So you’ve got your profile almost complete and you’ve started to connect with people in your network…now what? 

There’s so much more you can do with LinkedIn, but we’re going to start with what I think is the most important – engaging.  There are a few ways you can do this, including answering questions and joining and participating in groups, but today, we’re just going to focus on how you can engage with people through your home page and profile.

I recently suggested to some of our lawyers at our Annual Conference that they set LinkedIn to open when they log into their web browser, so that they can spend five minutes a day connecting to someone.  A number of them thought this wasn’t reasonable, but even five minutes a week can make a difference.

 

Let’s say you DO want to make LinkedIn one of the pages that opens when you open your browser.  Depending on which browser you’re using (I use Google Chrome) you can open multiple pages when you start your browser – so you don’t have to set LinkedIn as your home page.

Generally, to do this, you’d to to "Options" in your browser menu. In Chrome, it will say "On startup" and then offer you three options:

  1. Open the home page.
  2. Reopen the pages that were open last.
  3. Open the following pages.

I chose "Open the following pages" and included www.linkedin.com as one of those.  So when I open Chrome in the morning, I get a number of pages opening, including the home page: 

Status Updates

One of the ways that you can engage is by sharing something of yourself that might be of interest to others.  You’ll see that near the top of your home page is a text box:

In this box, there’s a lot you can share:

  • A question you might have that you think your connections could answer for you. 
  • What you’re working on (without giving away anything confidential, of course!).
  • A firm or client accolade.
  • An article that you’re reading (with a link).
  • A recent blog post or article you’ve written that you think would be of interest to your network. 

When you’re posting a link to your status updates, there’s a little shortcut you can take that will make it much nicer for your network.  Rather than including the link directly in the update, there’s a link right underneath the text box that says "Attach a link." 

Click this, and it will open up another text box where you can include your link: 

Copy and paste the URL into the box and click "Attach." This will include the link without you having to see the URL itself – it’s just a neater way to show your links to your connections.  You can also click on "anyone" to change whether you’d like this update to be visible to anyone on LinkedIn or just the people you’re connected to ("Anyone" is the default). Below, you can see how it looks when you link directly in the update:  

And here is how it looks when you attach the link. 

As you can see, it’s also more visually striking, since it will include an image from the post or article, if there is one. Since more and more posts are using images these days (I always include one), this will be more eye-catching to your connections and make them more likely to engage with you. 

Connection Updates

Another, and arguably more important, way to engage is by reviewing the updates that your connections have posted: 

 There are several different kinds of updates – including (but not limited to) when someone: 

  • Gets a new connection.
  • Joins a group. 
  • Likes or comments on an article or status update.
  • Posts something to their own updates. 
  • Makes a change to their profile information. 
  • Posts a link or comment to a group that you share. 
  • Is attending an event that is listed on LinkedIn.
  • Recommendations. 
  • Reading Recommendations. 
  • Industries or companies they’re following.
  • Is using TripIt and they have an upcoming trip. 

All of these updates offer you the opportunity to engage. Let’s look at how: 

Gets a new connection…

When someone gets a new connection, it appears in your updates as: 

Since you’re connected to the person who is appearing in your updates stream, it’s logical to conclude that you might be interested in connecting to the people that are becoming a part oftheir network.  To find out, mouseover the names of those they’re connecting to, and up will pop a little bit of information about them: 

Here, I can see that Jennifer is a marketing professional at one of our member firms, and it would be of interest for me to connect with her. If I still wasn’t sure based on this limited information, I could click on "View profile" to learn more about her.  Or, I can click "Invite to connect," which will take me to the invitation page where I can personalize an invitation for her. 

If the person is someone you don’t know but think you should connect with, you may wish to have your mutual connection introduce you.  In that case, click on "View profile." Under the yellow button on their profile page that says "Add Name to your Network," you’ll see a link for "Get introduced through a connection." As we talked about in the last post, you can then send a note to your connection and the prospective connection. 

When reviewing someone’s new connections, you may also see that you’re both connected to the same person.  You can use that as an opportunity to reach out to the connection as well.  

Below the update, you’ll see a link that says "Send a message:"

Click this link, and a window will pop up allowing you to send a message to your connection. You could say something like "Hi Lee, I hope you’re doing well! I see we both know Jennifer. I worked with her at XYZ company – how do you two know each other?" This opens a dialogue with your connection, and adds one more link between you – remember (and I say this A LOT)People do business with people they know, like and trust. This is how you can get to be one of those people. 

Joins a Group…

We’ll be talking more about how to join groups, what kinds of groups you want to think about joining and how to participate in them in another post, but when someone joins a group on LinkedIn, it will appear in your news stream: 

This can be useful for you for two reasons: 

  1. The group itself may be of interest to you – there are TONS of groups on LinkedIn and you can’t possibly know what they all might be, or have the time to browse through ones that might be of interest.  So one of the best ways to find groups to join is by seeing what your connections are joining and participating in.  If you think the group might be of interest to you, click on the link and  check out the page. Some groups are open, so you can just join them, but others will require a group administrator to grant you access. 
     
  2. You may share a group with that connection.  For example, if you’re a Penn Law Alumni too, and you see that one of your connections joined that group as well, it’s an opportunity to reach out and connect with them on that basis. Perhaps one of your clients went to the same law school as you did, but not at the same time – it would be fun to reminisce about the school with them, see if you had the same professors, ate in the same dining halls, etc. And connecting with someone on that level gives them the warm fuzzies about you – and this makes them more likely to think of you when they have a need for your services. (It’s that "know, like and trust" thing again!)

As you can see from the message above, you can "Like" this update – "Liking" an update means that the person will be notified that you "liked" it and it will be shared with your connections.  It’s a very quick way to engage with someone with a minimum of effort. 

One step up from that is commenting – here, you may say something like, "Heather, I didn’t realize you went to Penn Law. So did I! When did you graduate?"  That shares your connection quickly, but publicly.  If you’d like something more private, you can "send a message" as we did in the last section.  You can also browse for a group from here using the "Find a group for you" link. 

Likes or comments on an article or status update…

This is one of my favorite features of LinkedIn, because it means that other people are doing the work of sharing your content for you.  And you can return the favor! 

Taking a cue from Facebook, LinkedIn enables you to "Like" people’s status updates or comment on them, as we mentioned above. When you "like" something, it is shared with all of your connections – similarly, when you comment on someone’s update, it is shared with your connections, even if they are not connected to the original poster.

This can create an opportunity for further engagement as well. For example: 

Perhaps you are also connected to Greg McCoskey, but you didn’t see his original post.  You can like his post here, since Eric Adams commented on it.  Or, let’s say that someone posted an article and Eric Adams commented on it.  You can add your two cents to the discussion even if you’re not connected to the person who originally posted it.  

Also, if someone likes an article, it will show up in your news feed – that article may be of interest to you.  As you can see from below the update, you then have the option to "like" that update, comment on it, or even share it – you may find that an article or post someone else commented on wouldn’t have come across your desktop otherwise.  And you may feel that it would be of interest to your connections, so you can click "Share" which will allow you to add your own commentary and post it to your updates. 

Some people are concerned about posting other people’s content to their feeds because they feel that it takes away their competitive advantage – but I’m telling you that it’s just the opposite.  When you share information that is relevant and interesting to your audience, regardless of the source, you become a thought leader that people look to for valuable information.  They focus less on who is authoring the articles, and more on you as a valuable resource.  So share away! 

Posts something to their own updates…

When someone posts to their own updates, you can similarly "like" it, comment or share it – the difference between this and the last activity is that you’re interacting directly with the person who is posting the content.  This is a great opportunity to congratulate someone on an accolade, tell them your thoughts on a blog post or article they’ve written or shared, or ask them a question.  Again, you’re reaching out to connect with them. 

Makes a change to their profile information…

Often, when someone makes a change to their profile information, it’s a job change – this is a great time to congratulate them.  Any change will show up as a profile update in your news stream (unless the person has turned off these notifications in their settings), so you may want to delve deeper when someone updates their areas of expertise or experience – they may have skills that you can use! 

Posts a link or comment to a group that you share…

When you share a group with someone (and, I suspect, even when you don’t, since I’m seeing updates from groups I’m not a member of in my news feed!), you will see any updates they post in your news feed.  

For example, if someone comments on a discussion in one of the groups that you share, that will appear in your news feed.  You’ll have to click on the link to see what their comment is, but that also encourages you to engage directly in the group.  Engaging within a group offers you exposure to people that you’re not directly connected to, but with whom you share an interest. 

You’ll also see when someone you’re connected to posts within a group you share: 

 

The link, question or comment that the person is posting may be of interest to you, and it offers you the opportunity to engage on the subject. 

Is attending an event that is listed on LinkedIn…

Events are another favorite feature of mine – when you RSVP to an event (and we’ll talk more about that in a minute), you can see who else is attending with you.  As I’ve said before, the goal of social networking is taking these relationships offline – that means meeting in person.  There may be people that you’ve met already in your list of LinkedIn connections, who you can arrange to meet with in advance of a conference or event you’re both attending.  Or there may be people attending that you’ve only connected to online, and you can plan to meet in person.  

LinkedIn Events are a relatively new addition to LinkedIn, but they’re being used more and more, particularly for large conferences.  There are two ways you might come across one – you may see that a connection of yours has RSVP’d for an event that you also happen to be attending: 

Here, you can see that Sam has RSVP’d that he’ll be attending our 2011 European Regional Meeting.  I can also RSVP by clicking the link, which takes me to the events page. 

 

On the events page, you can see the description of the event, RSVP, see who else is attending and comment on the event.  For my recommendations on what to do before, during and after attending a conference, you may want to see this post – I won’t go into detail on that here. 

In terms of engaging, in addition to commenting on the events page, you can comment directly on the update that appears in your news stream.  For example, I RSVP’d to this event, and Sam commented on my post that he’d see me there.  It’s a quick way to engage with someone you will be seeing in person, and gives them the chance to say to you – "hey, do you want to meet for coffee during the conference?"  Or you can just start out by asking them the same thing!

The other way to find an event is to search for it. From your home page, you’ll need to mouseover "More."

When you mouseover "More," a menu appears, which includes the "Events" link – you can see it pointed to by the second red arrow above. This will take you to the Events page: 

Here, you can either browse events – the default tab will show you the events that your connections are attending. This is particularly useful if you think it’s likely your connections have already RSVP’d or if you’re looking for events in your industry that you might not know about yet.  The tab next to it will show you the most popular events – this extends outside of your network, but starts by offering you a list of the most popular events within your industry. 

Here’s another way that LinkedIn is showing its value to you and doing the hard work for you – without you having to hunt for them, you’re getting a list of the top events in the industry that you specified when you created your profile, as well as who in your network is attending those events. 

But you can also search for an event directly if you’d like to. 

In the upper right hand corner of the events page is a search box that allows you to find an event. 

To RSVP, you just click your choice over on the right hand side of the events page: 

As you can see, I’ve RSVP’d that I’m presenting at the ILN’s European Regional Meeting in September.  For the first button, you will have the choice of "Presenting," "Attending" or "Exhibiting." You also have the choice of responding that you’re "Interested" in the event or "Not Attending." 

Recommendations…

Another update you may see in your news feed is recommendations: 

We’ll go over these in greater detail during a later post, but you can see that again, when a recommendation appears in your feed, you can "like" it, comment on it, send a message, or read the full recommendation.  These appear in two different ways.  Above, you can see that someone in your network is recommending someone else (who may or may not be a connection of yours).  

If this is the case, whenever you like, comment or send a message, that will go to the person writing the recommendation.

On the other side, if the person being recommended is in your network, it will appear as: 

In this case, you can "like" the update, comment on it or read more.  Any likes or comments will be directed at the person being recommended. 

Reading Recommendations…

You will also see within your news feed recommendations for reading.  These come in a few different forms, but are a good opportunity to engage.  We’ll talk about JD Supra, the legal news distribution company, and their LinkedIn application when we focus on applications, but for now, note that people can recommend news items uploaded through JD Supra and these recommendations may appear in your news feed: 

These are particularly valuable to you because they are recommendations coming from trusted colleagues (those you’ve chosen to connect to through LinkedIn) who are sharing legal articles of interest to them.  Again, similar to other updates, you can "Like," comment or send a message in response to these. 

You may also see book recommendations if someone has the relevant application: 

These are a great opportunity to engage, because you can comment that you also read a book that they’ve read, and share your thoughts on it, or you can comment that you’re hoping to read a book that they recommend, and ask for their opinion. It’s connecting on another level besides just a professional one.  

Industries or companies they’re following…

Following is another best practice – and don’t worry, we’re not talking about Twitter (yet).  LinkedIn gives you the option to follow companies or industries, which allows you to get their news feeds.  Why is this a best practice? Because you can and should follow your clients (you’ll keep up to date on what’s going on with them without having to do the work yourself) and the industries you practice in (there might be news that you can share with your clients).  

We’ll talk more about how to do that another time, but you’ll see in your news stream that others are following companies and industries, and these might be of interest to you. 

Using TripIt and they have an upcoming trip…

TripIt has an application on LinkedIn, which we’ll talk more about in my next post, which will focus on applications. When someone is using it and has an upcoming trip, it will pop up in your news feed (unfortunately, there’s no one in my feed with an upcoming trip right now, so no visual assists for this one – the summer is always more quiet for professional travel!). 

At any rate, it is similar to the other updates in that you’re able to comment on their upcoming travel – this is useful for a couple of reasons – if someone is going to be in your city, offer to meet up with them for lunch or coffee. Or you may find they’re visiting one of your favorite cities – let them know what you love most about it, and what is a "must see" while they’re there.

***

As you may have garnered from all of the above, the Cliffs Notes version of my post is – Find any excuse to engage – it doesn’t have to be a professional reason!

And although this seems like it may take a lot of time because of the sheer number of options you have, it will become second nature to open your browser, scan through the 15 updates that are in your news feed, and "like" or comment on one or two of them that strike your interest.  Engaging with your connections really doesn’t take up much time, and it is essential to deepening the relationships you’ve started by connecting with them!