Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

CEOs Good to Great: Who Makes the Cut and Why?

3 Lessons I Learned from Jeff Weiner at LinkedIn

My five years at LinkedIn 1 is the best experience of my career.

One of the biggest reasons: Jeff Weiner.

Here’s my thoughts on what made Jeff the best CEO I’ve ever worked with, as he transitioned his role a month ago to Ryan Roslansky after 11 years of one of the most successful runs as Chief Executive I’ve ever seen.

From L – R: Jeff’s first LinkedIn Hackday judging with Adam Nash hosting, to the picture on the right, arguably (correct me if I’m wrong) Jeff’s first LinkedIn All-Hands in 2009 as he was introduced as CEO by founder Reid Hoffman, and below: my peers in the marketing & comms team, circa 2008: Richard Chen & Krista Canfield

There are Good CEOs, and then there are Great CEOs. Besides, Jeff Weiner, Dan Nye and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), I have worked on Jack Dorsey’s team (Twitter), Andrew Dudum (who now runs Hims) and worked closely with Adam Nash (CEO Wealthfront) during his time at LinkedIn — one of the best product minds I’ve ever seen. But, I can objectively say, Jeff Weiner is as good as it gets as a leader.

Here’s three reasons why and three lessons I learned:

Lesson 1: Compassion As Purpose

Jeff Weiner was always about the High-Order Bit. I talk about that in my post on grief. As Steve Jobs would often say, what is your high-order bit. And Jeff would always ask us to stack-rank prioritize our goals, and if I had to pick the highest-ranked legacy of Jeff’s — it’d have to be compassion.

Harvard Business Review wrote about the “Best Leaders being Great Teachers,” in which they relate a story shared by Mike Gamson 2, who I got to know in 2008 and who went on to lead LinkedIn’s Sales efforts:

Another example comes from Mike Gamson, a senior vice president at LinkedIn, who told Business Insider that his first meeting with the company’s new CEO, Jeff Weiner, involved a two-hour discussion of Buddhist principles. Gamson said he wanted to be a more empathetic leader, and Weiner asked why he wasn’t instead aiming to be more compassionate. The pair explored the difference between those concepts, with recourse to a religious parable.

I have a similar story, though I wish I had the chance to explore spirituality more with Jeff, than just this brief moment during my time at LinkedIn…

The Aha Moment: Breathe In, Breathe Out

Some of you may have read my recent post on how Meditation has become an incredibly important part of my life, helping deal with grief and cope with chaos.

Way before that post, there was this anecdote:

During my time at LinkedIn (since early 2007) I had the opportunity to work with the founding team, executive team, and Jeff during his first few years since his time as acting CEO.

Fast forward, to a particularly high-stakes conversation I was having with Jeff in the middle of a tumultuous period in my life, and (of course) I have a panic attack 3.

I don’t know how other CEOs might have handled it; maybe they’d asked me to collect myself and reschedule the meeting, but Jeff instead helped guide me through composing myself while he suggested breathing techniques that are common to those who meditate, and it helped calm me and got me on to the habit of meditation that I have finally put into consistent practice.

Sure, it felt strange sharing this here, but it’s the tiny moments in life that leave a mark. Of the five years I spent at LinkedIn, this experience is at the top of my list!

Compassion in the Workplace: A Feature, Not a Bug

CEOs also need to recognize that we are in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, stressors mounting by the minute 4, an epidemic of loneliness so desolate that compassion is more relevant now than ever in the history of the workplace.

A group of researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School released results from a survey they conducted in the second half of May, and 55% of people said they were more stressed than in January, before the virus was perceived to be a widespread threat.

We are living through unprecedented times, when over half of a country’s adults are under a once-in-a-century moment in history and this situation is only likely to continue.

As the workforce transitions into Gen-Z you recognize that unlike prior generations, they care most about personal well being and a work-life balance and more than ever, they crave a sense of purpose. 5. The two biggest takeaways post-pandemic (epidemic of loneliness and the WFH phenomenon) will demand that CEOs be more compassionate, wise and spiritual; the best among them setting an example worth emulating.

Jeff has also created a platform-for-compassion in The Compassion Project for elementary school students across the United States, inspired by the PBS Documentary “A Class Divided;” a classroom experiment in compassion that has its origins in a teacher’s efforts to calm her students and help them understand discrimination and divisiveness in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King assassination.

We’re in a time where people are increasingly being torn apart. People are looking to reinforce their own views by connecting with others that look like them and sound like them. Tribalism, as some would call it, is reinforced through both conventional and new media channels. – Jeff Weiner

Couldn’t agree more. It’s never been more important than in these days Black Lives Matter, where stoked by the fires of circumstance and polarization, we find our deepest insecurities bleed into an epidemic of anxiety.

These circumstances are seeing parents moonlight as teachers while going about their day jobs, a shocking increase abuse, both in homes and in the workplace, as we continue to isolate and expose ourselves to the searing heat of 2020. It is, now more than ever, for all of us (at work and home) to create a platform for compassion in every imaginable scenario.

Great leaders don’t just teach about work—they also proffer deeper wisdom. – Harvard Business Review

Lesson 2: Clarity, Consistency and Curiosity

The very first thing I recall Jeff define as CEO was a clear vision (“Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce”) and mission (“Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”). Remember this was before the IPO, when LinkedIn has 30 million users (that under his leadership has scaled to 700 million users) 6, and the stack-ranked priority, the high-order bit for Jeff was identifying those core values, then sharing that with the leadership team, and as part of his Comms team our priority was disseminating that vision across our entire company.

One Vision, One Mission, Godspeed.

The Vision Jeff entrusted with his teams, and the Mission he demanded we create for ourselves were reiterated over and over again, until you could blurt it out were someone to wake you rudely in the middle of the night.

And everyone in the company knew that 7, as Reid continues:

Jeff says that you build trust through consistency over time. One of the things he said that stuck in my mind was that by the time that you’re getting bored of yourself saying a message, your organization is just beginning to hear it.

And Jeff hired for Mission Sync:

This showed up in how Jeff recruited people to LinkedIn. His pitch wasn’t, “Come work for me.” It was, “Come work together with me on this mission.”

Great Leaders Teach, But Also Relentlessly Learn

Star leaders also take a page from Socrates and teach by asking sharp, relevant questions, often in the course of furthering their own learning. According to a colleague at HCA, Frist “was always asking probing questions to find out what was happening.” He did it to “educate himself, not to make you feel like you were doing something appropriate or inappropriate. It was an educational venture.” 8

Jeff’s product curiosity was always spot-on. Not only was he one of the first few people at LinkedIn, who understood the true import of Twitter that I evangelized internally relentlessly, when everyone was wondering where does fit into the larger corporate storytelling paradigm. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, relates a similar story about Jeff when he first visited Jeff at Yahoo! Network critiquing the product with Jeff’s team 9

Jeff’s reaction was perfect and telling — he was intellectually curious rather than defensive. He showed an intensity of curiosity and learning, especially towards being what I call an infinite learner. And, he wanted his people to talk and interact more than he did, which reflects Jeff’s focus on leading the team, as well as being a part of the team. – Reid Hoffman on Jeff Weiner

Lesson 3: Culture & Community

Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs’ biographer, famously asked 10 Jobs during the last few months of his life, thus:

I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product.

And I think Jeff understood that very well, since the day he started at LinkedIn.

Our All-Hands was a big deal. And with Jeff’s arrival, it became the heart-and-soul of LinkedIn’s culture. I briefly had the fortune of working with Jeff on crafting those until my good friend Armen Vartanian took over, and it was clear from Day One, Jeff was going to carry forward the vision and reiterate it in ways — both artful and purposeful — at these gatherings.

The All-Hands wasn’t just an excuse for us to gather, like the Pixar building that Steve Jobs built, but it was a reason to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It was the culture, given who LinkedIn is about connecting every single professional in the world — bigger than all of us professionals working at LinkedIn.

And it worked. And it shows.

How You Go from 100s to 16,000 Employees!

In another distinct way, Jeff’s actions pay homage to the lessons left by Steve Jobs, especially with the way he crafted his transition, to Ryan Roslansky, who came to LinkedIn from Yahoo!

Jobs maintained an excellent and relatively stable executive team during his second tenure at Apple. The more mature and confident he became, the more he surrounded himself with strong, opinionated executives who felt comfortable arguing with him. – There Is No “I” in Steve, Fast Company

Jeff came to LinkedIn that way. With a team in mind, a plan in place and this transition, as Reid suggests was always the best case outcome, and kudos for finding a stellar product leader to carry forward that vision:

Another great lesson I learned from Jeff was the importance of having multiple succession plans for every executive — one for an immediate emergency successor, one for a year down the road, and one for the long-term. Ryan was Jeff’s long-term succession plan. He was Jeff’s first hire after arriving at LinkedIn, and had worked for him at Yahoo for five years before that, so they have a very strong and lasting alliance. – Reid Hoffman

Jeff’s Biggest Legacy is the team he built and is leaving behind. Having briefly crossed paths with Ryan, it’s clear LinkedIn is in great hands.

In Summary; Thank You Jeff!

And, yes, these are all stellar examples of why was trending on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, given the outpouring of gratitude and employees, past and present, sharing their career high — working for Jeff.

Of course, in classic Jeff style, the All-Hands was a huge-send off with singing of Jeff’s favorite song, which did and would have brought tears to the eyes of anyone who had the pleasure of working at LinkedIn with Jeff during a glorious run. No wonder, the hashtag was trending for a while.

This is my story.

For showing me what real leadership is; #ThankYouJeff!

The Last LinkedIn Alumni Reunion Dinner I attended in 2019 with some of the early folks, hope to see Jeff in the future

  1. My alma-mater of over five years, and where I spent my most informative and insightful years as the second PR & Marketing Hire right through to our I.P.O. ↩︎
  2. A great Harvard Business Review by Sydney Finkelstein on what separates the best leaders – the ones that teach ↩︎
  3. Check out how meditation helps me cope with grief, while dealing with a relentless pandemic in 2020 here and how this episode might have been my first foray into meditation ↩︎
  4. Here’s the most recent study on July 1, 2020, that finds 55% of Americans are stressed with numbers shooting up if you’re past 50 years of age ↩︎
  5. Source: Dynamic Signal, “When Gen-Z’ers believe they are surrounded by like-minded people who feel their effort has a purpose, work is less like a job.” ↩︎
  6. Source: Statista and 400 employees (that Jeff scaled to 16,000 employees!), Growth of LinkedIn members from 2009 to 2016 ↩︎
  7. Here in Jeff’s own words that we heard reiterated during those formative years, how and why one should define their Vision, Mission and Values so clearly ↩︎
  8. Sydney Finkelstein, a professor at Tuck School, Dartmouth, writes “Best Leaders are Great Teachers” for the Harvard Business Review, calls out their Socratic approach as well as their compassion ↩︎
  9. I’d highly recommend you check out Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn post on Learnings from Jeff ↩︎
  10. This Harvard Business Review piece by Walter Isaacson outlines The Real Leadership Lessons of Jobs, which include Focus, Simplify, and Taking Responsibility to the End ↩︎


Filed under: Best-of, Jeff Weiner, Latest at LinkedIn, Linkedin, LinkedIn Colleagues, LinkedIn in the News, Public Relations, Public Speaking, Thoughts

Previously on LinkedIn: An Infographic, Jobs Alert and a New High

Each week, as Sr. Social Media Manager at LinkedIn, I obsessively track the latest news and tidbits on LinkedIn. I’ve also begun curating the week’s must-read LinkedIn updates on this blog series, so you don’t have to. Here’s LinkedIn snippets from just the past three days.

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1. INFOGRAPHIC: How do LinkedIn users use LinkedIn? on Mashable

Who isn’t a sucker for cool looking charts and graphs. Mashable published an unofficial LinkedIn infographic providing a quick snapshot of what LinkedIn users really do on LinkedIn. No major surprises here. Just a pretty lil’ chart.

2. Keep track of your LinkedIn connections’ job movements via TechCrunch

Have you ever wanted to keep track of when your LinkedIn connections change jobs? If you’re on LinkedIn every day (like me) your network updates will show when your connections’ job updates change (provided they’ve allowed that in their settings). But, if you’d rather just receive an email notification, this new service is for you.

Job Change Notifier by Roger Lee

Note: You can either set it up for all your connections or just for select ones. Given that your connections are not gonna keep changing jobs often, I’ve just set it up for all. Will keep you posted how that works out.

3. What’s the 2nd biggest social networking site in the USA? via TechCrunch

Quite the way to wrap-up the week, with the latest Comscore #s that placed LinkedIn as the 2nd most visited social networking site in the US, in June, with 33.9M unique visitors. Here’s another neat little chart that shows the upward trajectory. On that note, have a great weekend and see you on this blog tomorrow.

Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

Previously on LinkedIn: Inspiration, Flipboard and Groups

Each week, as Sr. Social Media Manager at LinkedIn, I get to share breaking LinkedIn news with the rest of the world and fellow bloggers (many of them product related). This weekly series covers the LinkedIn stuff that you may have missed — with a little context into why it matters and to whom.

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Here’s this past week’s news announcements that mattered most:

1. LinkedIn, meet Flipboard by Liz Reaves Walker

Who should care?
Any professional. Consider this a real-world water-cooler conversation with folks who are of mutual importance to your career (assuming you’re connected to them). And, if you’ve an iPad then this app is a no-brainer. I, so badly, want an iPad now. I know, a lot of people find it funny that I don’t have one yet. cc: @adamnash

BTW, if you’d like to see a video demo, I’d recommend the TechCrunch interview with Mike McCue.

2. Using LinkedIn Groups API to create an events water cooler by Madhu Gupta

Who should care? This is such a no-brainer for event organizers. Madhu also shares a recent implementation from Microsoft on their Partner event website. The integration is pretty slick. As you can see — you can flip through the top groups threads even without being signed in.

If you’d like to perform simple gestures (“Like” or “Follow” the conversation), you’d need to be signed in on the website where this is embedded.

And, if you’d like to actually participate in the group all you’ve to do is click through to the specific LinkedIn group page. And, you guys know how that works.

The group itself is a great way for conference attendees to introduce themselves, share questions they have that’s worth a separate group thread and say Hi to folks they didn’t get a chance to interact at the conference room floor or at the sessions. This was my experience on Social Media Examiner’s LinkedIn Group (private group – requires sign in), as I discovered when I spoke at their webcast recently.

I used the LinkedIn group to collate ideas and feedback on my presentation and was able to tailor it better to the audience’s needs. It’s also a great way to follow up with your audience once you’re done. Now imagine, the power of that conversation embedded on your website drawing more participation before and after the event. I just realized as I blog this, that this topic deserves a whole new post.

3. Finding inspiration and support at work by Jill Levine

Given that we spend much of lives at work, it’s important that we get to work not only with the brightest minds, but with genuinely nice folks. It’s a joy to work with such folks at LinkedIn (more on that here), but this week’s story on our blog was an inspirational one about our colleague from New York, Jill Levine.

I’ll let Jill share the story herself.

Speaking of great colleagues, just thought it was worth mentioning that Adam, Jim and I are currently on a #blogfitness program.

We’ve each taken up the challenge to blog, a post a day. You can read the specifics on Jim’s post here (click through just for the video of Jim doing burpees – priceless!). And, Adam, well he’s started off strong with a post on Quicken solution for OS X Lion. And, Adam’s famous T-shirts post just got picked up on TechCrunch yesterday. Nicely done.

Game on!

If you’d like to support or taunt us about missing a blog day, feel free to tweet us @mariosundar, @adamnash and @brikis98.

And, if you’re a blogger suffering from blogger’s block. You too can join us in our 30-day #blogfitness diet. Leave a comment.

Filed under: Latest at LinkedIn, Linkedin, LinkedIn Features, LinkedIn in the News, ,

LinkedIn: 1st in Site Uptime, 2nd in Response time

Of course, you know I’m gonna blog this. Yes, I work at LinkedIn and I’m stoked to see the really hard work many of my colleagues come to fruition.

Web site performance monitor AlertSite tracks site reliability and uptime for social networking sites. This past quarter, LinkedIn came up tops with “near flawless availability” of the site (via PC World):

Delivering near flawless availability (99.97 percent), LinkedIn soared to the top of the rankings after grabbing the #4 spot in the second quarter. While more than 19,000 measurements were recorded during Q3, only six errors were noted.

YouTube came in second, with 99.96 percent availability.

LinkedIn's Site Uptime Q3

… and looks we came in a close 2nd to Facebook in site response time as well. Impressive!

For the second consecutive quarter, Facebook has proven itself to be the fastest social network, shaving 0.02 seconds off its Q2 average response time to bring its number down to 1 second flat — its lowest quarterly response time recorded this year. YouTube, too, experienced its quickest response times to date in Q3 at 1.60 seconds.

LinkedIn Q3 Social Media Response time

I think this is pretty critical, especially since sites like LinkedIn are becoming essential productivity tools and being up and running could help you, the user, get your job done better and faster. Alright, that’s about it. Now back to regular programming on this blog. Stay tuned.

Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

Comscore: LinkedIn’s Global Reach

Comscore looks at LinkedIn’s web penetration numbers across different countries and comes to this conclusion:

It was only a matter of time before online social networking fused with real-world business networking in a meaningful way, and LinkedIn is a testament to the emergence of this trend. It should not come as much of a surprise then that LinkedIn attracted 50 million visitors worldwide in July, up 16% in just the past six months. Perhaps more importantly, the site is beginning to surpass 10% penetration, an important critical mass threshold at which many networks begin to expand virally.

And, here’s a pretty chart to go with that:

LinkedIn's global market penetration

LinkedIn's global market penetration (via @comscore)

Comscore also adds:

In this increasingly global economy, utilities like LinkedIn will only grow in importance in helping connect people and cross borders. In this case, it is helping me get to know more about my new colleagues, and that is a very good thing.

I couldn’t agree more. Increasingly my work educating companies on how best to use LinkedIn, has brought me in touch with global teams that are using LinkedIn to collaborate.

Stay tuned for more on this topic – Global social media trends. If you work for a multinational corporation and if your team’s using LinkedIn today, leave a comment. And, if you’re not, but have questions on how to get started, leave a comment as well. Would love to hear your stories.

Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

Previously on LinkedIn: Why Killer Profiles Matter

Another week goes by and a lot of great LinkedIn tips unearthed including a simple articulation of how every professional should craft a killer LinkedIn profile, and more. As Sr. Social Media Manager at LinkedIn, I monitor the social media airwaves for business networking tips, tricks and news so you don’t have to. Here’s this week’s awesomeness!

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1. SLIDES: How to optimize a KILLER LinkedIn profile by John Kewley

As I speak with LinkedIn users I realize how sometimes even smart marketing types don’t get the SEO benefits of having a killer LinkedIn profile. As I mentioned earlier this week, it doesn’t you take you long to maintain a killer profile (see #2 here). And, a day later, I stumbled upon a succinct presentation that articulates effectively 8 key tips to gain some much needed SEO benefits for you.

The first few tips are useful for any professional, but they progress towards areas that’d make B2B marketers find value from LinkedIn. More on B2B marketing in the weeks to come.

2. How to manage your online reputation by Abhijit Mukherjee

The post makes an observation similar to what I’d add to social media guidelines for companies to share with their employees: “Think before you Tweet”. But that is applicable across all social media hubs since once it’s out there, it’s out there.

One important thing people don’t understand is that when they email, tweet, or comment on blogs, is, that whatever they type is written record. In many cases, the comments can be held against you in a court of law any day. There are enough examples of celebrities landing in trouble due to their tweets, aren’t there?

The bottom-line is this: just because you can type anything online doesn’t mean you should type anything. Not only does it reflect on you as a person, but, an inappropriate sentence typed in haste could go a long way in damaging your brand. So, think before you write. Doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet, a blog comment, an email, anything…just take a step back for a second and take a careful look before you hit the send button.

Also, as I’ve said before – I’d recommend keeping your social and professional life separate. More importantly, the post doesn’t make any mention of LinkedIn (and I find that surprising) or maintaining a robust SEO friendly LinkedIn profile (see #1 in this post – above). I can’ t think of a better way to manage one’s online reputation on the web than a LinkedIn profile.

Once you get past the name of the blog (Dumb Little Man) – just kidding – I think you’ll find a few good posts every month on productivity, savings, etc.

3. How to use LinkedIn to get hired by Sindhu Sundar

And, finally, once you build an online reputation I’m sure you’d want to parlay that into a great job. Sindhu quotes my good friend Lindsey Pollak on how financial professionals could get noticed using LinkedIn. There’s a lot of subtle netiquette explained, so read on.

For example: how about not spamming every potential hiring manager with generic messages on LinkedIn.

“Too many people think it’s about reaching out to strangers,” said Pollak, who cautions against inadvertent spamming. Start by connecting with people you already know, such as fellow alumni. “Then you can start to look beyond, at people who work for the company you’re interested in.”

Not hearing back? Follow up with a personalized email or a phone call. “Finance, like most all professions, are heavily about communication,” said Pollak. “So don’t neglect that.”

Simple, often neglected netiquette tips. I try to keep my weekly “Top of the LinkedIn” posts down to three quality articles on tips you may not have heard before. Now go out there and have a great weekend! If you’ve other categories you’d like me to cover more, feel free to leave a comment.

For more LinkedIn goodness, tips, tricks and news subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter!

Filed under: Linkedin, LinkedIn in the News

Previously on LinkedIn: Plotting career success and more tips

Another week goes by and a lot of great LinkedIn tips unearthed as well as cool coverage about our Data Analytics team at LinkedIn. As Sr. Social Media Manager at LinkedIn, I monitor the social media airwaves for business networking tips, tricks and news so you don’t have to. Here’s this week’s awesomeness!

Ask me questions or @mariosundar me on Twitter

1. How can LinkedIn help you become a CEO? by Quentin Hardy

In a recent interview, Deep Nishar (who runs product at LinkedIn) shares some interesting insights into LinkedIn “data maps” that can help you identify your career path based on goals you’ve set for yourself. For e.g.

If you aim to be a chief financial officer of a 5,000-person company, for example, the data show you need to get an M.B.A. within nine years of starting work. Graduate from college with a physics degree and there is a 22% chance you’ll be a software engineer in two years.

The article also shares some interesting insights that only a site like LinkedIn can offer, such as:

He gets insights into American economic history (job switching almost doubled between 1970 and 2000, to 3.1 jobs a decade), résumé tips (“proven track record” is an overused phrase) and thoughts on fate (chief executives tend to have short names–like Jack, Amir and Boris).

Reminds me of a couple of our recent LinkedIn blog posts around the financial fallout as well as another post we did on job titles and ninjas.

2. Tips on networking right using LinkedIn by Lou Dubois

A rather lengthy, yet useful post on how best to transition all your old-school networking smarts to work for you on LinkedIn. Most of the tips may have been said before, but an often under-utilized yet highly effective tip is to use LinkedIn to check up on people when you attend events or conferences:

“When I go to a conference or networking event, I’m able to research the speakers and attendees online and see who I’m most interested in talking or listening to,” says Darling. “In years past, you were stuck with a pamphlet and a three-line bio of folks, but now you can find out so much more. If it’s someone I’m really interested in, I’ll send them an email ahead of time with the header ‘Look Forward to Meeting You at the Conference’ and try to set up a time to talk.”

I think LinkedIn (more than either Twitter or Facebook) is a great way to showcase the speakers and their recommendations on an event or conference site. It’s always been one of my pet peeves and something I’ll continue bugging Hugh Forrest at SXSW about, the next time I see him 🙂

Another great example of similar usage would be LinkedIn integration on sites like Plancast or EventBrite. I love both these services and use it all the time. Thought, they use LinkedIn as one of the three key social networking sites to share event info. I think LinkedIn profiles  would be far more valuable in the attendee listings.

Including LinkedIn profiles in the sign-up would be very useful

It’d be even better if they could pull in LinkedIn mini-profiles when you mouseover the LinkedIn profile id of the attendees. That’d make my job connecting with the right folks even before the event, a cinch.

LinkedIn mini-profiles that mouseover when you browse attendee listings would be awesome!

But, I digress. I should probably write a separate post on this topic sometime soon. If you’ve thoughts on this, please leave a comment.

3. The mega LinkedIn tips and tricks section by David Spark and Kristin Burnham

This 5 page article covers a broad swath of LinkedIn tips from proper connection etiquette to LinkedIn and Twitter (to sync or not to sync – something I covered here). It feels like a collection of recent tips and tricks and I’d recommend you bookmark the piece for reference, though you may tend to get lost in it. My favorite tip is around Company Follow, a recent feature that I’ve seen professionals increasingly adopt given its obvious benefits.

LinkedIn announced a new feature that lets you “follow” companies on the professional networking site and keep track of their key developments, potential business opportunities and job leads. This tool is especially helpful for job seekers who want to keep tabs on businesses to which they’ve applied, and for businesses looking to monitor their competitors’ announcements.

Imagine a feed of information around a company minus all the noise, with relevant info on key developments, bizdev and job opportunities only. Learn more on LinkedIn’s Company Follow here.

Bonus Tips: 5 ways PR pros can use LinkedIn, 10 unique ways to craft a LinkedIn status update

If you find other posts that share unique tips on leveraging social networking for your career or business, feel free to share or leave a comment on this post.

If you like similar content you should subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter!

Filed under: Linkedin, LinkedIn in the News

Previously on LinkedIn: An acquisition, 75M users and 3 useful tips

I couldn’t think of a better week to revive my series “Previously on LinkedIn” (featuring 3 to 5 carefully curated blog posts sharing smart ways to use LinkedIn). Not only did we cross 75 million professionals on our site this week, but we also added new tech talent to the LinkedIn family – mSpoke.

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1. How to write a balanced recommendation? by Chris Brogan

This post is a month old but the question is still very relevant and at the heart of business networking and professional relationship building. What’s the value of a public recommendation if its cloyingly positive and not balanced. I think public recommendations are necessary but sometimes people go overboard with the praise.

Chris’ suggestion to lead with strong positive language but keep it balanced is often ignored:

Of another person’s recommendation, I added the following gently-couched negative statement, “_____ isn’t always clear in what she needs. She sometimes needs encouragement to draw out details that might be useful to the execution of the project.” I did my best to make this sentiment clearly an issue, but didn’t crush the person. I didn’t say, “____ is too shy and mumbly to successfully convince people to follow her lead.” The first would be a bit kind to her; the second a bit harsh.

And again, if there’s a reason you wouldn’t recommend the person, don’t.

I think this candor lends the authenticity that many reviews lack though it’s a delicate balancing act. There’s the social etiquette you have to keep in mind and your relationship with the person in question, but being candid is in the best interests of all parties involved. I’d also recommend you read my colleague, Adam Nash’s, excellent post on Recommendations and the Reputation Economy. And, take him up on his challenge “to select three of your connections who fit this description, and write them a LinkedIn recommendation, unsolicited.”

From a hiring manager’s perspective, who often look for the negative to weed out candidates (the same way one ferrets out those negative reviews on Yelp and Amazon), can do a simple word of mouth background check by finding people in your common network who may have worked with that candidate and by asking questions relevant to the job you’re hiring for. Just do a reference search on LinkedIn!

2. Using LinkedIn as a business intelligence tool by Valeria Maltoni

Speaking of smart search on people and companies, Valeria’s post outlines ways to use LinkedIn to gather business intelligence around people (for e.g. when hiring somebody) or just researching the industry. Answers and Groups in particular are two features that are often used in the pursuit of business intelligence and you’ll be surprised at the quality of content you find. Quick Tip: Some of you may not have realized that both those features can be searched from the LinkedIn advanced search page.

In summary, Valeria blogs:

You can use LinkedIn as part of your content strategy to gain visibility. A better use of the tool may be to identify industry leaders and the company they keep by reading the content they present and share.

Advice for companies — train your employees to understand how their personal presentation reflects on your business. When someone pulls up the company page, LinkedIn will include the profiles of employees with it.

3. 6 easy steps for a company to start using LinkedIn by Tracy DiMarino

I’ve read many blog posts that talk about using LinkedIn for lead generation, but not many have picked up on the idea I have been evangelizing to companies – that your employees are at the forefront of your conversations with other companies or other leads. Has your company developed a core strategy to educate and channel the most active of your employees in building those bridges with the outside world – and don’t forget, many of those relationships are already being built. Here are two very useful tips (the other 4 are helpful too) from Tracy’s post that suggests ways to encourage your employees’ participation on LinkedIn:

Select employees to lead participation: Designate a few employees to be internal LinkedIn champions. To be most effective, these individuals should be social-network savvy; knowledgeable about your products, services and brand messaging; and have a desire to engage with target audiences.

Participants should also have the time availability each week to respond to LinkedIn discussions and questions relating to their areas of expertise. Note: See Step 5 for tips on how to alleviate some of the time commitment required from individuals. [Ed. Yes, read the entire post]

Have employees optimize their profiles: Encourage your employees to optimize their profiles. Be sure that all individual profiles are completely filled out — including the Summary, Specialties and Job Position sections — with keyword-rich descriptions. Also, include links to Twitter profiles, as well as optimized links to your company website and blog, if applicable.

This shouldn’t be a problem given how many of your employees are already active on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but channeling their LinkedIn use is both in their best interests as well as that of companies as well. Along similar lines – also find your employees who blog on topics of expertise related to the company, though it may be harder to find those folks. Finding employees participating on LinkedIn, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a problem. With over 75 million professionals on the site already, chances are many of your employees are already engaging on LinkedIn. Quick Tip: An easy way to find them would be to check out your followers on your LinkedIn company profile.

If you find other posts that share unique tips on leveraging social networking for your career or business, feel free to share or leave a comment on this post.

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Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

Previously on LinkedIn: Jobs, Marketing and a $1M success story

This was a blog series that was begging to be made. Every week, there are countless stories about LinkedIn, tips and tricks on using our site as well as stories on how professionals are using the social networking site. Here’s a weekly summary on the Top 5 such articles each week.

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Here are the 5 most useful articles on LinkedIn, week of Mar 1, 2010:

1/ HOW TO: Promote yourself on LinkedIn to find a job / Wall Street Journal:

This article takes on the vexing age-old question of should I or should I not update social networking sites with the banner: “Hire Me”? Is it too needy? The article suggests that in these tough economic times, it may not be a bad idea to reach out proactively to your network when in need of a job. For e.g.

While it’s acceptable to let people know that you are looking for a position, it’s important to approach it professionally and to be specific about your needs. One way to do this is to use LinkedIn’s “professional headline” to establish your identity. Ms. Karp recommends adding the words “in transition” or “seeking a new challenge” to your title. LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to fill in a status box. “Use this area to describe contract or consulting gigs you have as well as any volunteer work you are doing,” suggests Ms. Karp. “This approach enables you to reinforce your brand through the headline as well as highlight current relevant projects.”

Terry Karp is the career counselor and co-founder of the Bay Area Career Center in San Francisco. The article also features suggestions from my friends Dan Schawbel (“If your network is unaware that you’re job searching, then how are they supposed to support your search?“) and colleague Krista Canfield (“Status updates remind your network that you’re looking for a position and what types of jobs you’re looking for“).

2/ 5 ways to weave LinkedIn into your Marketing Mix / Marketing Pilgrim:

A succinct summary of five ways to include LinkedIn in your marketing mix. Of particular interest to job seekers may be four easy steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile as you share that far and wide with potential hiring managers:

For the LinkedIn community, your profile will be this first item they see, so treat it as you would any landing page. To make the most of your profile:

  • Hyperlink using keywords. Include relevant URLs in your profile, and use links with anchor text. For example, instead of “My Blog,” use a keyword to describe it such as “SEO and Online Marketing Blog.” (see image below)
  • Use keywords in descriptions. That includes the summary, specialties, experience and all other description categories.
  • Include an image in your profile. LinkedIn, after all, is a social networking channel. So add as many personal touches as possible to maximize engagement and put a face to the brand.

3/ How a B2B company made $1 million in revenue through a LinkedIn group / Web 2.0 Journal:

Truly amazing! I’ve reached out to the group owners so I could share with you readers how exactly the group was able to accomplish this. SafeNet, is the 3rd largest provider of information security solutions in the world and were able to generate $1 million in revenue, directly related to LinkedIn Information Security Community (a + 50K member group, grown in over 2 years).

The company carefully measures ROI by tracking the original sources of leads and sales conversion via:

  • Marketbright marketing automation software
  • Systems engineers and product managers reporting on which members they directly connect with SafeNet sales for follow up (upon member request)

4/ A social networking starter kit for job seekers / Yahoo Finance:

I wish the article were put together, the way Mashable puts together posts. There’s a lot of valuable advice here lost in the terribly layout. So, let’s begin. To me, all the tips provided here can be summarily addressed by LinkedIn and it’s social rolodex address book. For starters, job seekers, GET LINKEDIN!

Social networking is a great way to expand your network. Set up an account on LinkedIn and post your profile and resume there. You can look for former colleagues, alumni, professional associations and other connections. Recruiters frequently search for applicants on LinkedIn, so put your best professional face forward.

True dat! But, all other tips like “Make a list of all your closest colleagues, college buddies and past employers and follow up twice”, “share job leads with other job seekers”, or “tell your tennis buddies” can be done by organizing your job hunt through LinkedIn’s newly redesigned address book or social rolodex as I call it. This may actually be deserving of it’s own post on this blog. Stay tuned!

5/ Building your cyber resume for job search success / Wall Street Journal Digital Network:

It’s my friend, Dan Schawbel, who kicks off this post with tips on building your professional identity. Sree Sreenivisan, suggests picking two or three networking sites and sticking with it. Agreed. As most successful users will agree, when it comes to professional opportunities LinkedIn should definitely be the heart and soul of your social networking world.

LinkedIn is the Place to Be
If you only have the time to join one site, most experts agree that LinkedIn, with 60-million-plus members, is the most essential — at least right now. “LinkedIn is the premier business social networking site, so it is the one crucial place to be if you are a business executive, professional or entrepreneur,” says Kaputa.

That said, you want to integrate your activities across the other two key social networking sites – Twitter and Facebook. For e.g. LinkedIn now allows you to sync your Twitter activity with your LinkedIn profile #in. Also, there’s a Facebook app that allows you to sync your Twitter activity to your Facebook status feed #fb. Do both and you’re good to go.

UPDATE: The jobs and LinkedIn #blogchat that I hosted with @mackcollier and a bunch of our fellow tweeps was very well received. We brainstormed insights into job hunting using social media and social networking. Live at 6PM Pacific as the Oscars go live!

We had over ~1000 tweets with over 130 participants in 60 minutes. The transcript of the chat can be found here and the  homepage can be found here.

Questions? Leave a comment below this post and you’ll be sure to get a response. Thanks!

Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

LinkedIn Grows Audience and Engagement – July 2008

Before you continue reading, couple of things to keep in mind: 1. my affiliation with LinkedIn, and 2. the fact that the numbers you see below are – US only. In March 2008, I blogged about LinkedIn’s stupendous growth rate (Nielsen Online) that saw us grow to over 7 million uniques in the US alone.

This past month, our continued growth took our audience numbers past double digit millions for the first time – currently at over 10 million uniques in the US. Equally interesting was engagement growth over 100% YOY. For the record, the audience numbers grew by roughly 154% in the same time period. It was also the 3rd fastest growing social networking site out in the Top 20.

Top 5 Social Networking Sites

Top 5 Social Networking Sites - July 2008 (Source: Nielsen Online via Mashable)

And, let’s not forget that LinkedIn is probably the ONLY professional networking site in that entire list. And, we’re just getting started! Many of you may have noticed the numerous feature releases over at LinkedIn. Stay tuned to our blog for breaking news!

Have you checked out LinkedIn’s Company Directory?

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Filed under: LinkedIn in the News

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