2018 Trends to Build Your Career through Social Media

2018 trend stories on social media are everywhere.

How do you take advice for organizational brand building, apply it to your personal brand and boost it through social media?

How do you make sense of the eye-popping list of trends? In my research I came across:

  • AI, or artificial intelligence
  • AR, or augmented reality
  • VR, or virtual reality
  • influencer marketing
  • Instagram stories
  • messaging platforms like WhatsApp
  • online hangouts like Houseparty
  • more content moderation by platforms
  • decline of organic content reach and rise of pay to play
  • social listening
  • chatbots
  • personalization
  • Generation Z in the workplace and marketplace
  • the rise of ephemeral content with Snapchat and others
  • conversational user interfaces, like Alexa
  • and video, video, and more video, including professional live video.

That’s a lot to think about. So I researched, sifted and synthesized to identify key personal branding trends. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

As you wrap up your year-end social media checklist and turn to the year ahead, here’s how you can tap into the trends for building your career through social media.

Why is this so important?

First, the personal brand you develop through social media and in real life will help you build your network, position yourself for new roles and navigate career transitions.

Start by deciding – or updating – what goals you want to accomplish in your career and how social media can help make them happen.

Maybe a goal is to attract a sponsor to champion your career. “One of the best ways to attract a coveted senior-level sponsor is to develop a strong personal brand,” Dorie Clark says in Harvard Business Review. What better way to do that than through your social media presence?

Second, there’s an element of serendipity in social media. While you can set specific goals for social media actions, you can’t entirely predict or control the outcomes.

How did this work for me? Over the last year, my social media involvement played a part in being invited to speak to mentoring circles and visiting students, being asked to be an influencer at a big company event, and joining the board of governors for an alma mater’s alumni association.

Third, people are spending more time on social media – more than 2 hours a day, and growing. That gives you more opportunities to boost your career through sharing your thoughts, posting your (non-confidential) work and building your network in social media.

Here are the key social media trends you can use to build your career through social media in the year ahead.

1. Platforms are ever evolving.

Social media is an ongoing learning opportunity, because the algorithms and features of each platform are constantly evolving and changing.

That means we individually need to be constantly observing, learning and experimenting in our chosen platforms to see what gets the most engagement.

An easy way to learn outside the platforms is to listen to podcasts during commute time. On the top of my list are The Science of Social Media, Social Pros and Why I Social.

2. Communities are critical. 

The mantra to always be connecting will help you build community in your chosen social platforms.

As a start, connect with all of your existing contacts at your company, people related to your work, people in professional associations, and so on.

Add new connections as you meet new people, ideally on a weekly basis. And you can identify people you want to meet and connect with them.

Why is this so important? Dakota Shane writes in Inc.com that you can “win” the social media game by asking,” Is my brand building community on social media?”

Building a strong community of people interested in you and what you have to share will help overcome the ever-evolving algorithms that may limit the reach of your content.

Shane gives great ideas to build community through starting a Facebook group, giving your community members a name, showing your audience love and recognition, and starting a meetup.

3. Influencers are for individuals too. 

If influencers continue to build large brands, why not apply the concept to building your career?

This idea first came up for me in an episode of The Science of Social Media. Hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis talked about “pods” of people with complimentary areas of focus in social media. They come together to like, comment on, and share each other’s content.

This trend seems the most pronounced for Instagram. “Insta pods” are groups of 10 to 20 people who follow each other and engagement meaningfully in each other’s content.

You can try this concept on an informal basis by thinking of existing groups you belong to, and if it makes sense to amplify each others’ content.

This happened informally for me with three groups.

  • One is mentoring circles I lead with employee resource groups and an alma mater.
  • Another is the group of influencers who worked together on a big company event. We naturally stayed in touch afterwards and continue to engage with each others’ content.
  • And the marketing and communications team that leads social media for my alumni association involvement is another natural pod.

What groups do you already belong to that could create a pod of people who engage with each other’s social media content?

4. Employee advocacy programs are expanding. 

Employee advocacy programs are poised for big growth in the year ahead, according to the 2017 State of Employee Advocacy survey by JEM Consulting.

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. Why not be one of them?

Through these programs, companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors, sharing official news and information about the company and its brand through personal social media channels.

This gives you valuable and ready-made content you can curate for your own social media feeds. Not only will you be building your personal brand, you’ll be enhancing your company’s brand, a win-win.

While trust has declined among consumers, peer influence is on the rise. This makes employer advocacy programs particularly important.

I can’t wait to see what my colleagues Nolan Carleton, Claire Mitzner and others at our company have in store to enhance our employee advocacy program in the year to come.

And with the growth of Instagram and Instagram stories, I’m looking forward to exploring that platform in detail in the coming year, much as I did with LinkedIn over the last year.

5. Video keeps increasing in importance.

This is a continuing trend, as video grows in popularity across social platforms. LinkedIn added video capability this year. And video capability continues to evolve across all platforms.

One of my goals over the last year was to experiment with video. I tried Facebook Live and videos posts on Instagram and LinkedIn. This was just dipping my toe into the water, and I didn’t see great variation in engagement between video posts and image posts. At least, not yet. So the coming year is ripe for more experimentation.

6. Pay to play is on the rise. 

Algorithms constantly change in social media. Organic unpaid reach in social media is declining for brands. That might help or hurt you as an individual, but it’s hard to know for sure.

One way you can measure is by the engagement trends with your posts. Over the last year, are you getting more likes, comments and shares? If not, you could conduct an experiment by paying to boost or promote a few of your posts. Then you can see what happens and adjust your approach accordingly.

It pays to invest in yourself, so consider allocating a small part of your personal budget to build your career through social media.

What do I pay for personally? Blog hosting services for my WordPress site. A subscription to beautiful visuals through iStock by Getty Images. And an annual LinkedIn premium membership. The accompanying training options alone through LinkedIn Learning make it well worth it.

7. Automation opportunities abound.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning seem to be everywhere in trend articles. The Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, even named AI the marketing word of the year. So I keep wondering how best to apply AI and automation to career building through social  media.

Can it create and maintain a social media calendar? Schedule and make posts? Help write top-performing headlines? Conduct research? Outline blog posts?

These are all areas worth exploration in the year ahead. While there are easy ways to weave social media into our everyday lives, I want to learn more about how AI and automation can help.

Given my upcoming focus on Instagram, I’m excited to check out these top 5 Instagram automation tools from Forbes contributor Steve Olenski.

8. Experiments accelerate learning.

My highest performing LinkedIn article was about my experiment in posting to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Not only did it generate a great deal of valuable data and learning, it engaged my audience much more than other posts, with more than 900 views.

As many of the trend articles attest to, the way to make the most of social media is to take a “test and learn approach.” That’s really the only way to know for sure what will resonate with your community. And what works today might not work a month or a year from now.

There are two near-term experiments on my list. The first is to ask my LinkedIn community what topics they’d like to know more about for career building through social media.

The second is quantitative and qualitative research about why and how professionals are using social media and where they’re finding the most success. Leave me a comment if you’d like to participate.

One trend that likely WON’T work for career building through social media? The rise of ephemeral content in Snapchat and Instagram. This short-term and disappearing content doesn’t build an enduring digital footprint of your work and your point of view.

By creating and curating content in social media on a regular basis, you’re building your career, one post and one interaction at a time. Here are some ways to make it part of your everyday life.

What trends are you focusing on for the coming year?

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?

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?

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?

Be Bold in Growing Your LinkedIn Network

“In growing your network, you want it to be both diverse and concentrated,” personal branding expert William Arruda wrote recently in Forbes about how to cultivate a powerful LinkedIn network.

First, begin with why you’re on LinkedIn. What do you want to accomplish? How can growing your network help you do that?

Second, ask yourself this question: Who did you meet this week, who will you be meeting soon and who do you want to meet?

Third, take a few minutes every week to add to your LinkedIn network. Always send a personalized invitation, explaining how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

As you build your network, make sure your profile presents you in the best light. Here are great profile tips from LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum. They spoke this winter at the MAKERS Conference for women’s leadership.

Who did you meet this week? Did you start working with any new colleagues? How about vendors? Invite them to join your network.

What professional, civic and charitable organizations are you involved with? Invite key people from those groups to be part of your network.

Look at your email contact list, your Facebook friend list, your Twitter followers and so on. Identify the ones you want to invite to your LinkedIn network. The “grow your network” feature on LinkedIn will see who you already know based on your email address book.

At the airport recently, I ran into someone I met a few years ago at an event at my son’s school. We struck up a conversation and caught up on what was going on at our respective employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own). To keep the connection going, I followed up with a LinkedIn invitation.

One of my professional associations, a roundtable for senior communicators, also had its quarterly meeting this week. At the end of each day, I sent personalized invitations to people I’d met. An even better strategy – one colleague sent invitations in real time during our roundtable discussion of timely issues.

Who will you be meeting soon? What’s on your calendar for the coming week or month? Will you be meeting new people? Send them an invitation in advance of the event.

When you meet in person, you’ll already be acquainted with each other’s LinkedIn profiles and you may find a great conversation starter. For example, maybe you know interesting people in common or your new connection is working on a project you want to learn more about.

Who would you like to meet? Are you working in a new area and want to learn from the luminaries in the field? Are there companies of interest you want to know more about? Are there second-level contacts you’d like to add to your network?

This is where the personalized invitation is especially important. Explain in a compelling and brief way why you’d like to connect.

Take advantage of the “people you may know” algorithm in LinkedIn. Is there anyone you’ve missed connecting with? Invite them to your network.

Lucas Buck recommends looking at alumni groups and people who have similar college degrees. He’s an area sales manager at Farmers Insurance who uses LinkedIn highly successfully to achieve his business objectives.

He spoke last fall at a networking group affiliated with my son’s school. What did I do the same day as the event? I sent personalized LinkedIn invitations to the people I met at the event, along with Lucas.

Here’s a sidenote about conference speakers. Introduce yourself and chat with the speaker briefly before they speak, if they aren’t too busy with final presentation preparation. Fewer people line up to talk with them before their presentation, as opposed to the larger group that tends to gather after the talk.

Back to LinkedIn, what strategies do you use to grow your network?