EXPOSED! LinkedIn Spammers using fake profiles.

3564334635_108d9e7a05_bWe all get spam, I guess it's just one of those things we have to put up with as we get more active and become more visible on the Internet, LinkedIn is not immune to spammers and I often receive direct messages from people offering me various products and services. Irritating though it is I tend to view these messages as mildly irritating distractions from the ill-informed. What really annoys me is when I receive Spam from people who have not even got the guts to reveal who they really are!

A Tale of Two F's and a Bunny!

This particular example happened in October when I received the message below;

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this is a message sent directly to me from someone whom I share a group with and not a connection. What got me immediately suspicious was that the individual had spelt her name in a rather unusual way, I figured it was possible to spell Jennifer with two f's, if somewhat unusual but you will note (below) that the message is signed from 'Jennifer' spelt correctly!

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If you had an unusual spelling of a name, surely the last thing you are going to do is make an error and spell it the normal way in a message!

This seemed very suspicious to me so I got interested and investigated further. The message from Jennifer included a link promoting a webinar, that link was as follows;

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At this point it is worth mentioning that Andy Whitehead may have simply outsourced the promotion of his webinar and may not be aware of the unethical methodology employed by his service provider.

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I have investigated 'Jenniffer' in some detail and can find no trace of anyone of this name on the internet. I have performed an image search and her profile picture appears to be unique as well (the quality of the photo is not great so I am betting that it is a tight crop of a group picture)

She was (her profile has strangely disappeared recently) a second tier connection via two people so I contacted both of them and asked if they knew her.....neither did!

Jenniffer's Profile

Voila_Capture1120Looking further at her profile her work experience includes such reputable companies such as Kangick, Asmadick and Nagran!!

Of course none of these companies could be traced.

So I looked up her education section and Brandman University does exist but when I contacted them they were unable to confirm whether Jenniffer or Jennifer had been a student there.

I also replied to the message and asked Jennifffer (oops did I add an extra f there?!) to call me to discuss this in more detail......I sat by my phone patiently waiting but alas, she didn't call!

I can only assume that 'Jenniffer' is a fake.

If I am wrong Jenniffer and you are reading this then please drop me a line and I will be delighted to correct this post, I would hate to accuse someone who is innocent of such deplorable tactics.

I was about to give up on my quest to find Jenniffer (I was starting to dream about her by this time!) when I received another message, this time from Bunny......no this wasn't part of my dream where I suddenly invented fluffy animals sending me messages! This was from another LinkedIn user called Bunny Shady.

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Apparently Ms Shady (the irony was not lost on me!) and I also share a group. This message made it clear that Bunny was not selling me anything but she would appreciate a 'testimonia' from me if I felt the webinar advanced my skills.....thats not typing or spelling skills then Bunny!

This also appears to be from a fake profile and also by coincidence, appears to be promoting the same webinar!

Note the linkedrecruitmentblueprint.com/webinar link which is exactly the same as the one in Jenniffer's email. Maybe they are friends or associates!

Bunny works at a company called Jakatee.....you must know them.......surely....OK maybe not!

Bunny has since disappeared from LinkedIn.

I'm sure many of us have made mistakes  when promoting our products and services online, I have certainly been guilty of things I am not too proud of in the past but I have always made these mistakes operating under my own profile.

LinkedIn is a live and thriving network of (mostly) real people, many offering their products and services - if they act in a poor manner they will be judged accordingly and if they do things well they will equally be judged appropriately.

Making mistakes such as spamming  can be forgiven if the majority of what we do is of a higher quality and we are seen to learn our lessons.

This is why I cannot stand it when people do not have the guts to be authentic and open and operate under their own profile and name.

Creating fake profiles and spamming is the worst kind of behaviour on LinkedIn and this is why I am exposing these people.

LinkedIn will be a better and more productive place for us all if we report these practices, I reported Jenniffer and Bunny to LinkedIn although I think they had already deleted their profiles by then.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh or does this kind of practice annoy you as well?

New LinkedIn Podcast - LinkedInformed

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I was driving my car to a training session, as usual I had my radio on to keep me entertained for the 3 hours I would be in the car. The presenter announced the next song and I thought "Oh no not that awful song again, why do they always play the same rubbish again and again?" so I switched channels...this time the presenter was interviewing an artist who had nothing interesting to say so I switched channels again, this time to a talk station.....they were debating whether we get our bins (garbage) emptied often enough!!

"There must be a better way!" I screamed out loud to myself. "Why am I having to listen to something that someone else chooses for me? My Tony Robbins CD has been played to death and there are only so many CD's I can carry in my car. I needed a better solution - enter the wonderful world of Podcasts!

If you are like me and you already listen to many podcasts then this article is not for you. I would merely encourage you to click here and download my new podcast - LinkedInformed. If you want to avoid iTunes the RSS feed is http://linkedinformed.libsyn.com/rss. 

This show is designed to educate and inspire LinkedIn users through interesting interviews, debate, useful tips, news discussions and questions and answers. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

If podcasting is something new to you then I would like to introduce a fantastic way to entertain, educate and motivate yourself whilst driving, walking the dog, running, cycling or just relaxing at home and all for free!

Podcasts let you decide what you want to listen to and there is a huge choice of free shows you can listen to. I will introduce you to some later.

Firstly let me explain how this all works.

A podcast is a multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc. The most popular way to listen to Podcasts these days is on a smart phone either by downloading the podcast on your computer and synchronizing with your phone or by using a podcasting app.

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Podcasting Apps

If you are an iPhone user I have produced a step by step guide to using the free Podcast app from Apple. Click here to view the guide.

I actually use a different app called Downcast which is not free but has some excellent features.

If you use an Android device, I am unable to produce a step by step guide but would recommend an app called iPP Podcast player. Click here to view. This app will allow you to download podcasts from by far the largest directory iTunes alternatively you can subscribe directly at the following link; http://linkedinformed.libsyn.com/rss

So once you have downloaded the app you can start searching for podcasts of interest. Here are a few of my favourites;

Peter Day's World of Business - BBC

Read to Lead - intentional and consistent reading is key to success in business and in life

Find The Edge - Online Business & Influence Strategies

The Global Networking Show -  Andy Lopata & Dr. Ivan Misner talk networking 

NPR: TED Talks examined in more detail.

The Foundation - Starting From Nothing. Building your business ENTIRELY from scratch.

and of course my very own, brand new podcast LinkedInformed

Episode 1 covers the following;

  • LinkedIn Intro app
  • The new iPad app
  • LinkedIn gets sued!
  • Profile tips
  • Endorsements
  • Upgrade options

You can read more here where you will also find links to all items mentioned in the Podcast.

I really hope you take to podcasting, I am by no means exaggerating when I state that listening to Podcasts has massively enhanced my knowledge and had a very positive effect on my life.

Let me know what you think of LinkedInformed episode 1, I would really value your feedback.

LinkedIn Intro - Security Concerns

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Following on from my last blog introducing this new app, it would appear that various security concerns have been raised so I thought I would share my thoughts on this matter.

In my opinion the internet is full scaremongers and security obsessed people who seem to be able to find fault with just about every new idea/product/advancement. I happen to know that Matt Alder is not one of them so when Matt raised security concerns in the comments of my last blog, I took it very seriously.

Matt's concerns were based on an excellent article by a very credible organisation called Bishop Fox which I strongly suggest you read.

Unusually for LinkedIn they responded to this article by issuing a statement on their blog which I also strongly suggest you read. This is very unusual for LinkedIn, in my experience they tend to keep quiet about negative comments from others regarding LinkedIn - unless they feel very strongly about it.

I must admit that some of the language they both use is 'over my head' but my thoughts on the issue are as follows;

  • I am not too concerned about email going through LinkedIn's servers, I am using Gmail after all which is clearly going through Google's servers so why should I trust LinkedIn any less than Google?
  • To use Intro you actually create a new Mail account within the mail app, this can easily be switched off. There appears to be no other reconfiguring of my iPhone going on but maybe this is hidden from me.
  • I did have to give LinkedIn my pin to set up Intro, I'm really not sure why this was necessary and that does cause me some concern but LinkedIn strongly refute the allegation that they change the iPhone's security preferences.
  • Bishop Fox are internet security consultants. It is in their commercial interests to write about such issues.
  • LinkedIn would benefit from collecting data about us - such as who we are communicating with via email.

I have therefore decided to continue using LinkedIn Intro (which is after all, very useful!) but only on a limited basis as follows;

  • The new Intro account is kept live in the Mail app on my iPhone but I do not use it actively and never send any emails from this account.
  • My primary app for email is the excellent Mailbox app which I have been using for some time because it has better features than the native Mail app in my opinion.
  • When I receive an email from an unknown source I simply switch over to the LinkedIn Intro account on the Mail app and check the very useful profile information of the sender.

I know its not exactly how you are supposed to use LinkedIn Intro but given all the issues, it feels safer to use it purely as a reference aid rather then as my main Mail app.

I am not suggesting you do the same, my only advice is to make sure you read both articles and make up your own mind.

Introducing LinkedIn Intro!

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LinkedIn have announced a brand new line up of mobile apps and for the first time ever, they are worth getting excited about!

I will be reviewing the excellent new iPad app soon, this piece however is focussed on their brand new LinkedIn Intro app for the iPhone.

Firstly let me apologise to all of you who are Android or Windows mobile users (or anything else). This product is currently focussed on iOS only and because it is built into the Mail app, I am not sure when or if it will be available on other platforms - LinkedIn didn't mention anything about this in their presentation.

Apparently the average professional spends 28% of their day dealing with email, this seems an astonishing fact at first but when you think about it you might find you can relate to it....to be honest I'm probably spending more than that in my email! Another fascinating fact revealed by LinkedIn was that more than 50% of emails are read on a mobile device these days and that number is increasing.

LinkedIn are increasingly focussed on mobile so it made sense to introduce an app that links your LinkedIn account to your email account.

In 2012 They acquired a business called Rapportive which is a Gmail plugin that shows you the latest social network updates from whoever you’re corresponding with. I have been using Rapportive for 18 months or so and found it very useful when dealing with emails at my desk but like most people I am increasing managing email on my phone so I have found I am using Rapportive less and less.....Enter LinkedIn Intro.

Intro is integrated into your Mail so that instead of an email looking like this;

normal mail

It now looks like this;

intro email

The key difference as you can see is that the LinkedIn profile of the sender is now embedded into the email itself.

If you are not connected to this person there is a link (see arrow below) which gives you the option to connect. DON'T CLICK here! As with all mobile apps, LinkedIn just send the recipient the basic and unfriendly "I'd like to add you to my professional network message" which is poor practice.

intro mail red

However when you click on the profile link you get to see more information from that individual's profile (see below). How cool is that?

intro email info

It's not just clever and cool, it's really useful. How often do we receive emails from people who we don't really know? This way we can check out more information about them which allows us to respond more effectively.

Of course this also has an effect on the sender in that it yet again proves just how important your LinkedIn profile is. If you need help with that click here.

I had forgotten how much I missed using Rapportive until I started using Intro today, its fantastic!

Unfortunately it's not perfect, I have noticed some emails have an intro link that is so small you can't really read it! See example below;

intro email small

This above screenshot is larger than it appears on the phone and even then its difficult to read! I can only assume this is something to do with the format of the email and may be fixed in future updates, lets hope so.

So if you have an iPhone, open your browser of choice (Safari perhaps) and go to intro.linkedin.com, follow the installation instructions and once you have had a play, let me know what you think.

10 Mistakes that drive other LinkedIn Users mad!

Frustrated1. Inviting a complete stranger to connect.

Whilst I'm not a fan of LinkedIn's mantra "only connect with people you know well" it is even worse to invite people with whom you have had no contact. This is the equivalent of going to a networking event and walking around the room shoving your business cards into people's hands without even saying hello or introducing who you are! The key to successfully growing a network is to always engage in some manner before connecting.

2. Failing to personalise an invitation to connect.

There is nothing worse than receiving an invitation to connect (even from someone you know) that reads "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn". Everyone knows that this is the default message and therefore the person sending it has not bothered to give it any thought or consideration. A personalised message takes literally seconds to write and to not do so is just plain lazy!

3. Profile picture.

It is shocking to see how many people use inappropriate photographs for what is a professional networking site. Your picture is effectively your personal brand logo and is a critical part of your LinkedIn profile, It is almost certainly the first thing people notice and therefore creates that all-important first impression. Your photo should be an up-to-date close-up headshot, period. We do not need to see your partner, kids, pets or a slice of the face of the person next to you who you have attempted to crop out! Do not wear a hat or sunglasses and make sure the quality is clear. Avoid using ridiculous avatars or cartoons, they lack credibility and LinkedIn may suspend your account as this breaches the user agreement . The worst mistake of all however is to not have a profile picture at all, this will result in less profile views and more importantly it significantly damages your authenticity.

4. Anonymous visibility.

This is one privacy setting that everyone should change from the default. You can either be fully visible, largely anonymous (the default setting) or completely anonymous. The default setting makes no sense because you either want people to see that you have viewed their profile or you don't, tempting their curiosity with a loose description such as "someone in the X function of the Y industry" is pointless! Deciding to be completely anonymous is also a strange decision, this is a networking environment so choosing this setting is effectively the same as going to an off-line event wearing a hoodie and mask! I can accept that there may be a rare occasion where it is clearly commercially unwise to reveal that you have viewed someone's profile, in which case you can change your settings prior to viewing the profile and then change them back to fully visible again afterwards.

5. Direct selling.

Whilst it could be said that everyone is selling something on LinkedIn (even if it's just themselves for that next career move), that doesn't mean that this is a place to directly sell. There is nothing worse than accepting an invitation from somebody only to find that this is swiftly followed by numerous direct messages selling you the latest thing! This may be irritating for the recipient but it is far worse for the sender who is damaging their personal reputation as well as the company they work for and their chances of succeeding to sell anything this way are remote at best.

6. Inappropriate contact having not read somebody's profile.

This is similar to the above but may not involve selling as such, receiving a direct message informing me about something that is not relevant to what I do or where I am based merely proves that the sender is blindly sending this message to many people without having read their profiles. I often hear from users who are tired of constant approaches by recruiters so they amend their headline to state that they are not interested in job opportunities.....and it doesn't make the slightest difference, they still get as many approaches!

7. Lack of background information in profile.

We live in an information rich world and we expect to find it easy to gather information about people, places, products etc. When somebody views your profile they are doing so because they want to see more information about you (including your back story). So why would you deny them that opportunity by revealing little about yourself? LinkedIn is not a one way street, if you view somebody's profile they are likely to view yours and this presents a great opportunity for you to be open and authentic and show them that you are the kind of person that they would wish to do business with. The more you reveal about your background the more likely it is that they will see you have something in common and this can only work in your favour.

8. Inactivity.

This is one of the most common mistakes I come across. Many users sign up, create a basic profile and maybe join a group or two and then…… nothing! This is the equivalent to going to a networking event and sitting in the corner with a cup of tea and not speaking to anyone! LinkedIn is a live and active community of business professionals throughout the world and this presents you with such an exciting opportunity to widen your network, engage with more people and ultimately achieve greater success.

9. Posting links without comment (especially in groups)

This is usually an innocent mistake made by people with the best intentions. They read an article online and decide to share this with their connections and/or fellow group members, the problem is that an article without a comment just becomes noise in a stream that people tend to ignore and the more this happens the more people become disengaged. This can also be as a result of one of the worst things you can do with social media........ automation! Social media is supposed to be social (strangely enough!) and it is only effective when people talk to each other, not when automated processes fire countless streams of information/articles at people. The solution is very simple, read the article and take a view then post the article with a comment expressing your view and asking for feedback. This works, automation doesn't.

10. Dodgy Recommendations.

Many online businesses have learnt that customer reviews are an incredibly powerful marketing tool (Amazon, Tripadvisor etc) and LinkedIn provides you with a similar opportunity via recommendations. The problem is that people obtain recommendations from the wrong people. A recommendation will only influence the reader if it is written by somebody that they consider to be credible and credibility comes from you knowing the person well and by them being in a position of authority i.e. a satisfied customer, and ex-boss etc. Too many recommendations on LinkedIn are from colleagues, family members or worst of all, complete strangers! One dodgy recommendation can ruin a profile, so be careful to only seek testimonials from the right people.

What other LinkedIn behaviours drive you mad?  please feel free to comment below.

The Great LinkedIn SWAM!

LinkedIn groups and other online forums are full of it, LinkedIn users are outraged and LinkedIn Group Managers are tearing their hair out....so what is all the fuss about this new thing called SWAM? Image For those of you who haven't come across it yet, SWAM stands for 'Site Wide Auto Moderation' a relatively new LinkedIn feature designed to block spammers from LinkedIn groups. Here is how it works; A member of a group behaves in such a way that the manager of that group decides to 'block & delete' them from their group. This decision is purely made by the manager/owner of that group and LinkedIn are not involved in any way. The result of this action is that the blocked individual is automatically moderated in every other group of which they are a member (up to 49). Moderated simply means that every post (creation of discussion, comment, promotion or job post) has to be approved by the manager of the group before it is published. LinkedIn brought in this function to help group managers deal with the ever-increasing amount of spammers infiltrating their groups. The idea was that a group manager would only delete and block someone they believed to be a genuine spammer and this would therefore be doing a favour to every other group manager who had been unfortunate enough to have attracted the said individual as a member. I think LinkedIn genuinely thought this would be widely welcomed by everyone (except those nasty spammers) but it has caused a massive outcry from just about everyone. The problem is that this decision is based on the following assumptions;

  1. All group managers are responsible, credible members of the LinkedIn community.
  2. The definition of spam is uniform.

Clearly these assumptions are completely wrong and this has been the route of the problem. I have heard countless examples of professional, credible individuals who have never even considered spamming anyone getting hit by SWAM. This could be for a variety of reasons;

  • They have had a disagreement with the manager of a group
  • They have had a public 'falling out' with another member of a group (groups are after all debating forums)
  • The manager of a group blocked & deleted them by accident
  • The manager of a group is a competitor
  • The manager had a bad day and decided to 'cull' some members to make themselves feel better!!

Quite often the reason someone gets banned from a group is because they continually post links to articles, this is very annoying for most group managers who have set up their group to be a discussion forum and links without commentary to stimulate debate just clog up the discussion timeline and are considered spam by many managers. This problem however has largely been created by LinkedIn themselves with their 'Share on LinkedIn' buttons that appear in most internet articles, these buttons allow the reader to 'share' the article to multiple groups and this is often the cause of the problem. Innocent group members are suddenly finding they are effectively subject to some gagging order in all of their groups, if they are a member of many groups it can even take them some time to figure out which group they have been deleted from!

To make the situation worse, it is not easy to get yourself 'de-SWAMed' LinkedIn customer services want nothing to do with it and advise contacting every group manager individually and 'pleading your case' to get the moderation lifted. The problem is that the group manager may well believe that there is 'no smoke without fire' and decide to ignore your appeal (this seems to be the most common response).

Interestingly some of the most vocal opponents of SWAM are the group managers themselves! The result of SWAM to decent, credible group managers is an increased workload (significant increases in moderation) and more hassle from disgruntled members asking them to lift their moderation status.

It seems that no-one is happy.

So what do LinkedIn have to say about it? .........Nothing! So far there has been a wall of silence from LinkedIn on this matter, despite the deafening volume of protest.

So come on LinkedIn, its time to eat some humble pie and accept this was a well-meaning but ill-judged action. Nobody is suggesting we should just accept spam and everyone wants to find a solution but SWAM is clearly a very blunt edged sword that is doing far more harm than good. In the meantime I would suggest everyone is extra careful with their behaviour in groups....oh and steer well clear of groups managed by your competitors!

Have your Recruiters hijacked your Company Page?

hijacking-hot-spot It’s probably fair to say that up to 2008 LinkedIn was primarily about recruitment. Since then this unique business to business networking platform has developed into a far more holistic site offering its members a vast range of functionality to enable them and their employers to be more productive and successful. LinkedIn Company Pages have evolved in a similar way. Initially the only practical use of a company page was to advertise vacancies and showcase a great workplace in order to attract ‘followers’ who may one day want to work for you (in effect a talent pool).

In the last few years LinkedIn have added functionality more associated with promoting the company to prospective customers and facilitating engagement with current customers.

The problem is that many organisations haven't kept pace with these changes and their company page is still managed by their recruiting teams rather than their marketing function.

Can you imagine a situation where a Recruiting/HR department was given control of your website? That would be crazy!

The responsibility for the company brand and communication to the wider world must be the remit of the marketing function.

The Company Profile below is a major blue chip B2B and B2C organisation and it is not an isolated example. In my experience the bigger the company, the more likely they are to be stuck in the ‘LinkedIn is just about recruitment’ bubble and I believe this is damaging their brand.

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If you can find your customers and prospects on LinkedIn then you need to take a look at your company page and if it is currently controlled by your recruiting team then you need to politely ask for it back!

There is a lot you can do with a company page these days such as;

  • List all of your products and services
  • Show recommendations for products services from satisfied customers
  • Tailor the content different visitors see when they visit your products/services page
  • Build a list of relevant followers who you can engage with
  • Show eye-catching ‘on brand’ images on all pages
  • Embed Videos to showcase your products

To understand all of the above features and how to implement them correctly I have produced a video tutorial which you can get here

So come on marketers, get control of your page back. Each company profile has its own page for recruitment, so let your recruiters control that but make sure all the other pages are focussed on promoting the whole company and its products.

company page tutorial

The Inconvenient Truth About LinkedIn

Image Have you ever heard that saying regarding the internet

“If you don’t know what the product is… then it is probably you”?

This simply means that if you are using a productive and useful Internet site or app for free then you are probably paying for this with your information and data.

This is clearly true for Google and Facebook but is it true for LinkedIn?

This is a question that has been bugging me for a while. LinkedIn are a highly profitable organisation who make the vast majority of their revenue from corporate recruiting products (see here). So I have always assumed that their monetization strategy was somewhat different from Google & Facebook.

Maybe it was but now they are publicly quoted on the NYSE and have a responsibility to continually grow their profits, so perhaps the game has changed!

Being a big fan of LinkedIn I have probably been fairly slow on the uptake on this but just recently the penny dropped for me. Earlier this year something happened to LinkedIn that I could not explain. I have never really used the news feed function of LinkedIn called LinkedIn Today.

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I think it’s a great feature but I already have established ways of reading news and information so to me LinkedIn Today was unwanted ‘noise’ on my homepage. Previously there was an option that allowed you to switch the news feed off but this has now been withdrawn (much to my frustration!) and I couldn’t understand why.

Surely having an advanced feature to optionally switch the news feed off made sense? Most people wouldn’t use it either because they are not aware of its existence or because they want to see LinkedIn Today. So why would they remove it? The only reason that I could come up with is that LinkedIn have decided that it is important to know what we are reading. Why would they wish to know that? Perhaps this is the same thing as Google being interested in what we search for.... perhaps LinkedIn have a monetization strategy built around data collection. I then started to think of other features that we use that also give LinkedIn interesting data about us.

  • Following Thought Leaders. What does it say about us if we follow Richard Branson or Deepak Chopra?Image
  • Groups. By joining a group about leadership for example you are giving LinkedIn useful data.
  • Status Updates. Why did you ‘like’ an update and what does that say about you?
  • Background. Where you work, have previously worked and where you went to college and what you studied.
  • Who You Know. Perhaps this is why LinkedIn are so insistent that we only connect with people we know well?

....and the list goes on and on!

The fact is that pretty much everything you do on LinkedIn is potentially of interest to marketeers, maybe not in isolation but when you add them all together they become very interesting and most important to LinkedIn, worth paying good money for!

So should we be worried?

Well that is a personal question that only you can answer.

For me the answer is no, I think it's a pretty good trade-off to be honest. We get to use an amazing resource like LinkedIn for free, which when used correctly can help you grow your business and all you have to pay in return is your data....that sounds like a good deal to me.

Or am I being naive?

What do you think?

Keeping In Touch With your LinkedIn Contacts

Today I received a message from a LinkedIn connection of mine. He is a really good bloke who has referred several clients to me in the past. This is the kind of LinkedIn connection I know I should keep in touch with more regularly and this message today has made me feel guilty for not being in touch more often! The problem is that I don't really have a system for keeping in touch. Can you relate to this?

LinkedIn is a great tool to find out about someone before meeting them and (once connected) a great way to keep up to date with what they are up to (via updates) but it's not a great tool to help us remember to keep in touch with someone. Some well-known CRM products integrate with LinkedIn but for many of us a sophisticated (and expensive) CRM tool is overkill - enter FIVEHUNDREDPLUS! (500+)

Last week a contact of mine introduced me to a new, basic but very useful CRM tool for LinkedIn called Five Hundred Plus. After just 30 minutes of playing around on the site I was so excited I decided to contact the developers to understand more about the product, its history and where it was going. 500+ works in a very simple and effective way. Initially you sign in with your LinkedIn account, this way it can look at your network on LinkedIn. Once logged in you just search for a connection (see below) and ‘drag and drop’ them into the relevant column for the frequency of contact.

This however doesn't have to just be for a connection, you can schedule contact reminders for other LinkedIn users outside of your network. You can even add more contacts who are not even on LinkedIn from the 'new contact' button.

Once this is done you will receive an email reminder every Monday morning with details of who you need to schedule contact with that week. If that contact is by email you can even bcc your 500+ account (see below) so that it automatically logs that the email has been sent - genius!

Here is a copy of my first email from 500+;

OK I'm not wild about the use of that awful 'touch base' phrase but its a pretty handy feature to have this weekly reminder!

You can also manually log an interaction and 500+ will then reschedule your next reminder;

Once a note has been added the due date will automatically change to the next scheduled contact (depending on which column it was entered into, see below) and as you can see you can make notes about the interaction as well as making notes about the contact.

This product is still in its alpha stage of development so there are a few little glitches (nothing major) and some functionality that could be added - for instance the site does not give you a link direct back to a contacts LinkedIn profile and it doesn't pull across information from the profile (such as contact information, background etc). I also think a tagging feature would also be useful (especially as it looks like this feature may be under threat with the new LinkedIn profiles). These are all areas for development and I know that Geir Freyson the developer is currently working on some of these improvements.

*UPDATE 28th November - Geir has now updated the site so that contact details now link directly back to the profile and location information is included.

In my experience some of the best app ideas come from developers who themselves find an 'itch' and decide to develop a product to 'scratch' it - this is a classic example of this as Geir told me that this was developed purely as a way to help them to keep in contact with their connections, they found it worked so well for them that they realised they had a product worth developing for a wider audience.

Overall I think this is a fantastic application and the best news....it is completely free! I can imagine an enterprise, team based paid version being a good way to monetize this in the future although I expect this single user basic edition to remain completely free.

Thanks to Geir for taking the time to talk to me about the product and also a quick mention to Mike Watson for introducing it to me in the first place....well spotted Mike!

I strongly suggest you give Five Hundred Plus a go, it could be the missing link in making LinkedIn a more powerful business development, recruiting & networking tool.

LinkedInterview #7

Introduction 

My name is Steven Jones and I currently work for Ballard Dale Syree Watson which is a firm of independent Chartered Accountants, we are based out of Droitwich in Worcestershire with 5 partners and about 50 professional staff. My role is Business Development Director with responsibility for new client engagement, marketing and also the recruitment of our staff. We are a general practice who also have a specialist focus on the Healthcare and agribusiness sectors and are known for having particular expertise in the area of tax. Our clients range from micro businesses to £100 million turnover organisations.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 

17th January 2009

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………." 

A really good way to keep abreast of what is happening in business both locally and nationally and an effective way of making new contacts whilst sat at your desk.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? 

I typically login at my desk about a half hour before I start work to have a read through the news and updates on my home page. I keep LinkedIn open all day but I will typically go back to it for another look at updates/news etc at lunchtime and again when I get home in the evening. I also run a group on LinkedIn for local businesses so I check this for new discussions and members before 8.30am every day.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone? 

c2000 I have quite a wide network, partly due to the nature of our business and partly because I think it is rude to not accept an invitation. The way I see it is if you were at an offline networking meeting and someone came up to you and offered you their business card. Would you ignore them and walk away? LinkedIn is no different in my opinion. That said my home feed is a valuable real estate and if a connection was clogging it up with irrelevant posts, I would have no hesitation in hiding their updates.

The type of people I will target to connect with would be specialist Recruiters because they have large and relevant networks and I also target Accountants working elsewhere so that I can keep in touch and track their career progression

What features of LinkedIn do you use most? 

I consider myself to be a fairly basic user so most of my attention is focussed on reading updates and news on my home page. I also use groups a lot to network with local businesses and keep abreast of relevant topics for some our specialist areas (agriculture, healthcare etc). I also run my own group called the Worcestershire Business Community group, I started it about 6 months ago and currently it has about 180 members. I find this is a great way to communicate and engage with the local business community. I write a blog for my company (with help from colleagues) and feed this into the group, as well as posting relevant pieces into other groups where appropriate. I keep the group very open and like to encourage participation, I don't moderate the content prior to posting because I think it can be very frustrating for someone to have to wait to see their post when they have taken the time to contribute. Obviously I would remove anything inappropriate but this hasn't been much of an issue so far.  I accept everyone who asks to join, no competitors have as yet but to be fair I can’t see any harm in letting them in, it's a community and they are valuable members of that community so they may have something useful to contribute. It was quite challenging to get things going at first but I get a real kick these from seeing the members interacting with each other and gaining real benefit from the group.

I tend not to publicise the blog through status updates because I am concerned that I might be clogging up my connections home page feed with repeated posts in different areas of LinkedIn.

I occasionally perform an advanced search to find specific people who might be relevant to a certain article of piece of information that I may want to share with them.

What is your favourite feature?

I think I would say my home page really, its proved to be a valuable source of relevant information.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? 

Plenty. I can think of several clients who I originally came across on LinkedIn, some via my group or other groups, some who I have found via a search and others that I have come across in the ‘people you may know’ section and begun to engage with and over time have started to do business with them. I would never approach a potential client and directly sell to them, for me its all about a basic introduction and an invitation to connect and this gets me on their radar. We have also recruited several key staff via LinkedIn either by a direct approach or via cascading information through groups. I also received a job offer before joining here via LinkedIn.

What new features would you like to see? 

It would be cool if LinkedIn had a video chat/conferencing facility, something like Skype integrated into LinkedIn or maybe even a Skype plugin. There would need to be some good privacy controls to avoid being hassled by people but this is easily controlled on Skype so shouldn’t be a barrier. As well as individual conversations you could also set up something within a group where a time was organised for a live presentation or discussion. For example this interview could have been conducted live and others would be able to dial in and listen - all via LinkedIn

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? 

I’m really not sure, technology is a ‘fickle mistress’! Just ask MySpace or Nokia. It's hard to know what is around the corner in social media, never mind in 8 years time! 8 years ago we didn't have Twitter and LinkedIn was hardly known.

My concern is that LinkedIn becomes saturated by recruiters and too dominated by people who use it purely to get a job or fill a job. I think it's a great recruitment tool but it is far more than that and I think it is important to ensure that people are still able to use it as a networking tool.

It strikes me that the key to Steve's success with LinkedIn has been the lack of 'selling' he does on the site, despite being a Business Development Director!

Steve has spent time and effort to build relationships, share news, run a group community etc etc. This is typical of the actions of a good 'Social salesperson'.

A big thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer these questions. If you feel you have an interesting LinkedIn story to tell please get in touch at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

LinkedIn Reduces in Size

A lot is made of the phenomenal growth of LinkedIn, the last published figures were 175 million members (well past 180 by now) and growing at a rate of over two a second! Yet you may be surprised to know that, as of this weekend, the number of LinkedIn users that you can see has dropped considerably. Almost overnight you have become invisible to millions of users who may be potential customers, employers or employees!

As you may know, the headline figures that LinkedIn quote have always been rather irrelevant because the only number that really counted was the number of users that you can see and can in turn, see you. This has traditionally been the combined number of 1st, 2nd & 3rd tier connections plus those who you shared a group with and whilst we havent been able to see the surname 3rd tier and group members, it didn't really matter that much because we could read their full profile......until now that is!

3rd Tier Are Now Invisible

This weekend LinkedIn have quietly removed the visibility of the profiles of all your 3rd tier and shared group users. Nothing has been mentioned officially (always a sign that they know this will be a very unpopular move). The reality of this change is that LinkedIn has immediately become a less productive place to be.

Lets examine these changes in more detail

There are two ways to find 3rd tier connections on LinkedIn, by performing a keyword search or by searching for them by name. If you now perform a keyword search, those users who are 3rd tier or share a group with you will now look like this;

The visibility of someone you search for by name however is not affected.

Note in the first example we can no longer see their summary or contact information, the same applies to people outside of our network. We also do not have the option to invite them to connect (this bit isn’t new)

In order to see a full profile of 3rd tier or group members we now have to upgrade our account, the cheapest upgrade that allows this visibility is the 'Business' account under 'Other premium accounts' and this is going to set you back at least £155 a year or £16.95 if you pay monthly.

Why is this important?

This really depends on why you are using LinkedIn, for many users it won’t seem to make any difference but what happens if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to get a new job? I have been working with some jobseekers recently and advising them on how to make their profile optimised and visible to as many people as possible. LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters, the majority of which are free users. Jobseekers will now find that despite writing a great profile that is highly optimised for keyword searches, they will now get less interest from recruiters because all that information they have carefully constructed is now invisible to their 3rd tier and fellow group members. LinkedIn make the majority of their revenue from selling recruitment/searching products, I can only assume that this move is designed to increase that revenue. The problem is that every time they make LinkedIn more expensive for recruiters to use, its jobseekers that suffer and in these difficult economic times that seems somewhat harsh and insensitive to me. I don’t have a problem with LinkedIn making money, the are after all a publicly quoted company with shareholders to satisfy but I do wonder if they have thought through the full consequences of these changes.

What can we do about it?

Not much unfortunately! Your headline is still visible to everyone so I would suggest you now include the following information in your headline;

  • Full Name
  • Email address
  • Concise summary of what you have to offer

...and you have 120 characters (inc spaces) in which to do this! (see example right)

You can also change your connection strategy and connect with a greater number of users thus increasing the amount of 2nd tier to replace some of the 3rd tier you have lost (this flies in the face of LinkedIn's advice on who you connect with but changes like this will encourage more connections)

Jobseekers do have the option of upgrading their account and selecting a feature called 'Openlink' which is not a default setting but can be selected at any level of upgrade including the cheapest upgrade called the 'Jobseeker basic' at  £12.95 per month

The Openlink feature states that recruiters (anyone in fact) can message you for free which is great as it means you don't have to put your email address in your profile but more importantly it makes you visible to everyone on LinkedIn - no restrictions at all! Unfortunately the people who are least likely to be able to spend money upgrading their account are those that are out of work!

For recruiters this is obviously an annoying setback but the good news is that X-ray searching of public profiles still works provided that you are not logged into LinkedIn in the browser in which the X-ray the search is done. Below is an example of what a Google or Bing search reveals when you use the command site:linkedin.com followed by a unique phrase from the headline (assuming there is one);

As you can see the public profile still shows the full name and profile so not all is lost, the challenge comes when a headline merely states something like 'Account Manager' because you now can't check the rest of the profile to find a more unique phrase.

Summary

I am usually pretty positive about most aspects of LinkedIn but on this matter I am disappointed. The turning point for LinkedIn might have been in May 2011 when the business was floated on the New York Stock Exchange, from that point onwards they become a business that has to return greater and greater revenue & profits to its shareholders and that inevitably means that their original mission statement "Connect The Worlds Professionals To Make Them More productive & Successful" could become compromised, I hope not but........

As of today I suspect that many LinkedIn users will find it harder to be more productive & successful

and that is a great shame.

What do you think? Can you see any positives for users? I would love to hear your views.

LinkedInterview #4

Introduction 

Andy Neilson, Procurement Director for a company called Poole Lighting in Dorset where I have been since January this year. My career spans many years in Procurement and Supply chain.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 

12th March 2008

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………." 

....My business networking tool, I don’t use Facebook at all but LinkedIn enables me to network with like minded professionals across many sectors and locations. It allows me to discuss best practice with other procurement professionals and it also allows me to ‘check out’ suppliers and potential suppliers. LinkedIn also allows me to network with people who have common interests but are from outside my normal business contacts for instance people who are also into Rugby, Golf, motorsport etc

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?

I’m on LinkedIn every day, I login as soon as I get to work or if I am working from home almost as soon as I get up! I think I logged in at 6.30am this morning! I don't log off until the end of the day so it is literally on my computer all day long, in the background mostly but its always there and invitations ping through every now and then.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone?

2294. I like to connect with a wide range of people who I can network with, I am keen to take on board other professionals views on a wide range of subjects and building a large network also helps me find more people on LinkedIn which is invaluable when I am looking to directly source and investigate potential suppliers. Its also important that other people can check me out and see/understand where I am coming from and what my expertise are. I think this helps to build relationships which ultimately helps me with my negotiations, I am not just a voice at the end of a phone line - they see what I am all about and who they are dealing with, my background, skill set, recommendations etc I find that helps with any negotiations. I try not to be ‘clever’ in negotiations, I am an honest open chap and I want people to see that I am authentic. They have something that I need and we agree on what that looks like in terms of product/service and price. I know they need to make a margin and they know I want to find a good deal, I work with them to achieve this and I believe this is reflected in my LinkedIn profile as many of my recommendations are from suppliers who have confirmed this. My view is that business is all about relationships and my LinkedIn profile serves an important role in that respect.

All of my current supply base are in China and whilst there are some cultural differences, it still comes down to relationships and basic good manners and when they read my profile it is welcoming and open and that sets the right agenda. I have developed countless relationships where the starting point has been LinkedIn. Unfortunately the Chinese are not yet massive users of LinkedIn, they love Skype and I regularly receive invites to connect on Skype, some of the more forward thinking ones connect on linkedIn but many of them are just not using it yet. I haven't worked much with the Chinese prior to this role and I am learning that they like to network in person or at least via a video call on Skype and LinkedIn doesn't provide that facility, which is a pity.

I get plenty of invites from sales people and from recruiters who are keen to do business with me and rightly so, I have no problem with this. With regards to recruitment I believe LinkedIn has become the main tool for recruiting and job hunting, no longer would anyone consider going to the Daily Telegraph in search of a job!

What features of LinkedIn do you use most? 

'Whose viewed your profile' is one thing I look at most days, I guess I’m just very nosey but it's always interesting to see who has been checking me out! Company profiles are an important resource to me as well when assessing suppliers and the advanced search function is also important in that regard.

A typical situation might be that I might be looking to source a freight forwarding supplier for example so I would use keywords and search LinkedIn to find profiles relevant to what I am looking for, once I find someone interesting I look at their company profile and go through the list of employees to find the most relevant contact - such as the Sales Director. Alternatively I might find the companies first via a Google search, then look them up on LinkedIn to then find the relevant contacts profile as above. LinkedIn searching gives me the ‘purest’ set of results though. The profiles I find are not found because they have paid Google or an SEO company and what I get is great information about real people - as opposed to their web sites.

So what do you do when you find the Sales Director, what is your next step?

I would normally contact them by inviting them to connect, 9/10 times we would normally share a group but if not it can get difficult because LinkedIn gives me no easy option in terms of giving a reason for the invitation. I often end up using the ‘friend’ option which I am not comfortable with but we haven't done business and I don't know their email address so it's all I can use. LinkedIn doesn't give me the option to say ‘I am thinking of doing business with you’ which seems crazy to me. It seems that all the reasons are historical rather than progressive. I see LinkedIn as a way of networking and getting to know new people, this is why it is useful to me so I will invite strangers so long as they are relevant. The crazy thing is that LinkedIn limit the amount of invitations I can send out which seems counter-productive to me because it's a networking site! I mean why would I want to network online with someone who sits 2 foot away from me? I want to network with people who I don't know who share their knowledge and experience with me and vice versa - because that's how you improve.

I am a great believer that good networking is about helping others and a large network helps me do that. A good example today is that a recruiter who is a connection has posted an update saying they are looking for a senior Buyer in London with experience in fashion which is great so I will have a quick look and then send the recruiter a message saying ‘check out so and so who is one of my connections’ I have done that on maybe 30 occasions just in the last month! I know I am in a position to facilitate the connection and I know it is helping both parties - there are plenty of good people out there struggling to find jobs and if I can help I will and I can only do that because I have an extensive network. I have even seen people in the ‘people you know’ section who are stating that they are seeking a new opportunity and I invite them to connect for no other reason than I think my connections might be able to help them and why not? Why wouldn't I offer help when I know it could be really beneficial to them?

What is your favorite feature?

'Company search' and 'whose viewed my profile' are my favourites, ‘whose viewed’ is something I check every day and I am interested to see if the number is going up or down, that is less professionally beneficial...but interesting all the same! I have noticed that the connections I make attract similar types of people to view my profile. As an example I am connected to a number of elite athletes, this started as a result of my interest in rugby and rugby related groups on LinkedIn and has spread from there. I had an ex pro rugby player recently who contacted me to ask my advice on moving from sport into business, I didn't know him but I was more than willing to offer him some advice and he could see we had common contacts so he felt OK about approaching me. We had many conversations about how to approach his job search and now he has ended up in a role as a recruiter. This was really bizarre because this was a guy I was used to watching on TV! There are plenty of rugby players on LinkedIn, not many footballers although Gary Speed the Welsh Manager before he sadly died was a big LinkedIn user who was also a connection of mine.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? 

Well my current job came from a direct approach from a Recruiter on LinkedIn which is one example, I wasn't openly looking and my profile didn't say anything to encourage a recruiter but the timing was good and the opportunity exciting, the recruiter did a great job and was very professional, he had read my profile and didn't just send me one of those dreadful messages that they have obviously sent to many people. I always make sure my profile is up to date and looks good because I am very aware that it is my first impression. Obviously I checked out the Recruiters profile before replying to his approach to check he looked credible etc - that reminds me I had another approach recently from someone who had a profile with little or no information within and only 1 connection! I’m sure he was a nice guy but a profile with no information and few connections just makes me question whether they are real!

Another example of success is a recent exercise I undertook in investigating running reverse auctions. I have some experience of running reverse auctions but not in China and I imagined it could be a nightmare if not done properly so I needed to find organisations who had the right experience to run them for me. A quick search on LinkedIn gave me several names of companies who were exactly what I needed so I went from sitting at my desk with a blank sheet of paper wondering where to start, to a situation where I had proposals from 3 companies who knew exactly what was required. This took no time at all and was a major help, without LinkedIn that would have been a much harder task.

What new features would you like to see? 

Because I deal with the Chinese the incorporation of Skype or some sort of instant messaging and video call facility would be really useful as previously mentioned, I use Twitter a lot as well and its big advantage over LinkedIn is its immediacy, LinkedIn communication is more like email and frankly, email is a bit old-fashioned these days!

I do believe LinkedIn have got it wrong by seeing a network as something in the past, they should design more functionality around using it as a way forward to build new contacts and relationships

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? 

I cant see it going away, why wouldn't we be using such a valuable tool in the future? I can only see it getting bigger and bigger to a point where it replaces Google as a business search facility and becomes an invaluable networking resource to many more people. LinkedIn has made my job so much easier in the last 4 years and I am sure it will for many more people in the future.

 

I loved this interview, Andy is a great networker and dispels the myth that procurement professionals are aloof and difficult to access. Andy is a true networker who looks to use his time on LinkedIn to help others as well as himself in his role when sourcing from the far east. I especially liked the way that he believed in having an open, informative and easy to find profile made his negotiations with suppliers more effective because this created an atmosphere of trust and co-operation. His ideas on integrating Skype into LinkedIn are also very interesting.

Another point worth considering is how Andy sources suppliers by undertaking keyword searches. Imagine if you were a supplier providing reverse auction services/expertise in the far east and you hadn't taken the time to optimise your profile with the relevant keywords and phrases. A major opportunity could be missed!

Andy was too modest to say this during the interview but it is worth noting that he has previously been a recipient of a CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply) award for the quality of his work.

Recent Changes to LinkedIn (July 2012)

There have been a few changes to LinkedIn recently that I thought were worthy of a short explanation, I tend not to comment on cosmetic changes (such as the updated 'people you may know' feature) but the following changes, whilst not hugely significant could be reasonably important to some users.

100% Profile Criteria

It has always been important to ensure you have a 100% complete profile, this automatically ranks you higher in search results, partly because it encourages you to put more information in your profile (which makes it easier to find you) but it also has  a positive weighting to how high up you appear in a search result. Recently LinkedIn have dropped one of the key criteria required to get to 100% - recommendations. Previously you needed 3 recommendations worth 5% each but now you can get to 100% without any recommendations. Whilst I am a big fan of recommendations (when done the correct way) I found that making them a criteria for a 100% profile encouraged users to just get anybody to recommend them so that they could reach 100%. This was pointless and often led to recommendations from a friend, colleague or even a family member and these type of testimonials were actually damaging to a profile. This criteria has now been replaced with the need to have a minimum of 50 connections which is in my view, much more sensible.

Twitter Link

I have never been a fan of automatic feeds from Twitter into a LinkedIn status update and now Twitter have called a stop to this. You can still link your accounts and send your LinkedIn updates to Twitter but not the other way around - either automatically or by adding #in. Most LinkedIn users will be quite happy to hear this news, many have commented to me that they are tired of seeing countless tweets telling them how someone is feeling that day or what they have been up to at the weekend or even worse seeing one half of an @ conversation!

That said I do have some connections who use Twitter extensively and only ever Tweet serious, relevant information and less often than a normal Tweeter. This new change will potentially create much more work for these people but all is not lost - there is a solution! 

I have recently been using an excellent web service called IFTTT which stands for 'If This Then That'. This simple, free and very effective service allows you to link actions between different web sites. There are lots of ways IFTTT can be used, you just need to use your imagination but one simple recipe (the term they use for a set of instructions) is to send every Tweet directly to your LinkedIn status updates. You only need to set it up once and then it will automatically keep working until you switch it off - simple!

I tested this out today with the following 'recipe'

and it worked, within minutes the Tweet appeared in my LinkedIn homepage. Whilst this is a convenient and effective workaround I still believe that the majority of LinkedIn users should NOT be sharing every Tweet on LinkedIn, IFTTT does also help in this respect as it allows you to specify that you do not want @replies sent to LinkedIn.

Company Profile Updates

LinkedIn are gradually making Company Profiles more useful and effective, firstly they allowed you the free facility to advertise your products and services via a separate tab in the profile, then they allowed a company to send a status update to its followers and now they are allowing companies to target updates at specific followers. This is a great new feature and a potential game changer in terms of what a company can do on LinkedIn (as opposed to individuals). The problem with the company status update feature was that a company's followers were often largely made up of employees, competitors and suppliers. forward thinking organisations have now started to encourage more followers (of the right type) and this feature allows them to send out status updates in a highly targeted way.

Now you can specify which followers see an update by;

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Seniority
  • Function
  • Size of employer

And you can even select to remove company employees from an update.

This is a vast improvement and does make me wonder why they can't do the same for status updates from an individual profile.......now that really would be useful!

LinkedInterview #2

. Introduction Dominic Hastings, Business Development Manager. NES Global Talent (IT division), we are a global supplier to some of the largest organizations in the world with high-quality technical and engineering experts and I head up a small team specialising in IT appointments.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth? November 3rd 2005

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is......…." My first source of business intelligence. LinkedIn allows me to get the names of potential clients and map out organisational structures primarily for business development purposes, I can also see who they know and ask for introductions. I also use it to find candidates for specialist 'hard to fill' roles, this would only be if I couldn't find them via our own database and job boards.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? Every day first thing in the morning and I only log off when I leave the office. I regularly glance at my home page for information that could be useful  such as someone moving jobs/company or someone updating their status to say they are looking for a job.I will also often read industry news shared by my connections although I rarely 'like' or share it.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone? 470. I connect only with people I have spoken to, for instance I may approach a candidate about a role but they state that they are happy in their current job so I suggest a connection as a way of keeping in touch. Another example would be a client I am dealing with for the first time. A connection would always need to be relevant to my market and someone I have spoken to.

What features of LinkedIn do you use most? Advanced search, this way I can be very targeted and find contacts who are in relevant roles at the right type of companies. I search using the job title field, location (not always) and keywords. I use the filters to narrow the result to exactly what I am looking for. Searching is generally quick and effective.

What is your favorite feature? Advanced search and my home page update feed are both important as previously mentioned but I also like the 'people you may know' section which often throws up some interesting names, I don't just rely on the 3 names on my homepage but actually click on 'see more' and frequently go through several pages of names (this has recently been updated and looks much better). I have also found browsing LinkedIn Alumni interesting on occasions.

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? I can think of 15-20 candidates I have placed having sourced them directly from LinkedIn and I have also initiated contact with many clients who I have subsequently gone on to do business with so quite a lot really!

What new features would you like to see? I wish you could be selective about who you allow to see your connections. I currently have mine closed because there are contacts who I would rather not show my connections to but there are also plenty of contacts who I would be happy to allow this access and it would be great if I could open it up to those people. Obviously as a recruiter it would be much better if I could get access to peoples contact details without having to be connected to them. It would also be useful to e able to send a status updates to some connections and not others, a similar concept to Google+ circles would be really useful.

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? I think it will still be around but I suspect most of us will have to pay for it. I currently have an upgraded account for the ability to send Inmails, my guess is that more features will have to be paid for and as LinkedIn continues to prove its worth, more people will be prepared to pay for it.

Dom is clearly an experienced user but unlike many recruiters, he is quite selective about who he connects with and this seems to be working for him based on how much success he has had using LinkedIn. I loved his suggestion of Google+ type circles for selective status updating. LinkedIn have recently introduced a similar feature for company updates so hopefully they will do the same for personal profiles.

A big thanks to Dom for giving up his lunch hour recently to meet me in the pub to do this interview. I hope this has been of interest, if you feel you have an interesting story and wish to be interviewed please drop me a line at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com.

The Mystery of the Anonymous LinkedIn Spammer!

I'm stumped!

I wonder if you can help. I have been spending too much time trying to figure out this mystery on my own and I need your help to solve it.

I hate spamming on LinkedIn, I don't mind receiving the odd promotional message from a connection, after all I agreed to connect with them and if they overdo it I will just disconnect. The same goes for group members, I can either leave the group or report them to the group owner/manager. Spammers are often simply those who are desperate to win more business and just havent thought through the consequence of their actions, you see on LinkedIn they can't really hide because if they send me spam I can report them and (most importantly) I can see who they are and where they work - On LinkedIn you are visible so bad behaviour = bad reputation (as it should).

But this week I received the following message;

The link is to a video selling some amazing investment in stocks which probably don't even exist! I am not connected to the mysterious Mr Lee nor do I share a group with him (despite what the message says) because when I click on his name to reveal his true identity this is what I see;

So how can this happen? The only way you can receive a direct message from someone on LinkedIn is one of the following

  • They are a connection (1st tier)
  • You share a group with them
  • They send an Inmail message to you

This is not an Inmail, they look different to this and give you the option of reporting it as spam and grading it as inappropriate (and they appear on your home page as well as your inbox).

Am I missing something here?

If I'm not then this is either some kind of glitch or a worrying new feature/workaround. To be able to send someone a message and not allow them to see your profile is totally wrong, it means you are not accountable for your actions and your reputation is not damaged through this unacceptable behaviour.

Any help in solving this mystery would be most appreciated.....over to you

LinkedInterview #1

The first of my interviews is with Suzanne Blundell;

  • Introduction Name - Suzanne Blundell. Job Title - Practice Development Manager at Curo Chartered Accountants. My role is to help the practice with marketing and business development, this covers all marketing channels including social media. Our clients cover a wide range of industries and we work with many large corporates including  work with the ‘big four’ accountancy firms. Much of our business is generated via referral partners such as lawyers, financial advisors, bankers etc. At the moment I work on a part-time basis.
  • When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 24th November 2010. This was following a couple of years being a full-time mum. It proved to be a great tool to re-establish old contacts and get myself ‘back in the game’ having decided to enter full-time employment again.
  • Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………." an effective way of letting the market know who I am and what I do, it's really important to be visible and LinkedIn provides me with an easy way of achieving that.
  • When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? Every day in the working week on my work PC and sometimes in the evenings or weekends on my iPad. I first login within the first hour of being there (9am-10am) and then I log out again. LinkedIn can be a distraction so I leave it alone until the early afternoon when I log in again briefly. I need to be very disciplined as I work short days and can't afford to be distracted by LinkedIn activity
  • How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone? 232 connections. I tend to connect to Partners and Managers in the accountancy profession, ex colleagues and people I have spoken to or met. I also connect with local business people who are well-connected (ie local chamber of commerce) and contacts at the ICAEW (Accountancy institute). I don't connect with friends, this is very much a business tool so unless there is also a clear business reason to do so, I would avoid personal friends on LinkedIn. Initially I connected with all sorts of people who invited me but now I avoid people who invite me unless they are relevant, especially recruiters. If I was looking for a job I would connect with recruiters but I would rather research which are worth connecting to rather than just accept invitations from random people who I know nothing about.
  • What features of LinkedIn do you use most? I have a look to see what people have been up to on my home page feed and sometimes read news updates etc. With my number of connections I am aware that I am probably missing some useful information because some of my connections do post a lot of irrelevant updates, I find this feature especially useful on the iPad app. I also love to check out who has been viewing my profile, it's often interesting and useful to see who has viewed me. This often leads to a connection because they subsequently invite me to connect or occasionally it may even instigate an invitation from me. Some people  might be viewing me because they may be considering working for Curo’s so I will put them on my radar and consider contacting them when we are recruiting, Recruiters are regular visitors to my profile but that just goes over my head because I know they are looking at everyone! I also find the ‘people you may know’ feature really useful, especially when I was initially on LinkedIn and trying to build my network and re-connect with people I had lost touch with.
  • What is your favorite feature? I like the fact that you can really easily populate your profile with relevant skills and experience and how you can link your profile to a company profile. I think the User interface is really good.
  • What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn? Well my current job came from LinkedIn! I mentioned earlier that I signed up for the first time because I wanted to get back into the workplace following a maternity career break and a Recruiter contacted me having done a search on LinkedIn so that was great. I know I have raised my profile in my market since being on LinkedIn and I am sure this has helped me and Curo’s in many ways although it is hard to attribute any business success directly to LinkedIn. The fact that I am a member of certain restricted membership groups and who I am connected with could give me credibility in certain circumstances.
  • What new features would you like to see? There are probably features that already exist that I am not using fully, never mind new ones! I am conscious I should be filtering my home page feed to see more relevant information. We are currently revamping our website and we will then be blogging and that is where I think my time is best spent, LinkedIn will offer us a good opportunity to publicise the blog but using new features etc is not my priority right now.
  • Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? I was discussing this recently, there is a possibility that the bubble will burst and something better will come along, look at the example of Friends Reunited and how that was overtaken by Facebook....could this happen to LinkedIn? If they don't get complacent and keep improving the site they should keep ahead but who knows? Of course the big difference is that Friends Reunited was primarily about the past but LinkedIn & Facebook are about people you used to know and people you can get to know and therefore its as much about the future as the past.

My observation is that Suzanne is enjoying using LinkedIn as a way of keeping in touch and most importantly being highly visible within her community now that she is back at work. I guess when you are 'out of the loop' for a period of time due to maternity leave etc it can really highlight how easy it is to lose touch and how it can be quite a daunting prospect when you re-enter the workplace. If Suzanne had been using LinkedIn as a tool to keep in touch and remain visible whilst she was off she may have found it a less daunting prospect. That said, having signed up at the point she decided to return to work she soon realised the benefits when a Recruiter contacted her  about her present position!

A big thanks to Suzanne for her time and insight. I hope this interview has been of interest, f you feel you have an interesting story and wish to be interviewed please drop me a line at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com.

LinkedInterviews

Having trained thousands of LinkedIn users over the last 3 years it has been an observation of mine that many of the best ideas and techniques come from users themselves, most people are self-taught and this makes my job fascinating as I listen ideas and best practices from others and turn them into comprehensive guides and tutorials (adding my own twist along the way).

It stuck me that it might be interesting to run a series of interviews with LinkedIn users from a wide variety of backgrounds who are likely to be using LinkedIn in many different ways. These are not necessarily 'super users' in fact most are likely to be people who have a lot to learn themselves but that doesn't mean that by sharing their techniques and perspectives that others can't learn something from them.

I hope you find these interviews interesting, thought-provoking and ultimately useful. If you feel you have something to share and want me to interview you, simply drop me a line at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com

How Important is Your LinkedIn profile?

Warning - here follows a blatant plug for one of my products.....but it is a really important one! It amazes me how many people underestimate the importance of a good LinkedIn profile, I often see incomplete profiles or ones with inappropriate pictures or just profiles where it is obvious that no time has been taken to make it look professional.

How many times have you checked someone out on LinkedIn prior to meeting or speaking to them? I do it all the time and I think it is pretty common practice these days (given that LinkedIn is so mainstream now it is a fair assumption that you will find most people). Well if you are looking for them you can safely assume that they are looking at you too!

In fact I know of one sales team who are measured on how many profile views they get each month, the Sales Manager has seen a clear relationship between profile views and sales activities, not just LinkedIn activities but all sales activities - the more times a salesperson makes contact with prospects, the higher the number of profile views.

So next time you call someone and introduce yourself to them, listen out for the sound of the tapping of keys on their keyboard as they put your name into a basic LinkedIn search! Also the next time you visit someone (sales call, interview etc) when you are sitting in reception waiting to see them, just imagine what they are doing at that precise moment - reading your LinkedIn profile?

I have always covered LinkedIn profiles in my half day and full day workshops as I think they are critical for any LinkedIn user, irrespective of how experienced or how active they are.

Not everyone is going to be able to attend a workshop so I have recently produced a 90 minute, comprehensive video tutorial which takes the viewer through every section and stage of building the perfect LinkedIn profile.

There are 8 sections covering the following;

  1. Introduction, settings and profile picture
  2. Basic Information section (name, headline, industry & location)
  3. Experience & Education (inc LinkedIn Alumni)
  4. Recommendations
  5. Creating links (website, Twitter, public profile)
  6. Adding sections and applications (Slideshare, Box.net, publications and more)
  7. Summary section and skills
  8. Finishing touches (additional information, contact details & moving sections)

The length of each section ranges from 6-18 minutes and all are designed to walk you through in detail the necessary steps required to produce a really effective profile.

You can work through this programme at a pace that suits you, simply log out and back in whenever you wish using your unique username and password.

If this is of interest you can buy your unique login details for just £24.99 by clicking here or please feel free to forward this to anyone you know who could benefit from this tutorial (I am sure we all know plenty of users who need to improve their profile!)

I have produced video tutorials and tips on my YouTube channel for a few years now and the response has always been great, this has taken me weeks (actually maybe longer!) to produce and edit and I am really happy with the result.

Let me know what you think.

LinkedIn Statistics for February 2012

People are always asking me about the number of users on LinkedIn and how various countries compare with each other so I thought it would be helpful and interesting to provide you with monthly updates. Firstly lets look at the top ten countries represented on LinkedIn (click on the image to enlarge)

It's no surprise to see the US as number 1, in fact the top 3 have been that way for some time. Interestingly though the UK looks like it is soon to be overtaken by the worlds fastest growing nation on LinkedIn - Brazil!

Now let's have a look at the top ten in Europe; (click on the image to enlarge)

France has recently overtaken the Netherlands as the second largest and it looks like Italy is soon to overtake as well. The UK is way ahead though and still growing at an impressive 45,000 per month. The comparatively low figure in Germany can be explained by the popularity of xing.com which still dominates in Germany, Austria and the German side of Switzerland.

And finally let's have a closer look at the membership and company statistics for the UK. (click on the image to enlarge)

I hope these infographics are of interest, I will repeat them every month from now on as I think it will be useful to keep monitoring the growth.

 These are unofficial statistics from Zoomsphere and NOT from LinkedIn themselves, I therefore can't be 100% sure of their accuracy.