Unlike MySpace and Facebook, LinkedIn provides few opportunities to interact online. The primary purpose is to use LinkedIn to connect online, but to build a more in depth relationship you have to take it offline.
There are several ways to interact online and the Answers section is one of the best. The answers section is a place to build your brand and strut your stuff. Be careful how you answer, 20 million people could be watching.
Many message boards are full of people making caustic remarks to one another. When I go to my favorite LSU message board (quick shout out – www.tigerdroppings.com) I’m amazed at how people communicate with one another. Rather than ignore a comment or point of view people feel the need to post a degrading reply. I think the anonymity of the format allows this, since no one uses their real name and posters are spread out through the country.
Posting similar remarks on LinkedIn would come back to haunt you. Everything you type or post in LinkedIn adds or subtracts from your brand. So when you answer a question on LinkedIn make sure you know what you’re talking about. No one will necessarily call you out on a false or wrong answer, but they will notice.
When you answer a question, the answer links back to your profile and people viewing your profile can view the questions you asked or answered. You do have the option of not showing answers and questions on your profile, but I see no purpose in excluding this information.
The Holy Grail of Answers is to get your answer selected as the Best Answer provided. Often there are multiple answers so when your answer is selected as the best it means you really helped the person. And it reflects well on your profile.
Questions can be helpful as well. You can gauge what others think or recommend, gaining valuable insight. Also, once again you get a link back to your profile.
The simple math is that the more links to your profile, the more likelihood that more people will view your profile.
The answers section is about helping others and building your brand. It’s a way to interact with your network and every other LinkedIn member. Imagine some one looking for health insurance has just viewed several of my answers to questions about health insurance. Some of these were tagged as the best answer. Am I “More” or “Less Likely” to be seen favorably by the reader? If they plan on speaking with an agent I’m likely to get a connection request. My answers have established credibility and improved my brand.
Share your knowledge. Generate conversations. Build your brand. LinkedIn Answers helps you do all three.
I would like to see LinkedIn tweak the section to include more categories. When I want to see what insurance questions are out there I need to search “insurance” as a key word rather than as a category. This means that any post that includes the word insurance pops up. Not very efficient.
And my main pet peeve is that when you search, it returns the results based on relevance. There is an option to select by Date, and that would be a better option for folks who regularly answer questions. It makes it easier to see the most recent questions and answer those that you can offer assistance.
That’s it for now.