Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tweet, Link, and Learn – Part Two

I am still amazed by how quickly things change.  I remember joining Twitter about 3 or more years ago.  @chrkennedy, @gary_kern, and I thought we’d give it a go.  I really wasn’t sure what to enter in response to “What’s happening?”.  My Twitter account remained pretty dormant until about the middle of 2009 and even then took probably six months for me to really “get it”.  I think it’s easier to see the value now since it’s become so popular.  In part one of this post series I attempted to show how you can build your professional learning network (PLN) using TwitterTwitter Icon 24x24px.  In this post I write about another popular tool for building your PLN – LinkedInlinkedin icon (wikipedia article).

Here are a few introductory snippets from my LinkedIn profile:

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LinkedIn is sort-of like a Facebook for professional networking.  Rather than friends though, you make connections with contacts.  You and your contacts and millions of other users include as much detail as you can about your professional life including work history, educational background, professional (and personal) interests.  You can feed in your Twitter stream, tell people what you’re reading, link to and feed in your blog and link to your company website.  People can recommend you and you can recommend them.  LinkedIn offers recommended connections based on the friend of a friend model and profile matches.  Companies can post jobs, you can research them, and apply.  Users can join groups and participate in discussions and make new connections with people that you wish to add to your PLN.  You can create your own groups and be the host of a topical discussion.

I have 111 connections (contacts) – here’s an example of two from higher education:image
I met Maria at the World Future Society conference in Boston (she gave a thought provoking presentation on the future of higher education) and Leo I met at a Softchoice / Citrix networking event last summer. Note that these connections were first made in the real world.  But the power of LinkedIn is that you can leverage connections like these (people you actually know / have met) to “meet” other people virtually.  What LinkedIn does is leverage people’s profiles to suggest who you might want to connect with.  You can then learn a lot about someone before making contact.  There are tools for you to find people you may know, find classmates, find people from previous and current employers.  So, the message here is it’s super easy to connect with people you want to after learning about who they are, what they do, what they’ve learned, who they know, and what they say – this is much more difficult in the physical world.

I participate, with varying degrees of activity, in a 1/2 dozen or so LinkedIn groups.  Groups are primarily about topical discussions.  I have chosen to be emailed once a day with any activity to keep me informed.  I will jump in on discussions that I feel I can contribute to.  Here are two recent activity notices for two of my groups:

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When I enter the discussions I can see what others have contributed and if I wish, add my own thoughts.  I may see someone that I want to connect with and can either follow them (like Twitter) or invite them to be part of my network as a contact.  This is another way to grow your PLN, by participating in topical discussions that interest you.

Here’s how you can get started with LinkedIn:
  • goto linkedin.com and sign up for an account using your real name; fill out your profile information so people know your face (upload profile picture – use same one as used for Twitter), education, work history, self-description, aspirations, etc. – there’s a lot you can and should add
  • connect with me: Brian Kuhn and click on Add Brian Kuhn to your network (from my page)
  • add connections image(people) to your network by adding email addresses for people you know, colleagues from companies you’ve worked at, classmates for schools you attended – that will get you started
  • connect your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn profile
  • if you have a blog, connect that to your LinkedIn profile by adding an Application for that
  • explore the various features, capabilities, to become familiar with what’s possible
  • search for some groups – the search tool is very good - that might interest you and join a couple – participate when you’re ready

Here’s a few tips that others have created for using LinkedIn:

There’s so much more I could write about LinkedIn but I think the best way for you to learn it is to just do it!  Sign up today and start building your network.