6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Prepare for an Initial Business Meeting

How do you prepare when you have an upcoming business meeting with someone you’ll be meeting for the first time?

Sure, you’ll set objectives for the meeting. You’ll create an agenda. And you’ll think about the information you want to share. These are all best practices for effective meetings.

But don’t stop there.

Social media gives you valuable opportunities to learn more in advance about the person, or people, you’ll be meeting. It opens a new window on what’s important to someone and how they think.

It’s all part of making a great first impression, as Rebecca Knight covers well in a Harvard Business Review article. It’s packed with tips from thought leaders Whitney Johnson and Dorie Clark.

With social media, you can take 15 to 30 minutes to get to know someone’s career, their professional interests and their potential commonalities with you.

Here are 6 ways to do that, as part of your social media savvy strategy.

Visit their LinkedIn profile. Focus on their current role and the problems that person is solving in their work. Consider how that connects with your meeting objectives.

See what other jobs they’ve held, what groups they’re part of and where they went to school. Read recommendations to get a better sense of who they are. See if you have any connections in common.

Look at their other social media activity. Are they active on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Visit those sites to round out your view of what’s important to this person.

Read their blog. If they have a blog, read the most recent 3 posts. Scan previous posts for topics that might be relevant to your upcoming meeting.

If they don’t have their own blog, see if they’ve posted articles in LinkedIn that would give you similar insight.

Search Google. No research is complete without a Google search. You can search on the person’s name, as well as the person’s name along with their current employer or other keywords related to your meeting topic.

See what pops up on the first 3 screens of your search. Visit a few of the links to learn more.

Send a personalized LinkedIn connection request. Once you have a sense of what you might have in common, or what’s especially interesting to you about this person, send a LinkedIn connection request.

In your personalized request (always personalize!), you can mention your upcoming meeting and that you’d like to connect in advance. This helps better establish the relationship, and it may prompt the person to view your profile and learn more about you.

Make sure you’ve put your best foot forward in your profile. Any recent content you’ve posted should further – or at least not detract from – your meeting agenda and objectives.

Comment on their content. In your research, what content stood out to you as especially salient to your upcoming meeting? You can like and comment on a recent piece of content that is aligned with your meeting topic. And if it would be valuable to your own network, consider sharing it more broadly.

These actions will enable you to know your audience much better and help foster a positive working relationship from the very beginning. (A reminder that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Just remember to keep it light in both your virtual and real-life interactions. Don’t like or comment on too much content and don’t bring up subjects that your new business acquaintance might consider too personal or intrusive.

What are ways you connect with people in social media before an initial meeting?

How to Boost Engagement with LinkedIn Articles

Three is a magic number. In a whimsical, 3-minute video, Schoolhouse Rock explains why.

Maybe that’s why it took 3 separate LinkedIn messages from connections for me to notice a trend.

What were they? Friendly invitations to check out their latest LinkedIn articles.

They were from a diverse group, with no overlaps in our networks.

One was a work colleague I met first through LinkedIn, Anthony Robbins. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

One was someone who connected with me through the MAKERS conference, Kari Warberg Block.

And another was the CEO of a partner company with a previous employer, Terry Traut.

They each sent a personal message to me through LinkedIn highlighting a recent article and inviting me to read it and engage with it.

And in doing so with me and likely many others, they generated not only a high number of likes, but also a great dialogue of comments.

This is a powerful proactive strategy in sharing your own articles with key people in your network. It’s something I’ll be experimenting with – and writing about – in the coming weeks.

There’s also a reactive play. Here are 6 aspects to consider (and that’s 3 times 2, for anyone following the theme of 3).

Engage with articles that align with your social media goalsHow does an article relate to your social media savvy strategy?

Look for something in it that connects with your professional interests and goals. That will both highlight your personal brand and help provide the basis for your comment.

Scan other comments to put yours in context. See what other people have posted and how that has extended and amplified the author’s point of view.

If any of the commenters are in your network, like their comment, remembering to look before you like. Consider posting a comment to further your relationship and the dialogue.

If any of the comments are of particular interest to you, visit the commenter’s profile to learn more about them. Like or comment on the comment. Maybe that commenter is even someone you’d like to get to know and invite to your network.

Post comments that add something to the dialogue. Consider your comment as additive content to the original article, beyond simply a “great post!” statement that affirms the author but doesn’t add anything new.

What resonated with you the most and why? How has your experience been similar or different and why? What additional ideas, links and people can you add to the conversation? Ask yourself these questions and more as you write your comment.

Mention the author in your comment. To keep it informal and eliminate extra words, delete the author’s last name when LinkedIn auto-populates it and use the first name only.

By mentioning the author, they’ll be notified of your comment. And they may choose to like or respond to your comment.

Stick with the rule of 3. Keep your comment to 3 sentences, max. Write it and then edit out extra words and thoughts. Ask yourself how you can make your point in fewer words.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure your comment is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

I learned this the hard way with a comment today. I proofread it, fixing a spelling error that had been auto-corrected incorrectly (it was a Colin Powell quote using the word “simplifiers,” which auto-corrected to “simplifies” without the “r.” Oops.

But after I posted the comment, I realized that one sentence didn’t have the right subject-verb agreement. As of now, you can only delete a LinkedIn comment and repost it; unfortunately it’s not possible to edit it.

Not many people might have recognized the error, because the subject and the verb were separated by intervening words. But content can live on the internet forever. So I deleted the comment and re-posted it with the correct wording. Next time, I’ll proofread 3 times before posting.

Speaking of grammar and subject-verb agreement, it’s encouraging to see the 2017 AP Stylebook will “include guidance on the limited use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun.” This a positive step forward for gender equality. And that’s why I use “they” as a singular pronoun.

Back to boosting engagement with LinkedIn articles, what strategies are you using?

What Happens When You Post to LinkedIn Every Weekday for a Month?

What happens when you post daily to LinkedIn?

In the month of May, I found out. I did an experiment. I posted every weekday to see what I would learn.

Why every weekday?

It takes about “20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60 percent of your audience,” according to a data point that Carly Okyle cited in an Entrepreneur article about LinkedIn profiles.

And because LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals, most content views are during the work week.

To make it (relatively) easy to post daily, I set up a weekly calendar:

Mondays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post (note: opinions I share in social media and in this blog are my own)

Tuesdays – content from one of my favorite business publications, like Harvard Business Review, The Economist, or Inc.

Wednesdaysan article, based on a previous post from this blog

Thursdays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post

Fridays – sharing a post from a colleague, an alma mater, a professional association, a favorite publication or new content based on a holiday or other milestone.

With this content calendar framework in mind, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought to post every weekday. During early morning hours, it took about 10 minutes for most posts and 30 minutes for articles.

So, what did I learn?

Engagement increased each week. How did I measure engagement? By the number of total views each week.

By week 2, views were up 25%. By week 3, up 166% over the previous week. By week 4, up 88% over the previous week.

At the end of week 4, I also noticed my profile views were up by 45% over the previous week.

Week 5 was an anomaly. Views and profile views went down. However, I posted only 4 days that week because I skipped Memorial Day. And views may have been down because some people were on vacation after the long weekend.

Content re-shared by others got more engagement. When my 1st degree connections re-shared my content with their networks, I got the highest engagement as measured by views and likes.

Analytics came in handy, as I could see whether a post got more engagement from my 1st or 2nd degree network. What was harder to know was when my content was re-shared and who shared it.

Views are measured differently for posts and articles. Articles got fewer views than posts, but generated more likes. A view of a post means that “someone saw your post in their LinkedIn homepage feed.”

The bar is higher for a view of an article. Here it means “someone has clicked into and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app.”

Understanding this, it now makes sense that while views to my articles were lower than for posts, articles generated more likes. People had actually opened the link for articles.

Hashtags are important to make content discoverable. In my zeal to post frequently, I often forgot to include hashtags. That limited broader discovery of my content.

Posts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays got the most engagement. This is consistent with data showing it’s best to post in the middle of the week.

An exception to the learning above? If a post reached my 2nd degree network, then the day of the week didn’t matter. And that’s the most important thing I learned – the power of content that is re-shared.

If content is engaging enough for connections to share it with their networks, it reaches a much broader audience. It exposes your ideas to more people. And it creates opportunities to connect with more people who share common interests.

Most engagement was for posts about how to be a better leader and professional. This is consistent with LinkedIn being a social media platform for professionals in business. These posts were more likely to be positive and upbeat in nature.

And that’s consistent with a study by 2 professors whose research supported the finding that, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is.”

The least engagement was for topics that could be viewed as bad news. This aligns with the analysis I did of my least engaging posts.

They had to do with what could be perceived as bad news – dealing with the death of a family member, thinking about dramatic change, and being reminded of goals we haven’t achieved.

The big question this leaves me with? How to make my content more compelling and more likely to be shared by my connections? Here’s how I’ll approach that.

  • Like, comment and share others’ content. I’ll move content sharing to two days a week instead of one, and I’ll mention the person who initially posted it.
  • Use hashtags so people can more easily discover content of interest. In my haste to post daily, I often forgot this important action.
  • Mention people in posts and figure out if the mention feature works when sharing an article.
  • Share every article to Twitter and Facebook using the convenient LinkedIn feature that pops up in the posting and sharing process.
  • Study and practice how to write more compelling headlines and summaries. Experiment with what grabs people’s attention.

As I take these actions in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll keep tracking engagement with my content.

In particular, I’ll look at ways to better track when my posts and articles are shared, and by whom.

If the sharer mentioned me, that shows up in my LinkedIn notifications. Sometimes LinkedIn sends an analytics summary. But shares do not (yet) appear in the LinkedIn analytics for posts and articles.

Better capturing these analytics will help me understand which content is shared the most, so I can create a hypothesis about why.

In the meantime, what motivates you to re-share a post or article with your network?

What LinkedIn Content Gets the Most Engagement?

It’s almost the end of my month-long experiment of posting an update every weekday on LinkedIn.

There’s a growing spreadsheet of data ready to analyze for conclusions and implications. I’ll share them in an upcoming blog post.

In the meantime, I found an interesting data point in a book released this month.

It’s Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

Seth got his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, worked as a data scientist at Google, and writes for the New York Times.

He makes the case that “we no longer need to rely on what people tell us” in things like surveys or social media or casual conversations.

He  provides compelling data telling the story that big datasets of how people search for information online reveals what’s really on their minds.

Seth writes about “text as data” and how sentiment analysis can identify how happy or sad a piece of content is.

He shared the most positive 3 words in the English language: happy, love and awesome. The 3 most negative? Sad, death and depression.

And what content gets shared more often? Positive or negative stories?

If you agree that “news is about conflict” – summed up by the journalistic sentiment “if it bleeds, it leads” – you might conclude that negative content gets shared more often.

But it’s actually the reverse, according to a study by professors at the Wharton School, Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman. They looked at the most shared articles for the New York Times.

And what was shared the most?

Positive stories.

As the professors said, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is.”

My first reaction was happiness that my “positive comments only” philosophy for social media savvy had some data supporting it.

The second reaction was to turn to my own data from this month’s LinkedIn experiment to see if it held true.

Here I’m measuring engagement by the number of views, rather than by the number of shares.

Why?

I’m fairly new to this daily posting routine, so the first change I’ve seen over the past 4 weeks is an increase in views of my content, rather than any significant shares. And I’m finding shares more challenging to measure so far.

What were my most-viewed posts?

The first 2 posts make sense to me as highly positive content. The third made me pause. On the face of it, it seems like a negative that our brains are limited in the amount of focus they can handle.

But as I thought about it and revisited the comments on the post, I realized that many people might have found this information to be happy news. In other words, it’s okay and even desirable to NOT focus your brain all the time.

How about the least-viewed posts?

The first has to do with a fabulous new book by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on what the research and practice say about bouncing back from adversity.

But since it began from Sandberg’s husband’s death, one of the saddest words in the English language, that puts the topic in the negative zone. (I still recommend reading the book, because it’s full of uplifting advice about grit and resilience.)

The second was a special report in The Economist about how “data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change.” Because “change” is not something many people eagerly embrace, perhaps this story was seen as more negative than positive.

The third was a Harvard Business Review article about what distinguishes goals we achieve from those we don’t. My takeaway here? Maybe thinking about goals we haven’t achieved brings up negative thoughts.

Could other factors have impacted which posts were the most and least viewed? Perhaps. Day of the week would have been the most likely. However, the top and bottom views were each for the most part posted on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Another factor could have been posts during the beginning of my daily posting experiment vs. those closer to the end. This certainly could be a factor. Posts later in the month are getting more views in general. From the first week of May to the last, views of my posts have increased more than 6 times.

One conclusion could be that the consistency of posting daily is increasing engagement with my content. Of course, it’s still a small dataset at this point. In the months to come, I’ll continue tracking it and adjusting my strategy. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

How are people engaging with your LinkedIn content? What’s attracting the most interaction?

How to Rock Your LinkedIn Activity Feed

When you scroll through your LinkedIn feed, do you have a strategy for engaging with content?

Here are a few things to think about as you bring social savvy to LinkedIn.

How is the way you like, comment on and share content strengthening your network and building on your areas of expertise?

Do you consider how this engagement shows up in your activity feed that day for people looking at your profile?

And do you think about who you’re meeting with that day or week, who you recently connected with and who you’d like to strengthen your connection with?

With those questions in mind, here are 3 easy ways to approach content engagement.

  • Like content that fits with your areas of expertise, interest and learning. Remember to look before you like, taking care to read the post and the link.

Be sure the content is aligned with your personal brand and your employer’s brand. Make sure the visuals are appropriate too.

Generally, stick with positive content. Don’t engage with negative or snarky items. Sure, you can read them to seek multiple points of view. But there isn’t much upside and there’s plenty of downside to engaging with them in a public way.

An exception to this is to provide a different point of view. Even then, however, think twice about whether it’s worth it.

Guidelines about liking content also apply to commenting on and sharing content – and with even more more rigor.

  • Comment on content where you want to further a relationship with a connection and/or share your point of view on a topic aligned with your areas of expertise, interest or learning.

Keep it brief – 3 short sentences, max. Be upbeat. Be specific. Tailor your comment to the post, rather than writing something generic.

If you liked content, consider posting a comment. Why? Comments show greater commitment than likes and give insight into your thinking on the subject.

And there’s the rule of reciprocity in play – your comments may influence others to comment more frequently on your content. And that’s what you want in social media – engagement and interaction.

  • Share content that is most closely aligned with your areas of expertise, interest or learning. This gives one of your network connections more visibility and it serves as valuable content in your activity feed. It’s a win for your connection and for you, plus everyone viewing your content.

It takes about “20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60 percent of your audience.” This is a data point that Carly Okyle cited in an Entrepreneur article about LinkedIn profiles.

Sharing content from your connections is an easy way to post frequently, reach more of your audience and benefit your connections – all at the same time.

What could be better?

Why You Should Thank People for Connecting on LinkedIn

In your growing LinkedIn network, how can you strengthen your professional relationships?

For starters, you can send a thank-you reply when someone invites you to connect or accepts your personalized (always personalize!) invitation.

Not many people do this (yet), so if you want to stand out in a new connection’s mind, send a thank you.

You can test this out on your own network. Tap on “messaging” at the bottom of your LinkedIn mobile app screen and scroll through your messages.

Notice how many people sent a personal reply to your connection request. Do they stand out among the messages that simply say, “Jennifer Smith is now a connection”? Absolutely they do.

To make it easy to reply on a regular basis, set aside a few minutes each week to respond to LinkedIn requests and to send personalized requests to people you met that week or anticipate meeting soon.

Scan the person’s profile to see what you have in common (e.g., employers, schools, activity, etc). and what piques your interest. Maybe they published something on a topic of interest to you or have successfully tackled a problem similar to one you’re grappling with.

You can create a standard, 3-sentence reply to tailor as appropriate for each connection. Try keeping it in an easily accessible place, whether it’s an Evernote entry, Notes on your phone, or a Word document.

And as with all networking, it’s important to focus on the other person, rather than on yourself. Be interested in learning more about them or in helping them in some way.

Thanking someone for inviting you connect

Here’s a sample thank you when someone invites you to connect. Content to customize is in parenthesis.

Hi (First Name) –

Thanks for reaching out. Glad to be in your network.

(Comment on something you have in common or something you’re interested in learning more about them)

Look forward to staying in touch. 

Thanks,

(Your First Name)

(Any relevant contact info, like your website or other active business-related social media handles such as Twitter)

Thanking someone for accepting your invitation

When you invite someone to connect and they accept, you might think your work is done.

But take advantage of the opportunity to further solidify the relationships by thanking the person for accepting your invitation.

Here’s a sample. Content to customize is in parenthesis.

Hi (First Name) –

Thanks for connecting.

(Comment on something you have in common, something you’re interested in learning more about them, or some way you might be of help to them)

Look forward to staying in touch. 

Thanks,

(Your First Name)

(Any relevant contact info, like your website or other active business-related social media handles such as Twitter)

How should you end your note?

Research by Boomerang shows that one of the most effective ways to close an email before typing in your name is simply, “Thanks.”

Specifically, the study looked at emails that got the most responses, based on the sign off. While you aren’t necessarily looking for a response, it can’t hurt to use one of the more effective ways to close.

Just as the study showed that “the best way to end an email is with gratitude,” what better way to end a thank-you message than to say thanks?

As a result, I’ve stopped using “Best” and “Best regards” to end emails and other messages. It’s also efficient because I don’t have to decide which sign-off to use with every message. It’s always “Thanks.”

What NOT to do

Don’t pitch anything – whether it’s to ask for a meeting, for business or for a job. The purpose of a thank you is to build a relationship for the future, so simply thank the person for connecting.

Don’t send a long message. You’re writing for mobile. Like you, other people are busy. So keep it to 3 sentences, max. Edit out extra words before you tap “send.”

 

Sending connection thank-you messages is new for me, so I’ll share what I learn in a future post.

How do you thank people for connecting with you on LinkedIn?

Analyze Your Analytics to Enhance Your LinkedIn Updates

Do you want to attract more views, likes, comments and shares of your LinkedIn posts? Do you want to increase your engagement with your network and beyond?

Of course you do. And to do that, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Then you can create a hypothesis about why, and test it.

You can check out the analytics for your posts, also known as sharing an update, to see what content is resonating with your network.

There you’ll see the number of views, along with your viewers’ main employers, predominant titles and geographic locations.

Being a week into my month-long experiment of posting to LinkedIn every weekday, I turned to the analytics to see what I could learn.

Defining engagement broadly as a combination of views, likes, comments and shares, three types of posts rise to the top.

A view of a post is defined as someone seeing your post in their LinkedIn homepage feed. (Views are defined differently for articles, which will be a future blog post topic.)

Career strategies. My most-viewed posts were links to articles with career advice – including the biggest predictor of career success and LinkedIn profile updates for every career stage.

Given this blog’s focus on social media savvy for corporate professionals, I’ll keep an eye out for articles with career strategies that make use of social media.

Big news about the company. My fellow colleagues were understandably as proud as I was to see our company named to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017, as well as being named the #1 telecom globally in Fortune’s most admired companies.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed here are my own.)

For upcoming posts, I’ll keep my eye out for milestone news and events to share about my employer. This is where an employee advocacy program is incredibly valuable.

Leadership quotes and eye-catching photos for major holidays. This one surprised me. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving, I posted a beautiful picture from iStockPhoto along with a related leadership quote.

These turned out to be some of my most engaging posts. I’ll definitely add more of these to my editorial calendar. If I hadn’t looked at the analytics, this would have been a missed opportunity.

One thing I haven’t yet found in LinkedIn or through my research is an aggregated set of analytics. I’m creating an Excel spreadsheet to consolidate the analytics for this month’s posts.

It will include:

  • Post title
  • Post or article
  • Content type
  • Date
  • Day of the week
  • Time of day
  • Views
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Employers
  • Titles
  • Geographic locations
  • First- or second-degree networks
  • Hypothesis about performance
  • Action indicated by the hypothesis

Then I’ll have greater insight at the end of the month to see how to develop and execute an editorial calendar going forward.

What posts get the greatest engagement with your network?

And how do you use analytics to amp up engagement with your posts?

11 Engaging Topics for LinkedIn Status Updates

If a LinkedIn status update every weekday is ideal, how do you come up with enough engaging content?

Here are 11 simple content ideas. They can be tailored to reflect your goals for LinkedIn and your professional interests, as well as be easy to integrate into your day.

When you share content using these ideas, you can add your point of view. And you can engage your network by asking questions about their perspectives.

Here goes . . .

Your company’s employee advocacy program. More companies are enabling and empowering employees to share company news in their own personal social media through an employee advocacy program. If your company offers this, it’s an easy way to provide valuable content and be a brand ambassador for your employer.

Your professional associations. What organizations do you belong to? Where do you look for training and development? You’ll often find the latest thinking in your field that you can share with your network. A few of my favorites in corporate communications are the International Association of Business Communicators, the Public Relations Society of America and the Forum-Group for communications leaders.

Your favorite industry and career news sources. What are your go-to sources for news about your field or the world of work? On the top of my list are Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.

Your alma mater. Colleges and universities are helping their alums be lifelong learners. Have you checked out yours lately? As an alumni ambassador for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, I’ve shared information about event content and information such as the Relevance Report.

Your colleagues’ content. What are people in company and your network posting? Keep an eye out for articles posted to LinkedIn that align with your goals and share those. A few of my favorites are by Carlos Botero, Rachel Ybarra and Jennifer Van Buskirk.

Books you’re reading. What’s on your Kindle or your nightstand that has a business and professional focus? Share what you’re reading and what you’re learning. For me it’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It has two daily practices that would probably benefit everyone – note 3 things you did well and 3 moments that brought joy.

Conferences and events you’re attending. What virtual or in-person development activities are you involved in? What are you learning? Share your key takeaways in a status update. Include photos of the event and people you’re meeting.

What you’re learning. What’s your development plan to learn new skills this year? Are you taking online courses, pursuing a nanodegree or listening to podcasts and TED talks? Share status updates about what you’re learning and how you’re preparing for the future. Include your perspective on why these skills will be critical to the future of work, your industry and your employer.

Speaking engagements you’re doing. Anytime you’re speaking, whether it’s a conference or a webinar, it’s a great opportunity to post an update. Share your big idea or interesting questions people asked after your talk.

Key holidays. Look at the calendar each month and identify key events. May and June, for example, are big graduation months. You could share the best career advice you got at graduation or the most important thing you’ve learned since graduation. One of my posts that got great engagement was a leadership quote and a beautiful photo from iStockPhoto on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Keep an eye out for hashtag holidays – like #NationalMentoringMonth in January #GetToKnowYourCustomers day in July – and create posts about them.

Your blog. Do you have a blog about your profession and your industry? LinkedIn is a perfect place for a status update each time you post new content. If you’ve been blogging for a while, look through the archives to see what’s still timely. Your status update could include fresh information or a new take on the original post.

For the month of May, I’m going to conduct an experiment. I’ll further test these content ideas by posting a status update to LinkedIn on every workday of the month. That’s 22 status updates.

In future posts, I’ll share what I learn in the process about creating an editorial calendar, responding to comments, evaluating analytics, increasing engagement and more.

In the meantime, what would you add to this list of content ideas?

How to Get Started with LinkedIn Status Updates

Feeling overwhelmed by studies saying you should post a daily LinkedIn status update?

Start with something more manageable. Spend a few weeks reading and responding to others’ status updates instead.

Take a few minutes each morning or during a lunch break to scroll through the updates in the “home” icon of your LinkedIn mobile app.

Why? Here are 5 reasons.

  • Notice which updates get the most interaction. What updates are getting multiple likes, comments and shares? What is it about the update that is so appealing?
  • Identify what types of updates you’re drawn to. This will help you not only formulate the types of status updates you’d like to share, but it will also guide you on format, tone and length.
  • Take note of cringe-worthy updates. Identify why these updates don’t work. Put them on your list of things-not-to-do in LinkedIn, along with updates that are personal, political or unprofessional.
  • Engage with your network. Tap the “like” button for posts you enjoy. Leave a brief, upbeat comment that congratulates your colleague and adds your point of view. Remember that any content you engage with reflects on you, your personal brand and your employer, so be sure to look before you like.
  • Expand the conversation. If the content aligns with your professional interests, share it with your network along with a brief comment from your point of view. Be sure to look before you link, reading the full update and any links before sharing. And if someone in your network would be interested in the update, mention their name in your comment so they’ll be notified.

Tip: Find your favorites

Over time, develop a list of people in your network who are reliable sources of information and insights.

Several of my AT&T colleagues consistently post valuable updates. Here are a few (along with my note that opinions expressed in this blog are my own) . . .

  • Steve McGaw posts timely updates on the latest technology for business.

Who are the people at your company or in your network who are valuable go-to sources of news, information and inspiration? Check out their updates often to see what you can learn as well as share with your network.

Bonus tip: Create a strategy for the appearance of “Your Activity”

Check out how your likes, comments and shares appear in the mobile version of your LinkedIn profile. Under “Your Activity,” the 3 most recent interactions appear, with the most current one first (on your laptop, the 6 most recent interactions appear). What do you want to display on top?

Think about who you’re meeting with for the first time today. They may pull up your LinkedIn profile before, during or after your conversation. Consider what you want them to see.

You could like, comment on or share content relevant to your meeting topic. You could check out what status updates the person you’re meeting with posted recently. You could like, comment on or share those updates as appropriate.

What’s your strategy for engaging with your network’s status updates?

Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Headline

When you scroll through your news feed, what grabs your attention? A great headline, of course.

It’s the same with your LinkedIn profile. You can – and should – create a personal headline. Otherwise the default is your current job title.

This is a lost opportunity on prime real estate in your profile. Not only does it display prominently in the mobile version of your profile, but it also appears in a Google search that displays your profile. It helps you stand out when people are searching.

You have 120 characters to describe yourself in a unique and compelling way. You should use every one of them, says personal branding expert William Arruda.

Your headline should share both what you do and how you benefit your target audience. That goes back to your goals for LinkedIn. Do you want to build your professional brand? Develop a reputation as a thought leader in your field? Position yourself as a candidate for your next job?

LinkedIn expert Donna Serdoula outlines two approaches to headlines in her book on LinkedIn Profile Optimization. (Even as the LinkedIn algorithms evolve, this is a great reference book with underlying concepts that are invaluable for personal branding.)

The first is using keywords – words or phrases that describe you and are likely to be used in an internet search. Serdoula suggests asking, “What are the keywords a person might type into LinkedIn search to find you?”

The second is a benefits statement — what you can do for your target audience. Here Serdoula suggests asking, “How do I help individuals and businesses?” and “What benefit do others receive from working with me?”

If you can accomplish both keywords and benefits in 120 characters, that’s even better.

Keyword-Rich Headlines

From my own LinkedIn network, here are some standout keyword headlines:

Shel Holtz – Communication Strategist, Public Speaker, Author, Trainer

Lisa Skeete Tatum – Entrepreneur | Investor

Allison Long – Professional Networker | Career Matchmaker | Connector of Dynamic Teams and Great Talent

Rene Dufrene – Innovative Business Development Executive | Team Leader | Alliance Design, Negotiation & Operation | Cloud Services

Erin Gollhofer – Global Corporate Social Responsibility Professional

Debbie Storey – Published Author | Speaker | Consultant on Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, Customer Service, Resilience, Courage & Confidence, and Women in Business

Anthony Mirenda – Global Communications Leader | Corporate Reputation | Crisis & Issues Communications

Benefits-Focused Headlines

Also from my LinkedIn network, here are some compelling benefits headlines:

Michael Ambrozewicz – Engaging AT&T employees in how we deliver a mobile and entertainment experience in the U.S.

Amy Posey – Creating powerful leadership development experiences and making work more productive and effective at Peak Teams

Gary Zucker – Helping marketers and researchers make sense of customer feedback to test ideas, build loyalty and grow revenue

Catherine Fisher – Helping people build their professional brand on LinkedIn

Glenn Llopis – Disrupting the status quo and reinventing the way we work

Anat Mahrer – Creating a compelling and unique employee experience

Jon Lara – Delivering employee benefit strategies that enrich participant lives while optimizing company financial results.

How A Headline Evolves

Before writing this post, my headline was “Communications & Marketing Leader in Entertainment & Tech.” My goal was to highlight my functional areas, my level and my industries. Brevity and fitting a headline on two lines for mobile viewing were also priorities.

Then I edited it into a benefits statement that included my employer’s newer industry. “Communications & Marketing Leader in Tech, Media & Telecom helping people and organizations tell their stories.” (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

But that repeated the opening of my summary statement a few lines below the headline. So I went back to what Serdoula calls “a keyword-saturated headline.”

Now my headline has my “VP” title to be more specific than “leader.” It includes AT&T as the name of my employer – a company I’m proud to say was recently named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. And it showcases this blog about social media savvy for corporate professionals.

Perhaps this highlights the most important thing about any social media presence – always be changing, evolving and improving. Just like the platforms themselves. And just like life.