Tag Archives: networking

Are you being ‘used’ for your connections on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an amazing tool and the site that professionals rely on to keep in touch with their connections and maintain that connection throughout your career. It is often frustrating to try and get in touch with someone only to find that they have moved companies and you no longer have their updated details or new phone number.

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With LinkedIn you can maintain the connection easily, staying in touch as each of you move roles and progress across companies, email address and phone number.

Used correctly, LinkedIn is very powerful.

Some connections use the LinkedIn Openlink Network, available to premium subscribers.

This enables connections to connect with and send messages to anyone in their network.

Others might append LION to their display name to indicate that they are a LinkedIn Open Networker and open to connecting.

But LinkedIn is also ruthlessly used by people who use you to mine your connections and get connected to your own business contacts, partners and customers. This can put your own LinkedIn connections at risk – especially if you maintain good relationships with your clients and partners on LinkedIn.

You could lose competitive advantage, and run the risk of losing business, simply by adding a new contact to your LinkedIn network.

You might receive a message to connect in LinkedIn like this. The messages might be from someone you didn’t know and they might say:

“Hi Eileen, We’re both connected to [CONNECTION NAME] and she mentioned that you would be a great person to connect with. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
Kind regards [NEW CONNECTION NAME]

If you look at their profile you might find that they work in a similar role or geographical area to you. Their website says that they work with different customers, but they blog about moving into working with the sort of clients that you actually have.

By connecting with the new connection, you might find that they are connecting with all of your hard-won LinkedIn contacts with the aim of doing business with them.

LinkedIn makes it easy to to this by publishing your connections to your contacts by default.  You can turn this setting off in your profile so that no one can see your other connections unless you have mutual connections.

The setting is in the Profile tab of your settings and is accessed by clicking the “Select who can see your connections” link. Change the drop down list box to “Only you”. if you want to protect your connections from being spammed by people they do not know.

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If you want to protect your LinkedIn connections and customers, maintain the business relationships you have the consider changing the privacy of your connections and make sure that your customers stay loyal to you – no matter what social network they use…

Image Credit: pasukaru76

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

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LinkedIn now hides your profile details by default

LinkedIn’s settings prevent the use of effective business networking.  Here’s a screen shot of who has looked at my profile recently:

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When i joined LinkedIn in 2005, all profiles were open.  if someone looked at my profile, then it encouraged me to get in touch with them and re-forge the connection – or make new connections and initiate conversation.

LinkedIn has been layering extra levels of security and privacy onto its new accounts.  If you upgrade your account to a subscription option, then you will be able to see who has viewed your profile. For users with the basic subscription you will not be able to see everyone who has viewed your profile.

For new users too, there is an issue.  The default setting on LinkedIn is for your details not to be viewed by default.  This raises an interesting question.

Why do you want to hide your details if the whole purpose of your joining LinkedIn is to effectively carry our business networking?

You don’t attend business meetings and refuse to share any details about yourself.  You give our information about your name and job role.  You hand out your business card and chat about what you do – unless you work in the security services of course.

But now, more and more people who have created accounts on LinkedIn find that they are hidden by default from their colleagues and potential new employers.

Here’s how to change the setting and check whether your LinkedIn account is showing the details that you want it to.

Look for the Settings link under your name in the top right hand corner of the home page

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Click on the Profile tab on the left – and the link Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile

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Choose your display options

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Click on Save Changes.

Perhaps you want to be anonymous for a while – as you are building up your profile, or looking at profiles from a company where you might like to work. But many new users of LinkedIn are not aware that their profiles are hidden – and are unaware that they can easily change this setting.

LinkedIn are trading ease of connecting with the desire to earn revenue outside of traditional advertising – and compromising the ethos of the service.

Not good…

 

Networking: Why you need to follow up

I’ve written about the death of the business card before, but I’ll say it again. How many business cards have you collected at a meeting and ignored?

There they are in a growing heap on your desk, or in your drawer.

Gathering dust.

Do you honestly remember the person you met?  Do you know why you took their card?  Do you know what they actually DO?

Have you ever made further contact with any of these people? have you added them to your email contact list?  Are they in your phone memory?

No?? Then why are you keeping their cards?

You need to stay in touch with these people – regardless of the result.  If you don’t get any response from the person – then fine.  At least you made contact.

Networking is only Networking if you keep in contact with the person you met.  it might be through LinkedIn, it might be via email.  At least you kept in touch.  And they might

They might have lost your card.  An email from you makes it easy for them to reconnect with you.

 

imageThey might have some business to give you.  After my trip to the women in business conference in Las Vegas in June, I emailed every contact from every business card I’d received.  At the event, I told them that I would add them to my newsletter so if they forgot to respond to me, then they would get to hear from me every month.  There might be business from making this initial effort.  I know it works because I’ve already been approached about a possible UK / US partnership because I followed up straight after the event!

My approach to this type of networking is simple

I meet someone new, have a chat to them about their business, tell them about what I do

We exchange cards, and I tell them that I’m going to add them to the list to receive my newsletter

I email them shortly after I’ve met them.  I remind them of the conversation we had at the event.  I tell them again what I do as a business putting it into context for their business.

I put their contact details into Outlook

Then I throw their card away

If they respond – all well and good, if they don’t respond, then after a while, I’ll move their contact details into a different contact folder names ‘Inactive’.  If they get in touch after a while, then I still have their details.  but I still throw their cards away…

Following up shows that the customer or the connection matters to you.  You cared enough to get in touch, you cared enough to make the connection.  If you’re running a small business, that new connection could lead to a new piece of business for you.  You never know.

Throwing the card away will get rid of that ever increasing pile on your desk – and might bring you the connection or business opportunity you’ve been looking for…

Image credit: Flickr 

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for BusinessContact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

2011: The year of the corporate social enterprise?

For many companies, 2011 is turning into the year that social media crosses the threshold from being an irritant or a topic for conversations around the water cooler.  Companies are beginning to realise that far from being a technology to dread, social collaboration is bringing real benefits to companies.  Social behaviour is fast becoming the sanctioned tool for communicating across the enterprise.

This evolution and behaviour change is not totally unexpected when you consider the pace of recent technology changes and tools adoption.

This natural process in the workplace  is being helped in part by our online behaviour in our free time.  We are consumers of social technology at home, directly or indirectly.  Social technologies like Google+ and Facebook are helping with our adoption of social networks.  Half of the UK online community have Facebook accounts and over 30 million people have signed up already for Google + accounts with many more still to come.

With these social media platforms becoming ingrained in our daily communications culture at work, there is a great opportunity for awareness and outreach to people who communicate in completely different ways. More and more online users are becoming active online and engaging primarily through status updates on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Mobile users and road warriors, equipped with iPads and smartphones can keep up to date with what is happening across their networks and engage with their colleagues using community and social portals for interaction and engagement.

Repeat engagement and interaction with colleagues and friends in social networks  adds significant value to the conversation and propagates awareness of  network activities. Internal networks highlight enthusiasts who are encouraged to create compelling content for their internal network sites and portals. 

This encourages repeat engagement with the portal, site or network community. Which then encourages regular interaction from members of the network and fosters repeat visits to the portal or community site.

The difference in this networking see change is the way that it is being implemented in companies.  Unlike every other revolution in corporate communications, social networking did not start as an idea handed from the top down.  For behaviour changes like this, there is no infrastructure outlay, no meetings about how and when the corporation would invest in the technology. The only real decision has been “Are we going to allow this type of communication here?”

Demand for this change in communication and the expertise in how to manage this way of working has changed too.  This new way of working has propagated from every part of the enterprise—which has also been the reason for the slow adoption.

Top down companies need to be in control.  Top down control has been a part of company culture for years.

So how can social collaboration change this?

Companies who recognise the value of social collaboration are changing their behaviour.  They are shifting their current mind-set and becoming more open and transparent. An awareness of the types of people who use and adopt social collaboration is key to understanding how to drive and foster engagement across the networks. 

Forrester’s Technographic ladder and profile tool shows that people who engage online fall into the following categories: consumers are collectors, critics, conversationalist and creators and that their engagement increases year on year. The B2B version of this interactive tool from Forrester is here by the way

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This classification of people also applies to people within an organisation and how they collaborate on internal portals and networking sites.  It is also important to remember that some people will never engage online.  These types of people, the ‘inactives’ in the tool above tend to prefer offline engagement and interaction and are unlikely to engage online.  However, there is a great opportunity encourage others in the organisation to engage with networks and have a multi way conversation that complements the traditional ‘push’ email approach.

Working to improve engagement internally and using internal ‘creators’ and ‘critics’ to supply content and interact with content owners can have really positive effects within an organisation.  If this effort is carried out where the workforce spends most of their time will bring great rewards, generate enthusiasm and change the way your organisation collaborates.

Will 2011 be the year that your company actually crosses the threshold and becomes a social enterprise?

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.