7 Things Not to Do in LinkedIn

This was a post I started but decided not to write.

Why?

When I searched about things not to do in LinkedIn, the content that came up was similar to my own list. I didn’t think I’d be adding anything new.

So instead I analyzed my weekly LinkedIn articles.

Why?

It was a subject that only I could write about. It was unique to me and my experience posting a LinkedIn article every week for nearly a year.

But a comment on that post changed by mind. Jason Dunn expressed interest in the bad behavior I’d observed in LinkedIn. And whether he was serious or not, I reconsidered.

Here are 7 things NOT to do in LinkedIn, if you want to build your career and promote your network and your employer. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

1. Spamming a new connection

Is there anything more annoying than a new connection immediately sending a direct message pitching a service, requesting a meeting or asking for a job?

Sometimes it feels like the number of messages requesting a 30-minute meeting add up to more than 50 hours a week. People on LinkedIn are professionals. They have to spend their time on their top priorities, not on meeting with people pitching something in which the recipient has no interest.

In order to have permission to make a pitch, a real relationship has to be formed first. People have share information of value over a period of time. They have to get to know each other.

And while I generally believe in responding, that only extends to an initial response. Follow-up responses asking why I can’t meet or why I’m not interested or if I can refer a colleague are not messages that I respond to. The last thing I want to do is burden a colleague with spam.

2. Posting TOO frequently

There are a few people in my news feed who post SO frequently that I sometimes wonder if their work is suffering as a result. How much is too much? Anything more than 2 posts a day.

The only exception to that is if you’re attending a big event and you have a great deal of content you want to share. But even then, a better way to share a volume of content is via Twitter, where greater frequency is more appropriate.

On LinkedIn, posting up to once each weekday is ideal. To dig into the wisdom of that and the data behind it, I did an experiment to test what would happen if I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. As a result, I focused on how to make my content more compelling.

3. Sharing inappropriate content

Keep it professional and positive on LinkedIn. Don’t disparage other people or companies. Make sure your content is suitable for a work environment. Don’t ever share content that is confidential information about your employer.

And ignore the birthday notification feature – Facebook is the place to wish people a happy birthday, not LinkedIn. Don’t include your own birthday in your contact and personal information on your profile.

4. Making it all about you

When you scroll through your LinkedIn “home” feed, what catches your eye? In all likelihood, news and information that helps you be better in your career.

Don’t make it all about you. A constant stream of posts about you won’t resonate with your connections. Of course, it’s fine to post on occasion about an award you won or an honor you were given or somewhere you are speaking.

Just make sure that the majority of your posts are about offering up news, info and tips that will help others on their career journeys.

Social media is about reciprocity. Be generous with your network. Read their posts and articles. Engage with those that are particularly resonant.

Beyond liking the content, leave a thoughtful comment that adds new information. Consider sharing it with your network if it adds to the topics you generally post about.

5. Misspelling names

Three direct messages I received recently spelled my name wrong.. They opened with Carolyn. My name is Caroline. It’s clearly stated on my profile.

There’s no excuse for misspelling someone’s name. It shows a lack of attention to detail. It gets the whole communication off on the wrong foot.

As the American writer Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Spell it right. Check it against how the name is spelled in the person’s profile. And check it again, before you hit “send.”

6. Ignoring analytics

LinkedIn offers data on each post and article. If you don’t look at the analytics, you won’t know which content is performing well and engaging your network.

Spend some time each week or month reviewing how each one performed. Come up with a hypothesis as to why posts did particularly well or not. Increase the frequency of content types that get the most engagement, as measured by clicks, likes, comments and shares.

7. Sending the default invitation to connect

How many invitations do you receive from people you don’t know with the standard, “I’d like to add you to my professional network in LinkedIn”?

If you don’t know why they want to connect, why would you accept? Given my strategy for accepting invitations, it makes me work harder to decide yes or no.

And even if you’re inviting someone you know to connect, it makes for a much stronger connection if you articulate why you’d like to connect.

Always personalize.

And if you’re scrolling through the people you may know feature, you should know that you cannot currently customize your invitation. Instead, go to the person’s profile and personalize an invitation by clicking on “connect.”

What would you add to things NOT to do in LinkedIn?

What Happens When You Post a Weekly LinkedIn Article

Coming up on nearly a year of posting a weekly LinkedIn article, what have I learned? What can you learn?

What articles are getting the most engagement?

Are there patterns among those top articles?

And how can this help you on your journey to build your career through social media?

It’s time to turn to another trusty spreadsheet, similar to my experiment on posting to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

What’s in it?

  • 35 articles, from May 2017 to January 2018
  • Posting date and day of the week
  • Engagement measures of clicks, likes, comments and shares
  • Headline scores, characters, words, sentiment and type (thanks to CoSchedule,  the content calendar company)
  • Network reached, e.g., first- or second-degree network

After creating and populating my spreadsheet, I identified the best performing articles. What determined those? I looked at a general measure of engagement, a combination of the highest number of clicks to an article, along with likes, comments and shares. Then I sorted the data in a variety of ways and began looking for trends and patterns.

 

WHAT DIDN’T MATTER TO ENGAGEMENT?

A number of variables could be ruled out right away. They didn’t seem to matter to engagement.

Day of the week. About 70% of my articles were posted on a Wednesday, because I strive for consistency. What about the 30% posted on other weekdays? How did they do? The data says the day of the week doesn’t really matter. Articles on other days of the week didn’t do noticeably better or worse than others.

My conclusion? Continue the consistency with Wednesdays, experimenting with other days of the week on occasion.

Headline score. Could better headlines attract more engagement? I experimented with headline analyzers from CoSchedule and the Advanced Marketing Institute and wrote about the experience in a few of my blog posts. 

Looking at my top 10 LinkedIn articles, half had “strong” headline scores of 70+, about half had “average” scores between 55 and 69, and one had a “poor” score below 54.

My conclusion? While I believe there’s value in writing the most compelling headline possible, it’s not necessary to find or use the highest-scoring headline. I do believe using headline analyzers has improved the quality of my headlines over time, however, which has helped enhance my articles.

Headline sentiment. Would headlines with stronger sentiment, either positive or negative, perform better? The analysis of my own articles didn’t really bear that out. Of the top 10 headlines, 2 were positive and 8 were neutral.

My conclusion? It’s not necessary to focus on headline sentiment and making them more positive.

Headline type. In the top 10 articles, 4 headlines were generic, 2 were questions, 2 were lists, 1 was how to, and 1 was time based, using categories from CoSchedule. Again, no real pattern.

My conclusion? Variety and appropriateness to the particular topic are more important than finding a single most resonant type of headline.

 

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST SURPRISES?

For each article I discovered I can click into a list of who has shared the article. What I can’t fully identify is whether this is a newly available feature, or if somehow I missed it before.

Previously, I was aware of shares if the sharer @mentioned me, or if it was included in a summary email from LinkedIn.

But clicking into these shares opened up a whole new perspective for me. With each new article I post, I’ll now check the shares daily. That way I can like and comment on those shares, along with any comments they’ve received. This may even highlight people I’d like to add to my LinkedIn network.

One of my articles, A Top 2018 PR Trend: Growth in Employee Advocacy, was shared by people beyond my network in Denmark, Italy and Mexico.

The shares in Denmark each had accompanying messages. But I don’t speak Danish. What to do? Enter Google Translate.

With this I had to take a leap of faith. I assumed the translation of “burn” had an alternate meaning of “promote” or “build.”

I discovered that 7 people in Denmark were promoting a workshop on employee advocacy and strategic branding through social media. It appeared that my article helped in underscoring the importance of employee advocacy programs.

So I keyed my own response into Google Translate from English to Danish and posted a reply to the first sharer, Gert Juhl. What fun to hear back a day later!

 

WHAT DID MATTER TO ENGAGEMENT?

To understand what really did matter to engagement, I identified my top performing articles, by a combination of clicks, likes, comments and shares.

Here they are:

1. What Happens When You Post to LinkedIn Every Day for a Month(911 clicks, 75 likes, 17 comments, 22 shares, 77 strong headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

2. 2018 Trends to Build Your Career through Social Media (895 clicks, 49 likes, 5 comments, 80 shares, 66 average headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

3. 12 Ways to a Great LinkedIn Photo (500 clicks, 44 likes, 14 comments, 4 shares, 66 average headline score, positive headline sentiment)

4. How to Boost Engagement with LinkedIn Articles (301 clicks, 70 likes, 13 comments, 2 shares, 76 strong headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

5. Be Bold in Your LinkedIn Profile (292 clicks, 41 likes, 3 comments, 9 shares, 67 average headline score, positive headline sentiment)

My hypotheses as to why these articles got the highest engagement?

First, they answered important questions for people. What are the social media trends that could affect how to build a career? How to take a great LinkedIn photo? How to create a great profile? How to encourage engagement with articles? What happens by experimenting with daily content?

Second, they combined personal knowledge and experience and existing knowledge in unique ways. They shared my personal experiences (those that are non-confidential) with the intent of helping people in my network and beyond. They are unique, with my own perspective and insights. They are things only I could write. What are things only you could write about?

Third, it helps to have a post boosted by an employee advocacy program (note: opinions expressed in this article are my own.) The 2018 trends article was featured in my employer’s program, thanks to Nolan Carleton and Claire Mitzner. That’s the likely reason there were 80 shares, when shares for other articles were much lower. If your employee advocacy program has a feature where you can submit your articles for consideration, do it!

 

WHAT OTHER DATA WOULD HELP?

As I thought more about why certain articles performed better than others, I realized I need to add some new data fields to my spreadsheet for future analysis.

First, I’m now noting how people mentioned in an article relate to article engagement. I strive to mention and link to people in every article and @mention people in every post. That rounds out my perspective and boosts people in my network. When I promote articles, I mention them in LinkedIn and Twitter, and sometimes send them a DM, direct message, with a link to the article.

Second, I’m starting to measure the effectiveness of the LinkedIn posts and the tweets that promote the article. How much engagement are these getting? What can be learned from the highest-performing posts and tweets?

Because the functionality doesn’t seem to allow an @mention of people in the LinkedIn post that initially shares the article, I’ll start doing a separate LinkedIn post where I @mention people. Then I can compare how the two types of posts perform. Why is an @mention important? Because the person receives a notification that they were mentioned.

Third, I’ll note the impact (positive or negative change) in the week following the article being posted of my profile views, connection requests and new followers. This gives a sense of how my influence is changing as a result of publishing an article every week, along with the effectiveness of the particular article.

 

WHY IS DATA SO IMPORTANT?

After a recent week of observing bad behavior on LinkedIn, like new connections who immediately spammed me with a sales pitch, I decided I’d write a post about 10 things NOT to do in LinkedIn.

I jotted down my own pet peeves. Then I bounced them against a Google search of other similar articles. Not surprisingly, my list didn’t add anything new. So why write and post it?

That’s what prompted the realization it was time to return to my own data. What is it telling me about my weekly posting of articles? This is a unique and different story that only I can tell.

And that is what social media content creation is all about … sharing something new and different that can help your network … and that they aren’t going to find anywhere else.

There may be nothing new under the sun. But just as we each have unique fingerprints and unique DNA, we each have unique experiences in our careers. These are the powerful and valuable perspectives we can share with others.

A Year-End Checklist for Building Your Career through Social Media

In the business world, there are many year-end activities you can apply to your social media strategy for building your career.

What are they? Completing the year’s priorities. Assessing performance for you and your team. Closing the books. Celebrating the season. Connecting with people. Assessing upcoming trends. Setting new strategies and goals.

Here’s a checklist to consider for your own year-end plans as you build your career through social media.

FINISH PRIORITIES AND ASSESS PERFORMANCE

Reflect on how you did on this year’s social media goals. If you set a game plan for the year, see where you did well and what you want to do better in the future.

My plan was to:

(1) amplify my employer’s social media strategy through its Social Circle

(2) give corporate professionals a roadmap to build their career through social media with this blog (note: opinions are my own)

(3) share appropriate highlights of my work in social media

(4) learn how social media is evolving by experimenting with platforms and listening to podcasts, and

(5) help people in my network by sharing and commenting on their content.

Overall, I made progress in every area, even if I didn’t reach every numerical goal. I didn’t share many highlights of my work in social media, because some of it wasn’t content that should be posted in a public forum.

One exciting exception was sharing the news that my employer was named to Fortune’s 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. As part of a cross-functional team dedicated to making the company a great place to work for all,   I was thrilled to see this recognition and shared it in social media.

Apply your social media activity to your performance assessment. If you’ve been using social media to document your professional life, your feeds become another valuable input to summarize your performance.

You can sift through your posts and articles as reminders of the highlights of the year’s accomplishments. If some of the posts performed particularly well with audience engagement or business impact, you could incorporate those numbers into your performance assessment.

Once your self assessment is done, you have a valuable document to use to update your LinkedIn profile with accomplishments, projects, organizations, awards, and so on. Decide if you want to make tweaks to your profiles in other social platforms, to keep them aligned.

If you have visuals suitable for sharing in public, upload them to your LinkedIn profile to showcase your best work. Consider videos, photos, podcasts, slide decks, news releases and other visual representations. Err on the conservative side if you’re not sure if you should share information. When in doubt, don’t post.

CONNECT WITH YOUR NETWORK AND CELEBRATE THE SEASON

Make the most of social media for holiday networking events. Consider the social media aspect of the event, which I covered in another post.

Stephanie Vozza has a great piece in December’s issue of Fast Company with ideas about how to prepare.

“See who’s going,” says Dorie Clark author of Stand Out Networking. “The event organizer will often publish the names and bios of the people who’ll be there. Get a head start by identifying who you want to meet.”

Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector suggests offering to volunteer. “This will allow you access to key leaders who can make key introductions.”

She also advises doing “an internet and social media search of people you want to meet, so you have something meaningful to talk about or ask.” She suggests reaching out in advance via social media.

Reconnect with people. As you’re scrolling through your social media feeds, make an extra effort to post comments for people you want to strengthen and refresh your connections with. A comment or a share means so much more to your network than a like.

SHARE HOLIDAY GREETINGS

Create your holiday greeting posts for your social networks. How will you wish your networks a happy holiday season? Are there inspiring leadership quotes you want to share? Valuable and timely articles you want to post? A fun holiday photo or video with your team to wish your business partners all the best?

To spark your creativity, look at how others are posting about the season. What resonates with you? What would you do differently?

Check out #holiday hashtags for business. Think about what hashtags you’ll use for your holiday posts to make your content more discoverable. Here’s a hashtag calendar resource for the whole year, to help with the holidays and your planning for the new year.

Take a inclusive approach to your hashtags, keeping in mind that a variety of holidays are celebrated at the end of the year.

ASSESS TRENDS AND ACCELERATE LEARNING

Check out trends for the new year. In an upcoming post, I’ll summarize the big trends ahead for building your career through social media. It will build on the format from last year with my post on how social media will change for professionals in the coming year.

Pick one new thing you want to learn. Based on the trends, what do you most want to learn? What are you most interested in? Although my social media trends post is still be researched and written, a big area of focus for me will be video. How can I incorporate more video into my social strategy? How can I tell stories with short videos?

Find a new podcast to learn from while you commute. The ones I’ve been enjoying are:

The Science of Social Media with Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis

Social Pros with Jay Baer and Adam Brown, and

Why I Social with Christopher Barrows.

These turn my commute time into learning time, making it easier to stay up to date and pick up new ideas.

Identify an experiment to conduct. In each of the last two years, I’ve done a 30-day experiment. This year it was seeing what would happen when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Last year it was blogging every day for a month.

In the year ahead I’m contemplating primary research on how corporate professionals are building their careers through social media.

PLAN FOR THE NEW YEAR

Pick a theme for the year. A theme for your year gives you a rallying cry that focuses your efforts. It helps you prioritize what to focus on and what to ignore. Here’s how author Gretchen Rubin picks a one-word theme. For the last sever years I’ve had an annual theme, and I’ll cover this in an upcoming post.

Set your #socialmediagoals for the new year. What did you learn from this year’s social media activity? What are the trends for the new year? What do you want to learn? These are all questions to ask yourself as you create a fresh set of goals.

Clear the decks. Just as you clean up your physical and digital workspace by deleting old files, updating contacts, and so on, do the same for your social media accounts.

Clear out the message cache for each platform. You don’t have to respond to everything. Go through pending connection requests on LinkedIn. Here’s a strategy for which invitations to accept. Start the new year fresh.

What’s on your year-end social media checklist?

How to Engage with People Who Reshare Your LinkedIn Articles

You get a big compliment every time someone reshares your LinkedIn article with their connections.

Each reshare is a valuable endorsement of your content, and it reaches a broader audience.

This creates a perfect opportunity to boost engagement with your LinkedIn articles. It’s yet another strategy for social media savvy.

(This where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

What’s a good way to respond?

For starters, you have to go looking.

Most of the time when you get a compliment, you know about it right away. You’re there. You’re present.

In the case of LinkedIn reshares right now, someone may compliment you and you might not know immediately.

You’ll know about a reshare if one of three things happens. First, if someone @mentions you in their update, you’ll receive a notification. Second, you can actively look at the article analytics. And third, you’ll see them in a weekly LinkedIn publishing digest email.

Here’s a simple process for engaging with people who reshare your articles.

Access the article analytics each day and click on the “reshares” link. There you’ll see who has shared your article, if they included an update message with it and what that update message says.

See if each person is in your network or not. Visit each profile to identify common interests and mutual connections. Look at each person’s own articles and updates.

“Like” the reshare and leave a comment. Thank the person for sharing your article. Personalize your message by relating it to their update message, if they included one. Add information of value in the comment for both the person who reshared and for their network.

Mention the person in your comment. By mentioning the person’s name, they will receive a notification that you posted a comment. This increases the likelihood that they will actually see your comment.

“Like” and comment on one of the person’s articles or updates. Choose a recent one that is most closely aligned with your own content strategy. Social media is all about reciprocity, and this is a perfect scenario to reciprocate. Consider resharing it if it’s especially pertinent to the type of content you usually share.

The most important thing I’ve learned here is to be proactive in looking at reshares – they won’t find you. You have to find them. And take action.

This exercise made me realize it’s time to re-activate my analytics spreadsheet. I created one during my month-long experiment of posting content on LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

Now that I’ve been posting one LinkedIn article each week, I can’t wait to dig into the data. I’ll share learnings in future posts.

In the meantime, how do you engage with people who reshare your articles?

Make the Most of LinkedIn Mutual Connections

Are you making the most of the mutual connections feature of LinkedIn profiles?

Mutual connections appear in the highlights section of profiles, right under the summary at the top.

It’s one of the first things I view, especially when I’m meeting someone new or working with someone for the first time.

This is all part of having a comprehensive social media savvy strategy in navigating your professional path in the corporate world. (Opinions in this blog are my own.)

BEFORE YOU VIEW MUTUAL CONNECTIONS’ PROFILES

Here’s a quick tip before you view the profiles of mutual connections. Set your browsing profiles option to “private.” That way, your name won’t appear as someone who’s viewed a profile.

There may be instances when you want people to know you’ve viewed your profile. Sometimes it’s a good way to indicate interest. But in most cases, it’s better to view profiles in private mode.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

How many mutual connections do you have? This indicates how closely or loosely connected you are to the person. If you have many connections in common, you’re both part of a well-developed community.

If you have only a few connections in common, this person probably adds more diversity of thought to your network. He or she may be someone you want to get to know better.

Why? Cultivating a diverse network is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. Roselinde Torres shares why in her TED talk on What it takes to be a great leader.

Torres says that “great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people who are thinking differently than you are.”

How many of them did you expect to see? Assess how many are people you would have expected to see connected to this person. This will help you answer the next question . . .

Who’s NOT there who you would have expected to see? In other words, who’s missing? And why do you think that is? Most times, it could be a simple oversight.  But there could be other reasons you might want to contemplate.

What organizations and affiliations do you have in common? What are the common employers, professional associations, community organizations, schools, and so on. Again, fewer common organizations could indicate greater diversity in your network.

Which ones are unexpected wild-card connections? This is the most interesting question. Who surprised you? Who made you wonder how your connection knows this mutual connection?

These connections could be the boundary spanners among groups in your network. They’re the people who may be able to connect people and ideas across multiple networks. And they could be people you can reach out to when you’re looking for a “needle in a haystack” type of person.

Karie Willyerd, the author of The 2020 Workplace and Stretch is one of those boundary spanners. It’s a surprise and delight when her name appears as a mutual connection to someone I never would have guessed she knows. She’s role modeling her own advice about cultivating a broad and diverse network.

MAKE THE MOST OF MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

Understand the broader social network. Mutual connections tell you more about someone’s network and how it intersects with yours. This can form the basis for conversation starters about how you know each know the mutual connection, what work you’ve done together, and what you might do together in the future.

Recently I was thrilled to be invited to join the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors as the representative of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. An accompanying role is on the USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board.

As I’ve approached the process of meeting more than 75 fellow alums, knowing our mutual connections helps to seed conversations, find common points of interest and generate ideas about our work together to further the alumni experience.

Get to know a new leader, boss or client. When an important new person enters your professional life, see what mutual connections you have in common. Use the 5 questions above to quickly evaluate the common connections.

Then decide if there are a few trusted people you might ask for advice and insights. Here are a few starter questions you might want to know about:

  • What’s important to this person?
  • What’s their leadership style?
  • Who influences them?

See opportunities for collaboration. Work gets done in cross-functional collaborative teams, whether it’s inside your organization or outside of it in a professional or community group.

Your mutual connections could point the way to already-existing relationships that may make a new collaborative effort even stronger from the start. If you’re putting together any kind of cross-functional team, this can be one more data point to assembling a high-performing team.

What are the ways you make the most of your mutual connections?

The Art of Introducing People on LinkedIn

So often what you learned growing up will help you in the professional world.

One of my mom’s rules was if I wanted to invite a friend over, I had to ask my mom in private, without the friend being part of the conversation.

Why? In case my mom needed to say no, it wouldn’t create an awkward moment.

The same logic applies to introducing people in your network to each other. Ask each one, privately and separately, if it’s okay to make the introduction.

This is what David Burkus refers to as “permission introductions” in a great Harvard Business Review article called The Wrong Way to Introduce People Over Email. The right way is also called a “double opt-in introduction.”

As you reach out individually, give context and background for the request. Share with each person why you think they’d benefit from knowing each other. Include your thoughts on how they might be able to help one another.

Connecting people across your network is another important part of being savvy in social media as you build your professional reputation.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve introduced people recently:

For career advice for members of my team, I’ve introduced them to relevant people in my network at the company (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

For information about a marketing leadership development program I lead with colleagues in HR, I introduced an employee interested in the program to a current participant in the program.

For paying it forward to current students at the USC Annenberg School, I arranged a series of informational meetings with colleagues who shared their career paths and what they do in the current jobs.

Once you have the green light from each person, you can make an introduction via email inside your company or use the share profile feature in LinkedIn for people outside the company. Using LinkedIn includes contact info, so it’s easy for people to connect.

Include a compelling, complimentary and descriptive line or two about each person. Hyperlink to anything helpful or noteworthy about each person. Add why they’d benefit from meeting each other. One of my colleagues Anthony Robbins is especially good at this.

Make the immediate next step easy and clear. The more junior person – generally the one gaining the most from the introduction – should take the next step of finding a time on the other person’s calendar, without creating extra work for that person.

Be kind to your network by not suggesting too many introductions in a short period of time. Space them out by at least a few months. If there’s more than one introduction you want to make to the same person, prioritize the most important one first.

And some introductions should never be made. You don’t want to waste the time of people in your network or take advantage of their goodwill. Your credibility and reputation will suffer as a result.

Don’t introduce:

  • A job candidate without at least a 70% match with the job description to the hiring manager
  • A salesperson you don’t know well to business decision makers in your network
  • Anyone who isn’t clear why they’re requesting to be introduced to someone in your network.

Given the importance of reciprocity, be open to introductions that people in your network suggest to you. Make sure you’re clear on how you can help. And learn from others about what does and doesn’t work well in making introductions.

What are your best practices for making great introductions?

How to Engage Your LinkedIn Network on Major Holidays

What content do people engage with the most on LinkedIn?

For me, it was a surprise.

As I began to analyze the analytics for my activity feed, posts on major holidays were among the content that rose to the top.

This seemed counterintuitive because all I had done was share a leadership quote relevant to the holiday along with a beautiful photo.

This is why analytics are so powerful – you can see what type of content is engaging your network the most. Then you can build on it and improve what you’re doing.

As part of your social media savvy strategy, here’s a 3-step process for posting holiday-related content:

1. Find a leadership quote relevant to the holiday.

Align your holiday quotes with leadership and business themes you frequently post on. Search Google for leadership articles related to the holiday. See which of your favorite sources pop up as well as new sources. Be sure to appropriately evaluate and vet your sources.

  • Choose less-well-known quotes. Look for quotes you’ve never heard or seen before. Keep searching until you find one. That way, you’re more likely to surprise and delight your network with something fresh.

Here’s one I chose for Memorial Day. The quote was new to me, I learned more about citizens who serve in the Seabees, and it focused on tenacity and persistence – qualities that are helpful to all of us.

 

  • Provide a diversity of perspectives. Broaden your lens. Keep an eye out for compelling quotes by both women and men as well as people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

For Thanksgiving, this quote by author Alex Haley caught my eye. It works equally well for professional and personal purposes. Not to mention that it powerfully sums up Thanksgiving in just 6 words.

 

2. Pair it with an eye-catching image. I swear by my subscription to iStockphoto, which is the source of the images in the LinkedIn posts featured here. Canva is another good resource for photos and design.

And there are great ideas about “awesome free images” in a detailed post by blogger Marko Saric.

 

3. Add hashtags. Make your post more discoverable by adding one or two hashtags. Search LinkedIn and Google for the obvious hashtag for the holiday – e.g., #FourthofJuly – and see what other hashtags people are using in their posts.

 

Lastly, keep an eye on comments and respond in a timely manner to further engage with people in your network. Holiday posts elicit the most “hi, how are you doing?” types of comments. That makes them a fantastic way to keep in touch with people.

How do you make the most of major holidays on LinkedIn?

How to Build a Better Business Relationship on LinkedIn

An interesting thing happened when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

I also tweeted a few of my shorter posts. One of them was about knowing when someone has true leadership skills.

This was one of my learnings: tweet every LinkedIn post and article. But a bigger learning was still to come.

In sharing this particular post, I expressed thanks for the great bosses and leaders I’ve had to far in my career. And I asked “what leaders have inspired you and why?”

While I follow the best practice of asking a question in posts and tweets, I must confess they don’t usually generate much engagement.

But this time was different. To my surprise and delight, a colleague responded by singing the praises of one of our other colleagues. She did it in wonderful detail, mentioning specific leadership traits in an enthusiastic and engaging way.

Soon, the other colleague joined the dialogue, with thanks and good humor. All in all, it was a pleasant way to connect with people who are in my network but separated by busy work schedules and a 3-hour plane ride.

The even better part? I had an upcoming meeting with the colleague getting the accolades. I knew the conversation might be difficult due to the sensitivity of the subject. And our LinkedIn-inspired conversation in Twitter added a more upbeat tone to our working relationship.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

And it was in a positive and pure way, because my intention was simply to share valuable leadership content with my network.

This underscores the importance of giving in social media – without the expectation of getting. Because you never know how others in your network will respond and what good outcomes may happen.

But what if you want to be a little more strategic and focused in creating a stronger business relationship through LinkedIn?

Who are the important people in navigating your career – now and in the future?

And how can social media add to your efforts to build a positive, long-term relationship?

Once you’ve identified a few people to build stronger relationships with, here’s how you can use LinkedIn to add to your efforts.

If you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send a personalized request. Remember, always personalize your request. Remind the person of how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

  • If it’s your boss, say you’d like to connect because of your reporting relationship.
  • If it’s a peer, mention a common goal or project you’re working on.
  • If it’s someone in a function beyond yours, share your interest in learning more about what they do.
  • If it’s someone on a project team, share your enthusiasm for your work together.
  • If it’s someone more senior to you, talk about a key project they’re working on that you’re following in the news.

See what connections you have in common. Which connections intrigued and surprised you? Can you come up with a hypothesis as to how they know each other? This might be important later when you’re engaging with content.

Is there anyone you expected to see, but didn’t? Is there anyone in your network who might be valuable for this person to know? Consider making an introduction at the appropriate time.

Observe their articles and posts. View their current content and look at past content for the last 3 to 6 months.

What topics are they posting on? How do those relate to your current work or your future interest? What kind of reach and engagement are their posts generating?

Like, comment on and share their content. Once a week, like a post or an article and leave a substantive comment. Mention the person by name so they’ll receive a notification of your comment.

Thinking back to who it might be helpful for this person to know, see if you can mention and weave that person into the comment, if the subject matter lends itself to it.

Here’s where you can help augment the reach of your connection’s content. Share it with your network, if it’s aligned with the types of content you share. Mention the person by name so they’re notified of the share, and add your perspective to the content. End with a question to invite more engagement.

See what groups they belong to. Do you have any groups in common? If so, engaging with content in that group could help build your relationship.

Do they belong to any groups you’d like to learn more about? If so, you could message your connection and ask them for their thoughts on the the group and their advice on engaging with it.

Focus on giving and keep it light. Be generous. Think more about how you can give and how you can help your connection.

In doing that, keep it light. Your interactions should be just frequent enough – no more than once a week or every few weeks – so they’ll appreciate hearing from you.

Don’t stalk your connection by interacting with them too often. Keep your interactions interesting and insightful.

What are ways you build a stronger business relationship on LinkedIn?

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?