In this discussion, I’ll cover ways to ensure you’re found by those who need what you have to offer. I’ll also provide you with techniques for using LinkedIn surreptitiously as a research tool without leaving any fingerprints behind.
LinkedIn’s search algorithm favors those who are in your network. That means when people are looking for what you have to offer, the results of their searches are displayed with 1stlevel connections first, then 2nd level connections and so on. So, when you get a connection request from a Walmart sales associate in Arkansas – even though you work in high tech in Boston and have never been to Arkansas – accept it. If someone in his network is looking for what you have to offer, you’ll likely show up higher in the search results. I call this ‘planned serendipity!’. You don’t know who might be looking for you but you need to be as visible as possible to make sure they can find you.
A word of caution: Don’t go crazy adding huge numbers of connections you don’t know. When someone receives your invitation to connect, they have the option of saying they don’t know you. If enough people say they don’t know you, LinkedIn could remove your account.
Promiscuity also has value when you’re looking at others’ profiles. Because LinkedIn only allows you to see the full profiles of your 1st and 2nd level connections (and those who are in the same groups as you), the more people you have in your network, the more full profiles you can see. Full profiles of 3rdlevel connections are only available to those with Premium memberships. So unless you want to pay for Premium, be promiscuous. And don’t worry about a contact becoming a problem as you can always delete the connection.
Be Someone Else
For most of my life I was known by my nickname, Bill. That was until I moved to Paris where people seemed to have a problem with ‘Bill’. The French are as fond of nicknames as they are of fast food, so I became William (my given name). I now live in New York City, and still go by William. When people I knew earlier in my career search for me, they’re looking for Bill Arruda not William Arruda and I need to make sure they can find me. I use some of those precious 2,000 characters in my LinkedIn summary (you’re taking advantage of all 2,000 characters, right?!?) for this:
AKA/Common misspellings: Bill Arruda, Will Arruda, William Aruda, Will Aruda
Don’t assume others know how you spell your name or know that you’ve changed your name. Include all known misspellings, previous names (if you were married or divorced), nicknames and aliases in your summary. It’s the multiple personality approach to being found!