Interview with “LinkedInExpert” Viveka von Rosen

Viveka von Rosen is know internationally as the “LinkedInExpert.” Rosen regularly speaks and trains professionals about using LinkedIn as a tool to help expand networking opportunities and achieve success. Rosen spoke with WashingtonExec this week to discuss LinkedIn and how to use it to its fullest potential.

WashingtonExec: You have over 500+ connections on LinkedIn. How long did it take you to build your LinkedIn account?

Viveka von Rosen: It took me a few months to grow my network to 500+.  I had a big mailing list and invited everyone to connect because I was so excited about LinkedIn’s possibilities.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know about LinkedIn’s 3000 invitation limit, so of the 1400 people I originally invited in 2005, only 286 accepted, wasting over a third of my invitations in one fell swoop!  In 2007 I had to create a new account (I broke one of LinkedIn’s EUA inadvertently and they shut me down) and this time I was much more careful with the invitations I sent out – only inviting those folks I knew were already on LinkedIn.  Since then, with the rare exception, I only invite LinkedIn members to connect with me directly.

WashingtonExec: All because you connect with a lot of people doesn’t mean they all necessarily trust or appreciate you. How can you make your network really feel like you value your connections?

Viveka von Rosen: I certainly don’t know all of my connections. When someone asks for an introduction, I will let them know if the person they want to connect to is actually known to me or not, and give them the choice of choosing another person to forward their introduction request.

As for me, I just try and provide useful information in my updates, to my groups and in answers.  If I find an interesting article (even if it’s a “competitors”) I will post it. Of course I also share my own blog posts and events with people.  I try not to update more than a few times a week. I also don’t think you should feed all of your tweets to LinkedIn – it’s a different culture.

Another word of advice to clients is don’t do anything on LinkedIn you wouldn’t do in a live networking event.

WashingtonExec: What can you do to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rank on LinkedIn?

Viveka von Rosen: Use your keywords in these four areas:

  • Professional Headline (120 characters)
  • Experience section – Title (100 Characters)
  • Specialties Sections – (500 Characters)
  • Interests – (750 Characters)

On LinkedIn, for right now at least, the more times you say something about yourself, the truer it becomes. Getting recommendations really helps also.

WashingtonExec: What’s the biggest mistake someone can make on LinkedIn?

Viveka von Rosen: I will give three big mistakes I see.  The first is using LinkedIn to spam your connections.  Build relationships, be helpful and then let the job or work requests come to you. Second, don’t put anything in the LinkedIn’s fields that are not supposed to be there.  I put “LinkedIn Expert” in my last name filed and that is what got my account blacklisted to the point where I didn’t show up in any searches.  I ended up having to create a new account. Third, don’t feed all your tweets to LinkedIn’s updates.  Be selective. Too much can be annoying.

WashingtonExec: When you visit someone’s Linkedin page for the first time, what is the first thing you look for?

Viveka von Rosen: This is what I quickly look for:

  • Do they have a picture? I don’t connect with people who have a logo rather than a picture.
  • How many connections do they have? Are they actually using LinkedIn?  Less than 30 connections indicates they are not.
  • How many recommendations do they have?  Is this someone I want to work with?
  • Have they customized their public profile URL? This is just a pet peeve of mine.

WashingtonExec: Which is worse and why? A company who has a great website but no social media pages or a company that has great social media pages but no website?

Viveka von Rosen: It truly depends on the company.  There are some industries that aren’t going to do well on LinkedIn either because their target clients, vendors and employees aren’t there, or because there are so many compliance rules and regulations that they are locked down.  So those folks need a website.

On the other hand, there are some people who will find with a healthy LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profile, they might be able to forego a website.  Social Media is a great leveler because a solopreneur can have as good a LinkedIn profile, Twitter page or Facebook Page as a Fortune 500 CEO – and in fact might even attract more work to themselves through it because they are willing to put the time and effort into SoMe that it takes to build the relationships needed to engender the trust resulting in more business.

WashingtonExec: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Viveka von Rosen: Don’t be afraid to reach out.  For whatever reason, social media as a channel for communications is more open (at least at first) than phone or email.  I have reached out to some of the influencers in my world, and they have not only responded but become mentors, friends and evangelists for me.  I would absolutely not have the publicity, reputation or positioning I have today if it wasn’t for the kind words of encouragement and public referrals these folks have gave me.  Just ask.  The worst they can do is ignore you or say no.  Or you can establish a relationship that changes your life.


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