So far we’ve reviewed editing your profile in Part 1 and your settings in Part 2. Now we’ll take a look at some ways to use LinkedIn for networking and professional branding.

Send out status updates to let your network know what you’re working on or to share links that you think your network would be interested in reading. This isn’t Facebook so stick to professional topics and don’t do it so frequently that it’s annoying – no more than a few times a week sounds right to me. Here are some prompts for update ideas. You can talk about yourself, or, even brag about others sometimes:

  • [your name] is writing …
  • is reading about …
  • thinks that …
  • wants to know what you think about …
  • is looking forward to speaking at …
  • is looking forward to attending …
  • just published a …
  • is collaborating with [name] on …

Groups are a mess right now as LinkedIn has recently made changes that have made them a mess of RSS feeds and horrible design. There have been many complaints in social media blogs so I’m hoping that LinkedIn makes changes so that groups will be worth returning to. As they are now, the discussion feature is not easy to use and real discussions are not easy to find.

In an optimistic mood, I suggest that you go to Groups –> Groups Directory to search by keyword for those that might interest you. You can customize your settings for each of your groups by selecting the group in My Groups. Then once in the group select More… –> My Settings.

  • You can choose to display (or not) the group’s logo on your profile.
  • You can opt to receive an email each time there is activity in the group (not recommended), or a daily or weekly digest of group activity (recommended), and specify an email address for that digest.
  • Allow the group manager and members to message you. If it becomes a problem, you can change the setting.

Participate in group discussions. You can start a discussion, comment or ‘like’ what someone else has said. Do not spam the group, and by that I mean do not post promotions for your business, webinars, events, etc. Too many groups become full of noise due to all the well-meaning posts about webinars and seminars. Also, please do not add any RSS feeds to a group. Don’t make the situation worse. Try to be a good citizen.

If you contribute valuable content, it’s possible that your discussion will be selected by the group manager as Manager’s Choice. Also, active group participants will be labeled as Top Influencers. However, make sure your contributions are worthwhile and not just filler to get that billing.

Get familiar with the Questions & Answers section. It’s found under the More drop-down in the header, then select Answers. Questions are organized by categories listed in the right side bar. You can subscribe to an RSS feed for each category (and sub-category) that interests you. By answering questions posted by others, you will establish your expertise. The person asking the question also has the option of selecting a Best Answer and if yours is selected, it will be listed on your profile in the right side bar under [Your Name’s] Q&A – Expertise in.

Browse through the Applications directory and add any that interest you.

  • Share your PowerPoint presentations with SlideShare.
  • You can share your upcoming itineraries on My Travel by TripIt. This is a great way to find out if others in your network will be in the same city as you so you can arrange a meet-up.
  • Use the Events application to search for events that you are attending and RSVP. You can also use this feature to see the events that those in your network are attending.
  • Share your current reads on Reading List by Amazon.
  • Huddle Workspaces is an online collaboration tool that you can use with others in your network. Use Box.net to share files – your resume and an online portfolio of articles and other documents that showcase your talent.
  • I mentioned WordPress and Blog Link in Part 1 of this series. Use these to import your blog’s feed into your profile.

Go to Contacts –> Add Connections and import your contacts from your email provider (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) or from your computer in the form of a .csv file (Outlook export format). Do this every quarter so that LinkedIn will notify you in your network updates if any of them join LinkedIn.

When you send invitations to connect, please don’t use the default message. Check the box for Add a personal note with your invitation?. Prove that you care about connecting enough to take a few seconds to personalize the message. This is particularly important when connecting to those whom you don’t know well or haven’t seen in a long time – they may not quite remember how they know you.

If one of your connections is making too many updates for your liking (maybe they’re sending all their tweets to LinkedIn) or you’re connected to someone whose updates really don’t matter to you, you can hide them in Settings –> Home Page Settings –> Network Updates.

One thing to remember about all social networking platforms: everyone has a different connection philosophy. Some only connect to those they know well; some to anyone they’ve ever met; some to those they only know online; and some to anyone in the same industry or city. When you receive an invitation to connect, select either connect or ignore. Avoid selecting I don’t know this person. If someone gets that label too often, LinkedIn will assume they’re a pest and suspend their account.

Do you have any tips to add?

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