Sara Cunha Rego, Director of Hosting and Domain Products at UK2, gives you the keys to the internet’s most powerful professional network.
How do you use LinkedIn?
I use LinkedIn, essentially, in exactly the same way that I use Facebook. The only difference is everything on my LinkedIn network is professional information. I search for companies in my industry and I find people within those companies who are good and do exactly the same as I do, as the information they can provide is very valuable. It will be related to the business and our industry, so I can keep an eye on them.
It’s more personal than a Google tracker, as you know first-hand what is happening.
Before I contact a supplier for a certain product I’ll check them out on LinkedIn. If they’re not on LinkedIn I won’t contact them, as I’ll have no reference to who they are or what they’ve done. It goes beyond a company’s website; I can check out an individual person.
What experience does this person have? What can they bring to me?
You get a reflection of their professional personality.
How often do you use it?
Every day. First thing in the morning I go on my email, I go on LinkedIn and then I go on Facebook and Google +.
What are some of the big advantages of LinkedIn?
People really don’t take advantage of the connections. We’re based in London, but most hosting companies are based in other places. If I was only to work with companies based in the UK, our experience would be limited to one small area. Using LinkedIn I can collaborate with professionals in America, Europe, Asia and their experience is going to be so different, and most of what they are going to bring in will be really positive.
For example, I had a meeting recently with a company regarding apps. The man I spoke with was based in France, and has worked in telecoms companies all over Europe. He’s going to bring experience we need and experience of how other countries and companies work. That was discovered and arranged all through LinkedIn.
It is a tool for contacting other companies which can provide you with products and services, but it’s about being active, not passive.
What advice would you give on how to use LinkedIn?
It’s more a case of how you want to be known. You’re known to your friends on Facebook. But for the world to know your professional self you need to use and engage with LinkedIn in the correct way. For example, don’t fill your feed with spam. I knew a man who had a very good profile and had a really interesting product, but he’d post the same information 4 or 5 times a day.
So when I logged on to the homepage where all my feeds are, using Pulse, I was just bombarded with his information. Therefore I deleted him from my connections.
Pulse is a feature which allows you to choose which newsfeeds you subscribe to. It’s better than picking up a paper as I don’t want to know everything going on in the world, just in my chosen areas. Also I can see the opinions and comments left by my chosen LinkedIn connection, many of whom I consider high-end members of their respective fields. From that, I can get an idea of what’s going to happen with a certain subject and start to follow trends.
You also have access to influential people. I’m following Richard Branson, for example, so anything which is happening with Virgin Media or any of the Virgin companies I always know what’s happening and what he says. You get to know how these guys think and how they’re positioning themselves.
What makes a really good LinkedIn profile?
For me, it’s experience. I add someone because I consider their experience to be interesting and important. I expect them to know things that I don’t.
LinkedIn is your CV. I can understand that someone has a poor CV, because they might be just starting out, but you can still give your “personal brand” some looking into. It’s all based on work experience, and how someone positions themselves. When someone is not concerned with the professional image they are giving out to the world then they’re making a poor image of themselves. You need to invest time in yourself and presenting properly your experience.
I began looking for companies based in areas which are technology hubs, the most obvious being Silicon Valley, and from there I’m able to find up-and-coming brands and start-ups with ideas for new collaborations. I can background check, compare, review and add them all on LinkedIn.
What can companies do with LinkedIn?
Companies can do a lot more with a LinkedIn profile.
They need to be uploading relevant blog articles and entice people to follow the company. You have to make what you are doing interesting and worth following. You also have to make sure employees are liking and sharing the uploaded material.
You need to create that official voice and make what you are doing interesting to people. Also bear in mind that it’s not all about huge followings.
Remember that LinkedIn is focused and institutional. Keep the jokes and funny stuff on Facebook and Google+. I’m not interested in seeing that, so I unfollow when I see a person posting things like that.
The somewhat exclusivity of LinkedIn, the fact that you can’t just add anyone, may turn some people away. But that’s why I like it. I know I’m not just going to be added by anyone. Anyone who adds me comes through someone I know or who has made the effort to find me.
For the most part everything is professional, and there are massive opportunities there if you take them.