Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn – A Group Blogging Project
by Scott Allen on May 1st, 2007
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A step-by-step guide to accomplishing a particular task or career or personal goal using LinkedIn.
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One Smart Way to Use LinkedIn – Create a granfalloon!
In the parlance of Malcolm Gladwin, I’m a “connector” and a “maven” but not so much of a “salesmen”. LinkedIn gave me an opportunity to help others, as well as myself. First a little background, then the guide.
As a crusty fat old white guy who’s been in IT since the year of the flood, I’ve been fired 4½ times and “transitioned” myself 4 times. (I’ll explain the half. It was when they thought they were nuking me, but I was hanging out waiting for the severance check with a nice opportunity in my back pocket. Technically they nuked me and paid me off. But, in my mind, it was serendipity.) My third transition was a more traumatic one where I didn’t initiate it. It was the first one where I was “surprised” by the axe coming down! Life administered a bitter lesson! Of course, being a life long learner, it didn’t take me more than once to realize “the rules”, and that those “rules” had changed silently right under my very nose. And, as a “turkey”, I did NOT like being in the “soup”. It was during this life lesson that I began reading the National Business Employment Weekly several times a day. That shows how truly clueless I really was, despite being well “educated”. So I was down on my luck and happened to read an article about a “granfalloon”. Huh? Never heard that word before. “A granfalloon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.” per Kurt Vonnegut, who must have been talking about fans, Hoosiers, Netizens, and the blogging fraternity / sorority / union. I was desperate to make a break. My self-image was rotting from the inside out. So as an alumni of a modest small Catholic college with a big collective ego, that was my granfalloon. I sat down and started to “collect” every alum I could find, remember, talk to, email (yes we had email in those prehistoric times!). First thing you know, I was “networking”. Then, I found opportunities for other people. The rest was history. A “turkey” was hatched!
I have learned over the eons how valuable my fellow alumni can be. If you know who they are, where they are, and how to reach them. So I like to say I am an experienced old turkey. Now, my collection was ugly, error prone, sloppy, messy, and hit ‘n’ miss. But first with Plaxo, I began to clean up my act. And now with LinkedIn, my collection is not only “beautiful”, it is usable by my fellow alums. I have created, with the help of the editorial staff of Jasper Jottings (One fellow alum. Hi Mike!), and 2 alpha testers, LinkedInJaspers. I’m announcing it as open on May 15th, the feast day of Saint John the Baptist De La Salle, the patron saint of Jaspers. I even designed a logo that shamelessly mimics the work of Vincent Wright. With his blessing, I stood on his shoulders to copy what he had done for the different population of people. I don’t know if it will be a great success, but since I have ~1500 readers of my weekly ezine Jasper Jottings, I’m expecting several hundred to join the LinkedInJaspers group on LinkedIn.
You can use LinkedIn to create your own granfalloon and it’ll be much easier than when I did it.
Step by step guide:
(1) Decide if you really want to spend time building a granfalloon. It’s like a vineyard. You don’t harvest before you plant. It’s a strategy not a tactic. It’s a conveyor belt; not a silver bullet.
(2) Get a small sample of your proposed granfalloon together, and talk to them about if and how this interests them. (You can’t have a granfalloon if they feel no affiliation with it.) I had a core group of FOUR people encouraging me when I started. It’s in excess of 1500 now a decade and half later. It’s too big to even be bothered tracking. I’m an injineer; not an accountant. Remember it’s a strategy; not a tactic.
(3) Create a LinkedIn group (It takes weeks to get this done), a Yahoo Group for the underlying website (takes days; less, if you steal mine), and begin “collecting” your granfalloon. So if it’s your alma mater, then begin to find them. Of course as you invite them to the granfalloon, you are allowed to let them know what you’re looking for AFTER asking them what they want (First help; then be helped!).
I hope this helps you understand what a granfalloon is, and how you can use it in your “transition” activities. Remember three things: (1) You are only sure of the last paycheck that cleared your bank. (2) Your “job” is to find your next job without losing the one you have. AND (3) You never “land” until they plant you and put some flowers on you.
See the beauty of creating your granfalloon on LinkedIn is that it will help others. Remember first help; then be helped. And, it will take on a life of its own. Like a phoenix, which you can then “climb aboard and ride”. How’s that for not being a salesman? I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Smell that sizzle. Wait till you taste the results. Unbelievable.
Now let me tell you about my next project. I am seeking to be the self-declared dean of the “Sacred College of Scared FOWGs” (fat old white guys), where I can say with virtual certainty and absolute confidence, speak ex cathedra, from my belly button, that you will never hear of a bigger turkey than me.
Of course, I am available for consultations and confessions. I do wakes and weddings. And, I’m a notary.