Effective Use of LinkedIn
For years I ignored the LinkedIn emails asking me if I wanted to “connect” with someone. Yet there are 300 million people on LinkedIn and it is an effective tool—if you use it properly.
I changed my resistance to active use of LinkedIn. While my public profile says that I have 500+ connections, it is really over 4,000 connections. It is one of three or four social networks that I use constantly. For example, I regularly post updates and publishing information on LinkedIn. I use Hootsuite (an effective free tool) for these posts and they appear throughout each day with articles that I'm reading and other comments related to publishing.
Here's an example of a profile that I did not accept their invitation--in fact I marked it as spam so they will not be able to invite me again:
To make effective use of LinkedIn, your first priority is to fill out your profile. I see some people who don't have their photo or location or background with their profile. Unless I recognize your name, I'm probably not going to connect with your LinkedIn profile. It does take a bit of effort but is well worth it.
The second step is to connect with people that you know—and people who know you. We live in a mobile society where individuals change positions. The publishing world is fluid and it's common for people to change positions several times during their career. Here's one of the key details for LinkedIn: many professionals and business people use this network. If they change positions or move, they take their LinkedIn information with them. They change their emails, phone number and address information in the contact section of LinkedIn.
If you are trying to pitch a particular editor or literary agent and you are connected to them through LinkedIn, you can quickly check to see if they are in the same location by checking their profile—before you fire off your proposal or query and learn they are no longer with the company or have changed positions.
LinkedIn has tools to help you expand your connections. Because of my large number of connections, I receive several invitations a day to connect with individuals. I do not want to be connected to spammers or individuals who I don't immediately recognize. Each time I check their profile and:
—If blank or only starting their connections, often I do not connect with them.
—If they are outside of the U.S. and I see no immediate relationship, then I do not connect with them. Sometimes I mark the person as spam and if so, LinkedIn will not allow them to send me another invitation.
—If I see they have connections with other publishing people that I know, like and trust, then I will often connect with those individuals.
Notice several things about how I used LinkedIn:
1. I do not spend much time on the site.
2. My profile is completely filled out—and LinkedIn lists me as an “all-star” with my information which has a great deal of detail.
3. I'm cautious and thoughtful about the people that I do connect with on the site.
There are many other ways to use LinkedIn. There are groups and other tools on the site. I have not chosen to get involved in these aspects because my time is focused mostly on being an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and helping other authors get their books into print.
If I receive an invitation to connect with someone I do not recognize, some times I will reply to that invitation. The email goes directly to their in box. In my short email, I ask them to remind me of our connection or relationship.
Sometimes I hear that the person and I met at a conference or has a connection with me. In those cases, I will accept their Facebook and Twitter. In those cases, it is often unlikely that I will connect with them for that reason. I have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter. You need to give me a stronger connection for LinkedIn.
There are probably many more effective ways to use LinkedIn. I suspect many of those ways I'm not using involve large volumes of time (something I do not have to spend on LinkedIn at the moment). As an additional resource, I encourage you to grab this 35 page report on LinkedIn from my friend John Kremer. Through this post, I hope I've given you some new ideas how you can connect with others in your profession and increase your use of this site.