This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

I'm on LinkedIn - Now What?

I received a pre-publication copy of Jason Alba's new book, I'm on LinkedIn - Now What? which is "A guide to getting the most OUT of LinkedIn."

Jason has done a good job of describing all the elements of LinkedIn, from setting up and optimizing your profile to using LinkedIn as a tool for personal branding through the use of Connections, LinkedIn Answers, and Recommendations.  He uses a very conversational style, which makes the book read like he is sitting there with you, explaining the point of various features of LinkedIn.  Not surprisingly for a book about a web service, the text contains links out to a number of other articles (many blogs) on the use and design of LinkedIn.  From that standpoint, the e-book version might be easier to "use."

Here is what Jason Alba says about the book:

I hope this book can serve as a reference on how you can get the best out of LinkedIn.  I'm on LinkedIn - Now What??? is not a comprehensive book on networking, nor is it a general book on social networking - there are already some great books on these subjects.  I'll talk about networking and social networking, borrowing from the experts and using examples from my contacts, many of whom I've met through LinkedIn.   By the time you finish this book you should have a solid understanding of what LinkedIn is, how to use it and why things on LinkedIn work the way they do.

Besides that I have time, I am reviewing the book for selfish reasons.  I need to do a better job of using the tools at hand to find clients for my consulting business and / or a full-time job.

With my 380 connections, I am obviously NOT a newcomer to LinkedIn, but I don't know if I am getting the most value from it.  I've heard from people like Jason and others that they are making valuable business connections through this service.  I've only met a very small number of connections that have led to anything close to work.  I have made connections that help in my teaching at Northwestern or getting speakers at KM Chicago.  And I've certainly passed along requests when they come my way.

Section 1: The book is set up in three sections.  The first of these focuses on the basics of LinkedIn, describing and setting the scene for LinkedIn: what it is and its benefits, what it isn't and its limitations, and on getting started with LinkedIn. 

At the core, LinkedIn is a mechanism to find and be found.  With this in mind, Jason guides readers to think about their profile in these terms.  At first blush, this is the standard resume advice about using the terms recruiters use.  And then you'll want former/future friends and colleagues to be able to find you as well.  LinkedIn goes far beyond the finding aspect, so the profile needs to make a good first impression to anyone who might review it.  In other words, anyone on LinkedIn.

The first chapters also talk about tweaking your account settings, which I thought was fairly thorough.  I would like to see more explanation about why I might want to upgrade to the paid LinkedIn services.  This is probably a place for anecdotes from the power users who are doing even more with LinkedIn.

Section 2: While the first section focuses on the "find and be found" aspect of LinkedIn, the second section of the book focuses on the connection aspect: finding and getting introduced to other LinkedIn users; recommendations; advertising services and jobs; searching for jobs; LinkedIn Groups; and LinkedIn Answers.  Jason does a nice job of covering the various aspects of these services and the general questions about how open/closed one should be in making connections. 

One thing I've frequently wondered about making connections: Is there any point in connecting to people who are already connected to one another?  In other words, should I bother adding five more connections to people from the same network, when I am connected to twenty others?  I usually do so, but I doubt it will add much to my "reach" in terms of numbers of people I can connect to in LinkedIn.

Recommendations are clearly useful in the job search.  Chapter 8 focuses on the hows of recommendations and describes the basic importance in finding work for the people who have recommendations.  LinkedIn definitely reinforces this importance in the Jobs section with the comment that "applicants with recommendations are preferred."  I also see that the Services section (Chapter 10) relies heavily on recommendations.  If I look for a lawyer, the listing shows me those who are nearby in my network AND those lawyers who have many recommendations.

I appreciated the discussion of LinkedIn Groups, as I have been trying to describe the point to a network associated with a smallish alumni group.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a full answer, but I think this has more to do with LinkedIn's implementation and description of Groups than anything Jason missed.  Jason provided a handy LinkedIn - Yahoo! groups comparison table, which makes me think I need to setup a LinkedIn group even less.

Section 3: The last set of chapters starts with a look at using LinkedIn in connection with personal branding.  Jason talks about how one can use their profile to reinforce who they are and let people learn more about their skills and interests.  Jason also provides guidance around netiquette within LinkedIn and reminds us that there are idiots everywhere and LinkedIn is no exception. 

The book wraps up with brief commentary on other tools, services and books that can extend your networking and branding and job-finding capacity.  Some are of the tools complements to LinkedIn and some overlap quite heavily.  Knowing about them and making a conscious decision as to which ones fit your needs is a smart thing to do.

Things I did as a result of reading this book (my own optimizing efforts):

  • Make sure my "contact settings" indicate I am looking for work.
  • Followed-up with a connection, who offered to help me connect with people in his network.
  • Discovered four former colleagues from my days at Searle via the "just joined LinkedIn" feature.
  • Reviewed my long list of connections to prune out those I _really_ do not know.  (I tend to subscribe to the philosophy of making connections and recommendations through people about whom I can say something cogent.)
  • Got distracted with an interesting Question from my network: Andrew Keen says web2.0 is endangering the culture and economy. Agree?
  • Updated my "interests" and "associations" sections.
  • Updated my websites to use the title of my company, instead of just "My Company."
  • Did a few job searches, based on Jason's comments about using the Advanced Search features.
  • Requested that a colleague (1st degree) give me feedback on my profile.
  • Put a LinkedIn button to my profile on my sidebar.

Things that weren't discussed in the book or that could use additional detail:

  • I'd like to hear about more mashups that relate to LinkedIn.  (Did you know that the LinkedIn jobs board is via a service from SimplyHired?  I didn't.)  Unfortunately, I don't think there are any as LinkedIn haven't released their API, yet.
  • In the discussion of connection types (Chapter 5), there could be more description of motivations behind the open/closed networker philosophies.  In particular, how does it affect the other features of LinkedIn?
  • I'd like to see more discussion about passing along requests for connection.  In my mind, this is a core aspect of the original intent behind LinkedIn.  It was touched upon in discussing degrees of separation (Chapter 7).  There needs to be more about why one might want to use these requests and etiquette for passing requests along.
  • One aspect that I would like to understand better with respect to Services (Chapter 10) is how I decide whether I should try to get listed as a service provider in the management consulting area.  Do I simply request more recommendations, or is there more to it than that?
  • I would have liked to read about more examples and experiences with the personal branding discussion in Chapter 13.
  • What parts of the LinkedIn service are evolving?  What should we expect when the LinkedIn API opens to other developers?  What will become of LinkedIn Groups? 

By the way, feel free to look at my public profile.  If we know each other, even through the community on my blog, I am likely to accept a connection.  Remind me how we are connected, if we haven't communicated recently.

Disclaimer: I am getting a percentage of book sales via click-throughs from this page.

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