Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success

I recently was provided an evaluation copy of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success by Wayne Breitbarth. I expected to find the book most helpful for those who are not yet fully engaged on LinkedIn, and that is, in fact, the case. That said, the book encouraged me--an experienced social media professional--to consider some LinkedIn features and applications more deeply and make a few tweaks to my own LinkedIn profile. I think most professionals will find something helpful to take away from this book.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the way it explores who you should or should not connect with on LinkedIn. I do it wrong, according to Breitbarth. My strategy has been to connect with people on LinkedIn who I have met professionally either online or in real life; in this way, LinkedIn acts as my cloud-based address book.

"LinkedIn Success" posits that connecting with people you know weakly has a cost, diminishing the value of the network; instead, it recommends you connect only with the people you trust and would recommend. In this way, you can have confidence in your ability make trusted recommendations and introductions between any of your connections, and (of course) you hope the same is true for all of your connections' connections.

Breitbarth does allow for other use cases, such as recruiters who can benefit from amassing tens of thousands of professional connections. After reading "LinkedIn Success," my impression of my own connecting strategy did not change that much, because I believe different strategies can work for different people. Even though I am not altering my approach to LinkedIn, I appreciate that "LinkedIn Success" encouraged me to consider my goals and strategies, and I think others may get value from the book's thoughtful approach to this topic.

The book primarily focuses on the value of building out your professional profile as completely as possible. It contains many good ideas, such as taking the time to review the profiles of your competitors for good (and bad) ideas. "LinkedIn Success" also advises you to take full advantage of every available character in the summary section and offers guidance on the appropriate tone and format.

Breitbarth also encourages people to do something that many find difficult--ask for recommendations. He says, "If you are hesitant to go about getting recommendations, let me ask you this question: Aren't you any good?" If you are--and trust me, you are--then your LinkedIn profile should convey this through the testimonials of others.

After reading "LinkedIn Success," I was encouraged to make a few tweaks to my own profile. For example, I had neglected to add the "Events" application to my profile, which is a silly oversight that decreases opportunities to meet others at upcoming events and demonstrate my professional activities at past events. I also added the Box application to my LinkedIn profile as a way of conveying some interesting white papers and documents that I find worthwhile. In short, even though I was pretty darn sure I knew my way around LinkedIn, the book sparked some awareness and action on my part, which I guess says more about the book than any opinion I may convey.

"The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success" has one major shortfall: Despite the fact it is subtitled, "Kick-start Your Business, Brand and Job Search," it gives virtually no advice to brands on how to succeed on LinkedIn.  Page after page is dedicated to the personal profile, the search functions, how to participate in groups and individual preference settings, but very little conveyed in "The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success" will help brands understand how to create value on the platform.  This is a book that may help you polish your social resume, find a job or gain reputation, but it will do little to help your company navigate its way through LinkedIn.

If you are just getting started or have always suspected you are not getting what you should from your personal efforts on LinkedIn, I recommend Breitbarth's book. Heck, even if you feel you are a power user, you may find that "LinkedIn Success" provides you a few more tips to build out your LinkedIn presence.  You can purchase "The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success" for Kindle and paperback on Amazon. 

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