The power of LinkedIn as a tool for listening and learning is often overlooked. As the world’s premier online professional network, thousands of discussions take place there every day with many being accessible by search to members. Following are some of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to learn more about topics and people of interest to you.
This news aggregator enables you to select people (Influencers) and topics (Channels) for which you would like to see content on a daily basis. Influencers are public figures, thought leaders, celebrities and other high profile individuals selected by LinkedIn. In Channels you can choose any number of topics to follow in areas ranging from entrepreneurship & small business to professional women, green business, your career and others.
LinkedIn has nearly 2 million Groups devoted to a wide variety of topics. They provide a great way to keep up with industry information as well as making new connections.
In terms of listening, you can search discussions within each Group by keywords to look for information. A more proactive approach is to ask questions in Groups either to start a discussion or when you are searching for specific answers. Fellow Group members are often very forthcoming with valuable insights, soon of which you may never have arrived at on your own.
LinkedIn Smart Search refers to the search box drop down at the top of your screen on your Home page enabling you to search People, Companies, Jobs, Groups, Universities, Posts and your Inbox. This is a quick way to narrow your searches to specific areas.
LinkedIn has reinstated our ability to see the activity of 1st degree connections making it much easier to see what issues or topics are top of mind for those that are active on LinkedIn. When engaging with individuals this ability to view their posts and other activity gives you the ability to provide them with relevant comments or information.
This is a way to automate the process of identifying new jobs or people that you may want to be aware of or connect with. In effect, you are able to let LinkedIn do your listening for you based on search parameters that you set up and save. Anytime a new profile meets these criteria, when someone joins LinkedIn or updates their Profile, these profiles are batched and sent to you in a weekly or monthly update if you choose. For those in sales and business development, this can be a great way to automate lead generation.
Following individuals and organizations enables you to keep up with their latest posts and news. Updates from those you follow will appear in your newsfeed. Though we are talking about LinkedIn, this advice also applies to using Twitter.
Often the comments in response to posts on LinkedIn can provide information and perspectives just as valuable as the content of the post. Watching how others react to ideas related to your profession can give you new insights or suggest areas you may want to explore more deeply. For example, comments can provide an endless source of topics for bloggers.
How are you using LinkedIn to listen for valuable insights? Please share your comments.