My Personal LinkedIn rules
A little while ago I did a post outlining my personal Twitter rules. It’s been pretty popular, I think mostly because there are no rules and having some made up ones helps us all feel like we have a little bit of control.
LinkedIn is a little more structured, and is also a great reporting tool if you’re using it right. It’s a lot harder to make a big giant screw-up on LinkedIn than on Twitter, I’ve never heard of anyone screen capping a status update on LinkedIn and demanding the user be fired. But, there’s no reason you should be the first. So here are my rules of using LinkedIn as a reporter.
- The No.1 Twitter rule is you’re only one tweet away from being fired. Same here, though you’d probably have to try a little harder. Don’t be a jerk and you should be fine.
- LinkedIn is less about you snooping on people, and more about them snooping on you. Most people you call to interview want to know more about you, so make it easy for them to see you’re not a bozo by having an easy to find profile.
- Don’t bog down in technical details about the programming course you took five years ago or the efficiency you demonstrate while typing. I try to keep mine conversational, and use the job description areas to show off my writing a little bit and demonstrate that I’m actually a real reporter.
- Turn off notifications. Trust me – click on your name, then click on settings. Look for the line that says “turn on/off your activity broadcasts.” This way, every little tweak you make in your profile won’t be blasted out to everyone. Sometimes you want to be subtle.
- One of the best features of LinkedIn is the ability to see who has looked at your profile. It can tip you off to where a story may be about to happen and lets you know a source has actually heard your message or received your email. But there’s a trade-off – you need to make yourself visible to others as well. The trade-off is worth it, unless you’re a creepy jerk.
- About that – LinkedIn lets you learn a lot about someone, but that doesn’t mean you should use that information to find a date. That’s not a ridiculous warning – it happens all the time.
- Having a billion contacts doesn’t help you, unless you can actually use them for something. So don’t add strangers – add real people who you’ve met and want to keep track of in the future. This isn’t an exercise in padding your numbers – more people just means more noise.
- I don’t like getting requests from people who haven’t taken three seconds to fill in the little blurb about why they are making the request in the first place. It’s nice to get little notes from people – even a sentence goes a long way. “It was nice to meet you in the McDonald’s lineup, here’s my contact information” is way better than the default “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
- Most of those requests are just random “Hey I saw you listed on the side of my page and decided to add you” type things. Send a message back before outright rejecting – sometimes people want to add you so they can get your contact information and this gives them a chance to elaborate on their request.
- If you have the fancy account that you pay for, you can send messages to anyone on LinkedIn. This is a super-secret weapon for reporters – most of your best contacts are on there and when they signed up they did so with their primary email. You don’t get to see that e-mail address in LinkedIn’s system, but that’s where your message goes. It’s basically a direct connection to their BlackBerry, which is a pretty big deal.
- Most big companies have their own pages. It’s another sneaky way to get stories – whenever someone changes their job description, it will show up on that page. I’ve found out about big executive change this way, which wasn’t announced publicly. Reporters also get scoops by watching what kind of jobs are being advertised – sometimes the postings can hint at a new direction or new product.
- And from Pete Evans (@pe_evans): Searching for people who’ve recently left Company XYZ is a good way to contact people maybe willing to talk about XYZ
- Groups are mostly populated by jobless networkers hoping to impress their way into a new position. You may get some story ideas, but the effort-to-story ratio is pretty low.
- You can post status updates, but people just mostly share boring business links such as “10 Ways to Advance Your Career Through Haircuts” and “Six Ways to Shake Up Your Commute.” There’s no big upside here, Facebook is a far better way to share content.
- Don’t be a jerk and you should be fine.