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I attended a seminar conducted by David Leaver and Virginia Steinberg of Opus Partners today. The workshop was on  Social Sales: A Key to Effective Business Growth with a specific focus on LinkedIn. Given my strong conviction about the role of social media, I do have a LinkedIn account. However, I have treated it like the proverbial step-child and been more than a little neglectful. There are a couple of different reasons for this including concerns about time and a certain anxiety about self-promotion.

Image courtesy of LinkedIn Blog

So, I knew I would learn something valuable from the seminar especially because I have evidence of  the facilitators’ expertise in using this tool – they are meaningfully active on LinkedIn and I knew they would be great tour guides to familiarize myself with this new territory. Boy, was I right and I sit here now with the renewed awareness that LinkedIn is about way more than setting up shop with a profile. Here are some of my take-aways from today’s session:

  • LinkedIn is a social media tool which is dynamic – don’t treat it as a static website that houses your resume.
  • Your connections on LinkedIn should be a combination that reflects your past, present and your projected future.
  • Use the Groups on LinkedIn to stay on top of industry developments and to establish connections with others in the field.
  • You can try out some Groups and then decide to disengage with them if you find that the peer group there is not providing what you need.
  • In the best of Groups, members share valuable information; feel free to engage with such members by either commenting on their links or responding to queries. Thoughtful interactions are the main purpose of Groups.
  • You can choose to follow companies that interest you and this is a great way to express your interest in an organization.
  • There are valuable insights to be learnt from the kind of people who are following a company; there are insights in the companies a person chooses to follow!
  • Remember to explore the various tabs in your home page, especially More which will lead you to interesting sub-categories such as Answers, Polls and Skills.
As you can tell, LinkedIn has a lot to offer depending on how we choose to utilize it. It is possible to get fixated on Connections and not see the value of all the layers of information available to every member.
Having said that, I do have to say that  the Connections are a key component of the tool. And it has been one of my biggest challenges. If you are like me, and suffer from the I’d die rather than promote myself syndrome, it can sometimes be hard to go about building a network. For this reason, the attitude adjustment that I acquired  at today’s session is my biggest take-away. Think of your connections as ways in which you bring together people – it is not about how many people you are seeing as useful to you, but a matter of pulling together your many spheres so that others can find connections that may help them. David and Virginia wholly believe in this generous-spirited approach in their use of social media, and speak of Giving First as their guiding principle – and I believe this is their biggest strength. This attitude fits in with my world view and will definitely facilitate my engagement with LinkedIn. I hope it helps you get more out of your LinkedIn experience also!
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