There was a time when nefarious sorts could fire up their mobile in a busy place and send unsolicited messages to any hapless punter not smart enough to switch their own phone to not receive unsolicited Bluetooth connections – a process known as Bluejacking.
Mostly harmless, it was a way of making people take their own phones out of their pocket and look around in a puzzled fashion over what was happening – useful entertainment in a boring theatre or a packed train carriage. Mobile platforms stopped leaving these things on by default – booo – but it’s probably for the best.
Still, the more modern way of dishing out business cards – LinkedIn – has another way to harness the same basic technology for good. ToW #461 discussed the QR-code method of sharing a LinkedIn profile with someone, and it’s a great way of doing it 1:1, by pointing a camera at someone else’s phone to make the connection with them.
But there is another way that is perhaps more useful when dealing with several people at once – a networking meeting with people you don’t know, or a business gathering where you might be communing with several new people at one time. Or a party. If you’re at a pretty sad party.
If you start the LinkedIn app on your phone and tap the My Network icon on the bottom toolbar, you’ll see the Find nearby option, which allows you to see anyone else in the vicinity who has similarly switched on the same feature. On enabling, you may need to turn on Bluetooth and then separately allow the sharing of data, and of the LinkedIn app to use it.
You’ll see a list of who’s in the vicinity and with a single tap, can connect with them on LinkedIn. Make sure you remember to turn it off again, in case you inadvertently show up on some unknown ne’er-do-well’s phone, as the Nearby functionality can continue even when you leave that page.
But it you’re careful, it’s a great way to mutually share contacts with a group of people. See more here.
Lots of professional types rely on LinkedIn – sales professionals, recruitment professionals, people looking for business – it’s a great platform. There’s a load of advice out there on how to compose your profile properly (as it’s really a modern version of your CV or resumé), even down to how to pose for the best photo (one school of thought says since LinkedIn shows your mugshot on the left of the page, then you should face to the right, so it doesn’t look like you’re turning away from your own page…)
Philosophically, you have a decision to make on whether or not you accept unsolicited requests. On one hand, why not accept a request from someone who has looked you up and may one day be a useful contact; on the other, why clutter your network with people you don’t know and maybe have never even met?
Also, should you clean and prune your contact list? Got some free time over Christmas and can’t face another mince pie…? Why not go through your LinkedIn network and if you can’t remember the last time you met that person, delete them… Season of goodwill and all that.
Here’s a tip that may make your life a little easier when you do meet someone and want to exchange professional details – at a cocktail party, for example. Instead of the 20th century method of giving out little bits of dead tree with rapidly out-of-date contact info/job titles etc, swap contacts using LinkedIn but in real time rather than after the meeting.
First, make sure you have the latest version of the LinkedIn mobile app and that you have it set up with your login. Now, if you look at the top of the LinkedIn home screen, you’ll see a strange little symbol on the right-hand edge of the search box – this is supposed to look like a QR code.
If you flick to the “My Code” tab, LinkedIn will show you the QR code that it has generated just for you, along with options to export and save the code for use elsewhere (like put it on your business card… oh, wait…)
So, the ideal workflow is that if you want to exchange a connection with someone quickly, then one of you goes into My Code, the other into Scan, and the rest is a matter of waving your phone over theirs and hitting the connect button. Not exactly rocket science, is it?
LinkedIn has been going for over 11 years and has resurged in user base and usefulness after seemingly getting really popular initially, and then fading a bit (remember Friends Reunited, anyone? – somebody should come up with FiendsReunited.com, though there are many such strange things already on the internet).
LinkedIn has so many uses if you’re looking for details of someone you’re due to meet – maybe you’ll spot a common interest or people you both know, that can help build rapport during the first meeting. It’s even useful to get an idea of what the person looks like, with only a small proportion of idiots on LinkedIn putting pictures of their baby/dog/car/bike/etc as their profile picture. If only the same could be said of the internally-published Outlook Contact Card pictures…
ToW #192 covered LinkedIn a little but it’s worth revisiting the really slick integration to Outlook, as it’s not enabled by default and since most of the ToW readers will be on LinkedIn, it’s worth setting it up. Especially useful when you get LinkedIn requests from colleagues – maybe a sign that they’re soon-to-be-ex-colleagues, so it’s worth having their details easily to hand should you need to keep in touch with them in future.
When you have the Outlook Social Connector set up with LinkedIn (it’s built into Outlook 2013 so you don’t need to go and download anything – older versions can get it from http://linkedin.com/outlook), then Outlook will download useful info for you when it recognises someone’s email address on the LI network. Here’s an example before it’s configured – click on the arrow to the right to expand the People Pane for more information. You may even get a notification at this point that LinkedIn is enabled but you need your password to continue.
Assuming it isn’t enabled yet, the next step is to go into the View tab, look under People Pane and check Account Settings. Tick the LinkedIn box if it’s not already configured, provide your credentials and bingo.
Once you’ve enabled the connector and assuming it’s going to allow download of photos and other info, then Outlook will create a new Contacts group in the People section (CTRL-3, remember?) and it’ll cache elements of your network’s contacts therein.
Without even restarting Outlook, you’ll see the same emails as before will have more details about external recipients – just hover over the person’s mugshot and you’ll see their details, and click on the down arrow within the contact summary to view their other information – such as phone number, if they’ve published that in LinkedIn and are allowing their network to see it.
LinkedIn may be the best business social network / recruiting shop window site out there, but don’t hold out much hope for LinkedIn: The Movie.
This week’s tip focuses on the power of LinkedIn. Some people use it as their system of managing customer and partner contacts. Some find new employment by schmoozing their network – some even use it as the launchpad for their next career.
Hands up who’s ever thought that a work colleague suddenly connecting with them, means that work colleague is a soon-to-be-ex one? Or been in the middle of a meeting and had a LinkedIn request from someone (external) who’s currently in the same room?
LinkedIn is undoubtedly a powerful business connection tool, and using it in Outlook makes it even more so. First step, if you haven’t done so already, is to enable the Social Connector. In the past, this was a separate addin to Outlook, but in 2010 was included (though you had to install each social network provider as a separate addin). Now in Outlook 2013, Facebook, LinkedIn and internal SharePoint services are all built in.
There was a recent issue with LinkedIn that could mean even if you had previously configured it to work with Outlook 2013, it may have broken – to check all is well, look at the bottom of the preview of an email (in the “People Pane”) from an external user who is in your LinkedIn network, and see if there is an error message, or if you’re seeing LinkedIn status messages. To ensure you have everything configured correctly, go into the View -> People Pane menu in Outlook, then click on Account Settings to ensure you have the correct username, password and options set.
Enter your own LinkedIn username & password, and if you also check the “by default, show photos…” option, then you’ll see the LinkedIn photo of any contact – external, or in fact internal too – within any emails etc that sit in Outlook.
An interesting point – if you look at any standard LinkedIn list of people, or of the individual profile of any one person, their photos are typically shown on the left side of any text. Since we mostly read text (in western cultures) from top left, and all the way down to the bottom right, this lends itself to preferring photos which are facing left-right, especially if placed on the left of the page; so it looks as if the individual is looking on approvingly of their own profile, rather than dismissively starting away from it. Thanks to Eileen Brown for pointing this out.
Try it as an experiment on Linkedin.com: look at all your own contacts, then open up a few who are facing left-> right and others facing right-> left, and see if you agree. Time to change your picture?
Anyway. LinkedIn contacts, once the Social Connector is configured, show up in a separate contacts group within Outlook’s People view – you can “Peek” by hovering the mouse over the People icon on the shortcut bar, and search details of contacts there, both those in your existing Outlook contacts list and those from LinkedIn. If you click on the People icon, you’ll see lists of Contacts that can be searched in or filtered as appropriate – so if your contacts in LinkedIn have allowed it, you can see email addresses and phone numbers within Outlook.
If you open up a LinkedIn contact and make a change – let’s say, added a mobile number that you’ve gleaned from their email – then Outlook will make that a copy of that contact in your own Contacts folder, and make the change there. Synchronisation of content from LinkedIn appears to be one-way – and if you get into creating custom fields and categories on LinkedIn itself, they might not synchronise at all. Best try a few experiments out before relying on information being available everywhere.
There are other ways of using, and benefitting from, LinkedIn integration – and we’ll explore some of these in a future Tip o’ the Week: how LinkedIn plugged in via your Microsoft Account can mean you can share info across Facebook, Twitter and other services, for example.
Careful though – It sometimes makes sense not to cross the streams of “work” and “life”. Like Monty Python said, “…don’t take out in public, or they’ll stick you in the dock, and you won’t come back.”