I've been slowly looking at and experimenting with LinkedIn to see if it has value and if so, how to unlock it in a way that works for me. I mentioned it during my series on networking and since I've evolved a strategy that I think is interesting for now, though it can perhaps be richer still. We'll see! Anyway, the strategy:
- I've set a reminder for every two weeks to update my "what am I doing" section - this is to remind my network that I'm alive and doing stuff, and I think is a subtle and non irritating way to do so
- At the same time, I browse my network for 5 minutes and look for people that they know and that I know - where I define "know" as having had at least one good conversation or email thread
My efforts are based on the idea that while I have a large network, I can't currently access it easily. Yes, it's nice to measure, but what if I want to hire an employee or find someone with certain skills to help out someone I know? Or want to try to get a SQLSaturday started in a city and don't know anyone there? Maybe a little vague, but the essence of networking is faith, you have to believe it will matter sometime - but that's also why I've time boxed my efforts for now. By the end of the year I'm hoping to grow my network to 250 (from about 60 now), and then if it looks like it's worth continuing, set a much higher goal for 2010.
I'd also like to point out that a valid way to "know me" is to be a regular reader of my blog. It's a conversation of sorts, and if you find value in returning here on a regular basis (and reading this far) I can easily imagine that we could have a long talk over coffee and get along well. If you're interested, join my network without any worry about not being worthy!