Work Smarter with LinkedIn or the “The Less is More Theory of LinkedIn”
Alexandra Samuel has written a clear and concise essay on how to use LinkedIn. The main idea is as follows:
“This book suggests that you accept only LinkedIn connections that pass the favor test: people for whom you would do a favor, or of whom you would ask a favor.”
What she means is to use LinkedIn primarily as a virtual roladex through which you connect to your 1st and 2nd degree LinkedIn connections, much as you do in real life. People whom you truly know (who will do you a favor), and people for whom you know at least enough to be willing to do them a favor. This contrasts with how many other authors present LinkedIn and how LinkedIn presents itself: they want you to gain as many connections as possible, be as busy as possible posting status updates, InMail and connection requests. It also contrasts with the idea of only connecting on LinkedIn with people you actually know. LinkedIn, she correctly points out, is really a social network about favors.
Quality, she argues, over quantity.
Different people have different purposes on LinkedIn, and you are best served if you identify what your own purposes are on LinkedIn. Some people (like myself) are teachers, speakers, educators – we touch many thousands of people, and in turn, might want to “use” those people (if I can be so crude) to do things like promote our books or workshops. For us, more connections is a good thing; and we are really using LinkedIn in broadcast mode. Others, like salespeople, also want a broad network yet still retain the ability to identify who they really know, because salespeople are seeking to use one connection to make a connection to another. For example, a salesperson can use a LinkedIn 1st connection in Boston to get an introduction to a LinkedIn 2nd connection in Boston who works in their industry, so that the #2 connection will be informed of a workshop or presentation at a trade show.
Still others, especially corporations, are using LinkedIn as a way to connect with customers in a serious way. Here LinkedIn is becoming the “serious” Facebook, and is a great new tool for companies in serious industries like technology, health care, environment and other more B2B / professional than the consumer company focus that dominates Facebook.
But for many, many others, less is definitely more. If you are “giving out favors,” for example, you are an important CEO or Venture Capitalist you might want to guard your contacts closely and use LinkedIn really in a very focused sense – to reach out in a very laser focused way to people with whom you have an intense relationship or intensely shared purpose.
The book would have benefited from a chapter about your “purpose on LinkedIn” before you get to its really good distinction: are you a “matchmaker” or a “fairy godmother?” What is your purpose on LinkedIn? Why will you invest your time and money in using this social network? Define that first, and then read this book – you’ll be in good shape. Finally, get yourself a how to book or use LinkedIn’s help functions and you’ll really be using LinkedIn on steroids.
Work Smarter with LinkedIn is NOT a how to manual on LinkedIn! Rather it is written more in the style of Amazon’s “Kindle Singles.” It takes one idea – “Less is More” – and discusses how thinking differently about LinkedIn might produce better results than the more common idea “More is more.” It’s a book about the strategy of using LinkedIn not so much the practice. Judged in that way, it’s very good.
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