Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How To Use LinkedIn Professionally

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LinkedInLinkedIn can get lost in the social media network discussion. Yes, it’s not the firehose of updates Twitter is and there are no baby pictures a la Facebook. But there is value. For me, it’s hardly ever related to an update posted by somebody. Though, I do like to know when friends or acquaintances have switched jobs.

There are a few ways I use LinkedIn…

Stay connected to people

I use LinkedIn similarly to how I used to use a Rolodex 10 years ago. It’s my address book of connections. When I meet somebody new and they give me their business card, I will typically look them up on LinkedIn, thank them for meeting/the great discussion/etc. and ask them if they want to connect.

It’s far easier, I think, to keep contacts in a structured way this way.

Finding subject matter experts in my network

“Structured” in this context to me means that I can search my network by people’s names, locations and by any keyword listed in profiles.

I remember when I was searching for somebody with background in a specific area. I was looking to connect with others to brainstorm content delivery ideas.

I logged into LinkedIn and searched for “content.” LinkedIn showed me everyone in my extended network who used the term in their profiles – even second-degree (and perhaps third-degree) connections. I could sort the results by LinkedIn’s definition of relevance or relationship to me.

I could review the results and contact the people I thought might be interested in joining the discussion.

I used this same concept when I was trying to learn more about a local company. Searching for its name allowed me to find connections who work or had worked there.

Searching like this couldn’t easily be done in a Rolodex. Nobody lists all their areas of expertise on their business card or their previous employers!

That person knows who?

LinkedIn is also a great way to see who knows who. LinkedIn has strict rules that say you aren’t supposed to try to connect with people you don’t know. If a certain amount of people report that they don’t know you after your request to connect, your account could be limited or even suspended.

Oftentimes, however, you can still see other people’s profile – whether you are directly connected to them or not. That allows you to see whom they are connected to in your direct network.

That allows you to contact your direct connection, for example, if you are trying to get more information. You might also decide to ask your direct connection to introduce you.


Recommendations are written by others for specific jobs that you have listed on your profile. They take effort by the other person and are tremendously helpful. They also offer a glimpse into what the other person thinks is your strength. Even if you thought they’d mention something else in their recommendation, what’s there to worry about? These are usually positive.

When somebody recommends me, I send them a thank you note and sometimes write a recommendation for them. I would caution from writing one as soon as you publish theirs. That could look like you are just exchanging recommendations.

I sometimes have asked specific people for recommendations. Usually, this is triggered by an online or offline exchange. For example, if somebody mentions publicly how they liked something I’ve done, I might ask them for a LinkedIn recommendation. But, I always make sure to let them know that I would understand if they rather not. It’s a fairly public act!

Just because somebody asks for a recommendation doesn’t mean they are necessarily looking for a job. It might just mean that they like keeping their profiles updated.

I write recommendations for others when I really appreciate something that they have done while in a specific position. The more specific the recommendation the better. “So and so is a good worker,” for example, doesn’t tell us much about why he is a good worker.

Recommendations are a nice way to document publicly the good things going on in our professional lives.

Thank you again to everyone who has taken to time to recommend me!


Endorsements don’t take as much time for the other person as recommendations. People can click on your specific skills and endorse the skills that you have listed with your profile. When people endorse me for specific skills I also send them a thank you note. They don’t have to endorse me.

Finally, it’s a great way to see what your network in aggregate thinks your main strengths are. For example, social media marketing has ranked No. 1 for me for a while now. In essence the people who endorsed that skill also voted that to be my No. 1 skill.

Other networks

LinkedIn gives you the option to list a link to your blog, Twitter account, company website and list other contact information.

I find it helpful to keep this updated (then people can use it to get in touch with me) and I use this frequently to follow people on Twitter, check out and subscribe to their blog.

Final thoughts

LinkedIn has become my 2013 Rolodex. Yes, I do use Facebook in a similar fashion, but not all professional contacts want to connect on Facebook, which is still seen as more of a personal network. I do send professional messages on Facebook with some connections. But this is about LinkedIn…

LinkedIn is a good network to connect with friends, acquaintances and professional contacts. It’s also great to see what people are good at (check out their endorsements) and where people have worked. It’s also great to keep up-to-date on people’s careers.

Are we LinkedIn?

Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life! Some articles may include affiliate links.

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph 319-389-9853

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