LinkedIn User Guide

Mondays are the day that I post my most significant blog post for the week.  If you’re looking for Part 2 in the 10 Part LinkedIn series it will be released on Monday.
One of the statements I made in Part 1 was that I wasn’t sure why people chose to sign up for a LinkedIn account and then did nothing.  Someone posted a comment to the blog stating that most people don’t know what to do once they sign up for an account.
I can understand that lack of knowledge would lead to lack of activity.  The next question I have, though, is “why is anyone letting a lack of knowledge get in the way of a potential resource that can help you grow your network, develop relationships, and drive new business?”
With any new tool, technology, etc. you have the choice in how long it takes to go from a novice to an effective user.
You can choose to do nothing
You can choose to learn it on your own
You can choose to tap into the knowledge of others
You can choose to outsource the activity
When I started to learn how to use LinkedIn I chose #2 and #3.  First I looked around the site to see if I could figure it out on my own.  While I learned the basics I decided I would be better served tapping into the knowledge of others to speed up the learning curve.
I started reading any blog I could find that talked about LinkedIn.  At the time there weren’t that many so I bought a LinkedIn ebook.  This one ebook provided the framework I needed to build a foundation of knowledge.  It also introduced me to some tips and strategies to put to work immediately.
The book I purchased was a high level overview of LinkedIn.  When I decided to write my first LinkedIn ebook I decided I would take the opposite approach and write a very detailed book.  I also decided to base the book chapters on the navigational structure of LinkedIn, making it a great reference tool.  Have a question about Groups, go to the Groups chapter.
In June I released the revision of my first book re-titled as the “LinkedIn MBA”.  I also wrote a workbook, the “LinkedIn MBA Workbook” to help people create a “killer” profile, begin building their credibility, and extend their reach.  Combined the two form a perfect resource for someone who has a LinkedIn account but is not sure what they should be doing.
The book is over 150 pages with close to 100 screenshots and the workbook is around 21 pages.  So you have a choice.  You can continue to do nothing.  You can invest the time to learn it from scratch.  Or you can invest $9.97 (the cost for the book and workbook combined) and begin putting LinkedIn to work for you as soon as today.
The question to ask yourself it what is your time worth?  The minimum wage is $7.25 so if it takes you 40 hours to learn what is in the book and work book your time in cost at a minimum would be $290.  (the average hourly rate for a LinkedIn member is actually $52.40 making the time cost $2,096.15)
The information I share on this blog is free and you can learn a lot by reading through the posts.  I just don’t have the space to provide information in as detailed a manner as in the book.  Also the blog is written based on what I find interesting each week, whereas the book is organized more on a start to finish basis.
For more information on the LinkedIn MBA and the LinkedIn MBA Work book go to http://socialmediasonar.com/book.html
Stop by next Monday for Part 2, “Why are you on LinkedIn?”, of my LinkedIn series.

LinkedIn MBA Cover 200Mondays are the day that I post my most significant blog post for the week.  If you’re looking for Part 2 in the 10 Part LinkedIn series it will be released on Monday.

One of the statements I made in Part 1 was that I wasn’t sure why people chose to sign up for a LinkedIn account and then did nothing.  Someone posted a comment to the blog stating that most people don’t know what to do once they sign up for an account.

I can understand that lack of knowledge would lead to lack of activity.  The next question I have, though, is “why is anyone letting a lack of knowledge get in the way of a potential resource that can help you grow your network, develop relationships, and drive new business?”

With any new tool, technology, etc. you have the choice in how long it takes to go from a novice to an effective user.

  • You can choose to do nothing
  • You can choose to learn it on your own
  • You can choose to tap into the knowledge of others
  • You can choose to outsource the activity

When I started to learn how to use LinkedIn I chose #2 and #3.  First I looked around the site to see if I could figure it out on my own.  While I learned the basics I decided I would be better served tapping into the knowledge of others to speed up the learning curve.

I started reading any blog I could find that talked about LinkedIn.  At the time there weren’t that many so I bought a LinkedIn ebook.  This one ebook provided the framework I needed to build a foundation of knowledge about LinkedIn.  It also introduced me to some tips and strategies to put to work immediately.

The book I purchased was a high level overview of LinkedIn.  When I decided to write my first LinkedIn ebook I decided I would take the opposite approach and write a very detailed book.  I also decided to base the book chapters on the navigational structure of LinkedIn, making it a great reference tool.  Have a question about Groups, go to the Groups chapter.

In June I released the revision of my first book re-titled as the “LinkedIn MBA”.  I also wrote a workbook, the “LinkedIn MBA Workbook” to help people create a “killer” profile, begin building their credibility, and extend their reach.  Combined the two form a perfect resource for someone who has a LinkedIn account but is not sure what they should be doing.

The book is over 150 pages with close to 100 screenshots and the workbook is around 21 pages.  So you have a choice.  You can continue to do nothing.  You can invest the time to learn it from scratch.  Or you can invest $9.97 (the cost for the book and workbook combined) and begin putting LinkedIn to work for you as soon as today.

The question to ask yourself it what is your time worth?  The minimum wage is $7.25 so if it takes you 40 hours to learn what is in the book and work book your time in cost at a minimum would be $290.  (the average hourly rate for a LinkedIn member is actually $52.40 making the time cost $2,096.15)

The information I share on this blog is free and you can learn a lot by reading through the posts.  I just don’t have the space to provide information in as detailed a manner as in the book.  Also the blog is written based on what I find interesting each week, whereas the book is organized more on a start to finish basis.

For more information on the LinkedIn MBA and the LinkedIn MBA Work book go to http://socialmediasonar.com/book.html

Stop by next Monday for Part 2, “Why are you on LinkedIn?”, of my LinkedIn series.

Social Media Process in a Picture

Yesterday I wrote about 6 tools that we use at SONARconnects to create and implement social media/networking strategies for ourselves and our client’s.  This got me to thinking about how to simplify things by laying out the process in a graphic.  Below is the result of that exercise.  I hope it helps you see the overall picture.

Social Media Process flow

Does this help you see things more clearly?

Social Media Sonar provides the following four resources for FREE… 1.  The Blog, 2. The Online Marketing/Social Media Blueprint, 3.  Conversion Rate Optimization Guide, 4.  Resource Center.  If these help you implement your own online marketing program, great. We love helping people. If you decide you need some help, great. We love new clients.  Contact Us if we can help you.

Radio LinkedIn Interview with Gravity Free Radio

radiox graphic

This past week Erik Wolf and Stephanie Frost, hosts of the Gravity Free Radio show were desperate for a guest so they turned to Scott Dunn and myself.  I’m always happy to be filler for Erik and Stephanie.

In addition to the show Erik and Stephanie run Zero-G Creative, a killer web design, graphic design, and web tools company that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a unique website and online presence.

The show covers LinkedIn bouncing from building your network, optimizing your profile, and leveraging LinkedIn.  There’s a better explanation on the show at the Gravity Free Radio show

To listen to the show go to  http://gravityfreeradio.com/archives/187

5 Steps to Thrive on LinkedIn

I posted this video as one of the last Linked Intuition posts.  Unfortunately the URL was corrupted and left out the .com in the URL.  So Here we go again.  This is an interview in which I talk about the 5 Steps to Thrive on LinkedIn.


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Social Media Sonar provides the following four resources for FREE… 1.  The Blog, 2. The Online Marketing/Social Media Blueprint, 3.  Conversion Rate Optimization Guide, 4.  Resource Center.  If these help you implement your own online marketing program, great. We love helping people. If you decide you need some help, great. We love new clients.  Contact Us if we can help you.

The 3 Basic Keys to LinkedIn

It’s been a fun two weeks but not necessarily a productive period in terms of the blog.  Two weeks ago I started moving the blog from the Linked Intuition site to the Social Media Sonar site.  Instead of writing new posts I was finding all of the little things that needed to be updated or corrected.  I think all is in place to kick off the new blog and move forward.

This week I’m preparing to speak at Norvax University in Orlando which is an educational road show event hosted by Norvax for health insurance agents.  There will be 300 brokers from 22 states so it’s a great opportunity to gain some personal and blog exposure.

In preparing for the show I’ve been writing my presentations and creating some new LinkedIn guides.  From this writing developed the 3 Basic Keys to Getting Started on LinkedIn.

1.  Optimize Your Profile

2.  Build Your Network

3.  Leverage LinkedIn

Optimize Your Profile
Optimizing your profile is the same as dressing appropriately for an event.  You want to dress to impress.  When you meet someone (someone looks at your profile) you want them to walk away with a positive impression.

It’s not only how you look though, it’s also what you say while engaged in the conversation.  In your profile that starts with your photo and your descriptive title.  If you don’t have a professional profile photo get one.  A professional photo is one that supports your brand.

Your Title description is an area that most people can improve upon.  I think you’re better of using the space to say something about how you can help someone.  In other words use a Tag line instead of a title.  A tag line says what you can do to help people; a title says what you are and is inward focused.  Compare a title verses a tagline for my insurance business.  Which ia better –  Title:  “Insurance Broker“; or Tag Line:  “Helping individuals and businesses in Atlanta save up to 60% on their health insurance“.

Another important area is your summary.  You can post a resume style summary that talks about you or you can get creative and talk about who you are, how you help people, and how they can help you.

A great way to start your summary is by using your elevator speech that includes key elements.  When I was focused primarily on my health insurance businesses my summary started with:

“Hi, my name is Sean Nelson and for the last eight years (how long) I have helped thousands (how many) of self employed individuals and small businesses (who) in Atlanta (where) save up to 60% (what) on their health insurance and employee benefits.”

Some other keys are to provide enough detailed information, sprinkle keywords through out your profile, and add applications.

Build Your Network
A great profile with 10 connections isn’t really that productive.  While some people will find you, you also want to be growing your Direct Network.  I used to think that if you had 250 connections that was enough.  Now I think you need to have at least 500 relevant connections.

Relevant means they have the potential to lead to business.  You won’t always know whether a connection will lead to business but some are more relevant than others.  A connection in the United Kingdom may know someone in Atlanta who needs help with insurance, but a self employed person in Atlanta is a more relevant connection to me.

The more people you are connected to the more opportunity you will likely find.  Some people will disagree but my experience has been that as I have grown my network I’ve found more success.

A great tool to use is the Import Contacts tool that allows you to add people you’ve communicated with via email in your webmail accounts or the people in your address book, such as Outlook.  When you import or add the contacts LinkedIn lets you know which ones already have a LinkedIn account.  You can then review your Imported Contacts to see who you would like to connect to.

The offline events you attend are also great sources of finding connections.  When I first started on LinkedIn the majority of connections I made were with people that attended the same events as me.  Even if I did not meet a person I sent them a connection invitation.  I assumed that since everyone is there to network, connecting would be just an extension of the offline networking.

Not everyone accepts the invitation but the majority do.  This allows me to grow my local network which is highly relevant.  The connections also provide a great ice breaker at the next event we both attended.

Leverage LinkedIn
You’ve got a great profile and you have a large network, what do you do with it?  You have to leverage the tools that LinkedIn provides.  You have to find ways to communicate your message to your network and generate profile visits.

Profile visits mean someone is interested in something about you.  This is a great opportunity to communicate your message whether it’s through your summary, applications on your profile, or a piece of information that you present.

One of the benefits of participating on LinkedIn is that every time you take an action your network is notified on their home page.  Add a connections and your network is notified.  Provide a recommendation, answer a question, or join a group and the activity is displayed on your Direct Connections home pages.  Over time this continuous activity resonates.

Another great way to communicate with your network is through the use of the Status function.  I use it to tell my net work about success stories…”Sean just helped a client optimize their LinkedIn profile”.  Or for my insurance business “Sean just saved a client $215 on their health insurance”.

Even if your activity doesn’t generate a profile visit it can still communicate a message.  In the “optimize your profile section” I talked about using a tag line instead of a title.  When you answer a question, post a news article, or provide a recommendation a mini profile is shown.  This includes your name, your photo, and your title/tag line.  Even if you don’t visit my profile you’ll see the message I want to convey:  “Sean Nelson:  Saving folks in Atlanta up to 60% on their health insurance”.

I estimate that this tag line seen over and over due to continuous activity has been a significant part of the success I’ve had in getting prospects to call me.

Wrap Up
There are so many other things that are important and can contribute to your success, but these three are a great place to start.  You can find many of these other ideas in other posts on this blog.  Or you can check out my two current books the “LinkedIn MBA” and “LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula”.  The first is a great “How to” resource.  The second is the first book that lays out a strategic approach to using LinkedIn.  Both can help you shorten the learning curve.

What are some key parts of LinkedIn that you think are important?

Why the Change from Linked Intuition to Social Media Sonar

Welcome to the old Linked Intuition blog and the new Social Media Sonar blog.  First let’s address why the blog changed.

“Cease and Desist”!  That’s the headline in the email I received from LinkedIn on July 10th.  It seems that they are worried that some people might be confused about my blog and interpret it as a part of LinkedIn.  There’s also this thing called Trademark.

The blogs name was Linked Intuition which in itself is not an issue.  The problem is that when you combine the terms for a URL…LinkedIntuition… it includes the letters Linkedin which is where the trademark issues comes up.

When I received the email I forwarded a copy to Brad Crose, and attorney who works in the field of copy write and trademark (more out of curiosity since I had already decided to change the domain name).  Brad was a great help in understanding the various angles.  If you ever need help in these areas he’s a great resource.

LinkedIn owns the trademark to LinkedIn and they have every right to do what is in their power to protect their trademark.  I don’t disagree with that.  I don’t even disagree with their asking me to stop.  Once again it’s their right to take action that they feel they need to take to protect their trademark.

I do think they miss the point though.  LinkedIn is part of the Social Media landscape and a huge component of that is fostering community.  The blog was a part of that community and 50,000 visitors each month participated to some extent by visiting it.  From a social media perspective LinkedIn should be celebrating the fact that this large number of people are looking for more information about how to utilize LinkedIn more effectively.  Rather than take an adversarial position they should be trying to figure out how to engage the people advocating their service.

The Linked Intuition blog isn’t the only blog doing this, there are several sites that do a great job as well.  All provide free publicity to LinkedIn.  These sites are doing LinkedIn’s job for them by teaching people how to use it more effectively.  If LinkedIn was doing a great job of teaching it’s users how to use it effectively, would 50,000 people come to this blog each month to learn from me?  Or the other blogs for that matter.

For my part the change comes at a good time.  I’ve written about how I’ve been an insurance broker for the last 8 years and really learned LinkedIn in order to grow my business.  Writing the blog and the three LinkedIn books and Workbook have been a way to share what I’ve learned with others.  This activity has opened new doors.

New Opportunity
I’ve recently partnered with Sonarconnects, an advertising agency here in Atlanta, to help small businesses understand how to use social media to grow their business.  This includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, and LinkedIn.  As I start this new opportunity its a great time to expand the conversation.

I plan to continue providing the same great tips and strategies about LinkedIn that my readers have come to expect.  You’ll just start to see some pieces on the other components.  With the expansion I’ll also likely start bringing in guest authors from time to time.

Pardon the Mess
For a short period things may get a little confusing.  To help the readers make the transition the first thing I plan to do is to forward all of the Linked Intuition links to the corresponding pages of the new blog.  If you bookmarked the old site now would be a great time to update those bookmarks.  If you see a Linked Intuition link out there I would appreciate a heads up or a message to the site posting the link.  Some links will be lost but over time hopefully these will be less of an issue.

When I started the Linked Intuition blog it was no where on the radar…several million blogs had more traffic.  As the site disappears it had moved to one of the top 165,000 sites based on Alexa.com data (the new blog debuts at number 4.9+ million).  That’s a testament to the thousands of readers who took the time to read the blog , post comments, and link to it.

A Moment of Thanks
Thanks to LinkedIn for making a great service.  They have 41+ million different perspectives of what LinkedIn should be and for the most part get it right.

Thanks to Nate Kieveman of Linked Strategies for immediately wanting to jump to my defense.

Thanks to Ross Dodwell owner of the group Top Recommended People for constantly pushing the blog, the books, and just being of service.  Join his group if you have 10 recommendations.

Thanks to the sites that have linked back to the blog.

Thanks to those who have taken the time to retweet my posts.

And thank you for reading and participating in the conversation.

Warm Regards,

Sean Nelson

Linked Intuition is now Social Media Sonar

If you arrived here looking for the Linked Intuition site you’re in the right place.  For the last 18 months I’ve written primarily about LinkedIn.  I get a lot of messages from readers asking about the other social media sites and have decided to open the door and expand the conversation.

There will be some hiccups as we make the transition, but hopefully these will be at a minimum.

When I started writing this blog I was in the process of learning LinkedIn and will be at the same place with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  I’ll continue to provide the tips and guidance you have come to expect concerning LinkedIn, there will just be a better social media perspective.

There’s always a story behind the story and in the coming weeks I’ll explain more what led to the change, but reasons aside it was the right time to expand the focus.

Warm Regards,

Sean Nelson

The Handshake Club: LinkedIn Causes Loss of Sleep

I’m often asked by people how many hours they should spend on LinkedIn each day.  The simple answer is I don’t know.  The time you spend will be dependent upon what you’re trying to do.  There are also different phases to LinkedIn (or any of the social networking sites).

When you first start to learn how to use these site they can take a lot of time.  You’re starting from a knowledge base of zero.  At this point you have a choice:

A. You can do what most people do and learn it on your own by experimenting.  To really learn it though you’d have to explore every page, every feature, and search out for free information information and blogs.  LinkedIn has a Help section that can answer many of your questions (though if you’re looking to move beyond classroom learning you need to find out how others have used LinkedIn)

This blog is a great reference for learning.

B. You can shorten the learning cycle by taking advantage of the knowledge of others.  There are several books that will tell you the basics of LinkedIn and these usually include some examples.  There are fewer books that actually talk about how people are using LinkedIn strategically.  The value of purchasing a book verses reading a blog is that the information is likely to be better organized.

For example on this blog I provide a lot of help and guidance but each weeks post is based on what I’ve recently learned or what is interesting to me this week.  The LinkedIn MBA, my “How to” and “What is” LinkedIn book, is organized based on the navigational structure of the LinkedIn site.  It makes it an great resource to read or to easily refer to when you have questions.

So back to our question about how much time does LinkedIn require.  If you choose to learn it on your own more than if you tap into others knowledge.  Either way initially you will need to try and put a hour or two in a day, but with the books the number of days or weeks required to put in this amount of time will be shortened.

Once you’ve built your foundation of knowledge you’ll move into using it to move beyond connecting to collectiing (driving business).  Once again this will require time to discover what works for you.  In the LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula I lay out how I’ve used LinkedIn over the past year to drive business.  There are not many other resources out there to help you do this so it will require some experimentation on your part.

Try to commit a minimum of one hour a day, but each extra hour simply puts you that much ahead on the learning curve.

JD’s comic this week is one that I know well.  Since I have a real job (running my two insurance companies) I often find that I spend from 10PM to 1AM keeping  Linked Intuition up to date with new posts and other activities.  Coffee keeps me sane and moving in the morning. (JD actually sent me this cartoon at 2AM in the morning, so if you see him out in Chicago today buy him a cup of coffee.)

THE HANDSHAKE CLUB Stayed Up Too Late

J.D. Gershbein is the President of Owlish Communications, an Internet Marketing firm based in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Vernon Hills. When he’s not helping his clients shine on LinkedIn with custom profile writing and strategic LinkedIn training, J.D. creates cartoons and comic strips that make individuals and businesses memorable. He is the creator of the comic strip, The Handshake Club™, which features such notable characters as Will Banter™ and Brandy Share ™.

Social Media When the Power Goes Out

THE HANDSHAKE CLUB #SEN

The comic above talks about what happens when the power goes out.  The comic itself is a result of what happens when your comic supplier gets busy with work that pays the bills.  JD contributes the Handshake club at no cost so I can’t complain if he has to take a couple days away to do business.

So with creative license, little comic skills, and 10 minutes to work this is what you get.  But it does address an important part of becoming too ingrained in your online world.

What happens when you rely on social media and the power goes out or the internet is down?  If the above accurately depicts what would happen if you could not access social networks I would suggest it’s time to take a break.

Two years ago all I did was work on finding new clients and serving my existing clients.  Now with social media I have to continuously remind myself to make sure that what I’m doing has a business application.  I have enough friends, and three children, so socially I’m set.

So if you’re a business person looking to make a living make sure that social media works for you.  These are great tools for staying in touch with friends, but even better they are great tools to connect, communicate, and interact with other business professionals and prospects.

Someone wake me when the powers back on.

The 4 Pillars of Monetizing LinkedIn

One of the interesting things about my time on LinkedIn has been how my thoughts and strategies have changed over time.  Its no different from life in that as you learn more you think of new ways to do things.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked “is that it?”, only to discover that there’s more to do.

Sometimes it has been that I came up with a new angle and sometimes its been because LinkedIn made some upgrades.  Either way the only way to get more out of LinkedIn is to learn more, participate more, and to constantly rethink how to use it.  The minute you stop learning you define the limits of what LinkedIn will provide…a sure fire way to ensure that you get less out of it than is intended.

Over the last year I’ve poked and prodded LinkedIn seeking to find some universal truths that would guide me in how I used LinkedIn.  As I learn more there will be others, but for now here are the four things I know in regards to monetizing my time and effort on LinkedIn.

1.  The Right Perspective = The Right Activities

I have to have a strategy.  I have to have goals.  These two form my perspective about what I expect to get out of LinkedIn.  Knowing this allows me to determine the actions I need to take.  At some point I know I need to measure my results but that will come in time.  For now I’m simply tracking what’s happening so that I can create a benchmark.

I also have to own why I am on LinkedIn by stating it clearly.  It doesn’t get any simpler than “I’m on LinkedIn to make money”.  Connecting, helping others, etc. are all part of the requirement’s to make money.

2.  More Connections = More Opportunity

This one continues to pop up and I’ve heard all of the reasons why you should or should not connect to those you don’t know.  You’ll have to make your own determination but for me I have seen the difference in results having gone from a Hound Dog to a Open Networker (I’m not an official LION so I don’t call myself one).  My offline networking in the Chamber and at events produces results with people I know or have met.  I don’t need LinkedIn for that, I need LinkedIn to expand my “Unexpected Opportunities” from people I have yet to personally meet.  Its done that and more.

3.  Know, Like, & Trust = Success

This one should be in bold letters.  Its that important.  Two out of three doesn’t cut it.  If you want to find success on LinkedIn you need to expand your reach (Know – connecting and groups), you need to provide value to others (Like – Answers, interacting, sharing, etc.), and you need to be found credible (Trust – quality profile, recommendations, sharing information).  Achieving these three components has lead to between 1 and 5 people per week calling me to help them with their health insurance needs…most from people I do not personally know.

4.  More Activity = More Success

The more you participate on LinkedIn the more your name is in front of other members.  Eyeballs lead to traffic which lead to business.  You could simply put your profile up and some people would find you.  But you don’t need some people, you need a lot of people.  It’s a numbers game that takes time and activity to succeed.

Wrap Up

The question of “Why am I on LinkedIn” has led me to question my purpose, my activities, and my results.  The four items listed above are the high level concepts that provide the framework to build on.

The foundation of the four pillars is that More Knowledge = More Creativity.  The more I learn and experiment the more I open my mind to potential.  I read other LinkedIn blogs on a daily basis.  I periodically buy or trade my books for those written by others.  I understand that while I may know a lot it’s worth paying $30 to buy the experience and knowledge of others.  I may only learn one new piece of information but I also open my self up to another’s perspective, which in the end may challenge what I currently think.

Focus on these four (and learning something new each day or week) and your time will be well spent.  What do you think?

*Remember that there are 18 months of posts available at this blog to help you more effectively utilize LinkedIn.  In addition if you are still trying to figure out the ropes the LinkedIn MBA ($4.97) and LinkedIn MBA Workbook ($7.97) are affordable resources.  LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula is available and a great resource for those looking to take LinkedIn to the next level…going from connecting to collecting.

Retweets, Diggs, etc. are much appreciated.

Warm Regards,

Sean Nelson –  http://twitter.com/SeanENelson