According to people who are supposed to know, LinkedIn is the facebook for professionals. There are plenty of resources citing the advantages of interacting in the Web 2.0 world. Some offer strategies, but most say jump in and figure it out as you go.
Successful people have full schedules. Spending time bouncing between twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media social media sites is not always an option. Personally, I tend to wait until the early adopters work out the kinks.
I peeked at LinkedIn a couple of times, but didn’t feel the need to step in until I received an invitation from a friend. She said that I needed to join so I could connect to her.
It didn’t make much sense to me that I needed to become a member of a website to connect with someone that I talk to several times a week. How does that help? Her need for me to join was greater than my resistance, so I became a member of LinkedIn. (Truth be told, I felt a little behind because my friend is technologically challenged.)
My first profile included a little information about me and my company and one connection. I moved on to business as usual still communicating with my friend in traditional ways. A couple of months later, I received a nudge from someone else. She was an active participant in LinkedIn who thought that I was missing an opportunity.
This nudge moved me to action. I updated my profile, invited a few people to connect with me, and joined some groups. My observations to date:
- Contrary to the hype, social media is still in its infancy. If it is going to grow and prosper, it has to become more interactive and generate a return on investment. (If you are a purist, stop screaming and keep reading.)
- Some people are doing it right. Their connections, both personal and professional, are authentic. They reach out to others, sharing experiences and content. In return, they receive respect and build stronger personal and corporate brands. They set the standard. Unfortunately, they are the minority.
- For others, it is all about the numbers. Who has the most connections? How many times can they promote their products to all the groups? This group sours the social media experience and may kill its potential. (FYI to connection seekers: Commenting in LinkedIn groups that you are seeking connections and requesting invitations borders on desperation. Don’t do it.)
- Networking strategy has been around a long time. The only thing that has changed is the method and ease of the process. The faux pas of yesterday are still inappropriate today. Unfortunately, they are easier to execute with digital technology, so they are running rampant in social media.
- The best thing about LinkedIn is the ability to reconnect with people from your past. I have found several folks that I lost along the way. We met on program advisory committees, at conferences, and other business events. Time and positions moved us in different directions. LinkedIn allowed us to find each other again. My life is better with them in it.
- There are many ways to calculate return on investment. LinkedIn has exceeded my expectations for ROI by providing access to people I have missed in my life. It may also create opportunities for my business in the future. Until then, I am happy with the current return.
I am continuing on my journey into social media. If you decide to join me, I can be found on twitter and LinkedIn. Or if you want to contact me using more traditional methods, I still use the telephone, snail mail, and email. Life is about relationships. The rest is just tools.
For more social media wading read: Wading in the Social Media Kiddy Pool: Diving into Twitter, One Toe at a Time