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Inside The LinkedIn Lines

stay-inside-the-lines

LinkedIn is a very valuable, useful and powerful platform, whether you are trying to land a job or you are networking for the purposes of Internet marketing. You have access to every type of person in any industry just by spending a little time on this network. The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is now an effective publishing platform too. If used as directed (by those who have learned), it is a consistent source of new connections, information and options.  But, if you color outside the lines, it won’t be nearly as satisfying or rewarding.

The way you tell your story on LinkedIn depends on whose attention you’re trying to attract. Whether it’s potential customers, new business partners, human resource managers, job candidates, or  useful business contacts, understanding your audience will help you tailor your LinkedIn profile to speak directly to them. Regardless of your audience, you must avoid having an unfinished profile. Left incomplete, your profile can send a message about your credibility, that you just don’t care, or that you don’t follow through with things.

While the majority of LinkedIn users showcase their professional experiences and make job search connections, the true value of this platform has become; building credibility, growing your network, and establishing thought leadership. If you’re new to LinkedIn or moving from resume building to business building, some of this advice may seem obvious, but some you may need to experience the hard way to learn.

Do not put anything but your name and professional credentials in the name field of your profile. Don’t put ‘LION’, LinkedIn Open Networker, your email address or what you do. LinkedIn can, and will, suspend or cancel your service.

Don’t post an inappropriate picture or leave your profile with no picture. The first thing people will see is your picture.  This is your opportunity to make a good impression.  Make sure your picture portrays the image you want to be associated with.

LinkedIn is a professional platform, and you must remember that when sharing information. Vacation pictures, your children’s precious moments, and relationship issues are not appropriate. Stay professional, offering business discussions, events, and opportunities. Connect with someone to stay updated on what they’re doing, or someone you just met at a company for which you’re interested in working. In essence, your profile is meant to function as a virtual business card.

Don’t engage in cross social media platform promotion on LinkedIn. Often users with updates that link their Twitter accounts to LinkedIn will flood their profile with tweets. Your professional contacts should not hear ultra-frequent Twitter updates that may not be suitable for the LinkedIn platform. You can activate your Twitter account within LinkedIn to send information out, such as your blog posts.

Remember to be discrete. Just because you can see those who have viewed your profile, doesn’t mean you should hunt them down and ask why. Don’t post about this activity or send in-mails to question why.

When requesting new connections, take the time to get to know your potential connections and personalize a message to them. Include something specific that you could only know because you did research on the person. Let them know why you feel it would be a mutually beneficial connection.

Be aware that when using a third-party app or mobile to send connection requests, a personalized note may not be an option. After making a new connection, be certain to send a follow-up note. In your communication include your email address so people can contact you directly.

Having your Activity Broadcast activated lets your connections know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies. Don’t notify your network every time you add things to your job descriptions or fix a spelling mistake in your profile. Shut notifications off unless you have something important to broadcast, otherwise people will begin to block you.

Connecting with people in order to send them a sales pitch will ultimately back-fire. Build credibility and earn trust first. Always put your email address in any post you make on a group. This allows people to privately contact you.

Post only when you have something useful or of value to share with your network. No spamming, over posting or junk posts. Never send unsolicited, promotional direct messages through LinkedIn to people you don’t really have an active relationship with to get them to opt in, or promote something for you.  This also applies to group messaging and posting.

When posting press releases and other marketing materials consider whether your posts are really relevant to a group or your LinkedIn followers, and whether or not you’ve already shared this information. People don’t like to see irrelevant information or the same thing over and over again.

Status updates are, but if you’re posting more than 10 updates before your connections have arrived at work, you may be over-doing. Three updates per day could be enough; if you have more, consider spreading them out throughout the day.  But, don’t disappear for periods of time either. Be consistent with your activity on LinkedIn, as too much time in-between updates interrupts relationship building, even if it’s once per week.

One of the best ways to participate on LinkedIn is by joining Groups. There are thousands of Groups covering as many topics.  You can gather information,  establish authority by answering the questions of others’, share articles you’ve read or written, or create your own group.

One of the best ways to participate on LinkedIn is by joining Groups. There are thousands of Groups covering as many topics.  You can gather information,  establish authority by answering the questions of others’, share articles you’ve read or written, or create your own group.

When joining LinkedIn Groups, start and follow conversations that interest or are relevant to you. Participate in the conversations that you are reading and enjoying. Remember, if you want to develop a network you must reach out and make the effort.

Joining LinkedIn groups requires that you be very certain to find the rules for that group and follow them carefully. It will help you to avoid unpleasant emails from group owners and getting called out as a rule breaker (yikes).  Or worse yet, you could be shut out from group communications without warning, explanation or knowing for how long. This is called being SWAMmed.

S.W.A.M. is short for Site-Wide Auto Moderation and  means that if one LinkedIn Group Manager blocks a person from their group, all future posts from that person to any other group will be placed into a moderation queue and not automatically published to group’s members. For individual group members who find themselves the subject of this type of block, it can be a painful and time-consuming exercise to ensure that future posts will be seen by other group members. Currently the only course of action is to contact the manager of each and every group to which you wish to post content, and request that they un-restrict your posting permissions for their group. You’re very unlikely to find out which group manager blocked you, or why, because LinkedIn never discloses details of which groups have blocked an individual. Your may only contact group managers one by one to request reinstatement of normal auto-posting status.

When sending in-mail to groups, never allow contacts to see each other’s names and email addresses. Uncheck the box at the bottom of the group message that allows this to occur. When receiving in-mail, try to respond within 48 hours, even if it is just to acknowledge the message.

Note: Never post negative, emotionally charged, politically controversial, or religious comments on LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn is a great hub where all of your contacts,  links and information can be organized and posted, if you just stay inside the lines. For more on LinkedIn crime and punishment not included in this post, read: 50 Shades of Grey on LinkedIn.

Don’t let these insights scare you away.  Rather, let them empower you with knowledge that you don’t have to earn the hard way.  The availability of such a powerful social network requires a new set of rules. Once you become familiar with the way LinkedIn works, you’ll be able to build your network of professional relationships and take advantage of plentiful resources and options the platform has to offer.

If you have learned a LinkedIn “don’t” or “must” that we should add to our collection, please share it here as soon as possible. It is my hope that we should all use LinkedIn to its’ fullest extent, furthering our own potential in the process.

Connect with me on LinkedIn today!

Linda A. Amerigo
mailto:[email protected]
www.amerigoconsulting.com