At my most recent CIPR Social Media Panel ‘csuite podcast’ recording, I had the pleasure of welcoming Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington to the studio as one of my guests on the show.
Before we sat down in front of the mic, we got chatting about the pros and cons of LinkedIn, as you do, with me being a fan of the platform and Wadds arguing that it’s just become very noisy and full of spam.
As a result, Wadds asked me to write a guest post for his blog highlighting a few tips on how to get some true value from this particular social network.
Without justifying anything with user stats or how important your personal social media profiles have become in terms of social selling (let’s take it as read that that is the case) here are the ten suggestions I shared for why you should be LinkedIn and not LinkedOut.
- Share knowledge
If you blog, you may find you get far more engagement to your posts if you publish them on LinkedIn, and you never know who might end up reading them. Over Christmas, my family visited Disneyland Paris, and I wrote a post about why I thought the park needed a sprinkle of pixie dust on my return. The post has been read 490 times to date, but interestingly, it found its way to a number of employees of Disneyland Paris, which led me to now be connected with the company’s Senior CRM manager. Having discussed this with Wadds, on his birthday last week, he published his first post on the platform – 45 lessons at age 45 – which I’m proud to take some credit for as he commented that he followed his own rule No. 36 after our discussion – ‘Knowledge is power’, which stated ‘Never stop learning and develop an openness and enthusiasm about the world. Curiosity wouldn’t have killed the cat if it had read more books.’ In the space of one weekend, his post had 550 views, 64 likes and 32 comments (Wadds has a little more influence than me!)
- Plan your travels
If you are heading anywhere for the day, whether in the UK or further afield, and have time in your diary to fill, search on LinkedIn for the destination you are visiting and see who you know there. You can do a more detailed search using the ‘Advanced’ search feature and typing in the post code or city that you are travelling to. This does rely on whether users type in their home postcode or work post code when they first register of course, and often (myself included) may forget to update it when they move jobs.
In the 20+ years I’ve been working since graduating, I’ve picked up just a few business cards and every now and then, I do a cull of the ones I’ve not been in contact with for years, or can’t even remember where I met them. But not before I do a quick search on LinkedIn to see where they are now and so try to reconnect with them if relevant.
- Welcome visitors
Look under your Profile tab to see who is viewing your profile? There could be a whole bunch of reasons for people visiting your LinkedIn page, including some going to the wrong person with the same name of course, but wouldn’t it be good to know why? Send them a note, thank them for stopping by and ask how you can help.
- Don’t be afraid to network
That doesn’t mean spam people. The LinkedIn mobile app doesn’t currently allow you to personalise invites, so I only ever send them via my desktop, using the ‘Personalise invitation’ option, as that way I can introduce myself and give a summary of why I want to connect. There is nothing more frustrating than getting an invite, accepting it, and then getting hit by a standard sales email.
- Say who you are.
I hate the fact that when I look to see who has viewed my profile, I see the following:
The clue to getting the best out of Social Network like LinkedIn are in those two key words, i.e. being sociable and using it to network. You wouldn’t go up to someone in the real world at a conference, for example, ask them to explain who they are, but not introduce yourself, so why do it here? What do you have to hide, even if you are a competitor?
- Join Groups
This, again, is a great way to find new people to connect with. I am off to an industry conference in Seville this month, and so have joined the specific organisation’s group to start my networking early and see if I can set up meetings during the breaks at the conference. Being in a group also helps when you send out invites as it gives you more reason to connect with someone new, again enabling you to personalise invite further by saying you share x many connections and y number of groups, so you obviously have quite a bit in common.
- Give feedback
I’ll admit that I don’t tend to read many of the updates that appear in my home page stream – I often browse through the top few when I go on the site but that’s all – with over 2000 contacts, it’s impossible to read everything. But if you’ve connected with likeminded individuals in a similar field to yours, then the chances are a lot of the updates will be relevant to your work, so it’s worth scrolling through every now and then and picking out the odd article to read that has been shared that catches your eye. Similarly, if someone has taken the trouble to publish a post, and you liked it, or had something to add, tell them and share it too (feel free to do both to this).
- Keep your profile updated
Many people see LinkedIn as a dynamic CV to help find their next job and don’t appreciate that people/companies may be using it to seek you out for your expertise in your current role. So keep your profile updated. Let people know what you’ve been up to and what you do for a living. Share your expertise by embedding your presentations from Slideshare, or if, like me, you record podcasts, you can embed those from Soundcloud.
- It’s not Facebook
And finally, just a polite reminder, this is a business social network, not a personal one. Whilst I was flattered that 0.35% (8 people) of my LinkedIn network liked my new photo when I updated my profile recently, I also found it a little strange, but perhaps that’s just me. Thanks all the same though!
There are lots more tips and ways to benefit from LinkedIn and these were just the first few that came to mind. Of course, if you want to find out more, you can always connect with me and ask – I’m at uk.linkedin.com/in/russellgoldsmith