I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn these days. It is, without a doubt, the most valuable social network to me now (in a professional sense). So, I see a lot of “interesting” behavior–especially among people who are often looking for a job!
Now, I don’t claim to be one of these “LinkedIn gurus”, but I have picked up a few tips and best practices in my LinkedIn usage over the years. So, today I thought I’d share six of those tips.
1 – Show restraint!
LinkedIn is NOT the channel to share your every waking thought. LinkedIn is the place to show restraint. In fact, I would argue most of us would get a lot more value from spending more time engaging with our connections on LinkedIn vs. broadcasting to them! So, comment on a colleague’s post about their promotion. Share a post from a friend who’s hiring for a new position. Send a DM to a colleague who recently was asking a question about comms planning on LinkedIn. Spend more time helping others–LinkedIn 101.
2 – Resist the urge to pimp your company all the time
Resist the urge to talk about how fantastic the company you work for is ALL THE TIME. I know, social employee advocacy is hot, and the social media director is pressuring you to share ALL THE POSTS. But, I can tell you as someone who spends a lot of time out there, it’s a little annoying if you’re posting about how cool your company is all the time. Not saying you shouldn’t do this–just practice moderation. (PS: this is probably the #1 mistake–if you want to call it that–that most people make on LinkedIn, in my opinion).
3 – Use LinkedIn as a research tool
Use LinkedIn for what it’s best at–research! LinkedIn is, unquestionably, the best professional research tool on the planet. For example, when I recently developed my “People I would love to have coffee with in 2020” list, where do you think I started? Or, when I’m heading into a meeting with a client and she mentions three communicators I’ve never met will be in the room, where do you think I turn to research them a bit? LinkedIn is a great social media network–but it’s a much better research tool. Make sure you’re using it for that purpose–A LOT.
4 – Aim to share one original photo each week
Bonus points if it includes you! Remember, on LinkedIn, your community is your connections. These are most likely people you have worked with or for in the past. Or, other friends or colleagues you know in the field. These people are pulling for you! And, they want to support you! So, give them that opportunity. If you’re speaking at an event, ask someone to get a pic of you on stage and share that after the event. Or, maybe your job takes you to a unique place in the world–why not get a pic of yourself in that setting with a note about #worktravel? I’ve found that original photos that feature people on LinkedIn work extraordinarily well. In fact, I’ve seen success with a couple clients in this area recently, too. And, if you want to know how it’s done at the highest level, follow Sarah Blakely, CEO of Spanx. Best example I’ve seen yet at the C-level.
5 – Use direct messages to nurture relationships.
In any given week, I’m probably communicating with 15-20 people via LinkedIn direct messages. That’s very intentional. For some of these folks, I could communicate by email, but I’ve found it a bit easier to get people’s attention via direct messages given the fact that most people probably don’t get too many of them. And, for new connections, this is an ideal way to communicate. It’s personal. It’s intimate. And, it usually gets a response. Again, unlike email inboxes, which are almost always overflowing, my direct message on LinkedIn rarely gets “buried.”
6 – Make cold connections–the right way.
A new connection on LinkedIn sent me a note last week asking if I had any best practices or tips on ways to make “cold reach outs” on LinkedIn. Over the last 10 years, I’ve done a ton of this. And here are the tips that have worked best for me: 1) Make the initial connection as non-threatening and friendly as possible. In other words, don’t sell the new connection. Don’t ask them for an intro. And, for all that is holy, do not ask them for a job! Just start with something like “Hey, I see we have a few common connections, including XXX. And, I see you’re a Gopher alum–me, too! Thought we might connect here.” 2) Ask them out to coffee! Again, in a non-threatening way. Do not ask for anything! In fact, at this stage, you should be looking to help THEM! The worst thing you could do with any new connection is ask them to help you. That’s not how this works. 3) Find a point of common connection. For me, this can mean a school I attended or taught at (St. Thomas); a common former employer or client; or, a key common connection. You do those three things, I can almost guarantee you’ll have success with your cold intros.