Monday, November 19, 2012

Learning Linkedin from a "Black Belt"

One of my clients recently attended a "Become a LinkedIn Expert" seminar where the instructor was not able to answer several basic questions posed during and after the session.

Kind of makes you go "Hmmmm..."

Whenever I see an announcement for a LinkedIn seminar, I look at the profile of the presenter. Rarely do I find see a profile that tells me this is someone who should be the instructor of the course.

My LinkedIn headline reads "Leading GovCon consultant, luncheon & keynote speaker, author & columnist, LinkedIn Blackbelt & sensei, radio host."

I don't make any of these claims lightly. I work hard at consulting, speaking, writing, interviewing and being a LinkedIn sensei.

When I coach individuals and companies on maximizing the value of LinkedIn, one area I spend time focusing on is the "headline", that area right under your name. If you do not edit this area, the default for the headline is your job title, which shows up on your profile a little further on. Rather than re-state the job title, I suggest emphasizing the skills you bring to the niche you serve, positioning yourself as a subject matter expert or professional.

My headline highlights five skill areas: consulting, speaking, writing, radio show (interviewing), and Linkedin skills.

The question about the headline that people ask most is how I got a Black Belt in LinkedIn.

The short answer is that it is self-awarded.

Several martial art disciplines were started by those who went out on their own. Although I gave it to myself, it was earned the traditional way: long hours, weeks, months of practice, developing the skills necessary to excel.

I have been on LinkedIn almost none years, since February 11, 2004, long before most people knew it existed. I am member # 222,445. To put this in perspective, I joined LinkedIn the week after Facebook was started at Harvard.

Although an early adopter, I did not adapt until 2007, when I read a book which changed my attitude about social networking: David Meerman Scott's the New Rules of Marketing and PR.

Scott's New Rules propelled me into the world of social networking so much so that he has been a guest on my radio show (see my headline...) 4 times, most recently just a few weeks back, discussing his new book, Newsjacking. My copies of  his books are highlighted and tabbed, and referred to regularly.

Mr Scott is a true social media guru and his books have been translated into dozens of languages and sold tens of millions of copies.  They are also fun to read.

But until early 2012 he was not on LinkedIn. He had explained to me that he wanted to be very good at a few things, not OK at all. That made perfect sense, as his books were geared to the general public, not simply business people.

But when he was invited to keynote the international LinkedIn Summit in India and he had to get on LinkedIn and get acclimated pretty quick. In part, this is how he did it (this is his recommendation for me on LinkedIn):

In early 2012, Mark coached me on how to make my LinkedIn profile stand out. His ideas for improvement were personal for me (not canned) and while they made perfect sense the moment he said them, I was too close to my profile to see the need for change myself. The difference is dramatic and worth 100X what I paid Mark for the service. I'll most certainly hire Mark again for a LinkedIn profile tuneup or to learn how to become a power user. February 21, 2012 .

If you need to develop LinkedIn skills for yourself or your company, check references carefully before you hire someone.

Or you can attend one of my upcoming LinkedIn sessions at Capitol College. The next one is December 11. email me for details.

Here is a link to my latest interview with David Meerman Scott:

And, btw, one of the visible results of getting active on LinkedIn and working hard at being good was being one of seven profiles selected as the best on LinkedIn in November of 2009. LinkedIn experts Mike O'Neil and Lori Ruff ran a contest, Rock the World with Your Online Presence (also a book) that asked Linkedin members to select and vote on the best profiles.

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