Thursday, July 28, 2005

How To Email All of Your Direct LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn provides an easy way to send an email to all of your contacts, even ones that are not registered in LinkedIn.
  1. Log into LinkedIn.
  2. Click "My Profile" tab.
  3. Click orange area which says "Recently updated your profile? Let your network know...".
  4. Follow the instructions on the "Send Your Updated Profile" page. Note that you can add email addresses for people to whom you are not directly connected.
The premise for this feature is to notify a number of people after you update your profile, but of course you could use it any time for any reason.

Personally, I have never felt comfortable with the idea of sending a mass mailing, be it a LinkedIn profile update or a Christmas card with a newsletter of what I did over the past year. I have always preferred person to person communication.

But I must admit I have used this LinkedIn feature once recently to announce that I had totally overhauled my LinkedIn profile, and to relay news about a lot changes in my life within in a few months period (promotion, graduated with an MBA, became a board member for a non-profit, etc.). I thought if I talked to each person individually about all of these major changes, it would be months before I got to tell some people, and those who I told later might be disappointed that I didn't tell them about all of these changes earlier. So I made an exception and sent my first mass email. I advise that you too only use this feature in exceptional cases. Otherwise, you might find your direct connection count decreasing as your direct connections sever their connection with you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Finding "Hidden" Colleagues in LinkedIn

Travis K posted the following useful tip to the My LinkedIn Power Forum Yahoo! Group:
I couldn't find anything on this in the archives, but my apologies if someone has noted this before: 
Problem: The "Find Colleagues" function, located under "My Contacts" or on the home page, will only show 50 colleagues at most. Unfortunately it appears to only show the first 50 colleagues that signed up on LinkedIn. If you worked for a larger company, you may have a "window" of missed colleagues between the first 50 and "Find New". I always wondered why I could see former colleagues in my network but I could not find them in my list even if the company in our profiles matched word-for-word. 
Workaround: Select the "Find New" option. You will probably only have a few new LinkedIners in the list. You'll notice that the URL in your browser looks like this:
"lastAnalyzed" is a timestamp indicating a search for the date in which your contacts joined LinkedIn (or your network, not sure). If you modify the fifth digit from the left and slowly reduce the timestamp, you may end up finding colleagues that this tool would never have shown you otherwise. I ended up finding about 10 contacts that I otherwise would have had to initiate requests for. Try this with all the variations of your company names and you may dig up some useful contacts. 
If I missed something and there is a way to find these colleagues using the normal web interface, please let me know. 
Travis K
Thanks to Travis for letting me share this tip on this blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Use Viral Marketing to Market Yourself

Viral marketing is a powerful concept that is used by many companies with much success. Yahoo! uses viral marketing in emails sent by Yahoo! Mail users who use its basic email service: Every time a Yahoo! Mail user sends an email using a free account, an advertisement for Yahoo! is appended to the end of the email. This email may get forwarded to numerous other people, who will all have the opportunity to "catch the marketing virus" by seeing the advertisement.

You can put the same concept to work for yourself by appending one or more web addresses (URLs) to the bottom of every email you send. I append anywhere from one to five addresses after my name at the bottom of every email I send. Often one of the addresses I include is my LinkedIn personal profile address:

When someone clicks on this address, they will see my profile if they are logged into LinkedIn. If someone clicks on my profile and they do not have a LinkedIn account, they will reach the LinkedIn home page which will encourage them to register.

So how do you determine your profile's address? Follow these instructions to find out:
  1. Log into LinkedIn.
  2. Click the "My Profile" tab.
  3. In the upper right corner of the Profile Information page, click "View your profile as others see it" link to go to the User Profile page.
  4. Look at the address (URL) for this user profile page. It will look like the following link, but will have a different number at the end:
  5. Copy the address that follows, and paste it into your browser:
  6. Type the number you noted in step 4 to the end of the address of you pasted into the browser, so that you have an address that looks like this:
  7. Press enter in your browser to load the new address that looks like this:
  8. You should now see your profile using this address.
Many email clients allow you to configure a standard "signature" that can be populated into every email you write by default. You may want to edit your signature to include your LinkedIn profile address. For my signatures, I put the addresses in a small font so that they do not appear too obtrusive.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Receiving Invitations from Unknown Persons?

Receiving invitations to connect from people you don't you know? If your strategy is to link to as many people as possible, then you may accept an invitation from just about anyone. LinkedIn, the company, does not advise this strategy, since the intent of the service is for people to create "trusted connections", i.e. connections between people who know and trust each other very well.

Let's say that you don't want to accept an invitation, now what?

You may be tempted to select "Decline", but I advise against it. By clicking "Decline", you close the door to being connected to this person in the future. You may also find that you've burned a bridge, and may regret your decision later.

You may be tempted to not take any action. If you do this, you may receive automated reminders or manually sent reminders to link. Also, the request to connect will show on your home page.

When I receive invitations from people I don't know, I select "Decide Later". This removes the notice of the invitation from my LinkedIn home page, and prevents reminder automated emails from being sent to me. I then send an email to the person who invited me to connect to them. I tell them that I appreciate their invitation, but prefer to only connect to those I know personally. I then extend an invitation to get to know me better, and offer to help in whichever way I can. I then hope the recipient respects my decision.

Do you have a strategy for handling invitations from people haven't met? If you do, please share your strategy by posting comments to this post.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

LinkedIn Only a Tool for within the Larger Networking Process

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for use within part of the networking process, but is certainly not applicable to the entire process.

Seth Levine has written an extremely useful short series of blog posts about networking (links at end of post). In his Networking 101 post, one of the steps, step 2, is to "exercise your existing network", which involves tracking down people you'd like to meet through people you already know. LinkedIn is perfectly suited for this purpose.

Benedict Casnocha pointed out in one of the comments on Mr. Levine's blog entries that there are some parallels between Mr. Levine and Keith Ferrazzi's networking process. Mr. Ferrazzi may be the ultimate networker. Although Mr. Ferrazzi's style is much too over-the-top for me, I think he offers a lot of great ideas.

Seth Levine's Blog Posts
(Read the comments for valuable information):
Networking 101
Networking 101 Expanded
Here's how you do it

About Keith Ferrazzi:
Meet the MasterMinds: Connecting with Keith FerrazziThe 10 Secrets of a Master Networker
Never Eat Alone

Benedict Casnocha's home page

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Be Found By Anyone in LinkedIn

Note: On August 5, 2005, substantial changes were implemented to the LinkedIn service. This post has been updated on August 9, 2005, to reflect these changes.

Are you concerned that someone is looking for you in LinkedIn, and they won't be able to find you? Maybe someone is looking for your skills set and experience, and would offer you the opportunity of lifetime...but can't because you are out of reach.

The purpose of this post is to outline a quick and easy way to eliminate the risk of missing opportunities to be contacted via LinkedIn.

If you would like to mitigate or eliminate this risk, two solutions are:
1) Make hundreds or thousands of connections to people you don't know to extend your "trusted network", and join many LinkedIn groups.
2) Change a contact setting for your LinkedIn account to allow anyone registered in LinkedIn to see at least some of your profile information.

The first option will take a lot of time sending and receving invitations to join people's networks, and some effort to find and join LinkedIn groups. After you connect to hundreds or even thousands of people and join numerous groups, you will still find that you cannot reach everyone, so the risk of missing an opportunity is mitigated, but not eliminated.

The second option enables anyone to see at least a portion of your profile, but only takes a minute:
1) Log into LinkedIn.
2) Click on the "Settings" link at the top of the home page.
3) Select "Through an Introduction from one of my connections, or directly via InMail™" if it's not already selected.
4) Click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the page.
...and you're done!

By selecting the option above, you can be contacted by anyone in your trusted network and LinkedIn groups, as well as anyone who would like to send you an InMail. InMail is a new feature which allows paying subscribers or single InMail message purchasers to contact you directly without going through a trusted network. Because InMail messages are only available through a paid subscription of $15 per month for three active InMails or $10 per individual InMail, you are protected from spam by the sheer cost of sending you an InMail.

Of course, if you find that you get inundated with InMails, you can always turn the feature off.

Going back to the first option of connecting to hundreds or thousands of people, some will argue that there are other reasons one would want to do this, including increased opportunities to be able to connect to people who can only be reached through a trusted network. But I'll defer discussion of the pros and cons of having numerous contacts for another post on another day.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

LinkedIn Tips: Step-by-Step

Whether you're someone who has just started using LinkedIn or who has been using it for a while, I suggest you check out these LinkedIn Tips. These tips walk you through a step-by-step process of getting started with configuring your account and inviting connections. For those who are new to LinkedIn, I suggest following the steps in the order given. For experienced LinkedIn users, I suggest skimming through each step to see if there any steps you may have missed.

When I first joined LinkedIn, I found the site to be a little overwhelming. There are so many features it can be difficult to figure out where to start exploring. After spending a weekend bouncing around the site in an inefficient manner, I wrote the tips to help others get up to speed in a systematic and efficient manner. With every invitation to connect I send, I include a link to the LinkedIn Tips.

There are a number of other sites with LinkedIn tips, but I think these tips are the only ones which walk you through the process of getting started from scratch.

Blogs for Business

Here is a directory of blogs that includes a category for business networking. I have registered this blog in that category, and found a number of useful blogs listed there as well. The information in many of the blogs is useful regardless of the size of the business you are involved with.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Yahoo! Groups About LinkedIn

I'm a member of four Yahoo! Groups related to LinkedIn:
  1. Linked Innovators
  2. LinkedIn Bloggers
  3. LinkedIn IT
  4. MyLinkedInPowerForum

The first three don't generate a lot of emails, but the fourth is very lively. All of them offer useful information. If you'd like to meet a lot of people using LinkedIn, and read about their strategies for using it, these are good places to do so. There are a lot of confliting opinions offered about the purpose of LinkedIn, and the best way to use it to further one's goals, whatever they may be.

Note that if you post a message to one of these forums and do not state in your post that you are not willing to accept invitations to connect from people you don't know, you will be sent a lot of invitations to connect. Some view this positively, others negatively.

New Blog About LinkedIn Service

I've created this blog to share information relevant to the LinkedIn service. Some postings on this blog were previously posted on my personal blog, and have been moved here to consolidate posts about LinkedIn-related subjects.