Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to use LinkedIn Productively

There are many online social networking sites available to you to increase your network. One of my favourites is LinkedIn. It is predominately a professional site that is used primarily for business connections unlike other sites that are more fun and informal including Facebook and

If you want to increase your network, boost your productivity and develop your business you can achieve this by getting familiar with LinkedIn (LI) and using this in your everyday interactions.

Set it up – if you are not already on LI, log onto and create a free account. Take the time to create a profile for others to view then you are all set up. This is like your online resume.

Spend 15 minutes per day – when you initially set up your account, dedicate 15 minutes per day for 2 weeks to get your profile established, learn the different functionality of the site and invite others to be connected to you.

Expand your network – you can easily build an online ‘rolodex’ by inviting people you want to be connected to can help increase your network. This invitation is emailed to them and they can accept your request.

Use Outlook – LI has the ability to search your outlook contacts against those people in LI, use this facility to quickly build your connections.

Reach out – LI is a fantastic tool to reach out to previous employees or business connections you have enjoyed working with previously.

Use the search facility – if you want to find out if someone is already a user simply use the search function on your home page, type in their name and the system will advise you if they are linked. If so, you can send them an invitation to join your network.

Ask others to introduce you – LI gives you the ability to see your connection’s network so if there is someone you have wanted to meet, you can ask your direct connection to make an introduction for you.

Connect others - Many people frequently ask me to make introductions to people in my network and I am happy to make a ‘warm’ introduction for them. LI is an easy way to do this.

Break the ice – LI is an easy way to find out information about someone before you contact them and also gives you conversation topics when you do connect. You might notice they serve on a Board you are interested in or studied at a school you also attended. You can find common ground in some profiles.

Showcase your connections – LI shows the people and companies you are associated with and helps other see who you have done business with.

Collect testimonials – LI is an effective way to collect testimonials from those in your network. These are then displayed on your profile. It might take someone weeks (or months) to write a testimonial for you on their company letterhead however inviting them to provide a brief testimonial for you on LI is efficient and quick for them. I have found 99% of people I ask to do this are happy to do it.

Provide testimonials – when you have established a network of people make sure you also provide testimonials. It is a nice surprise for people to receive an unsolicitored testimonial from you in their email inbox. Once you create the testimonial it sends an email to the person asking if they want to show the testimonial on their site. I do this regularly and always get a great response from people. Quite often when you write a testimonial for someone they kindly reciprocate too.

Be a subject matter expert – there is a section of LI that allows people to ask questions, you can provide your expertise to those questions and position yourself as a SME.

Review history – LI is an informative research tool if you want to investigate someone’s history of work or college related activities. i.e. Alumni or Boards of Directors they serve on.

Announce news – provide information of case wins, publish press releases and share your good news with your network using LI.

Up to date – most people are more likely to keep their LI profile up to date when they change roles or companies (however they may not send you their new email or company information) – LI is up often more up to date.

Research tool – use LI to pose a question to selected people in your network for research. I use this frequently and people take the time to respond as it appears as an email in their inbox and allows them to provide a quick response.

Dinner dates – if you are going to be in a city on business you can notify people in your network and reconnect with them for a coffee or meal.

Increased web presence – although you may already have your own website, LI provides another opportunity for people to access information about you and also increases your search in Google.

Invest – LI allows you to grow your connections before you need them. If you find yourself looking for a new job; having an established network allows you to reach out to them when you need it.

Introduce yourself – occasionally you may see someone you have wanted to connect with that is connected to someone in your network. You might like to reach out to that person directly via LI and ask them to be connected to you.

LinkedIn is a great business tool. It requires an investment of your time to establish it and maintain it but once you begin using it you will find it can greatly increase your opportunities for connections, new business and building stronger relationships – so log on now!

Neen James, MBA, is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how women they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps women to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice (Aussie accent), sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more and subscribe to Neen’s free monthly e-zine at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Productive Phone Etiquette

You may remember a time before there were cell phones…a time when communications within organizations was more controlled and within business hours. Cell phones have created an ‘open all hours’ mentality for business (and pleasure). People now assume they can reach you at all hours and we have become dependent on the flexibility they give us.

There once was a time we had to schedule, plan, co-ordinate and know our way to a meeting or luncheon. Cell phones have now become a major distractor as we use them for phone conversations, receiving email and texting. I often see people in meetings not paying attention (checking their blackberry), couples at dinner (looking under the table at their phones for text and email) and parents supposedly playing with their kids or watching them play sport (while checking their messages). It is time to master phone etiquette, be fully present in conversations and stand out in the crowd.

Just ask. When my cell phone rings the first question I ask my caller is “how can I help you today?’ This simple, but polite question ensures they get right to the point, avoids chit chat, and ensures we are not spending too much time on the phone. If the caller is in for a long chat I suggest another time we can connect. Try this simple question and see if you spend less (not more) time on your cell phone.

Be present. If you are on the phone with a caller, give them your undivided attention. Too often we proudly ‘multi-task’ and don’t fully tune into conversations. This wastes time, kills productivity and causes us to miss important facts, ask for information to be restated and we can also miss ‘reading between the lines’ in conversations. Be fully present in your cell phone conversations.

Your voicemail. Create an informative voicemail message that provides callers with information about you and when you will get back to them. You might simply include your name, business name, contact details and/or website. Where possible try to record the message yourself so your callers hear your voice when they phone, instead of an automated voice message.

Size matters. Be considerate when leaving voicemails. This is not a time to tell a long and detailed story. It is the perfect opportunity to provide the facts about why you called, what you need and when they can get back to you.

Clear out. Daily check your voicemail messages and ensure you clear out all messages and return them within 24 hours wherever possible.

Reply quickly. Because of its immediacy, people expect fast replies to their voicemails. A response within 24-hours is probably as long as most people would consider appropriate. If you are unable to answer within 24 hours ensure your outgoing message tells callers when you will get back to them.

Watch your tone. Business communications used to all share a fairly dull, formal tone of voice however voicemail is more informal and conversational. It does allow for a more casual and personal approach. Ensure you always use a greeting (‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good afternoon’ are probably more common ) and a sign off (‘looking forward to hearing from you’ or ‘ have a great day’).

Don’t answer. There are times when a cell phone should be switched to silent mode or completely turned off including the movies, meetings, meals in public places, church, temple and funerals. It is also inappropriate to answer in the bathroom (not to mention unhygienic!). Voicemail is a great resource for these times when you are unable to answer your phone.

Ask permission. When you are phoning someone on their cell phone inquire if this is a good time to talk. This simple question will allow them to respond and ensure you have a productive conversation. If it is not convenient to chat they can then suggest an alternative time.

Open hours. Common etiquette used to state you should never call someone before 9.00 am and after 9.00 pm. While business may open earlier than 9.00 am, this is a good standard to adhere to. Unless your know your colleague or client is an early riser it is best to wait until 9.00 am to call and to avoid ever calling clients after 9.00 pm at night.

Out of office. Just like an email ‘Out of Office’, if you are going to be unable to respond to voicemails within your usual timeframe, this might be because you are away or you need some quiet time, advise callers when they can expect to hear from you.

Remember cells phones are a fabulous tool if used productively and with sensitivity for those around you.

Neen is an International Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice, sense of fun and common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more at