By Josh Ingalls
I had the opportunity to discuss LinkedIn with a group of YNPN members the other day and wanted to share the insights I gained from this experience. First off, the group was great! Incredibly smart people, working in a variety of different roles, and all were extremely personable. What a great group representing Iowa and young professionals interested in the non-profit world. If you have a chance to attend one of these events I would strongly encourage you to take it.
As for the topic of the night, LinkedIn, I think the most important insight we discussed was related to how you need to think about this social network in a significantly different way than the other major players in the space. For example, Facebook is probably comprised of your offline relationships that you have brought online. Your friends and family likely make up most of your connections, and you use Facebook to interact with them. Twitter is different in that you actually create an online connection with those you don’t interact with directly offline. You might follow celebrities, thought leaders, athletes, news organizations or companies. So the connections take on a different flavor, but once again you use that medium to interact with them.
LinkedIn is different. Your connections primarily come from your professional relationships, many of which already have a preferred method of communication outside of the social network. So, even if you connect with your co-workers, you will not use LinkedIn to send them a message because you have their direct email or phone number. That seems to be the difference that throws a lot of people off. They go through the trouble of creating a profile and connecting with people, only to say, “Now what?”
But there is a really great benefit that LinkedIn provides once you have taken these steps. By connecting with your professional network, you gain access to their networks. That means your 100 connections turns into 10,000 2nd degree connections and 1,000,000 3rd degree connections. That geometric growth in your professional network is incredibly powerful when it comes time to reach out for a variety of reasons. If you are looking for a job, preparing for an interview, searching for talent, or just have a question for an SME, that larger network of professionals can help you out. That is the power of LinkedIn and why it is worth it to invest energy in building a great profile and connecting with your network.
Once we talked through this idea, the other topics were important but not quite as transcendent. We discussed how companies are using LinkedIn as a primary method of finding talent for hard to fill roles, and I shared success stories of how The Principal has done so. We also talked about how to create a great profile and discussed specific examples of how attendees can use this medium to address some of the challenges they are currently facing.
All in all, it was a very interesting and engaging conversation with a great group of people. Are you running into challenges using LinkedIn or struggling to get started? Need help thinking through strategies to make it work for you? Leave your comments or questions and lets discuss as a group.