Trying to grok LinkedIn – any advice for me?

Jo Badge's LinkedIn public profile

I try to sign up to most online services when they come my way, partly to check them out but often as a land grab to keep my username of choice alive as an online identity. More often than not, after a little experimentation, my account may lay dormant and not get used again, or later develop into something else, part of the redundancy of being online in lots of spaces.

I signed up with LinkedIn what seems like ages ago and have never really understood it and certainly didn’t use it very often. I don’t find it a social space, the imported tweetstreams have always put me off, since twitter is about communication and if you aren’t there to answer, it is just about broadcasting.

LinkedIn has been hovering on my horizon for a while, a few people have mentioned it in different contexts, in particular Matt Mobbs talking about its use as a career tool.  Following the Turnitin meeting last week, and prior to attending the google users group meeting, I had a couple of connection requests, so today I gave it some serious attention. There are lots of reasons for me to look at LinkedIn again, I’m going to be changing career and have already started to think about how I can consolidate the connections I’ve made and the work I’ve done over the last seven years I’ve been at Leicester. This blog has been a place for me to keep the outputs of the work I’ve done, but showing potential employers that you are a well-connected person and have a good online reputation is more difficult. The could follow me on twitter, they could ask my tweeps about me, but they aren’t likely to be that direct. They are more likely to Google me (that is what I would do!). LinkedIn struck me suddenly as a place that I can show how I am connected to those I tweet with and work with, and how important those people have been in the work that I’ve done. Everything I’ve done has always been collaboration, my work would be nothing without my colleagues there to help, comment, feedback and inspire me (gosh that sounds horribly saccharine, but unfortunately it’s true, so you’ll just have to wince and carry on!).

I can’t say that I will be ‘resident’ in LinkedIn, but I can see that I need to work on my profile and start to pay forward some of the benefit I’ve had from my colleagues by making recommendations about how we’ve worked together. There is a problem with this, firstly, I’m not connected with all the people I follow on twitter (anyone know a neat way to make that happen?) and secondly the unsolicited recommendations I’ve sent so far have been welcomed but somewhat surprised people. I’ve changed the way I think about recommendations, I used to see them as one step away from a formal reference, but I thought today about micro-chunking them – small acknowledgements of contributions to specific projects. I wonder if this will work, or if people will automatically be suspicious and think I’m fishing for compliments?

I’d appreciate some feedback – am I being too creepy (as in -treehouse/-stalker/-brown-nosing) ? How do you use LinkedIn? Am I way off the mark?! I’m interested to know!




11 thoughts on “Trying to grok LinkedIn – any advice for me?”

    1. I agree about the stalky part, but I think more people will start using this for CV checking, so just trying to be aware of that. I wont be resident there either – not going to be answering the questions they have etc but the jobs advertised on there are interesting, or have potential at least.

  1. Hi Jo,

    First of all thanks for the mention, but I by no means an expert in LinkedIn. I really didn’t get it when I first created my account, but I think I’m getting there. I don’t thing you really need to be resident in LinkedIn, in the same way you do with twitter, which is really all about the now.

    I tend to think of LinkedIn more like a digital CV and only post “professional” updates on their once or twice a week. E.g. “Just presented …”, “Been to a conference…”.

    I think the best way to make “Connections” is to join groups, this tend to give you access to people of similar interest. Considering your forthcoming career change, you could join groups of Schools etc.

    As a careers tool, you can find a lot of jobs etc. advertised on their, so if there was a particular school you wanted to work at, I bet you could find it on LinkedIn and flow it for updates.

    The search facilities are also quite advanced, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find lots of local teachers to connect with and easily pick up some tips.

    I’ll keep you in touch with other discoveries

    1. Thanks Matt – will have a chat with you about this a bit more at the google users thing hopefully. I haven’t used it much as an online CV before, I’ve a lot of ‘friends’ in there (from importing google contacts) and I think I need to sort that out. Haven’t used it for ages and was quite surprised at the level of job adverts in there. Interesting times! Thanks for the school ideas – it will be interesting to see if schools are into this or not yet.

  2. I’m trying to get my head round LinkedIn too. At the moment, I’m trying to update it with CV details which I’m mirroring on a website/blog using a plugin.

    You can add contacts via Twitter (I think).

    I’ve always been shy of adding people unless I know them well, which kind of defeats the object. I’ve been encouraged by my manager to add others who I’ve met before for training, workshops, etc. and am slowly doing so. I think it will become a valuable tool for me, and I’m a member of several groups already.

    Thanks for the interesting article. Found it from a PlanetOU tweet.

    1. I had a policy of not adding people I hadn’t met in person, or worked with in some way. I think that’s reasonable. What groups are you a member of? I find groups very confusing!

  3. Hi Jo.

    Like you I singed up to LinkedIn a while ago and, like you, haven’t really done much with it. I realised recently I ought to get my details right and start using it (you never know when you’ll have a prospective employer or colleague looking you up) and getting things ‘right’.

    But what is ‘right’? It isn’t just my CV online – apart from anything the setup of LinkedIn doesn’t fit the kind of structure my CV has, so making it ‘fit’ is really difficult.

    One aspect i know I have to get my head around are the Groups, and to signup to the ones that count .. and then start engaging. And here is my biggest problem: I’m already engaging on my own blog and on Twitter and on Facebook, do I have the time for this as well?

    If you figure it out, please let us all know, write the book and make loads of money!!

    All the best, David

    1. Thanks David! I don’t think I’ll be ‘resident’ on LinkedIn, I looked at some groups last night and couldn’t find anything relevant. I think I want it to be an online CV with added connections I suppose. Difficult to do without being stalky or creepy as Alan suggests. I’ll cut you a deal when I write the book 😉

  4. Different people are using LinkedIn in different ways, and some of the difficulties I’ve encountered are when my practice and those of colleagues or contacts markedly differ. Until I or they realise that we’re coming at it from a different perspective, and that our assumptions about other’s behaviour therefore differ, someone is going to get offended.

    For me, LinkedIn isn’t a social space, certainly not one I would think of myself as ‘resident’ in (a nice way to put it, BTW.) I visit it periodically, and I use some of its apps to feed information between spaces such as slideshare, tripit or twitter. (For the latter, I use the filter feature so that only tweets labelled with #in appear on LinkedIn.)

    To a great extent, it’s a contact book that’s public and a little bit more for me. I only connect with people I’ve worked with or know well enough to have confidence in some aspect of their professional abilities. I guess that there’s an aspect of mutual reinforcement in LinkedIn’s approach – both parties are saying the same thing about each other. It’s a good way of tracking changes in people’s roles and responsibilities – things that I don’t need real-time information about but want to be aware of. And it’s the secondary contacts – the friends of friends – that I’ve found really useful. It makes it much easier to approach someone to speak at an event, collaborate on a project, review a document, etc etc when you both know you have a trusted colleague in common, and LinkedIn makes that crystal clear in a way that other services don’t.

    I don’t use the groups, forums, etc to any extent. I joined a few as a way of declaring knowledge & affiliations but that aspect of the site doesn’t do anything for me that I can’t find elsewhere. But that’s any area where behavioural differences can cause friction. Some people I connect with have really taken to the discussions and, initially at least, were clearly offended that I didn’t join in. So it goes.

    1. Thanks Kevin, that’s helpful. I think my gut instinct is to use it as a glorified address book, but your point about a mismatch of uses or perceptions is spot on. I guess I’m worried about offending!

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