You know how the best dates you have been on have usually been set up by a friend? And how you are 100% more likely to visit a restaurant that has been recommended to you via a mate? LinkedIn works exactly on that premise.
It is based around the six degrees of separation theory, which suggests that we are no more than five steps away from knowing anyone in the world. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, altered this theory to suit a professional setting. He decided that three degrees is more appropriate as this means at least one person knows either the person requesting the referral, or the prospect. Therefore, is it ideally used to put people in touch with people who know people, on the assumption that being recommended by someone is going to be better than just randomly approaching them.
Your LinkedIn profile should pretty much mirror your CV (although with the vaguely European slant of including a photo). In addition it includes:
1. Referrals: Here, people basically write great stuff about you.
2. Skills & Expertise: This is a section where your connections are able to endorse any skills that you might have (assuming they are relevant; ‘can down a pint with a kettle on his head’ isn’t appropriate here).
Andy Lopata, author of Recommended : How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals (and speaker at the Digital Marketing Show) summarises LinkedIn perfectly – “To realise the potential of any network you should understand how it can help you. LinkedIn can help you stay in touch with professional contacts; raise your profile in a specific sector or area of interest; learn what your competitors and prospects are thinking or find connections to people you want to meet. And more. “
WARNING - Should NOT be used a mode of stalking; people can see who has recently viewed their profile.
Andy Lopata will be speaking at the Digital Marketing Show; you can view an interview with him here. LinkedIn will be Exhibiting at the Show.