The Secret to Fitting Social Media into Your Professional Life

Why doesn’t everyone have a social media strategy for their career?

There are two main reasons: not seeing the value and not having the time.

The value proposition has a simple answer. Our professional reputation increasingly influences how we get jobs, advance in our careers and navigate transitions.

The time equation is more difficult. We each have 24 hours in days that seem to get busier by the second. How can we make the most of our limited time to build our careers through social media?

Start by thinking about what you’ve done professionally over the last month.

Have you –

  1. Spoken at an event
  2. Attended a conference
  3. Taken a course, online or in person
  4. Traveled for a work meeting or event
  5. Joined a professional or trade group and attended a meeting
  6. Received an award for your work
  7. Completed a key project that can be shared in public
  8. Participated in a company-sponsored charitable event
  9. Seen an engaging video about your company or industry
  10. Found a valuable article about your company or industry
  11. Read a thought-provoking book about business or your industry
  12. Come across an interesting post by a colleague or your company

Why consider these activities?

VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk identified a simple and powerful strategy in his post, “Document, don’t create: creating content that builds your personal brand.”

Documenting is creating content, he says. It’s simply sharing your career journey and what you’re doing every day. And it’s easy to do because you’re “just being yourself.”

To look into the future of this documenting trend, check out the New York Times article Keeping Up, on Camera, Is No Longer Just for the Kardashians.

In everything you do professionally today, start by asking yourself if it can be shared publicly in social media. Make sure to never, ever share non-public and/or competitively sensitive information in social media.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t share. Even if you think something is okay to share in public, check that official company sources have shared the information publicly, or ask your supervisor for confirmation.

Career blogger Penelope Trunk said it well in her online course Reach Your Goals by Blogging. “Just don’t write anything near where your ‘security clearance’ goes,” she advised. While most people don’t have security clearances, this is an apt analogy to keep confidential information confidential. Don’t share it.

Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, then focus on what you’re doing, what’s interesting about it and why it could be valuable to your network.

What specifically in the course of your day, your week and your month could you share that builds the career brand you want to be known for?

Some of my colleagues do this really well. (This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Here are just a few.

TeNita Ballard. TeNita is an enthusiastic champion of diversity and inclusion. She shares the events she attends, the people she meets and what she learns through posts in Instagram, Facebook and more.

John Starkweather. John is a big advocate for business customers. He shared his experience at the company’s recent tech conference The Summit in LinkedIn and Twitter. His posts make you feel like you were there.

Jennifer Van Buskirk. Jennifer leads the east region of the company. She shares leadership lessons she’s learned in her career in LinkedIn, along with the events she attends and speaks at in the course of her work.

Sarah Stoesser Groves. Sarah is a digital marketer who shares news and information her network can use. At The Summit she posted insightful video clips and sound bites from many of the speakers in LinkedIn and Twitter.

L. Michelle Smith. Michelle is a multi-cultural marketer. She’s a great source for the latest research and thought leadership on inclusion marketing through her posts in LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reflecting on the last month, here are some of the professional activities I’ve shared in LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. It only required taking a few photos and videos of the events and sharing key messages in my social networks.

They tended to be squeezed into the nooks and crannies of busy days as well as evenings and sometimes weekends, forming the public side of work-related activities that can be shared in social media.

Attended The Summit in Dallas as a marketing leader and participated on a team of social influencers to amplify the event’s messaging and reach, thanks to Sarah Groves.

Joined the Women’s Sports Foundation‘s annual salute gala in New York, thanks to Fiona Carter who is a member of the group’s board. It was inspiring to see so many strong female role models and spend time with colleagues.

Spoke at #WeGatherLA, the second-annual women’s leadership experience spearheaded by Otter Media President Sarah Harden, thanks to an invitation from Jennifer Cho and Katelynn Duffel. It was an amazing experience interviewing Helie Lee about her project Macho Like Me, when she lived life as a man for six months. Truly incredible!

Talked with visiting students from Howard University and North Carolina A&T University about how to build a career through social media, thanks to Grant Reid, along with John Willis and Kaleb Pask.

Participated in events at USC as a member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors and USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board, thanks to Leticia Lozoya and Ashley Cooper.

Beyond building your career through social media, there are other benefits to documenting your professional life in social. You’re helping to build the brands of your company and your colleagues.

Employees are a trusted and credible source of information about their companies, according to Shel Holtz. Take that responsibility seriously and be sure you’re communicating in alignment with your company’s values, brand and social media policy.

And as we approach the end of the year and you summarize your key accomplishments, your social media feeds are a powerful input. They document many of your key accomplishments. You can add to quantifying their impact by the reach and the engagement of your posts.

As you head into a new week, what are you doing, experiencing and learning this week that you can share in social media?

A Top 2018 PR Trend: Growth in Employee Advocacy

What’s ahead in 2018?

How will you continue to build your career through social media in the coming year? As a corporate professional, how can you best tell your story through social media – and promote your employer’s brand and your colleagues at the same time?

A top trend is the continuing growth in employee advocacy programs. Through them, companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors.

Employees can share official news and information about the company and its brand through personal social media channels.

Some research I did this week got me thinking about this topic (opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

I reviewed recent literature and studies to identify the trends and challenges in marketing, branding and public relations for the coming year.

6 PR trends to check out in 2018 pointed to the expansion of personal branding and thought leadership beyond a company’s leaders.

“The more people on your team who are building their brands and, by extension, your company’s brand,” says the article’s author John Hall, “the more opportunities you have to distribute content and connect with your audience.”

This dovetails with the observation by IABC Fellow Shel Holtz that “employees are now your most credible spokespeople.” This is based on the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

It also aligns with the “media fragmentation and loss of trust” that Robert Wynne covers in The biggest and most important media and PR trends for 2018.

In it, Bob Gold also speaks to the burgeoning challenge of getting noticed in growing media among the “ever-expanding communications channels.”

Another study full of interesting stats is the 2017 State of Employee Advocacy Survey. Conducted by JEM Consulting, it includes responses from 155 mostly U.S.-based companies:

  • Employee advocacy adoption grew by more than 25% over the last year.
  • In 2018, the top goal is to increase the number of employees participating as advocates.
  • Growth occurred for use of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Surprisingly, LinkedIn declined after being the top channel last year.
  • The most popular channels are Facebook (76% of respondents’ employees use it for advocacy), Instagram (62%) and Twitter (56%).
  • Twitter’s popularity went down 29% over the last year.
  • YouTube grew dramatically (35%) in its use year over year – to 43% in 2017, up from 8% in 2016.

“We attribute this shift to the increased variety of industries and type of organizations adopting employee advocacy, as well as the expansion of business objectives for these programs,” says Jen McClure, CEO of JEM Consulting.

“We’re seeing that all types of organizations are using visual media effectively,” McClure also says, “especially online video, which was one of our key recommendations from last year’s study.”

This is good insight for companies and individuals alike in planning for the coming year.

Personally, I’m looking at shifting my employee advocacy more toward Instagram and Facebook. This will be an interesting evolution, since I currently use those channels to connect with my personal networks (although the proportion of professional contacts is growing on those platforms).

And while advocacy seems to be declining in LinkedIn and Twitter, I’ll still focus on LinkedIn. The 500 million people on LinkedIn make it an ideal place to connect with other professionals. And the recent addition of video capability will be fun to explore.

With these data points, how will you create your social media strategy for 2018? What will you you continue? What will you change?

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 who 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?

18 Ways to Live Tweet an Event

Want to peek into the future of technology and entertainment?

Thousands of people got to do just that at SHAPE, the AT&T Tech & Entertainment Expo at Warner Bros. Studios.

I was one of them. And I wanted to share the experience. So I live tweeted some of the sound bites I heard from some of the spellbinding speakers. (Here’s where I say that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Live tweeting – or snapping or gramming, depending on the social platform – is something you can do at every event you attend.

Why not share valuable content with your social networks? It’s an important part of any social media savvy strategy for your professional life.

Here’s a roadmap.

 

BEFORE THE EVENT: Get Ready

Get familiar with the event. Download the event app. Peruse the agenda. Plan how you’ll spend your time.

Learn about the speakers. Read their bios. Check out their Twitter feed or their Instagram presence or their Snap story.

Know the event’s social strategy. See what social networks the event is using and decide which one(s) you’ll use. Check out the event hashtags. Search them and view existing content.

Follow the event’s Twitter handle(s). In this case, @attdeveloper and @attshape had great tweets throughout the event.

Share your plans to attend. Post pre-event content in your social networks. You may discover friends who will also be there and other people you can take the opportunity to meet in person.

 

AT THE EVENT: Tell a Compelling Story

Curate your feed. Once the event begins, think of it like a story. Consider the story you want to tell and tweet accordingly. Don’t tweet content unrelated to the event until after it’s over.

Pick a good seat. Sit as close to the front and the center as possible. You’ll be able to get better photos that way. Chat with people sitting near you to see what they’re enjoying about the event and how they’re experiencing it.

Capture images. Take pictures of on-screen images before the speakers begin. You’ll have plenty of visual assets to create your story. And you might be able to use them in a collage.

Take pictures during the talk. Capture interesting visuals. Get up-close pictures of the panel and individual speakers. Capture speakers in action, making expansive and dramatic gestures.

Use photos that show people in the best light. Delete unflattering pictures, such as when a speaker’s eyes are closed or they’re in an awkward pose.

Edit photos for lighting and color. Crop them so they’ll show up well in your tweet. This takes a little trial and error. I’m still learning.

Vary the number of photos you include with each tweet. You can include 1, 2 or 4 photos per tweet. And don’t forget that video can accompany a tweet too.

Listen for sound bites. The AT&T SHAPE app had an invaluable section in each presentation to take notes. So I captured sound bites that grabbed me. It was easier to copy and paste them into a tweet as well as synthesize a number of messages into a single tweet.

If a friend asked you for the one thing you learned, or for 3 key takeaways from a talk, what would you say? Use that same line of reasoning for your tweets. Listen for the best content from the speakers and share the most valuable information.

Use the hashtag(s). In every tweet or post, use the event hashtag. That makes your content more discoverable, and therefore more likely to be liked and shared.

Mention people. Give credit to speakers and panelists by mentioning them in tweets and posts. Use their Twitter handle. If they don’t have a handle, use their name with a hashtag, e.g., #FionaCarter, so the content is more discoverable.

Mention organizations. If a company is involved in some way, weave their Twitter handle into the tweet. By mentioning @Tribeca, one of my tweets was retweeted by the organization. That generated 5,000 impressions!

Keep tabs on the event’s Twitter handle and the event hashtag(s). Look at what the primary event handle is tweeting. Search on the hashtag during the event to see what people are sharing. That leads to the next strategy . . .

Engage with related content. Like and retweet content that adds to the story you want to tell. Use the “quote tweet” feature to include your perspective on the original tweet. Here’s one from my colleague Brooke Hanson.

However, if the “quote tweet” feature eliminates the image from the original tweet (i.e., if it becomes text only), consider a straight retweet so you get the benefit of the visual appearing. Why? Tweets with images get 150% more retweets.

Build relationships. Promote the content and ideas of speakers you know or want to get to know by tweeting about them or retweeting their content. Do the same for people attending the event who are sharing their experience of it.

Look at the Twitter feeds of people who followed you as a result of the event. Follow back the people whose content you want to be associated with.

 

AFTER THE EVENT: Extend the Experience

Tweet a close to your story. What tweet will put the right finish on your event story? It could be the final tweet from the event’s Twitter handle. Or it could be your biggest takeaway from the event.

Analyze your analytics. Check out your Twitter analytics to see which tweets got the most impressions and the most engagement. Create a hypothesis as to why. This will help you create more engaging tweets, whether it’s the next thing you tweet about or the next event you attend.

Extend the experience. What did you learn at the event? What made the biggest impact on you? What will you change or do differently as a result?

Think about ways you could share those learnings with your social networks. Maybe it’s a final tweet or a maybe it’s a blog post that you share in a tweet.

Apply what you learned. Find at least one thing you’ll do differently as a result of attending the event. Commit to putting it into action right away.

For me, it was sharing how I live tweet an event in this post. This caused me to reflect on the process I use and how it’s evolved over the course of several events.

What I thought was simply an intuitive process actually has several concrete steps. It was a surprise to unpack it and think through each step in the process. And analyzing the analytics from live tweeting will help make it better the next time.

How do you live tweet an event?

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?