Book Review: I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? A Guide to Getting the Most OUT of LinkedIn
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? A Guide to Getting the Most OUT of LinkedIn, Jason Alba, $19.95. Paperback. 124 pages, 2007. Happy About. ISBN-10: 1600050697
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for several years, have built a very modest network of 48 contacts, and I can’t say I have gleaned any significant benefit from belonging to this popular business-networking site. However, I also can’t say I have put any significant effort into gaining more benefits from using LinkedIn. Jason Alba’s I’m on LinkedIn: Now What??? is for people like me who would like to get more out of LinkedIn but aren’t sure how to go about it.
Here are the top 10 things I learned from Alba’s book:
1. To get the most out of LinkedIn, optimize your profile. Alba suggests spending at least as much time on your profile as you would on your resume. He points out that since people often seek contacts on LinkedIn based on commonalities (employers, alma maters), your profile should include all information that might be the basis for seeking you out, and deploy both commonly used abbreviations for these data and the spelled-out versions (NYU and New York University, for example). Alba recommends a neat resource, Guy Kawasaki’s LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover.
2. While I have assumed that the real benefits come only to those who pay for an upgraded LinkedIn membership, Alba says a free personal account is effective for most people.
3. When you invite prospective contacts to join your network, it’s best to approach them by e-mail first to see if they’re willing to connect. It’s also a nice touch to personalize LinkedIn invitations instead of simply using the canned greeting that LinkedIn provides.
4. Adding a couple of “super-connectors” (people with several thousand contacts) to your LinkedIn network can make you visible to up to a quarter of LinkedIn’s 17 million users.
5. LinkedIn Recommendations are an excellent feature because they boost users’ credibility and reinforce their personal brand. Writing recommendations for your contacts, Alba says, increases the likelihood that they will write them for you. Once posted, you can’t change them (a feature that Alba says adds to the weight that recommendations carry), though you can hide them from public view.
6. LinkedIn offers a Jobs & Hiring section in which a person’s name is associated with each job posting. “Imagine if every job posting you looked at on Monster told you exactly who you need to talk to and let you know who you might know… to network your way closer to that job,” Alba writes. Because of this built-in networking information, Alba recommends that LinkedIn be one of the job boards that job-seekers check regularly.
7. Although Alba sees limited value in LinkedIn’s groups feature (preferring the interactivity of Yahoo Groups), he feels groups make sense for alumni of universities and employers. He’s wary of LinkedIn groups in which members are potential competitors who might be tempted to swipe each others’ contacts. Alba says the best way to find LinkedIn groups to join is through LinkedIn’s site map.
8. LinkedIn Answers provides a fantastic way to raise your visibility. Members can pose up to 10 questions a month, and Alba recommends both asking and answering at least one question monthly. I can vouch for this excellent resource having used it recently to research a book I was writing. I got great information and more quotes for the book through LinkedIn Answers than through any other source. Alba notes that questions expire in about a week, but he doesn’t mention that you can renew them before they expire; perhaps that feature wasn’t available when he wrote I’m on LinkedIn: Now What???.
9. Who knew there were so many “shady practices” employed by LinkedIn users? These techniques, which of course Alba does not condone, include putting your e-mail address in your profile’s name field, charging people money to access your contacts, lying in your profile, asking spammy or otherwise inappropriate questions in LinkedIn Answers, and asking for reciprocal recommendations from people you really don’t know.
10. An abundance of resources — entire blogs, classic blog entries, wikis, books, Yahoo groups, and LinkedIn itself — is available for further help with LinkedIn, and Alba lists the best of them.
Alba’s slim volume has inspired me to explore what I can do to pump up my LinkedIn presence. I don’t think I’ll ever be a power networker or super-connector, but I now know that I can get more out of this business networking site. By the way, Alba suggests that users publicize their LinkedIn profiles wherever possible (such as in e-mail signatures), so if you’d like to network with me, find my profile here.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.