“LINKEDIN” - Your Best Online Networking Friend

How It All Works
You join the LinkedIn club and either ask people to join your network or they invite you into theirs. They become connections in the LinkedIn world. These become your level 1 connections. You can then see who their contacts are: they become your level 2 connections. After you have done some homework you can then search their contacts: they become your level 3 connections. To emphasize the power of the numbers let me give you my network statistics. At the start of summer 2009 I had over 500 level 1 contacts. That leads me to over 100,000 level 2 connections and, wait for it, over 6,000,000 level 3 connections. When you know, like and trust level 1 connections they will want to help you and vice-versa. This means you can check out their contacts to see if you’d like an introduction. If there is a genuine relationship with your level 1 person they will try to open the door for you. And those opening could be managing partners or directors of multinationals.

Be A Good Networker
I believe there are two key skills to being a really effective networker and these transfer perfectly when using LinkedIn:
1. Ask the right questions. Be as specific as possible, in other words make it easy for people to help you.
2. Get your timings right. Yes, be persistent but don’t pester people. Everyone is busy and your request for help may not be at the top of their ‘to do’ list. Depending on your relationship maybe a second nudge for an introduction could be relevant, but after that let it go. On the other hand when people ask you for help treat it as a priority and watch the help come back. You’ll find it’s not always the people we help are those who help us but in the grand scheme of things ‘what goes around comes around’.

The Benefits
LinkedIn is a global networking community and when you master all its uses it can make it a big difference to you and your company. The benefits are:
Ø When you use it actively you become part of a very large and valuable network. Being part of the same club means members tend to keep in touch with each other and the system will update your current situation and contact points.
Ø You build your own brand when you use the profile page carefully. This tells the LinkedIn world who you are, what your business is all about, what services you have available and how people rate you. It’s great marketing and profile raising to over 35 million people in the same club.
Ø You have the best referral system possible.
Ø You have many people who can give you advice – a real plus for those starting out. This is available when you use the ‘answers’ section. That preparation for your exams might just get a bit more interesting.
Ø You can set up your own network club (groups) within LinkedIn where you find issues of common interest. There are plenty of accounting specific ones to join.
Ø When you’re in a bigger organization it is a great tool to find out more about colleagues across other divisions or even countries. Visibility creates more success in big companies and when you put an effective profile up, who knows who will find you and what benefits it might bring?
Ø It’s essentially free. So now the thing to do is try:
Ø put up a profile and sell yourself
Ø testimonials about your character and ability will give reassurance to new acquaintances – so earn them with your work and conduct
Ø recommend others – networking is about reciprocity
Ø invite contacts to link to you
Ø check out their contacts check out the groups on LinkedIn and get active Sounds a lot of work, but it isn’t really. It is an investment in your career, possibly abroad as well as in your home country. So start investing now and reap the rewards later – just as you are doing now with your study and hard work establishing your career.