I started to learn to use LinkedIn because of a race challenge a work colleague had put in front of me. Being hideously competitive at times, I took it very seriously. Who could be the first one to 500+ connections?
Our self-imposed rules stated that the connections had to be genuine colleagues; you had to know them and be able to recommend them to someone else. The worst part was he was already at 55 and I was on stone cold zero. It was an oblique method to quantify self for the two of us. Just like a fit bit or jawbone, we were quantifying an aspect of our impact on our professional environment. We didn’t read any books; we just sat and experimented with the platform. We talked about it and swapped tips. We watched each other closely.
My LinkedIn competitor and I are now both master networkers of the Australian biotechnology sector – that’s a key part of our jobs – thus it wasn’t hard to get to 500 connections so we upped it to 1000. Our timing was impeccable, because LinkedIn was only just starting to take off in Australian biotech circles and we were in front of the play. Within 6 months we became the LinkedIn ‘Experts’ of the sector and not long after earned the title of LinkedIn ‘All Star’s’. As a by-product of the challenge we had established ourselves as innovators by taking up the technology relatively early, we had reinforced our networking skills demonstrating we were the right people for our respective jobs.
We had mastered one of the new business development tools of our time almost overnight because it was a race and besides we had done ourselves a huge service by investing in our own profile. Without knowing it we were sticking to rule number 1 of LinkedIn – make your links genuine.