LinkedIn tips for beginners


I posted here recently on the topic of ‘What is LinkedIn?’ There’s not much reason to join LinkedIn unless you actually intend to use it to link to others to form a network. So today I’ll discuss some tips for building a network. I should mention that LinkedIn appears to have more members in high technology fields than other professions so you may want to keep that in mind when you’re looking to connect to people. As time goes on, that may change. But I’m sure LinkedIn will always favor those professions where on-line networking is valuable.

Here are some tips I have found helpful in growing a LinkedIn network:

1. Think of people you have worked with during your career and search for their names on LinkedIn. If you find them, request a link to them. There are a number of ways to do this, and if you’ve worked at the same company or went to the same school, then you don’t need to know the person’s current email address. If you do not have those affiliations, but know the person’s email address, then you can describe the person as ‘other’ or ‘friend’ and supply the email address when prompted. You should change the standard invitation text to personalize it a little.

2. Whenever someone from your past pops into your mind when you’re away from your computer, make a note to look them up on LinkedIn when you’re near a computer. This way you can re-connect with old friends and acquaintances you may have lost touch with over the years.

3. If you have a Rolodex or a collection of business cards, go through them as time permits and search for people with whom you would like to stay in touch.

4. You will probably get offers to join networks with someone you do not personally know who has 500 or more connections. Take them. This greatly expands your network and as such, your visibility on the LinkedIn network. People sometimes worry that taking connections from strangers puts them in an awkward position of possibly having to provide feedback about a stranger, but you’ll likely never be asked to do this, and if you are, you can just explain that you connected to the person as a courtesy.

5. Whenever you get a request to connect, you should accept it or archive it. You should not choose the ‘I don’t know this person’ option because if a person gets 5 of those, his account will be frozen. Most people are unaware of this and you don’t want to be the one who gets the person kicked off of LinkedIn.

6. If you find someone in your network who you’d like to connect with but don’t have an affiliation or email address, then you can request an introduction through someone in your network that is connected to that person. The top linked people with 500 or more connections are used to getting these requests and will nearly always pass them along to the person.

7. Periodically scan through the connections of your 1st level connections that have the potential for mutual connections. This is a good way to jog your memory and possibly reconnect with a long lost friend or colleague. Even if someone is already in your network as a 2nd or 3rd level connection, there is a benefit to making a 1st level connection with a person because it will pull more of his or her connections into your network.

8. If you want recommendations from your connections you will usually have to ask for them. Be prepared to write a recommendation for anyone from whom you request a recommendation. This means you should not ask for a recommendation from someone who you are not willing to recommend yourself. Otherwise you may find yourself in the awkward position of returning the favor for someone you may not know well enough to recommend, or, worse yet, someone for whom you cannot write a favorable recommendation.

9. List skills in your profile that you enjoy doing and are hoping to use again. You may not want to show up in searches for work that you are not interested in doing again so you might consider leaving those off your profile if that’s the case.

10. Become familiar with the ‘Advanced Search’ option which allows you to narrow down your search based on more specific criteria than just a person’s name.

11. If you have a blog or website, either put a link to your LinkedIn profile or an invitation to connect to you in a prominent location on the page. If you do invite readers to connect with you, encourage them to change the standard invitation text to something other than the generic, “Please join my LinkedIn Network”, by letting you know they found you from your blog or website.

Understand that not everyone from whom you request a connection will honor the request. Some may be following the LinkedIn policy of only connecting to people whom they’ve actually worked with and know well. Sometimes the invitation email gets trapped by a spam filter. Other times it may take a few weeks or even months for someone to discover the request. Don’t be discouraged if this happens on occasion.

This was just a small subset of tips for building your network on LinkedIn. If you do a Google search on the topic of “LinkedIn tips”, you’ll find many more.

Cape Wind


I recently read a book entitled Cape Wind by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb. It’s a book about the struggle to get approval to build America’s first off-shore wind farm. I have been writing about wind energy lately because I think it has reached a critical mass and it is has the potential to grow to power a large part of America’s electrical grid in the next few decades. In Denmark, wind energy is already producing 20% of that country’s electricity needs.

What’s interesting about Cape Wind is that it’s become such a controversial project. You’d think that something that provides clean and renewable energy to an area of the country that desperately needs more electrical generating capacity would be anything but controversial, yet this is not the case. The controversy stems from the location for the wind farm in Nantucket Sound, which is about 5 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. For the past 6 years, this project has been held up by people who have gone to great measures to make sure it does not get built. What makes it more interesting is the reason they don’t want it to be built. Quite simply, they don’t want to have to look at it. In other words, it offends their sense of aesthetics. Stating this objection publicly would not help their cause so they are using flimsy but less embarrassing excuses such as their concern for wildlife, fisherman, pilots, and a whole host of reasons that are diversions from the real reason, that is, people feel that views from their mansions are off limits for any other societal benefit besides their own viewing pleasure. Nantucket Sound is best viewed from private beaches attached to multi-million dollar estates.

The power from the wind farm could provide up to 75% of the electrical energy needs for Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. The power for this region is currently generated by a dirty oil-fired plant that has been responsible for several oil spills further down the Cape Cod coast.

The location for the proposed wind farm is ideal because it has excellent wind conditions and it is a shoal, which means it is shallow, making construction much less expensive. It’s actually too shallow to sail yachts in that location during low tide. The wind farm would only be visible from the shore for 1/2 inch above the horizon and only on clear days.

What makes the resistance to the project even more newsworthy is that it is opposed by politicians who claim to be staunch environmentalists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ted Kennedy, and Mitt Romney. The wind farm is supported by 84% of Massachusetts residents and yet a powerful and elite group is trying to subvert the democratic process by imposing their own will on that of the majority. Since the plant would be located in federal waters, each American should have an equal say in its approval, not just wealthy beach front property owners.

My main concern about the resistance to Cape Wind is that of setting a precedent that wind farms are something people should not want to have in their ‘back yards’. Cape Wind could be a showcase of environmental stewardship. By resisting wind energy, these people are increasing the likelihood of someone else getting a coal-burning power plant in their back yard and that’s not a behavior I want associated with fellow Americans. After all, Europeans have been building off shore wind farms for many years with great success.

People need to understand that clean and renewable energy is necessary to maintain our standard of living, protect the environment, and reduce our dependence on exhaustible fossil fuels. When you look upon a wind farm with those thoughts in mind, it connects with a much deeper sense of aesthetics than the superficiality exhibited by Cape Wind’s opponents.

Perhaps this report from Comedy Central helps add a bit of levity and puts the opposition to Cape Wind in perspective:

I sincerely hope that this project gets approved and built. Not only would it help to solve the Cape’s energy shortfall, it would restore my faith in democracy. It would also help send the message that making up questionable excuses to resist the construction of renewable energy projects is a fool’s errand.

You can keep abreast of this critical project at Wendy Williams’s blog.

What is LinkedIn?


LinkedIn is a professional networking group whose purpose is to provide its members a way to search and connect with each other to find jobs, people, and business opportunities in the network. The basic premise behind the service is a sort of on-line Rolodex that updates itself automatically.

An individual’s LinkedIn network consists of one’s immediate connections in addition to people who are 2 levels of being connected to any of those connections. So, as long as someone is within 3 levels of connecting to you, you may contact that person through an intermediate connection. It’s not unusual to significantly expand your overall network by adding a single connection, especially if that connection is well-linked. By the time I got to 30 connections, my network had grown to hundreds of thousands of people. Today I have nearly 150 connections and my total network is nearly 3 million people. There are about 14 million members on LinkedIn with many more joining daily.

Members typically put information in their profiles that is similar to what you’d find on a resume, such as their skills, the companies they’ve worked for, and schools they’ve attended. If you have worked at the same company as another member you find on LinkedIn, or went to the same school, it’s very easy to ask for a direct connection without the need to have an email address for them. However, LinkedIn’s stated policy is that members should only connect to people they know well and trust. This policy is not enforced, and rarely is it strictly adhered to by members. Some of the most enthusiastic LinkedIn members will connect to anyone, and, depending on one’s goals in using LinkedIn, it may be better aligned with an individual’s needs to do that. For example, if your purpose is to recruit employees, the more connections you make, the more search results you’ll get when trying to fill a job opening. So a recruiter will often want to have as many connections as possible. Similarly, if you’re looking for a job, you would benefit by connecting to more members since that will make it more likely you’ll show up in a search. You don’t have to worry about spam-like contacts on LinkedIn because if a person tries to connect to everyone on the network, they only need 5 reports from other members that ‘I don’t know this person’ before his account will be frozen. So that works to prevent unlimited random connection requests from people who are trying to just get large numbers of connections.

I first heard about LinkedIn a few years ago from a friend who had joined it. He invited me to join which resulted in me filling out a very short profile and then I waited for people to connect to me. This didn’t work very well. I got only a few invitations to connect to others in the first few years. Most requests were from people who were recruiters or “top linkers.” “Top linkers” is a term for people who try to collect as many links as possible without regard for knowing and trusting the individuals to whom they connect. They are usually recruiters.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I knew I’d be leaving HP that I started requesting links of others that my network began to grow. Once it hit a critical mass of about 30 connections, I started getting more frequent requests from others to link to them, but most of my links have come as a result of being proactive about sending invitations to connect. I should mention that even when I had very few connections, I got a call from a recruiter at Apple who was looking to hire me away from HP. I also know a colleague I worked with at HP who recently landed a great job as a result of being found on LinkedIn with a keyword search.

I think a lot of people who join LinkedIn fall into the trap of waiting for something to happen like I did at first. Until you fill in your profile and make your first few links, you will be very hard to find on LinkedIn. Also, even if people do find you, they may conclude that you’re a reluctant participant if you only have a few connections. I sometimes find when I try to link to someone with only a few connections, I may not get a response from them. In some cases I’ve found that they forgot their LinkedIn login credentials or are using an email they don’t bother to check very often. In any event, if you want something to happen, you’ll need to put forth some effort in building your LinkedIn network.

The principle behind LinkedIn is similar to any professional network’s mission, that is, ‘giving to get’. Whenever I hear anyone complain about LinkedIn, it’s usually a result of not yet having adopted this helpful mindset. If someone is trying to remain anonymous on the Internet, or if they don’t like getting requests to help people, some of whom might be strangers, then LinkedIn may not be a good match for them. On the other hand, if someone is eager to network with others and has a friendly attitude toward helping others, then LinkedIn can be quite beneficial.

I don’t mind linking to people I don’t know yet, especially when we have something in common. I invite people I meet through my technical help web sites to link to me and have gotten connections to some very skilled and helpful people as a result. If you are a member of LinkedIn and would like to link to me, you can just add me as a friend using this email address: You can change the standard LinkedIn greeting to let me know you found me through this blog posting.

Next time I’ll cover some tips on how to build your LinkedIn network.

Wind power in Pennsylvania


I traveled back to Pennsylvania last week for my high school reunion. As you may have noted from some of my recent posts, I’ve been investigating energy, particularly renewable forms of energy. It had been three years since we’d been back in the Wyoming Valley and so I was quite astonished to see 12 large wind turbines plainly visible on top of the eastern ridge of the valley up near Bear Creek. Each 2MW Gamesa turbine provides enough electricity for about 600 homes.

I’ve written about wind turbines before in my blog because they started springing up in Colorado a few years ago and whenever I travel across Nebraska and Iowa in the LongEZ, I seem to find more of them each year.

I had yet to get up close to a wind turbine so Terri and I decided to take a drive up to the site. As you may know if you’ve ever traveled around this area of the country , the closer you get to something, the harder it is to find. In other words, you can’t see the forest through the trees. We drove up Route 115 into Bear Creek and the wind turbines all but disappeared behind the mountains and trees. We continued to drive in the general direction of the turbines, and every once in a while, we’d catch a glimpse of a blade to help reorient us toward the wind farm. After driving in a circle, we eventually found the access road to the wind farm, just off Bald Mountain Road. We saw a lot of no trespassing signs, but felt it wouldn’t hurt to go up to the maintenance office to see if we could get permission to drive up to the first tower. I found a friendly engineer there and we began to chat and he said we could drive up to the first tower and take a look around. I was most interested to hear one of these wind turbines from up close.

We were able to get quite close to the turbines and found that the noise they made was hardly noticeable and certainly not objectionable. I asked the engineer why there is controversy when it comes to wind turbines and he felt that people have been conditioned by those who have a vested interest in non-renewable forms of energy attacking them for various reasons that border on being ridiculous. For example, a common objective I hear is that wind turbines kill birds. More than 100 million birds are killed each year flying into windows in the U.S. alone, yet you don’t see anyone trying to ban windows. A similar number are killed by house cats and cars. Wind turbines kill only 1 or 2 birds per turbine per year. Even with the thousands of wind turbines deployed and planned, this number will always be at least 3 orders of magnitude less than the other causes I listed, and so bringing up one’s concern for the well being of birds is a rather odd objection.

Opponents also say that wind turbines kill bats, which eat mosquitoes, that may carry West Nile virus. Again, I think this is really reaching by people who are unaware of the benefits of renewable energy and afraid of any unlikely downside potential, such as lowered property values. I’ve also heard of people fearful that wind turbines cause audible noise but I can attest from my own experience that the noise was not very noticeable. I’d gladly trade wind turbine noise for the noise that comes from the highway 1/4 mile from my house.

I can understand the people who live a few hundred feet from a wind farm being concerned about noise, but I grew up less than 300 yards from a working coal breaker that operated 24 x 7 and it made quite a racket, yet I never knew of anyone complaining about it. It also released plenty of coal dust into the local environment as well as the final product which has significant environmental hazards. So maybe I have a different perspective on environmental noise and pollution than someone who has built a house on a mountaintop.

On the way back down the access road, we came across a large flock of wild turkeys crossing the road which you can see in the picture below. Click on it for a better image of the turkeys.

Later in the week, we traveled up to Scranton and saw the Waymart Wind Farm which has 43 GE 1.5MW turbines.

I think that wind farms along the ridges of Pennsylvania will become a more common sight as time goes on. People should not consider wind turbines as eyesores, but rather see them as examples of majestic beauty that benefit all of society.

I believe people will come to understand we need to eliminate our dependence on exhaustible fuels to provide our electricity. There is no argument that we will run out of them eventually. At some point people will realize that when they turn on a light, a TV, or computer, the energy may be coming from a silent wind turbine spinning in the distance powered by a clean and inexhaustible energy source.