How I Use LinkedIn Content for Intelligence



When LinkedIn
introduced questions and answers, it gave people the ability to
interact more easily with each other without needing to be connected
directly. That expanded the pool of potential networking opportunities
exponentially for those who don't upgrade their account.

Within the span of a couple of months, the membership grew by more than 300%. That was a couple of years ago. Then LinkedIn went ahead and introduced another integration — that of applications.
Now you could syndicate your blog posts, post your slides from SlideShare
and share your reading list from Amazon and events you're attending all in one place.

More recently, it rolled out new features for groups. As you can see in the short video above [YouTube link, 2:23], you now have Facebook-like features. The site also integrates Twitter streams on the home page. My recommendation for those is: use with caution, use the hashtag #in to filter what you import there.

Today this network has more than 70MM members. Can you blog on LinkedIn? Absolutely. You can do that by:

  • asking great questions
  • being generous in answering questions 
  • fine tuning your profile, look at keywords, descriptions, recommendations
  • giving recommendations
  • joining or starting a group
  • updating your status message, at a minimum
  • following companies

If you're a consultant or are seeking new career opportunities these small steps might be the most important ones you can take.

Industry leaders

Although there seems to be an important feature missing that would make the network more powerful in addressing keeping track of those you are not connected with* — the ability to follow what industry leaders are saying, if they indeed are using the tool to do that.

Gathering intelligence through content

You probably thought if I meant for signs of intelligence. I know you'll believe me when I tell you that on more than one occasion I've been approached as if I were a head hunter because I was sharing job posts with my groups. One glance at my profile would have cured that misunderstanding.

Lesson #1 — check out people's profiles. I don't mean just scanning them. Read between the lines and connect the dots. Are the keywords used demonstrating true knowledge of the industry or are they just marketing? If you've worked in it, you can tell.

__________

Because I'm very interested in learning about the challenges people face and goodness we can share in advertising and promotion, public relations, and search marketing, I syndicate those questions to my Google Reader account. More about how I use Google Reader here.

Lesson #2 — keep a pulse on your industry. I'm particularly interested in the questions. When people ask very good questions, I know they've done their homework, have a real problem, and are planning to invest time in culling the information. See how generous the community is in this example when I asked should you outsource social media? and, on the flip side, the top ten reasons why your LinkedIn question is getting (mostly) pitches to see the difference.

__________

Partly thanks to the promiscuity of networks like Twitter, the number of invitations people receive to connect in LinkedIn has also gone up. One of the most curious — and most telling — things about those invitations, is that they are often quite casual. Check the "friend" option, and send the canned message.

Many approach social networks as if they were all the same or with the same philosophy. However, quite a few accept invitation only from people they have actually met.

Lesson #3 — identify true professionals by how they present themselves at every interaction and opportunity. When you receive an invitation that provides context on how you met someone, and why they'd like to connect with you, it leaves a better impression. Now relate that to their business, and you can see how important this information is.

__________

You can use LinkedIn as part of your content strategy to gain visibility. A better use of the tool may be to identify industry leaders and the company they keep by reading the content they present and share.

Advice for companies — train your employees to understand how their personal presentation reflects on your business. When someone pulls up the company page, LinkedIn will include the profiles of employees with it. 

Your turn

These are some of the clues I look at for intelligence. I'm more interested in how you use LinkedIn. Have the new features made it easier to use it frequently? What would make it even more useful to you? What are the best LikedIn invitations you accepted? What can we learn from them?

_________

*UPDATE: LinkedIn tells me that feature exists. From the site: you are automatically set to follow any connections' contributions
within groups you share. However, you may also want to follow valued
professional members in your groups who are not 1st degree connections
.

_________

This post is part of the series on blogging at work if you don't have a blog.

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0 responses to “How I Use LinkedIn Content for Intelligence”

  1. Nice post with really good intriguing information.
    I have a question.How can we do blogging on LinkedIn by asking questions and answering other questions.

  2. Palak:
    It’s all in execution. If your questions are fleshed out and asked properly, they can show you’ve prepared and are interested in extending the conversation. The same applies to answers — are you just throwing in a link and talking about your product, or are you providing insights? I know people who have received invitations to do media interviews, provide expert commentary and gotten opportunities to interview with companies on the basis of their LinkedIn participation (without having a blog). Does this help?

  3. As a blogger, it is important to consider what you want to get out of Linkedin. I’ve found that starting conversations in other relevant groups effective at driving QUALITY (not quantity) traffic to our blog, as well as meeting industry leaders. On the other side, our Linkedin group (The Transumer) has not driven traffic “home”. What I realized is that people joining there are doing it “post-blog-visit” and less as an entry point. Has anyone else experienced this?

  4. Earlier today I had a conversation with an industry leader who is seeing the Linkedin light again, after months of dissolution.
    Linkedin is by far the cleanest social network, and for the most part the discussions are the most professional and thought provoking of the major networks. The power of Linkedin is manifold.
    – Research
    – Prospecting
    – Online Resume
    – Company profile
    – Group discourse
    – Events
    – Q&A with Trusted Authorities
    The list goes on and on. Valeria has outlined several remarkable ideas for making your Linkedin presence more powerful, and considerably more findable in this online universe.
    Best Regards,
    Mike Schleif

  5. Hi Valeria –
    Just to echo the concern about automatic importing of Twitter streams, it really can be problematic. When all tweets are shunted into LI, it dilutes the value of regular LI updates.
    I just wish LI offered a way to hide either all tweets or selected users tweets (or be able to filter only tweets with the #LI hashtag). (Yes, kind of like FriendFeed’s features 😉
    Anyway, thanks for the post. Hopefully LI will give us more options to fine tune our intelligence gathering.
    Phil

  6. @Joey – good observations. I find that the best way to bring traffic from LinkedIn to the blog is to help the community on LI answer a question, have a great conversation with take aways, and then communicate the results of the conversation with additional resources in a blog post. Just like I did for the question on outsourcing social media. For that conversation, I also used email to a very specific group of people, as you’ll read in the post. The winning strategy tends to be through integration, seeing all the tools as part of a continuum, and organizing the experience that way.
    @Mike – it has the potential to be a mini Facebook for businesses that are seeking to connect for recruiting, deeper research about people and companies, with a considerable knowledge base. You could even mine the questions and start mapping a series of holes in information, tools, or services you may be able to provide.
    @Phil – yes, noise is to be avoided at all costs to have signal. That’s why we’re constantly seeking new filters, curators, and ways to channel information appropriately. Good thing we still have FriendFeed.

  7. Valeria:
    You mentioned, “Read between the lines and connect the dots.” I usually review the books that a person has listed on their profile. Sometimes a book we both have read or are reading can start the conversation.

  8. Valeria – Love this post and the comments that go with it! I have really gotten SO MUCH more out of LinkedIn groups in the past month than I have for many years. The new formats and features really create better and richer interactions. What’s funny is seconds before I saw this post I put this up as my status on Twitter/LinkedIn: “Thanks to LinkedIn groups, I’ve conversed with people from Australia, South Africa, and the UK this week. Pretty cool.” It’s been a great way to find like-minded people, get my blog to places I wouldn’t have expected it to go, and find interesting content from around the globe. Great insights here – thanks!

  9. @Bruce – good technique looking at third party content you both share. It gives you common ground on the onset. In person, would that be asking what book someone has read recently they liked?
    @Jeannie – it was the first network I joined, after the one I helped create. For having been there since 2003, I have remarkably few connections, comparatively. That’s because I have met people before connecting with them. It’s also a good business tool, thanks to the new features. Glad you enjoyed the post and congratulations again on your one year anniversary.

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