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October 7, 2009

Linked In and new ways to leverage trust based networks

The impact on my professional career of becoming Linked In about two years ago has been phenomenal.

I landed in Australia in January after a decade away, with a network that was limited to say the least.

Today I regularly call on leaders of industry throughout Australia, New Zealand and correspond regularly with nearby Asian countries. As you can imagine, that means we have been able to generate a reasonable income as well.

Linked In was fundamental as a tool to enable that, but it is by no means a silver bullet.

Linked In is a phenomenal trust based asset, possibly one of the best ones there are, but it isn't Facebook and it definitely isn't Twitter. 

Tricks like generic invitations, spamming groups with statements about your brilliance, or direct spamming to individuals within Linked In will probably get you ostracized. 

There are a few Linked In "Trainers" and "Coaches" who seem to get a bit of attention. I find this amazing as you would think that a coach should have actually played at some time or other...but I digress...

Like all Trust Based assets Linked In will not work if you are not worth trusting. And that means both your character and your ability to deliver what you say you can. (What is says on the package!)

The good news is that Linked In is making it easier and easier for us to develop these assets.

Your first call is to develop a real profile. One that really states what you do for a living, along with your track record of achievement.

Second is to get recommendations. And without meaning to offend anybody, they need to be recommendations that count. 

For example; if you work in the film industry then a recommendation from me means 2/3 of nothing. But if you have one from George Lucas.... you get my drift.

You need to be recommended by people who others would see as a trusted source of information. People who themselves have a powerful brand, or whose title confers them a level of trust.

Not swapping recommendations, nor getting recommendations from people whop barely know you. But real ones, from trusted industry players. 

Third, build your network. Again, you need to be discriminating here and understand a little bit about how the system actually works. For example, I can see the details of people in my network up to three degrees away. Not their contact or personal details, but their names, titles and so on. 

So before you connect to anybody consider whether or not you are disclosing information that may be important to your own competitive advantage. (And if you don't think that relationships are a competitive advantage then you are in the wrong game)

Also think about whether the people you are connected to would like to be able to be contacted by this person. This is also another reason why I personally make sure my connections are private and hidden from view. 

There are other reasons but I have blogged on that several times now and I'm pretty much done with it.

Using Linked In

I have a paid subscription to Linked In, and if you are a consultant or recruiter then I suggest that you cough up and do the same. 

I use the system for electronic cold calls, or keeping in contact with old colleagues, and for improving visibility of my own personal brand. 

The beauty of cold calling via LinkedIn is that immediately the recipient can see who you are, who you know, and more importantly - who knows you! THey can see your recommendations and if they wish to they can even reference check you before they even think about writing back.

Would they? Probably not to that extent...but they could...

Here are some of my own personal tactics.
  • I have 5 different searches set up on LinkedIn to send me an email whenever somebody new joins the system. That way I am alerted to other potential clients within my industries and geographies as soon as they appear.
  • I often search on different more specific statements, skill sets and types also, ensuring that my reach within my own disciplines is at a good level.
  • Recently I have been using it to source candidates for some roles I want to fill here in Australia. That means from advertising, through to reference checking. The results so far have been sensational.
  • Instead of sending an invitation first I always send an Inmail. Why? Because if they aren't interested they won't reply. If they aren't interested in the invitation then they could give you a black mark, which causes problems with the system.

Why is all of this important?

Here are some other titles of people presently on LinkedIn.
  • Group Vice President and General Manager JD Edwards Enterprise One at Oracle Corp
  • SVP Bank of America eCommerce
  • CEO, President and Board Member at Alpha Sintered Metals, Inc.
  • VP Synthetics at Exxon Mobil Corp
  • Vice-President at Exxon Mobil Russia
  • Senior Vice President at Saudi Chevron Phillips Co
  • CEO BHPBilliton-Mitsubishi Alliance
  • President and CEO at Rio Tinto Minerals
  • President & CEO at AIG Rail Services
  • VP Human Resources at Ford Motor
  • Vice President Francisco Partners (Venture Capital)
How many trade shows would you have to go to to get access to all of those people at once? How many books would you have to sell, or speeches would you have to give?

The value of LinkedIn should now be strikingly obvious, even to the most technology - phobic among us.

Good luck !

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