Are You LinkedIn ?

If you haven't heard of LinkedIn, it's definitely something you should look into. LinkedIn is a networking website where you place a profile and make online profile connections with other members you know.

Why network online? It's a great resource. For example when a vendor now calls me pitching his product I will often do a quick check via LinkedIn. If nobody recommends him, well chances are not even his own mother is proud of his work. On the other hand, if I find that many people call this guy an invaluable resource, then I tend to trust him a bit more. Even better, if I find that someone in my extended network knows this guy, I'll email my contact quick question about this guy's skill set.

How big is my network? Well I've made 21 Linked In connections over the past year or so and my 21 connections have created an extended network of 4100, and if you add in another level of contacts it extends out to 394,400. So you can see that my tiny little 21 connections quickly expand my reach quite well.

LinkedIn really facilitates in-person networking via an online search able interface. It's easy to use and IT'S FREE. As you collect business cards from chamber of commerce events, you rarely know anything more than an name and a title. In LinkedIn you can post your background and qualifications, even a work history. I often will type in names from business cards and find people with linked in profiles and usually learn much more about them quite quickly. People know as little or as much as you want them to know. During in person events you might be surprised to find out that if you ask people if they're LinkedIn how many will say yes.

In today's marketplace it's important to know who you're doing business with, and in the cruise business referrals are gold. Good online networking can overcome the credibility gap and help you build referrals like nothing else - so market yourself using a full and complete profile, and collect real world contacts that connect your online life with real people. If someone has provided you good service, recommend them - you'll find others within their network will also want to try your services.
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