“What’s LinkedIn good for?”

One of my LinkedIn connections made a request this week:

“I think it would be helpful if you would post the top 5 things that LinkedIn is used for.”

This came just days after another connection said this (to someone else) on Twitter:

“I still don’t see how LinkedIn fits into a promo plan. How is it working for you? What are you doing with it?”

Here’s the thing: I don’t think there are “five” good things that LinkedIn is good for, and how it fits into a promo plan is going to be different for everyone, depending on what industry they’re in and who they’re trying to connect with. I also don’t think LinkedIn is a great fit for absolutely everyone, just as I don’t think Facebook and Twitter are a great fit for absolutely everyone. But I do think there’s one very specific thing that LinkedIn is good for that should be central to your plans if your success is dependent upon collaboration and connection: managing your existing relationships.

I’ll elaborate with a few points:

  • LinkedIn is not about customer/connection acquisition; it’s about customer/connection retention. It’s much better at enhancing existing relationships than creating new relationships.
  • LinkedIn allows you and your connections to show how you can be a resource to one another. This is why status updates RELEVANT TO YOUR WORK are so critical on LinkedIn: over time, they can make a strong case for your skills, expertise and knowledge.
  • LinkedIn allows you to stay in touch frequently, without the labor intensity that would otherwise come with staying in touch. In other words, it allows you to hear what your connections are working on, and allows you to share what you’re working on, when you can’t be with them face-to-face or in another one-to-one sharing environment.
That’s it. One thing. If relationships are important to you, then, that’s how you should be using LinkedIn. And if you ask me, nothing is more important than relationships.

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