I recently got asked a great question in my Windmill Networking LinkedIn Group:
Neal, what is one of the most recent insights you have learned about LinkedIn that can help us?
Since I wrote the book on LinkedIn, although 90% of the functionality of the site is still the same, I am finding the “Follow” features that LinkedIn have introduced to be of value for some. While this “feature” may still be a mystery to many, here is my advice on how you can strategically use it by thinking outside of the box. For instance:
1) FOLLOW COMPANIES
When I wrote my book, I said that the only thing I disliked about LinkedIn Jobs was that they didn’t have an email alert system for informing you of new jobs like those that are available at Monster, CareerBuilder, or HotJobs. That now exists, on a company-by-company basis, if you follow your Target Companies AND they post on Jobs. And following companies is not just for jobseekers: Read more in my blog post on the 6 people who should be following companies.
What about following other people and not companies? This is a little tricky because when LinkedIn introduced the new follow feature, they automatically started following all of your connections on your behalf. The idea was that when you went to a LinkedIn Group, you could keep tabs on a “group within the group.” I suppose this would be appropriate if several members of an organization were all part of the same group to ensure that your discussions did not overlap.
If you want to do as I advise below, I would almost suggest that you start unfollowing everyone and start with a clean slate. This will make it easier to find the information that you can glean from doing the following:
2) FOLLOW THOUGHT LEADERS
What if you are keen to try to create a relationship with someone that you consider a thought leader in hopes that you can someday get to know them better? Start following them on LinkedIn! The beauty of this feature is that you can follow anyone regardless of your connections status, there is no restriction that I know about in terms of maximum numbers of people that you can follow, and you just may see them engaging in a LinkedIn Group discussion that gives you the opportunity to develop a relationship with them. One note of caution here: You cannot follow someone just by finding them in the search results. You need to be a member of the same group that they are. But once you’re both members of the same group you can follow them after finding them in the “Members” section of your common group.
3) FOLLOW YOUR COMPETITION
There is no one way to find a job, perform sales, or do anything else in life. Aren’t there some professionals on LinkedIn that you would consider your competition or people that you think are ahead of their game that you’d like to learn from? Follow them, check their activity, and see if you might be missing out on something by looking at the way they engage with others on LinkedIn. It’s almost like following those that you believe you can learn from will give you access to a “virtual mentor” on LinkedIn.
By “Following” the activities of others as well as Companies, you can learn a great deal that can help you initiate conversations, grow professionally and potentially accelerate your job search.
Are you using the Follow feature? Do you use it differently? Please chime in!