing, LinkedIn will give you little in return- you are the wallflower at the virtual conference, sitting in a corner sipping your virtual coffee. The more proactive you are, however, the more you will gain. The two main areas in LinkedIn are the Groups and your personal updates. The latter is a little like social networking on Facebook, but is a valuable and often overlooked area of the site. It is the ‘virtual coffee break’. If you add a short update or question e.g. “will any of you be at next week’s conference in Australia?” this can be seen only by your connections. If one of your connections comments on this, however, the comment will be visible not only to your connections but also to his/her connections, and this is where the real power of LinkedIn lies.

I currently have 487 connections, but my home page tells me that my ‘network’ contains over 2 million professionals. My network is my connections (primary connections) and their connections (secondaries) and the connections of the secondaries (tertiaries), as well as members of any groups that I join, who will also see my updates.

I am currently testing the power of this. Five days ago I added an update asking my connections to comment ‘seen’ if they saw my test update. Their ‘comments’ were seen by their connections, and so on, and at the moment over 10,000 people have replied ‘seen’, and the list is still growing rapidly.

So to get the most out of LinkedIn, spend a few minutes each day adding your updates, or commenting on the updates of your connections, and taking part in, and initiating, discussions. If you do this the rewards will be substantial, in meeting new contacts, renewing old ones, developing business relationships and generally enhancing your presence in your specialist field. I note for example that 350 people have viewed my profile over the past day!!

I invite other LinkedIn users to share their experiences in gaining the most out of this extremely valuable facility.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Barry.
    Great advice on using LinkedIn and you're right, it's a fantastic place to meet other industry professionals and connect with your peers.
    I work at LinkedIn, so I'm bound to say that, but I did a quick search for current employees of BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata on LinkedIn and I found over 11,000 profiles just from those 3 companies - so many of your industry peers are already using LinkedIn and our global membership, which is 75 million, is growing by 3 million new members per month (across all industries).

    I saw your 'test' yesterday and it had reached over 15,000 people on LinkedIn. Maybe you could post an update here each week to tell us how many more LinkedIn members have seen your post?
    Patrick Traynor
    LinkedIn

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your input Patrick. Now 19,000 comments after 1 week

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post - excellent explanation of LinkedIn and its benefits. Thanks.

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