Elizabeth Heusler, Director of Heusler Public Relations shares her trials, tribulations and triumphs with… LinkedIn.
LinkedIn, whose slogan is Relationships Matter, is the main platform for building business connections for professionals. Calling prospective contacts, manually updating databases, entering names and ringing to check addresses, names and titles, which I did as a PR intern, is now relegated to the dinosaurs.
So how did it happen, that while hiking in the hills of Sri Lanka 2000 metres above sea level, with no roads let alone internet access, I deleted the contents of my LinkedIn account? Apparently I did, accordingly to the online response two weeks and six requests later to their help site. Yup – the problem lay with me as I had deleted my account. With that I was directed to the online FAQ section of the LinkedIn site. Alas my question was not of the ones asked.
My carefully crafted content, testimonials, endorsements and almost a thousand contacts that I had cultivated as an early adopter to LinkedIn in 2006 had disappeared. Only my name was left.
LinkedIn, like all the social media platforms, is part of a digital evolution
I hoped that an organisation listed on the New York stock exchange, with advertising sales in excess of US$155 million, a purported one million members in Australia and two million worldwide, that was based on professional relationships, would have someone to talk to and a back-up system. I had read that the digital behemoth has offices in Sydney and Melbourne, although our office super sleuths could only find the last known address which was a serviced office in Sydney’s CBD. I persevered, tried linking to their head of Human Resources in Australia (OK I tweeted him every night too, but was barred from sending him direct tweets). Alas not even Telstra had a phone number, nor is the company to be found on the ASIC site.
After a month of daily emails to the help centre in the United States and no response to my request for a local number I called their Californian head quarters only to receive a recorded message. Finally my contacts were reinstated and I am now piecing, rewriting and uploading the rest of my information.
Being born under the sign of the dinosaur, I had manually entered every contact into an excel database and updated it ever month. This covers everyone I had have ever met socially and professionally.
LinkedIn, like all the social media platforms, is part of a digital evolution. As I am naturally curious (sounds better than stalker) it is terrifically useful to look up contacts, make connections and join groups. Writing updates and posting bon mots are only limited by time and budget.
7 tips on how to use LinkedIn account effectively
A few techniques to note:
Backup. Keep contact details and never rely on a helpdesk. Social media is an adjunct to marketing, not a stand-alone tactic.
Build. For LinkedIn to be of any use the key is to work on building a data base. This means penning a few lines to people you would like to connect with. Start with people where there is a common denominator or a genuine connection.
Write. Don’t, whatever you do, send the sample: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn’. This outs you as an amateur. It’s like those Dear (insert name) emails we all receive where someone is still in training on mail merge. It’s a sample template people – not the message.
Communicate. Mention why you’d like to connect. I received a request from someone completely unconnected, irrelevant to my business and life but the note was so complimentary, he just liked the way I wrote and wanted to tell me. It sounded genuine and we made an instant connection.
Shine. Each of us has a unique personality. You’re an original so make that request shine. People have all the professional information about themselves on show. You’ve already read their biography and know about their working lives. It’s an unthreatening environment.
Note. Be aware though, as this didn’t dawn on me until after it happened: one of my industry ilk was following my “connected with” contacts and connecting with them as soon as I did. There is little recourse.
Decide. The potential for good and evil is fantastic. Decide what you want out of LinkedIn and how you can best use it.
I am sceptical of relying, or investing too much, on a company who has all my contact data without reciprocal local details or a telephone number. Hopefully that will change – in the meantime – take care using Linkedin, choose carefully who you share information with and back up to a database that you own.
As a communications consultant and media trainer it’s important to stay ahead of the trends. I am keen to predict the next big thing and call the tipping point. Everything I know about technology I’ve learned the hard way. Hours spent at conferences, courses, seminars and webinars. Invested in the hard books, e-books, software, routers, toggles and dongles and paid the big bucks for gurus, nerds and boffins. Many weekends have been spent in the foetal position with instructions manuals and call centre operatives and online elves have driven me to drink. After all, devices are all so intuitive and I am blessed with intuition as a gender perk. Hopefully reading my monthly column will stop you wanting to throw your technology from the top of a tall building and if I can stop you biting your nails and tearing your hair out then my work is done.