Now you can do this on a professional level as LinkedIn has introduced a neat web-based app called How Do You Match Up? It’s a visual snapshot of information and resources on how you compare to peers in your field. It is sponsored content from Samsung, but it’s pretty cool.
The tool compares your work experience and LinkedIn connections. It lists articles your peers read and the people they follow. Refer to the image to see what a comparison looks like. As you can see, it compares me to other marketing leaders showing that my experience lines up. It’s nice to see that my profile has more recommendations than the average marketing leader.
I heard about a quirk to keep in mind – a colleague reports that her match up says she only has a certificate while a fellow leader has a bachelor’s degree. She has a bachelor’s degree, but she obtained a certificate after receiving the degree. That’s why it doesn’t show up.
Although the diversity of my network dwarfs in comparison to others, it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve worked in a few similar industries for most of my career. Besides, 35 industries is nothing to sneeze at. Who can name 100 industries? Or 30?
The selection of articles and groups proves disappointing. It’s generic enough that it could apply to all industries and fields with stories like:
“How Successful People Stay Calm.”
“The Three-Word Problem That Can Destroy Your Life.”
“What Predicts Success? It’s Not Your IQ.”
How do the Groups fare? For marketing, I get Harvard Business Review, Job Seeker Premium and Digital Marketing.
I bet you’ve worked in multiple fields. You can change this in one click. However, there are only minor differences in the list of Groups. Only the last group changes when I switch from marketing to IT. The list of most followed LinkedIn influencers doesn’t change.
If I change the fields enough times, one or two names change. Some of the influencers I see are Richard Branson, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Jack Welch, Ariana Huffington and Deepak Chopra.
The last part of the page contains a couple of articles on work-life balance, a poll and asks you to share a tip on how you manage work-life balance. You can subscribe to receive biweekly updates.
Although it won’t reveal anything earthshaking, LinkedIn’s how you match up tool takes only a few minutes of your time. You might pick up a little insight about your experience and get ideas of where you stand among your peers.
How do you match up?
This is not a yet-another-post on free Twitter tools. This one lists just eight lesser known free tools offering enough features on the free version to be worth using. (Who wants to check out 30 tools?) Furthermore, these tools accomplish different tasks, so you won’t have to decide between this and that. While some tools may overlap in functionality, they’re distinctive enough not to be viewed as having the same purpose.
Sonar Solo’s searchable real-time visual map of trends allows you to search topics to find friends and influencers for any subject. On the map, click a word or phrase to see related connections and tweets. Color codes identify hot trends in orange, positive sentiment in green and negative sentiment in red.
Swayy finds relevant content to share based on topics matched to your audience’s interest and engagement. If you share content from within the app, you can receive suggestions for hashtags and people to mention in the tweet. It also provides analytics for tweets.
Topsy is a real-time social web search engine that digs up recent and relevant tweets based on keywords. This creates a dashboard of the conversations based on the keywords to display the number of tweets and sentiment score. Results can be broken out by links, tweets, photos, videos and influencers.
Twitter lists organize or group the people you follow. However, it’s tedious to add and remove people from lists. Enter TweetBe.at for managing lists in bulk. Its clever tool can filter by many options, such as Klout score, number of follows and days since last tweet.
Countless articles provide advice on the best times to tweet. But experience reveals that the advice isn’t always right. A good place to start is with Tweriod, which analyzes up to 1,000 of your followers to tell you when your followers appear online most often.
Twitonomy’s eye-catching and well-organized visual dashboard displays Twitter analytics, such as tweet history, user-related stats and much more. Its customizable dashboard makes some of the reports available for downloading as a PDF or XLS file. The free version includes a surprising wealth of features to help you monitor Twitter activities and followers.
Twtrland’s insights help you better understand your influence and followers with visual snapshots. You can get influence metrics, top content, amplification and engagement analytics. The free account analyzes up to 5,000 followers and lists only top items.
Clear the cobwebs from your Twitter account with ManageFltter, a tool that simplifies unfollowing people and searching for new ones to follow. The interface can filter those who aren’t following back, have no profile image, aren’t in English or inactive. The free account allows you to unfollow up to 100 people per day.
Tell us about your favorite Twitter tool.
Importing email lists into LinkedIn to grow your connections is difficult at best. There’s no effective way to import a list and personalize a message to that list. We’ve tried it on several of our team members’ accounts, both free and premium.
Here we describe the process so you know what we’ve tried and doesn’t work. None of the routes lead to sending a personalized message to your email list.
Upload contact file fails
The biggest problem and disappointment is when you select “Any Email” to upload a file in.csv, .txt, or .vcf, it doesn’t work. If it did, it would make a big difference to growing your LinkedIn connections with email lists. This isn’t a temporary broken issue as we’ve seen reports dating back to 2013 with no resolution.
It doesn’t matter how you format the file or if you follow LinkedIn’s “Uploading Contacts File Didn’t Work” instructions. We went as far as exporting our LinkedIn connections as a .csv file. We erase all the information and copy/paste the first name, last name and email address from email list into that file.
We upload it and once again, the upload fails. The LinkedIn community gives advice we’ve already tried. None of the advice works.
A few reports claim that the import works despite the error. We could not find any of the names from the uploaded file in the Imported Contacts List.
Trying a workaround
In this workaround, we export our email list and import it into a web-based email service. While you can copy/paste email addresses to “Invite by individual email” as shown in the first image, LinkedIn won’t let you personalize the message. The service automatically sends them the generic connection request. That won’t do.
Here’s how we did the process in case you want to try it for other purposes. First, have your exported file of your email list ready to go. If you don’t have it yet, go ahead and export your email list from your email app or email marketing provider. Most provide instructions on how to do it. Here are instructions for Constant Contact, Gmail, Mail Chimp, Outlook, Outlook.com and YahooMail.
Important: Be sure you keep first and last names in separate columns. If the first and last names are in the same column, you’ll import email addresses without names.
Getting the names into LinkedIn
Select a web-based email service to use to import the addresses into LinkedIn. If you want to import email lists on a regular basis, you’ll want to create a brand new account that you can use for this process. This keeps things clean and prevents duplication. LinkedIn is supposed to recognize duplicates, it doesn’t always. The first two entries in our Imported Contacts List on LinkedIn are duplicates.
This example uses Yahoo! Mail. Since we don’t use Yahoo! Mail to for daily email activities, we delete all the contacts in that account before importing the email list. This ensures that LinkedIn only imports the new names from the email list.
In Yahoo! Mail, we imported the email list in a .csv file into Yahoo! contacts. (Contacts > Actions > Import > File Upload > Browse > (select .csv file) > Open > Import > View Contacts.) Success. One thing finally goes our way!
Now go to LinkedIn. Choose “Add Connections” from the Connections menu.
This takes you to the “See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn” page. Choose your web-based email service. Here, we select “Yahoo! Mail” and enter our yahoo email address. Select “Continue” to move on.
A popup appears requesting authorized access to Yahoo! Contacts. (If you’re not logged in Yahoo!, it’ll ask you to enter your login.)
Here, one of two things can happen.
One, you’ll see the “Congratulations, your previous contacts upload was successful” box. You can go ahead, choose “Add connection(s)” and “Add to network” to send an automated invitation unless you want to send a personalized invitation one-by-one.
The second thing that can happen is that LinkedIn asks you if you use other web-based email services. Ignore that and go to “Manage imported contacts.”
Manage imported contacts
Now we’re on the Imported Contacts page. The ones with the LinkedIn symbol have LinkedIn accounts. Those are the ones you want to target.
There’s a little bit of good news. We were already connected to a few people who attended the event where we collected names for this email list. Those names don’t show up in the Imported Contacts List. So no worries about sending an invitation to someone already connected to you.
To proceed with an invitation to connect, choose “Select all” and deselect anyone who doesn’t have the LinkedIn icon. Then select “Invite selected contacts” to send the LinkedIn invitation to connect. Now, if only LinkedIn would give us the option to personalize the message.
So if you have a long list of names, this gives you a way to send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn in bulk. But we’re big on personalization and prefer not to do this.
For the next email list
If you’re OK with not personalizing the mailing list, then you could repeat this process. For example, next time we attend an event or create a special email list, we’d use Yahoo! Mail again. All we have to do is select all the contacts — since we’ve already imported them — to delete them and start fresh.
Not the prettiest process, but it works for sending bulk invitation requests. It’s less time consuming than trying to email each person.
How do you connect with your email lists on LinkedIn?
You can request an archive of your LinkedIn data for free regardless of your membership level. Why do that? Those in professions with regulations might need the information for an audit or to confirm compliance. For most, it means having access to insights about your activity, connections and profile.
For example, you can see the number of endorsements you’ve received, how many times you’ve searched LinkedIn and what ads you’ve clicked on based on what LinkedIn knows about you in the Ad Targeting.csv file.
Learnings from looking at my LinkedIn data
The Connections.csv file lists all your first degree connections along with their email addresses, current company and current position. Having this in a spreadsheet can prove useful for your marketing and sales efforts outside of LinkedIn.
I discover that my profile has an email address that I no longer use and removed it. Looking at the endorsement file, I have 800 endorsements dating back to 2012. Opening this file in Excel makes it easier to review the information especially when I use the filter tool to sort endorsements by a person’s name. (The default is by date.)
Thanks to these files, I discover something important. I have a few hidden recommendations that I didn’t know about! Usually, I receive an email whenever a new recommendation comes in. Apparently, not for these.
According to the search queries file, I’ve performed almost 700 searches since 2013. That number is low because a lot of the queries I’ve done a couple of months ago don’t appear. (I remember because I was doing special research.)
After you request the archived data, it takes LinkedIn up to 72 hours to compile the data. It only took 24 hours. Once completed, you’ll receive an email with a download link to the zipped file. To protect your privacy, you have 72 hours to download it before the link is no longer available.
You’ll see the same spreadsheet files as shown in the first image shows. The image names and number of files will be different for you.
This is a complete list of all the possible files in the LinkedIn archived data. However, you won’t receive a file if it doesn’t apply to your account. For example, if you don’t have certifications, then that file won’t be included.
Review LinkedIn’s Accessing Your Account Data for the highlights of what’s covered when you download your LinkedIn Data, which includes the readme.txt. This lists the following items you might see in the archived data.
Account Status History: Time and date you created, closed or reopened your LinkedIn account.
Ad Targeting: Information LinkedIn uses to determine what ads to show you.
Ads Clicked: Ads you’ve clicked on.
Certifications: Certifications included in your profile.
Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each comment includes the date posted, URL of the comment, the item that you commented on and the item’s type of content (article, share, new job, etc.).
Connections: Your first degree connections.
Courses: Courses you’ve included in your profile.
Education: Schools included in your profile, the dates attended, degrees earned and activities.
Email Addresses: All the email addresses you’ve used on LinkedIn, the date added and the date removed. It also notes the primary address you currently use to receive LinkedIn communications.
Endorsement Info: Names of people who have endorsed you, the skills they endorsed and the date they gave the endorsement. It also shows whether you accepted endorsement and display it in your profile or if it’s hidden.
Group Comments: Comments you’ve posted in LinkedIn Groups along with the title of the discussion, name of the group and the URL of the discussion.
Group Likes: Your likes in LinkedIn Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).
Group Posts: Similar to comments except these are Group discussions you’ve started. This information includes post titles, the post, time of post, group name and URL to the post.
Honors: Honors in your profile along with the description, who gave it to you and the date.
Inbox: All the messages in your Messages, Sent, Archive and Trash (unemptied) folders. The file includes message dates, the messages, subject line and whether it was incoming or outgoing.
Languages: Languages you included in your profile along with the level of proficiency.
Likes: All your likes in LinkedIn other than in Groups. Each like includes the date liked, title of the post, content of post (if available), type of post (article, share, new job, etc.) and URL of the post (if available).
Login Attempts: Login history for your account including your computer’s IP address, country of origin based on IP address, user agent (typically a web browser), data of login and login type.
- Website Login: Signed in through LinkedIn’s website or its mobile app.
- Third Party Login: Signed in through another site, such as selecting “Login with LinkedIn” button on another website. Some people use social sign in to log into a website without creating a new account. Some sites offer LinkedIn as a social sign in option.
Mobile Applications: LinkedIn applications you’ve installed on your devices associated with your account and the date you installed them.
Name Changes: Any name changes, the date of the change and the language used.
Organizations: Organizations included in your profile along with a description, your position and how long you were there.
Patents: Patents you hold along with the issue date and filing number.
Phone Numbers: Phone numbers you’ve included in your LinkedIn account.
Photos: Images you’ve shared in LinkedIn. These appear in their original format, which could be .jpg, .png or .gif.
Positions: Jobs you’ve included in your profile along with the companies, titles, duties, locations and dates.
Profile: Biographical information in your profile.
Projects: Projects you’ve included in your profile along with the title, length of project, description and web address.
Publications: Publications in your profile.
Recommendations Given: Recommendations you’ve given along with the name of the person and the date you wrote it. It does not include the recommendation itself.
Recommendations Received: Recommendations you’ve received along with the names of the people giving the recommendation, the date they wrote it and whether it’s displayed in your profile. It does not include the recommendation itself.
Registration Info: Date you registered on LinkedIn, the IP address you registered from, your current subscription type and the member who invited you, if there was one.
Search Queries: Your recent LinkedIn searches.
Security Challenges: Challenge events, such as when you logged in from an unfamiliar computer or device and when you’ve used two-factor authentication to confirm your identity. Details include the date of the challenge, the IP address of your device or computer you used to log in, assumed country and type of challenge.
Shares: Your shares, re-shares and posts on items appearing on the home page, company pages and university pages. Data includes date, title, description, share visibility (private or public), link to images (if any) and URL.
Skills: Skills in your profile.
Items not included in archived data
Missing from this data is People You May Know and Who’s Viewed Your Profile. You also won’t see a list of people you’ve invited to connect, messages you’ve sent outside of groups or who liked and commented on your posts.
How to request an archive of your LinkedIn data
Here are the steps to request an archive of your data:
1. Move your cursor over your profile photo at the top right of your homepage and select “Privacy & Settings.”
2. Sign in, if prompted.
3. Select the “Account” tab near the bottom of the page.
4. Select “Request an archive of your data” under “Helpful Links”.
Startups that appear on TV show “Shark Tank” have one advantage over the rest of us. They don’t have to do much research on the investors, aka sharks. Any of them would make a valuable investor. Companies will almost always take their call. Everyone knows these sharks have great success in getting big results for startups.
But not every investor is a shark.
Investors do more than write a check. With a good investor, your startup benefits from their connections, knowledge, experience, and business skills. With a bad investor, you have someone who gets in your way, requires valuable time and effort to manage, and can steer you down the wrong path.
That’s why it can be risky to accept any offer that comes along. Connecting with an investor is like a marriage. It needs to be a good fit for both the startup and the investor.
Researching potential investors is essential – you don’t want to waste your time with the wrong people. Here are some tips for doing that kind of research using LinkedIn.
Evaluate the investor’s LinkedIn connections
LinkedIn stops counting connections at the 500 mark, so that’s a good number to use as a measuring stick. The more connections someone has, the more resources your startup would be able to access.
Of course, not all investors are neck-deep into LinkedIn. But many network incessantly and do a good job of connecting to the people they meet, so you can use LinkedIn to gauge the quality of their connections.
What kind of people does the investor know? Do they know the same people you do? Are they connected to successful entrepreneurs, media, other investors, influential people in the startup community?
Can they help build your business? Do they know potential customers, vendors, partners, employees?
What about competitors? If you see they are connected to competitors, dig deeper to see if there’s a strong relationship and whether they work together. That could be a potential red flag.
Read up on the investor’s background
Investors have to start somewhere, but it’s preferable that your startup isn’t an investor’s first. Review the person’s experience for positions held, length with company and responsibilities. Look into the types of businesses they’ve helped and how the businesses fared. Find connections at the companies they’ve invested in to ask about their experience with the investor.
You can also check LinkedIn groups and communities related to your industry. There, you might find people who know the investor, and can tell you about the person’s personality and the ability to work with others.
Look at the LinkedIn groups on the investor’s profile. What kind of groups are they? What topics and industries? Are they relevant to your startup?
Scan the investor’s skills and endorsements. You can get an idea of what the person’s strengths are if there are enough endorsements. Check out awards, organizations, articles, presentations and other media. Do they have patents?
Media coverage and speaking opportunities give you the opportunity to learn about their philosophy and see if it matches yours.
Read their LinkedIn recommendations
Are the recommendations recent? Are they in roles that would help your business? What impression do you get?
Take a look at the recommendations the person wrote for other people. You might be able to get a feel for the person’s style and personality.
Remember LinkedIn allows users to show or hide recommendations, so it’s easy to pull the ones that sound less than stellar.
Checking an investor’s references for basic LinkedIn accounts
Before digging in, beware there’s a catch. LinkedIn’s reference feature can be used or abused. In “On LinkedIn, a Reference List You Didn’t Write” from The New York Times, Natasha Singer explains how misusing reference-related features has cost people a job.
Here’s how references can be useless. The lawyer in the story did a reference search on Singer. He found 43 people in his network who have worked at The New York Times. Singer only knew four people on the list; none have worked with her. Ask the reference how they know the investor and whether they’ve worked together.
Those using the basic account can cull the information albeit with more work. Still using these methods can create a decent list of people to contact. Let’s say I want to vet an investor. I search for him to pull up his profile and look for “How You’re Connected” to see what connections he and I have in common.
Another option is to use the “People Similar to …” feature. This appears on the right-hand side of most profiles. You can also find more similar people by doing a search for a person’s name. Increase your chances of finding someone who knows the investor by selecting items in search options. Play with the different options until you get what you need.
Checking an investor’s references for premium LinkedIn accounts
Premium account users have it easy. Search for anyone and the search results let you “Find References” for a person. Reference search finds users in your network who may have worked with the investor. Narrow the list by using search options.
After you create a short list, you’ll want to see if the investors are people you want to connect with on a regular basis. It’s a long-term commitment, one that could sour quickly if you don’t like the person.
An example of a strong investor LinkedIn profile – Glen Hellman
Glen Hellman’s LinkedIn profile is a good example of what you’ll find in a qualified investor. He has more than 500 connections from a variety of companies and roles.
His awards include being the No. 1 ranked angel investor in the U.S. and a Global 100 Mentor. A quick glance at his skills reveals all the things you’d want in an investor: start-ups, strategy, leadership, and venture capital.
As a Vistage International chair, he led a group of CEOs and has three recommendations in this role. One says, “Glen is a respected, seasoned business executive who is a great mentor to entrepreneurs and CXOs looking to walk in the shoes he’s traveled in.” That’s the kind of person most would want to have on their team.
He’s also a cybersecurity startup mentor. Although he doesn’t list a lot of groups, the other factors more than make the case. The right investor may not be using every possible aspect to their LinkedIn profile. The point is to look at the different components to see what kind of story it tells.
Of course, whether Glen is a match for a particular startup depends on the industry, customers and needs.
You improve your chances of landing Glen, Mark Cuban, Lori Griener, Daymond John or any other shark when you use LinkedIn’s resources to help your startup make a good list of suitable investors. The rest is a matter of meeting them to see if it’s a match.
How would you check out an investor using LinkedIn?