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January 04, 2007

Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn

  • The average number of LinkedIn connections for people who work at Google is forty-seven.

  • The average number for Harvard Business School grads is fifty-eight, so you could skip the MBA, work at Google, and probably get most of the connections you need. Later, you can hire Harvard MBAs to prepare your income taxes.

  • People with more than twenty connections are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.

  • All 500 of the Fortune 500 are represented in LinkedIn. In fact, 499 of them are represented by director-level and above employees.

  • According to my inside sources, the person with the most pending LinkedIn invitations is…Guy Kawasaki. (Though I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of this factoid.)

Most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. It works well for this because it is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. However, it is a tool that is under-utilized, so I’ve compiled a top-ten list of ways to increase the value of LinkedIn.

  1. Increase your visibility.

    By adding connections, you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first when they’re searching for someone to hire or do business with. In addition to appearing at the top of search results (which is a major plus if you’re one of the 52,000 product managers on LinkedIn), people would much rather work with people who their friends know and trust.

  2. Improve your connectability.

    Most new users put only their current company in their profile. By doing so, they severely limit their ability to connect with people. You should fill out your profile like it’s an executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations, and activities.

    You can also include a link to your profile as part of an email signature. The added benefit is that the link enables people to see all your credentials, which would be awkward if not downright strange, as an attachment.

  3. Improve your Google PageRank.

    LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you.

    To do this, create a public profile and select “Full View.” Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web> For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature.

  4. Enhance your search engine results.

    In addition to your name, you can also promote your blog or website to search engines like Google and Yahoo! Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc.

    If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name or descriptive terms in the link, and voila! instant search-engine optimization for your site. To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View.”

  5. Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.

    LinkedIn’s reference check tool to input a company name and the years the person worked at the company to search for references. Your search will find the people who worked at the company during the same time period. Since references provided by a candidate will generally be glowing, this is a good way to get more balanced data.

    Companies will typically check your references before hiring you, but have you ever thought of checking your prospective manager’s references? Most interviewees don’t have the audacity to ask a potential boss for references, but with LinkedIn you have a way to scope her out.

    You can also check up on the company itself by finding the person who used to have the job that you’re interviewing for. Do this by searching for job title and company, but be sure to uncheck “Current titles only.” By contacting people who used to hold the position, you can get the inside scoop on the job, manager and growth potential.

    By the way, if using LinkedIn in these ways becomes a common practice, we’re apt to see more truthful resumes. There’s nothing more amusing than to find out that the candidate who claims to have caused some huge success was a total bozo who was just along for the ride.

  6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.

    Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find people with educational and work experience like yours to see where they work. For example, a programmer would use search keywords such as “Ruby on Rails,” “C++,” “Python,” “Java,” and “evangelist” to find out where other programmers with these skills work.

  7. Make your interview go smoother.

    You can use LinkedIn to find the people that you’re meeting. Knowing that you went to the same school, plays hockey, or shares acquaintances is a lot better than an awkward silence after, “I’m doing fine, thank you.”

  8. Gauge the health of a company.

    Perform an advanced search for company name and uncheck the “Current Companies Only” box. This will enable you to scrutinize the rate of turnover and whether key people are abandoning ship. Former employees usually give more candid opinions about a company’s prospects than someone who’s still on board.

  9. Gauge the health of an industry.

    If you’re thinking of investing or working in a sector, use LinkedIn to find people who worked for competitors—or even better, companies who failed. For example, suppose you wanted to build a next generation online pet store, you’d probably learn a lot from speaking with former Pets.com or WebVan employees.

  10. Track startups.

    You can see people in your network who are initiating new startups by doing an advanced search for a range of keywords such as “stealth” or “new startup.” Apply the “Sort By” filter to “Degrees away from you” in order to see the people closest to you first.

  11. Ask for advice.

    LinkedIn’s newest product, LinkedIn Answers, aims to enable this online. The product allows you to broadcast your business-related questions to both your network and the greater LinkedIn network. The premise is that you will get more high-value responses from the people in your network than more open forums.

    For example, here are some questions an entrepreneur might ask when the associates of a venture capital firm come up blank:

    • Who’s a good, fast, and cheap patent lawyer?

    • What should we pay a vp of biz dev?

    • Is going to Demo worth it?

    • How much traffic does a TechCrunch plug generate?


These additional ideas came in through comments:

  1. Integrate into a new job.

    When people start a new job, ordinarily their roots aren’t that deep in the new company. However, with Linkedin, new employees can study fellow employees’ profiles and therefore help them get to know more people faster in a new company. (contributed by Vincent Wright)
  2. Scope out the competition, customers, partners, etc. This seems like it’s a no-brainer, but you can use LinkedIn to scope out the competition’s team as well as the team of customers and partners. For example, your competitor’s vp of marketing came from Oracle…she’ll probably believe that business is war. (Kev)


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Hi Guy

I was just introduced to LinkedIn by the Marketing Director of a new innovative technology that we will be able to make money on 100% of our web traffic without visitors having to click on anything, complete any forms or buy anything, it goes live on Feb. 1, 2008.

I am new to social networking and didn't know how to best utilize LinkedIn. SO I will be using your ten ways to use LinkedIn.

But I am also concern with privacy issues regarding any social network. Maybe you, Guy or anyone that is familiar with social networks would be kind enough to post whether I should join LinkedIn or any social network with an e-mail address other than my main one? If so what type of e-mail account would you suggest?


Thanks for the tips! I joined linkedin and I got contacted by old clients in the same day. :)

I found your blog by way of the link on LinkedIn's home page. Your suggestions on how to improve my "googleability" and my own blog's rank were great and easy to implement.

The only thing I would add is that LinkedIn can be a lot of fun! I love searching for old friends and colleagues, or just browsing my friends' connections. You stumble upon the most interesting people and projects that way.

Havea look on Viadeo, the business and social networking website that works to boost your career and business.

Over the past 2 years, over 1,250,000 people have already joined Viadeo and the network is expanding at over 3,000 new members every day!

With Viadeo, you will be able to extend, maintain and profit from your business network and the network of other Viadeo members to:
- Become visible with a professional online profile, be headhunted or contacted to discuss interesting business opportunities,
- Find business partners, recruiters, clients, suppliers, or colleagues with our powerful multi-criteria search engine,
- Exchange information on hot topics and deepen your knowledge in the forums or hubs or develop a reputation as an expert in an interest area by creating your own “hub”.

I found your blog while "stumbling". So glad I did.

Thanks for giving valuable insights about more robust ways to use LinkedIn. It is a great tool.

A network is a valuable resource and we all want our networks to grow. But we can't forget that the real value of our "social equity portfolio" comes from actually knowing who is on our network and how they can benefit others we know. Having 500+ contacts in LinkedIn can be impressive--I'd rather build a network of people I can trust and recommend without reservation.

Good Morning, Guy.

I've seen you present at a couple of travel conferences, and have enjoyed listening and reading your perspectives.

Your thoughts on LinkedIn are a very good perspective on something that oftentimes has left career-minded professionals unsure of how to respond. Keep 'em coming.

By the way check this company MDFI. Their stock is set to increase because of their association with Apple iphone and Complete Care Medical. Find more about this company and stock http://www.growurmoney.com/medefile/

Thank you for the wonderful insight on using Linked In...

By the way...www.5eay.blogspot.com

Thats exactly what linkedin has done for me. Although i started late but i think it will help me out with my plans for moving into investment banking domain. Its really a boon for outsiders to have a peep in the inside working of an industry .. considering so many experienced professionals are available to share their wisdom..

Thanks so much for this post! I've been struggling a long time trying to get a handle on Linked-In!

Thank you for these important and interesting informations.

how do you use linkedin for marketing purposes?

Great text about linkedin, thanks.

Great information. But aren't there safety precautions with posting so much information about oneself on LinkedIn.

Interesting thread. With 6 months since this thread began and the Facebook usage boom since it's May API release, what does the future hold? Will Facebook overtake LinkedIn as the defacto online business network in the U.S. Observations about European networks noted.

Once again Guy has excellent information to help leverage your brand in the Web 2.0 world. Since signing up as mentioned, I reconnected with 4 past colleagues literally the same day.

People who are remotely interested in internet marketing or willing to generate an income online can benefit beyond their
wildest dreams with this.There are tons of opportunities out there. You must see it :

LinkedIn is definitely a great concept. I noticed many clones if it. Mostly they appear countrylike. Russian,German,Spanish.

Guy, I largely agree with your points, and they're fantastic. I've observed different results in terms of search engine placement however: Google doesn't even seem to index my public LinkedIn profile, while Yahoo certainly does.

Very useful tips. Thanks.

Wow! That's some great advice. In fact, I just changed my public URL to personalize it and also made my own custom signature. I hope I can find a good job soon!

This is excellent advice on using LinkedIn. Thanks.

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