Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exporting Your Connections List (with caution)

After you've been on LinkedIn for a while, you start to wonder about some of the information that's on your profile and whether you can export it, especially your connections list.

I know that once you hit the 500+ number, it's kind of a big achievement on LinkedIn. No longer does your profile show your total, but instead you're in the "500+" club. 

If you're considering exporting your connections list for email purposes - use caution. LinkedIn is powerful because it allows you the ability to cross-reference connections, and also because you're only a login away from reaching any connection. However, you want to be careful not to use a mass email approach with your connections, since people will connect to you based on a perceived mutual benefit of being connected. Once you send a mass email, you risk jeopardizing the relationship you have with your connections. 

However, the export connections feature can be used to help you sort and target your connections. 

Here's an example:

I frequently offer LinkedIn webinars through Walsh College. These webinars are free and exclusive to students, alumni, and employers who hire Walsh students and alumni. 

Occasionally, we have seats remaining in the webinar, and I offer those seats out to my LinkedIn network. I've also built up many connections in the job seeker community, including contacts at Michigan Works offices.

If I want to share the LinkedIn webinar info with these individuals, I could spend 10-15 minutes scrolling through advanced people search and typing in "Michigan Works." 

Or, I can export my connections list and sort by company, and hand pick those individuals who show Michigan Works as their employer. Then, I can send them a personalized email from my Walsh email box instead of through LinkedIn. 

To export your connections list:

1. Mouse over "Contacts" in your top menu bar, then select "Connections"

How to Export Your LinkedIn Connections

2. Scroll down to the bottom of your connections list page. Click the link that reads "Export Connections."

3. Export as a CSV format. Save onto your desktop, then open the file in Excel and Save As an Excel workbook. From here, you can scan and search your connections list. This file will contain your first level connections information, including: first and last name, company, job title, and e-mail address. 

CAUTION: use this option sparingly if you're trying to contact people outside of LinkedIn. People do NOT like mass email. From my perspective, it's a lazy approach to using your technology and it doesn't create favorable impressions. And if you do use a mass email approach, you run the risk of losing connections. 

That said, the "export connections" feature can be a powerful tool to help supplement your LinkedIn efforts. 

Comments? Suggestions? Have you used this feature? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Do I Know You? What To Do With Invites From Unfamiliar Names

The longer you're on LinkedIn and the more active you become, you'll notice you receive more and more invitations to connect to people you don't know. 

If you're like me, you're personalizing your invitations to help others in your network understand why you wish to connect. If you're not doing this yet, please read this for instructions http://15minutesadayonlinkedin.blogspot.com/2011/02/personalize-your-invites-for-more.html

What do you do when you receive LinkedIn invitations to connect to people you don't know? Most people ignore the invitations. Or perhaps mouse over the name and review the person's profile to see if there is anything common or interesting. And then they either accept or ignore the invite depending on those results. 

Here's a technique to help you do two things:
1. Solve the problem of an ever-increasing list of invitations
2. Weed out the people you want to connect, and archive those you don't wish to accept.

Plus, using this technique, you'll create dialog with these individuals, thereby helping to further the effectiveness of your network. 

First, log into LinkedIn.  Then, follow these simple instructions:

1. Mouse over your "Inbox"
2. Then, click on "Invitations"

3. Just below the person's name whose invitation you've received, you'll see an "Accept" box with a dropdown arrow. Click that arrow, and 4. you'll see the option to "Reply (don't accept yet)."

5. Type in three words: "Have We Met?"
If you feel the need to be cordial, you can add a salutation, "Hi Russell," as shown here.
6. Then, click "Send message" and wait for their response.
At this point, I'll give the person a few days to respond. 

If I don't hear back within a week, I can probably correctly assume they don't use LinkedIn that often. This is not the type of contact that will help me nor my network, so then I'll go back in and "Archive" the invitation to clear it out of my invitation list. 

If they do reply back, their response can help you decide what to do next. Typically, I receive one of these responses (and my next steps in parentheses):

1. "Hi Brenda, no we haven't met, but your profile looked interesting and I thought we might be able to connect." (yes, I will accept this - since the person is explaining WHY they wish to connect. Plus, that's flattering!)

2. "Maybe. I go to a lot of events in Troy." (I might connect, after I look over their profile to see if I see anything of interest to me. If not, I'll archive it, since this is a lazy response and they aren't giving me any real reason to want to connect. I've given them an ample opportunity to explain themselves, which is more than many will do.)

3. "No, but your name came up in the LinkedIn search on my page. My apologies if I've done this incorrectly. I'm still learning how to use LinkedIn." (yes, I typically will accept this, since this is a genuine response and I like to help people to learn how to use LinkedIn)

4. "No we haven't met, but you know Joe Smith and Bobbi Jones and they both suggested I connect to you." (yes, I will accept since we share mutual connections whom I remember)

5. "Not yet, but I'd love to buy you a coffee and talk about my company's print solutions. We have a high capacity printer and we're based in Detroit." (no, since I don't want to be sold to. I want to connect for mutually beneficial reasons. I can find salespeople through my network if/when I need it.)

Regardless of their reason for requesting an invitation, please select the "Archive" option instead of "Report Spam" whenever possible. This helps to prevent other LinkedIn users from having their accounts locked up!