Why should professionals join LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is all business. In a suit and tie (that’s a metaphor – you can use it in the comfort of your home in pajamas). We call it “social media” but really it’s not. It’s networking pure and simple. Not interested in networking? Really? Then don’t bother to read on, but you are missing out. LinkedIn costs you nothing, will not be resource intensive, and can be productively built over a long period. It pays you back in spades, but most importantly, it’s almost a first stop for fellow professionals and business clients when they’re checking you out. Think of it as your online business card.
What is LinkedIn?
Linkedin is there to help you find people who are valuable to your profession and business, and then find others who have connections to those people and so on. Let’s say you meet Ms. Accountant at a get together. You check out Ms. Accountant’s LinkedIn profile, like what you see, and send her an invitation to “join your network”. She accepts (this is almost a pro forma if you have had any association with the invitee, they’re almost certainly going to accept). This is where the networking effect of the social network takes over. It’s a cascading mechanism that is best explained by signing up and using it. The system creates a network for you, it is well tended by the LinkedIn administrators, and it is information rich. Most of all it is highly pragmatic. You will “meet” fellow professionals.
Understand the LinkedIn network
The best way to understand LinkedIn is to look at the networking levels. On LinkedIn, people in your network are called “connections” and your network is made up of your 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree connections, together with fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups.
1st degree – These are people with whom you have established a direct connection because you have invited them to join your network, or because you have accepted their direct invitation to join their network. You’ll know this is so because a “1st degree” icon attaches to their name when you search it. You can contact them directly on LinkedIn any time you like. In other words, having accepted your invitations to connect, you now have free access to each other.
2nd degree – These are people who are connected to your 1st degree connections. They have a “2nd degree” icon next to their name. You cannot contact them directly unless you have signed up for the InMail system (you pay for this). However, you can still invite them to join your network and become a 1st degree connection, but to do this you must have an introduction e.g. you know their email or you have worked together.
3rd degree – These are people who are a 1st degree connection to your 2nd degree connection (LinkedIn describes this as a “friend of a friend”). They have a “3rd degree” icon next to their name. However, you can still invite them to join your network and become a 1st degree connection, but to do this you must have an introduction e.g. you know their email or you have worked together.
Group members – They’re in your network because you’re members of the same group (more about groups later in this Chapter). They have a “Group” icon next to their name. This alone makes it worth joining a Group, because you can send fellow members a message anytime. Let’s say you are a self managed superannuation fund professional – yes, there’s a group for you, the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia. There you will meet accountants, auditors, financial planners, lawyers, risk providers, actuaries, administrators and educators who are involved in the self managed superannuation industry.
How to begin
That’s easy – just do it. Go to LinkedIn and follow the instructions. The process is straightforward. They have a very useful Help Centre – the link is at the bottom of each LinkedIn page. You can read about LinkedIn in our MatureMedia Guide Introduction to Online Content Marketing.