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Having gone to a number of business meetings and kept a number of business cards from individuals from each meeting I’ve attended I recently found that business cards have now become old news with the advent of social media, specifically LinkedIn.

Days gone past. In the olden days you handed out business cards to those you met and kept theirs in a Rolodex file so you could look them up later and call or send them a letter. Then, as the computer age came upon us we transitioned from the Rolodex to contact databases, or even the more advanced CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. It took you time to enter in each contact’s information, but once it was entered you could use it in a number of ways.

There is one issue with the old business card “technology” that hindered you that with social media this has no longer become an issue.

If your contact leaves for something or somewhere else, such as a new position on a new city, your contacts business card information is now outdated. If you’re not in the habit of keeping your contact file up-to-date regular basis you just might lose your connection and relationship. Lost to time and/or distance.

LinkedIn changes that.

LinkedIn Tips. LinkedIn is your professional “resume” for those that are interested in connecting. While most use it as such, others have not gotten the professional memo and used it as such. Here is what helps you and me using LinkedIn:

  • Have a good picture, not one of those “artsy half faced” ones that I can’t tell who you are if I meet you in person
  • Have the company that you work for and previous work experience. Notice I said work, including your volunteer experience or other connections. I want to know who you are. People can download your resume in PDF or Word formats.
  • Share your LinkedIn URL with your other social media, blog, or favorite sites. Check out https://developer.linkedin.com/plugins for more info.
  • Get the LinkedIn widget for your Mac http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/search/linkedinsearchwidget.html
  • See what you LinkedIn connections look like in a map http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com
  • Job seekers can use Jobs Insider http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=jobsinsider_download
  • Join LinkedIn Groups so that I can see what you are interested in. You’d be surprised at what new careers, joint ventures, or additional revenue streams can come from it.
  • Customer Only versus Connection, if you see me only as a customer for your services I’ll disconnect you, I’m looking for relationships that can be win/win.
  • Update your profile regularly
  • Reciprocate, or at least say thank you, because I’ll definitely remember you in the future when you do.

So, how does LinkedIn help me today and what is my workflow?

LinkedIn Workflow Results. I still attend meetings or networking events and still handout business cards to others to keep connected, but it’s what I do after getting the business card that has changed for me.

Today, once I receive a business card instead of heading to my personal address book I now head straight to LinkedIn and enter in the person’s name and hopefully connect professionally with them

If we connect, we are now connections for “life” and I’ll always know where you are and what you’re doing professionally. No longer will I “lose” our connection or friendship because you’ve moved to another city or taken new position or doing something totally different in your life. I can also check in occasionally to see what you’ve been doing and how we might be able to make some money together.

This “permanent” connection via LinkedIn becomes especially important when I’m looking for specific skills or I want to pass along a referral to someone, I can look you up and introduce you to someone, like I did recently for someone that was “looking for new challenges,” or you could introduce me to someone, just like I was introduced to someone by a Mac friend.

This professional digital connection versus business cards is much more meaningful going forward.

So, once I’ve added you to my LinkedIn list, I can now throw away your temporary business card, but a more permanent relationship exists now with LinkedIn and going well into the future.

Click on the LinkedIn icon in the upper right corner, and thanks for connecting.

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