Mike Shelah, an expert and early advocate for LinkedIn’s ability to connect people for business, shares his wisdom on LinkedIn, networking and soft skills in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham are joined by Mike Shelah, head of Shelah Consulting (http://mikeshelah.com), for a discussion of the following:

How to use LinkedIn to make quality connections
What not to do on LinkedIn
How to gain permission to ask
Mike’s formula for using LinkedIn effectively
What soft skills come into play
Examples of good networking
Tips for being a better networker

Also, Mike talks about a side project, Pathfinders for Autism (http://pathfindersforautism.org), where he serves as a board member and helps families like his own who have children who have autism.

Next week

We look at cultural awareness and why its importance only grows in our current workplace. New episodes every Wednesday.

Collaboration, an important soft skill, takes many forms, and each form it often enables us to rise above the challenges we face in life. The old adage that two hears are better than one is valid.

To obtain survey responses from the widest possible group of people for some research we are doing, we sent it to our LinkedIn and Facebook friends. Some responded and some did not. We also sent the survey to some of our networks’ best connectors, hoping that they would spread the survey on soft skills in the workplace beyond our limited networks. (Our networks aren’t small. Collectively our LinkedIn numbers exceed 3,000 connections.)

But reaching beyond our networks enables us to obtain a broader cross-section of respondents. Our network, while diverse and broad, is limited in some ways, as we each have a lot of former students and academic world colleagues on our lists. One of our lists skews toward insurance brokers, owing to a past position as an insurance publication editor.

The people with whom we shared our lists have their own networks. Those networks represent different segments of the working population.

We could have spent a lot of time and money trying to reach a broader network, but in the most effective and obvious method of reaching more people was to collaborate with others. They were happy to help, as in each case, we have provided value to them in various ways, never seeking compensation. We just helped when it was needed.

And now, when we need help, they rise to the occasion, ensuring that we can achieve greater results than if we had only spread word of the survey to our own networks. That collaboration is just one demonstration of where soft skills improve our work.