We think of success in these very narrow terms, specific to an end goal that usually involves improved finances as a component. Success in this case is an ongoing strengthening of position as opposed to an end goal. Success is also gaining better understanding of a system or process, bringing us closer to a goal and not just arrival at an end. A broader and deeper definition of success enriches our ability to achieve meaningful success.
I am not an early adopter of much of anything, including social media. LinkedIn was the first social media site that I joined, about 5 years ago, at the invitation of a business contact that I respect. I created a basic profile and left it to its own devices; accepting invitations to connect from business contacts who found me and occasionally seeking out contacts. I did no research into the power or potential of this platform.
Then I decided to get my profile to that 100% distinction (LinkedIn is smart, expecting to hook competitive spirit with this feature); and promptly returned to benign neglect, still not making an effort to understand the intent or possibility of the site.
When I found myself on the hunt for a job, I turned to LinkedIn as a resource. I had incentive to figure out what this LinkedIn could do for me. It was recently pointed out to me that most working people have very basic profiles and only unemployed people have robust profiles. Perhaps, up to a point. The professionals who have clued into the power and potential have taken the time to either hire someone to write a stellar profile or have sat and spent time researching and clicking around within all of the features.
It seemed to me that the LinkedIn Groups feature would be an important part of this search. I had joined a couple of groups during my early days on the site and received the weekly update emails. I ignored the emails and did not make any effort to understand the how and why of these groups that I had joined because someone had said it was a good idea. (Lemming behavior, I admit it.)
I moved into group participation in the same way that most people enter a pool – slow acclimatization starting with a foot or a toe. I belong to about 15 groups, some industry specific, some directed to my profession, some for job seekers, and a handful of regional and local groups. I found that I would get bigger bang for my buck in the smaller, more focused groups, until I had built up enough activity to have impact in larger groups.
I have made comments, always aware that my activity is traceable and visible to anyone checking me out like recruiters or potential employers, on group discussions where I felt that I had something to add to the discussion. I have also started discussions, both using someone else’s outside content and also posing my own original questions.
This was a good exercise and then one day I decided to take it to the next level. I had participated in a discussion where someone I saw as an expert (and a person it would be good to meet) had made insightful comments and I reached out to him using the reply privately option. He responded favorably, I read his profile and took his invitation to connect as a challenge. Once he accepted, I realized that this was a whole new avenue to connect with people that I would like to have as contacts. I now have a good size showing in my ‘met through LinkedIn’ tagging of my contacts.
I count this as a success and know that at some point I may use this group of people to leverage mutually beneficial future activities, whatever they may be. I recommend to all that there is real value in learning LinkedIn and taking advantages of this platform.
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