Being a curious person, in 25 January 2005 I have become one of the first 100 Romanians on LinkedIn and one of the early LinkedIn adopters. I remember that for the first two years the dynamic of membership growth among my co-nationals was almost zero. Only after Facebook penetrated and changed the social behavior, LinkedIn started to take its share. I was glad about this, as I saw the value of LinkedIn from day one, and this value could not exist without a large enough membership base.
Whilst there are many LinkedIn trainings on the market that are mostly teaching you “how to” skills, I thought that I could share with you my top 10 things that I have learned during these 10 years of LinkedIn membership:
- Investing time and care into LinkedIn pays off. And I am not saying to invest time and care only in activities meant to “decorate” your profile, or “share” and “like” activities, but to really digging in or contributing into knowledge creation. This means working, of course. However, the benefits for your career, your business, your sales results, your recruitment work or your reputation are immensely leveraged by this live and well-structured social network platform.
- People do not connect on LinkedIn. Only profiles of people connect on LinkedIn, as people connects in real life. No connection I have thought I have made on LinkedIn became real until I had a physical contact, either voice or face to face. A real connection on LinkedIn means that you can put a social value on it, and this social value is derived not from the position of the person in his/her company, but from the interests you share and the value that you both can create from your relationship.
- Keeping pace with the LinkedIn platform evolution helps your professional evolution. LinkedIn is a smart tool made for professionals. I have followed and tried during time almost all features of LinkedIn, some of them being already retired like for example LinkedIn Answers. Trying all these features challenged my skills, by trying to give the best of me in my contribution, by designing and nurturing groups that serve other professionals and myself, and, not lastly, challenged my self-awareness by making me to reflect constantly to my achievements when I present myself into my profile.
- Just having a profile on LinkedIn and some groups’ memberships does not mean you are “present” on LinkedIn. Being active on LinkedIn means that you are present. What does it mean to be active on LinkedIn? To check it daily, at least in weekdays (except holidays, of course), to like, share, recommend, endorse, ask, contribute, publish, document yourself, build and manage groups, and not the last,
- If the new currency is Trust, then LinkedIn helps you build it plenty. Just by seeing your name by someone, your credibility in the eyes of that person is being consolidated even at a subconscious level. Even more, by showing your expertise, not only in your profile, but also by expressing some angles as comments to articles or even by publishing on a subject that highlights your expertise, helps you define your professional profile and skills’ offer.
- Volume or quality? That is the question when building your network! Whilst at the beginning of LinkedIn you were urged through a message to connect only with people you know and trust, as a founding principle of LinkedIn, in time I have noticed that LinkedIn itself encouraged you to bypass this principle by building tools to stimulate you to grow your network without considering the quality principle. During these 10 years, this was probably the biggest challenge for me: to grow my network significantly, to have enough exposure to serve my professional interests, but at the same time considering the quality of the network principle.
- There are still professionals who have either not heard about LinkedIn or they don’t use it almost at all because they are not aware of its benefits or they lack the “how to“ skills. In fact, I have recently read about a proportion of 80% who might fall in this category of people who do not exploit the LinkedIn tool for their benefit.
- If you’re thinking you are too important to be on LinkedIn, than either you’re part of a Mafia organization, or you’ll be out of your job soon… If trust is the new currency, having influence is like you own the bank of trust. As a CEO, you need to influence your employees, the shareholders, the media, the civil organizations etc. If Facebook have already proved to be the main driver for political changes, like in Romania at the last November presidential elections, than I won’t be surprised if in the near future LinkedIn is the main driver for changing multinational leadership.
- Lesson No 1 for me: Keep your eyes open as the next thing you will read or write on LinkedIn might change your career and your life. And this is the real adventure…
- Encourage conversation! It is not easy, but it’s worth it, as connecting ideas stimulates every participant into the conversation even someone who is just “listening”. I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences with using LinkedIn.
What lessons have you learned?