We don’t know how to use LinkedIN according to it’s founder, Reid Hoffman.
In the article “Reid Hoffman: The Network Philosopher” in the April 2012 Wired Magazine issue , Reid Hoffman recently said: “is the vast majority of people don’t understand what it’s a platform for. Ask the average person, they think it’s a place they keep their CV online, and maybe have some connections with people they know professionally. They don’t think of it as a place they can get business intelligence, establish an online presence where other people in the network can find them, research problems. We’re a screwdriver when people don’t really realize what screws are. If the light bulb went off in their head on how to use LinkedIn, it would raise the country’s GDP. The vast majority of people don’t really have all the synapses connected about what it is to operate in a networked world.”
He is right of course, we don’t know how to use LinkedIN properly. We are conservative and constricted when it comes to work related social networking. The rules are still so new.
Admittedly, I only use LinkedIN to accept invitations, have a company profile, a personal CV and read the now excellent article stream. So, I am going to take up his challenge. Here is the experiment/new habit I am going to adopt. The only thing that really matters in business is new business i.e. sales which is the same thing as saying growth and whether we want to admit it or not, new business/sales/growth is about who you know – relationships, I am likable guy, I have a decent enough network, but really I am still a bit reserved, I don’t like bugging people, I don’t like sounding like “I want X from you.” It is easy and passive to send out LN invitations to past colleagues and to those whom you have some tenuous third level connection. But none of that really develops enough of a relationship to hear peoples problems and their issues that you can solve with your particular skill set or product/service.
Much, much has been written on how to network, where to network about strong and weak social ties, about hub connectors, about the social graph and word of mouth. But the key, is getting in the mix, getting it wrong and trying it again till a pattern emerges that can be repeated with success creating a sustainable business. So, I am going to try to use LinkedIN for new business, maybe a bit risky, but would seem like a natural and native solution for LinkedIN. This also may sound a bit daft, like you don’t use LN for this already. And of course I do, but not in a committed sense, it feels quite random, done in passing, a more systematic approach could be developed.
What am I going to do is, ask:
1. Who needs help?
2. What kind of help do you need?
3. What are you most pressing issues?
4. How would you like to work?
There are some good resources on LinkedIN but they do feel a bit hidden.
So let’s see what happens, let’s see if LinkedIN really is the platform that it can be.
I’ll post some resulting stories as they come in.