This is the final installment recapping some tips from Web guru Guy Kawasaki about how to get the most out of LinkedIn. The original info is a few years old, but the tips are still valid. Let’s wrap up the last four (or five).
• Make your interview go more smoothly.
You’re about to interview for a job or project. You don’t know the person you’re going to see, but your prep work should include a LinkedIn search for that person. You’re looking for ways to establish some kind of tie with him or her. Whoa! Look at this: the person graduated from the same university you did! And they know several people you know, too. Right off the bat, you have something to say besides, “Hello, nice to meet you.” Relationships begin with common threads.
• Gauge the health of a company.
By visiting a company’s website, you can see what they want the world to see. But you need inside information. By performing an advanced search for the company’s name, you can find out how much turnover they have, and whether some key people have recently left. To get a good idea about how the company is doing, talk to former employees. They’ll usually give it to you straight. You don’t want to work for a company that’s on the skids.
• Gauge the health of an industry.
What if you’re thinking of investing in, pitching or working for a company in an industry you don’t know very well? You can use LinkedIn to find people who worked for competitors—or even better, companies who went out of business. For example, suppose you wanted to build a new concept brick-and-mortar electronics store. You could learn a lot from speaking with former Circuit City employees.
• Track startups.
I’m not looking to invest in startup companies, especially in this economy (though a down period might be the best time to do it, anticipating a surge when business suddenly takes off). But if you are a venture capitalist like Guy, you may want to find out who in your LinkedIn network is starting a company. All it takes is an advanced search for a range of keywords such as “stealth” or “new startup.” To see the people closest to you in the network first, apply the “Sort By” filter to “Degrees away from you.”
• Ask for advice.
Here’s a LinkedIn function I just started using. LinkedIn Answers lets you send your business-oriented questions to your network and the greater LinkedIn network. Many heads are often better than one. You’ll have a better chance of making a good decision with lots of ideas on the table. You can also offer advice and get ranked as a subject expert.If you have used LinkedIn to help you get business or find the answers to questions or in some other unique way, please post a comment here. I’d love to hear about your LinkedIn tricks. Or dog tricks.