I couldn’t think of a better week to revive my series “Previously on LinkedIn” (featuring 3 to 5 carefully curated blog posts sharing smart ways to use LinkedIn). Not only did we cross 75 million professionals on our site this week, but we also added new tech talent to the LinkedIn family – mSpoke.
1. How to write a balanced recommendation? by Chris Brogan
This post is a month old but the question is still very relevant and at the heart of business networking and professional relationship building. What’s the value of a public recommendation if its cloyingly positive and not balanced. I think public recommendations are necessary but sometimes people go overboard with the praise.
Chris’ suggestion to lead with strong positive language but keep it balanced is often ignored:
Of another person’s recommendation, I added the following gently-couched negative statement, “_____ isn’t always clear in what she needs. She sometimes needs encouragement to draw out details that might be useful to the execution of the project.” I did my best to make this sentiment clearly an issue, but didn’t crush the person. I didn’t say, “____ is too shy and mumbly to successfully convince people to follow her lead.” The first would be a bit kind to her; the second a bit harsh.
And again, if there’s a reason you wouldn’t recommend the person, don’t.
I think this candor lends the authenticity that many reviews lack though it’s a delicate balancing act. There’s the social etiquette you have to keep in mind and your relationship with the person in question, but being candid is in the best interests of all parties involved. I’d also recommend you read my colleague, Adam Nash’s, excellent post on Recommendations and the Reputation Economy. And, take him up on his challenge “to select three of your connections who fit this description, and write them a LinkedIn recommendation, unsolicited.”
From a hiring manager’s perspective, who often look for the negative to weed out candidates (the same way one ferrets out those negative reviews on Yelp and Amazon), can do a simple word of mouth background check by finding people in your common network who may have worked with that candidate and by asking questions relevant to the job you’re hiring for. Just do a reference search on LinkedIn!
2. Using LinkedIn as a business intelligence tool by Valeria Maltoni
Speaking of smart search on people and companies, Valeria’s post outlines ways to use LinkedIn to gather business intelligence around people (for e.g. when hiring somebody) or just researching the industry. Answers and Groups in particular are two features that are often used in the pursuit of business intelligence and you’ll be surprised at the quality of content you find. Quick Tip: Some of you may not have realized that both those features can be searched from the LinkedIn advanced search page.
In summary, Valeria blogs:
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.
3. 6 easy steps for a company to start using LinkedIn by Tracy DiMarino
I’ve read many blog posts that talk about using LinkedIn for lead generation, but not many have picked up on the idea I have been evangelizing to companies – that your employees are at the forefront of your conversations with other companies or other leads. Has your company developed a core strategy to educate and channel the most active of your employees in building those bridges with the outside world – and don’t forget, many of those relationships are already being built. Here are two very useful tips (the other 4 are helpful too) from Tracy’s post that suggests ways to encourage your employees’ participation on LinkedIn:
Select employees to lead participation: Designate a few employees to be internal LinkedIn champions. To be most effective, these individuals should be social-network savvy; knowledgeable about your products, services and brand messaging; and have a desire to engage with target audiences.
Participants should also have the time availability each week to respond to LinkedIn discussions and questions relating to their areas of expertise. Note: See Step 5 for tips on how to alleviate some of the time commitment required from individuals. [Ed. Yes, read the entire post]
Have employees optimize their profiles: Encourage your employees to optimize their profiles. Be sure that all individual profiles are completely filled out — including the Summary, Specialties and Job Position sections — with keyword-rich descriptions. Also, include links to Twitter profiles, as well as optimized links to your company website and blog, if applicable.
This shouldn’t be a problem given how many of your employees are already active on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but channeling their LinkedIn use is both in their best interests as well as that of companies as well. Along similar lines – also find your employees who blog on topics of expertise related to the company, though it may be harder to find those folks. Finding employees participating on LinkedIn, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a problem. With over 75 million professionals on the site already, chances are many of your employees are already engaging on LinkedIn. Quick Tip: An easy way to find them would be to check out your followers on your LinkedIn company profile.
If you find other posts that share unique tips on leveraging social networking for your career or business, feel free to share or leave a comment on this post.