Last week, I logged into LinkedIn looking for someone’s email address and after going to the contacts section and pulling up the person’s name, I noticed something different about the interface. It contained some information that it didn’t have previously, but as I looked at it I thought this could be just what I need. Some months back LinkedIn introduced a mobile app called LinkedIn contacts that was intended to help users manage their networks. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it but in my limited interaction with it I couldn’t see how it worked together with the web platform. That part hasn’t changed but the web platform now has its own contacts management functionality that has potential. So let’s have a look at what changed and how you can use it stay better connected with your network.
When you got into a contact’s profile now the below picture is now what you see. I’ve marked it up with red numbers to reference back to this image later in the post. Some of the information existed before but it’s now in a format which makes a much more sense for users to get some insight from the information. In addition to the tag, a few new sections now play a prominent role on the page. I’ll go through each section in more detail to describe how you can start using them to better manage your network.
Note – a free text field for entering comments
LinkedIn now has improved its ability to function as a full-service contact/customer relationship management tool (CRM). This section allows you to keep running notes on contacts where you might store date of previous conversations, key points of the discussion, and topics you might want to cover in the future. The real value is it allows you to build a relationship without having to start from scratch asking the same questions because you haven’t connected with a person for a while. For example, if you met a person that has a couple of kids and you learn their names, it leaves a lasting impact when next time you talk you can ask how they’re doing BY NAME. Another example, is if you found out you and one of your contacts grew up in the same neighborhood, it shouldn’t be a pleasant surprise every time you rediscover this fact. You might even use it as a lead-in as an excuse to reach out to this contact. “I was back in X mutual town and it reminded of the first conversation we had so I wanted to reach out to you…” The practical uses of this feature are endless.
Reminder -a place to set time for when you want to follow-up with people
If you’re anything like me, you always have good intentions to follow-up with people but life and work get in the way. Next think you know, 18 months have passed and you feel like it might be awkward reconnecting with people. First, don’t feel awkward. If you made a genuine connection and re-engage people without hitting them up for a job, asking them to invest in your new start-up, or pressing them to buy your new and improved t-shirt or whatever it is you’re selling, then they likely will be happen to hear from you and catch up. With how crazy your life is though, it’s good to have a little help.
LinkedIn reminders offers four options: 1) in 1 day 2) in 1 week 3) in 1 month 4) recurring, and you can set the recurring reminder to be weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. Whether you use this reminder tool or Siri or some other more traditional tool (post-it note anyone?), adding formal structure to how you interact with your LinkedIn network will improve your success at staying in touch and increase the depths of those relationships. Should there be an opportunity that comes up on their end you’ll be front of mind and should you need to ask for a favor, the odds of getting a yes will be much higher.
How you met – dedicate space to enter of where/how you met this individual
This one is pretty straight forward, if you met at a conference in Chicago or NYC at a training or conference, make a note of it here. For example, I’m attending the 10-year celebration of an organization I hold close to my heart (MLT) in May, where I’ll meet a lot of great people. When we connect on LinkedIn the note will be short and sweet (MLT 10-yr in NYC) and will instantly bring back how we got in touch and a little reminder of a mutual interest we share. You could also have this information in the Notes section.
Tag – information captured in the invite to connect
I’m sure you noticed this by now but just in case you glossed over this minor detail, every time you send an invite to connect with someone on LinkedIn it asks how you know the person. You can input colleague at PwC or colleague at Pepsi, for example, and in the screen up above both would show up under the colleague tag by default. LinkedIn does give you the option to manage tags here in case you want more granularity. I could see a scenario where you may want to have tags for colleagues at each company you worked with instead of grouping them into one generic colleague group.
How long you’ve been connected – displays how long ago you connected on LinkedIn
Knowing how long you’ve been connected in and of itself doesn’t give you much to work with it but if you combine that with the information you have in the notes, again it could be an interesting conversation starter. “Can you believe it’s been 10yrs since we met at Z conference?!” This, like tags, is there so you don’t have to go digging for the information in case you ever want it, but this won’t be something you expect to get tons of insight from without additional context from referring to the Notes or How You Met sections.
To be clear, LinkedIn hasn’t reinvented the wheel here – they’ve just added their own spin to give you a another option to go about executing on your contact management strategy. In the past, I’ve used Google Docs or Excel to track this information and included follow-up dates in the comments – no automated update function but it worked fairly well. Even if you decide to have LinkedIn be your primary method for staying in touch with you professional network, you still may need to do some sort of offline document since (believe it or not) there are still some people who aren’t LinkedIn users who you want to stay in touch with. There really shouldn’t be (talk about that here)….but there are. Act accordingly based on the people in your network.
So what do you think about the new update? Will it get you to log into LinkedIn more frequently? Do you think it’ll help you stay in touch with your professional network? Let me know in the comments!