Gayn’s Guide to Starting on Linkedin

Gayn’s Guide to Starting on Linkedin

There are many fine introductions to Linkedin.  There are some great courses as well.  For my friends who ask me for help, I’ve created the following:

0.  Signup with Linkedin.  It’s free.  Fill out a basic profile to get you started.  You can always (and you should frequently) edit and polish your profile.  I think a profile should include a photo appropriate for business.  I also recommend using an alias or secondary email address for Linkedin.  The spammers will eventually get your Linkedin email address, and it should be easy to change to avoid spam.

NOTE:  There are several ways to generate contacts in Linkedin.  My most fundamental advice is to do it one-at-a-time with an individualized message.  It could be to ask an old friend or colleague to get together, or it could be to explain to someone that you have common interests and that it would be mutually beneficial to get to know each other.  Always edit or add to Linkedin’s default message “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”  Also, never let Linkedin have access to your contact list, and never give Linkedin a distribution list (list of email address) to request contacts on your behalf.  The problem is that you can’t customize the request message!  I think impersonal requests cause more harm than good.  Linkedin and its users frown on using the “Don’t know” category in a connection request.  Some Linkedin users are LIONs (“Linked In Open Networkers”) who accept any invitation.  You can use “Friend” or your current company to connect to such users.  Often LIONs will add their email address to their public information to make it easy to contact and connect to them.  None-the-less, customize the invitation, even to a LION.

1.  To really start, convert your current contact lists to Linkedin contacts.  It doesn’t matter if they are in an old fashioned paper Rolodex, or in an email contact list.  Look the person up in Linkedin and click “Add to my network.”  If you’ve done business with that person before, click that button and select your company.  (This list comes from filling out your profile.) If you are just friends, click that button.  If you know their email address, click the “Other” button to get going. If you don’t know an email address, call the person.  Say what’s up, and ask for an email address so that you can connect on Linkedin.  If the person is not on Linkedin, call them up and refresh your acquaintance anyway.  For each person you talk to, ask, “Who do you think I should talk to about this?”  If their recommendation is someone you don’t know, ask for a referral/introduction.”

2.  Every business person in your XXX Club [Fill in XXX with any club you belong to. E.g. bowling, real estate, investing, etc.] should be in your Linkedin contact list.  Use the club’s membership list.  Make it a goal to happen.  You may need to call some members.  It’s a good excuse to talk, as above.  Do this also for all networking groups you join.

3.  Join just under 50 Linkedin groups that interest you. Set your group email for each to WEEKLY; otherwise you’ll be inundated with daily email from the group. The point here is that each group has a lot of chatter, often informative, and most have a list of open jobs and other opportunities.  Participate in the group dialogs, at the very least with a short introductory note when you join.  Note that everyone has access to your Linkedin profile, so that rambling on as to who you are is unnecessary.

4.  Do newspaper and web research.  When you find a name of interest, look it up on Linkedin, and see what groups that person belongs to.  If you’ve groups in common, then Linkedin will let you communicate directly to ask for a connection.  If not, join one of their groups.  [This is why you initially join under the limit of 50 groups – so that you can add more.]  If the person is interesting, then their groups are probably interesting.  When I personalize my connection request, I mention how that person’s name came up.

5.  Each time you get a connection, look at your contact’s contacts.  Obviously if you know someone, especially one you worked with before, ask them to connect.  Anyone who is interesting that you don’t know, but one who is in a common group, you can ask to connect using the Group option.  If this fails, ask your new contact for an introduction.

6.  Spend 30 minutes to an hour/day gathering contacts.  If you are really busy, skip that day, but don’t skip often or you won’t get anywhere.  After a few weeks, you’ll have enough contacts to seriously use Linkedin, but never stop adding connections. (Some have thousands!)

7.  Ask key contacts to write you a brief Linkedin recommendation.  As you reacquaint yourself with past colleagues, ask them (as appropriate) if they would like you to write a Linkedin recommendation for them.

8.  Linkedin Help works rather well.  Googling your help question also works, e.g. Google “how to delete a group in Linkedin”.  Also explore for more help and information.

9.  Using Linkedin for a job (or consulting) search.

a.  Look up and “Follow” each of your target companies.  Try to add as many contacts as you can from each such company using the above techniques.

b.  When you find an interesting opportunity in company X, look up your contacts in X, or try to add some.  Ask such a contact for details on the position, from their perspective, who was in the position formerly, who the hiring manager is, etc.  Note that the job description might say that the position reports to “Manager of FooBar”.  Use Linkedin’s Advanced Search to find out who that is.  With no luck finding the hiring manager, you can try for an HR manager who might give you some information.

c.  Linkedin’s job listings aren’t bad, especially if you have a simple set of attributes of job titles, e.g. “program manager” or “accounting director”.  Linkedin will cleverly send you listing of similar positions.

d.  Guy Kawasaki’s famous post “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job” on his blog is worth reading.

e. Check if your target company is still hiring.  Company pages on LinkedIn include a section called “New Hires” that lists people who have recently joined the company.  Ask these new hires how they got their new job.  At the very least examine their backgrounds to surmise what made them attractive to your target company.

Good luck,



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