LinkedIn is the big kahuna of online networking sites, but so far it’s been more popular with men than with women. Let’s change the equation and get some power networking going!LinkedIn, the online networking site that has been collecting users like virtual flypaper, now has over 6.6 million registered users. That’s an enormous pool of people who can help you move your business forward, if you know how to tap into it. But more men that women currently use LinkedIn (although the balance is shifting). Haven’t taken the plunge yet? Here are some tips on getting started.
JOIN UP. Basic LinkedIn membership is free. You visit the site (www.linkedin.com), create a Profile for yourself and start inviting your friends to join. I strongly recommend that as soon as you Profile is completed, you download the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar, which will quickly inform you which friends of yours (from your Outlook address book) are already LinkedIn. These folks, of course, should become your first Connections.
GET CONNECTED. The value of LinkedIn is that it allows you to connect to trusted friends and colleagues, so that you and they can share rolodexes and pass introductions and other requests via your networks to assist one another. So, there’s no value to joining LinkedIn unless you connect with somebody…or more than one somebody, or everyone you know. Once you start making connections, it can become addictive! Start with the people you know from your Outlook address book, and then you can begin to invite other friends of yours who aren’t already LinkedIn themselves.
REACH OUT. You can peruse the LinkedIn database to see who on the site might be interesting to know….and then launch a Contact Request through one of your mutual connections, to request an email exchange or phone call with this new acquaintance. Be clear and specific in your request, and take a moment to research the person you’re reaching out to, to improve the chance of a successful contact.
RESPOND. Of course, with membership comes responsibility — you’ll need to shuttle other contacts’ requests along promptly and otherwise be a good LinkedIn citizen. You’ll find LinkedIn is a terrific business-development and general networking tool – and its reach is mighty, as members join from every continent except Antarctica.
There are tons of resources to help you use LinkedIn more successfully, but one that’s meant just for women is the email group LinkedInPowerWomen (www.yahoogroups.com/groups/linkedinpowerwomen) whose membership is also free. Meet other LinkedIn-using women in the group and expand your network!