LinkedIn is a great platform, yet highly underutilized for most small business owners.  There’s an assumption that everyone on there is either a large corporation or a job seeker.  While there is no shortage of either, there’s certainly a variety of people and purposes on LinkedIn.  Many people are late to the party and have yet to create an account or have an underutilized account, but it’s never too late to start building connections.  We advise all of our clients to have an active LinkedIn account to assure you continually build your network and influence in a scalable manner. It’s impossible to attend every in-person networking event, events in other cities, or even in other countries and LinkedIn enables you to accomplish similar results from your phone or computer.

Connect with a Purpose Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is pretty simple to use as it’s comparable to other social media platforms you’re probably familiar with where you can connect with people, view their profile and timeline, comment on their posts, follow people (and companies), and post your own content.  But there is something that people rarely talk about: LinkedIn requires more of a reciprocal relationship than most other platforms. In essence, you have to put in more effort to get people to connect with you, comment on your posts, or take any kind of action that would help promote your status on the platform.  This means you’ll not only send an individual an invitation to connect, but you’ll also include a short note about why you want to connect with them in the first place. For many professionals on the platform, they will not accept any invitation to connect without an accompanying note. So, take time to craft some simple, yet relatable notes that you would send along with your connection request and just tailor them with the person’s name before you hit send (very important!)  

The additional effort also includes commenting on posts from people in your network.  This is where the reciprocity comes in. Everyone wants to be acknowledged for sharing thoughtful information on the platform.  It takes time and energy to select and craft meaningful posts worthy of engagement because after all, the highest priority of being on the platform should be to provide value to those in your network.  That means posting content that piques their interest or provides them with valuable information they can apply to their careers or businesses right now.

The LinkedIn Culture

While LinkedIn is considered a more “serious” platform compared to most other social media outlets, we’re starting to see more people show their personalities and share content that is funny, sarcastic, heartwarming, and inspirational.  Surely, you’ll see an inappropriate post every so often, but that’s rare. People understand that LinkedIn is a professional network and it’s the best platform for you to influence others to buy into your personal brand and perceive you as the professional yet relatable, competent, helpful being that you are.  You’ll only achieve this through consistency in your engagement—meaning the content of your posts and comments on other’s posts.

All of your interactions paint a picture of who you are in real life. People are able to make preliminary decisions on whether or not they would like to get to know you better, hop on a call with you, do business with you, hire you to work for them, refer clients to you, and so on.  While social media is meant to be a place to socialize with others, LinkedIn has a culture of its own where your socialization is on a more diplomatic, sophisticated level. While you may see some outliers, people who don’t quite conform to this unspoken, yet important expectation, be sure to maintain your composure to reflect your desired brand.

Additionally, keep in mind that social media algorithms change all the time and the changes are not typically announced to the public.  This means that you may find that your posts are seen by a large number of people and then suddenly your views and engagement will drop into the single digits.  Rest assured that there are rules to this game that work consistently regardless of algorithm changes.

Here are the basic, yet unspoken, rules of LinkedIn:

  1. Post consistently.  The number of times you post per day or week depends on your objective for using the platform and what you’re posting.  
  2. Post content that is of value to your connections.
  3. Create and post a combination of original content (articles, videos, graphics, etc. that you personally created) and curated content written by others.
  4. Leave thoughtful comments on other’s posts.
  5. ‘Like’ posts.
  6. ‘Share’ posts and add thoughtful commentary when appropriate.
  7. Remain professional. While healthy discussions enable you to share your expertise and point of view, do not combatively argue with people who have posts or comments you disagree with.

How to Safeguard Your LinkedIn Connections

As we all know, social media platforms are owned by companies.  This means that all of the information on the platform belongs to them and if they decide to change the rules of engagement or even shut the company down and discontinue the platform, you’ll lose your valuable relationships.  Or will you?

Many business owners learned this lesson the hard way:  Connect on social media, but then carry the conversation to email and/or phone otherwise you leave yourself vulnerable to losing all of the connections you’ve gained over the years.

In order to avoid the dilemma, you should download the information from your LinkedIn connections into a file and save to your computer or cloud storage.  Go to bit.ly/downloadconnections to receive step-by-step instructions on how to complete this task.  It should take no more than 5 minutes of your time. The downloaded file will contain the first and last name, email address, company name, current position, and the date and time you originally connected with each person.  If you’re active on LinkedIn, connecting with new people each day or week, we suggest completing this exercise at least once a month to assure you have the most recent information in your file.

The #1 Way to Lose LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn is a powerful resource.  Many companies, large and small, utilize LinkedIn as part of their sales process.  There are hundreds of technology tools on the market that help you easily extract data from the platform and use the information for a variety of purposes during the sales process.  Since LinkedIn has around a half-billion professionals registered, what better way to find others to do business with than there?

While this is certainly a convenient way to find and communicate with other professionals with the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship, it’s important to avoid abusing the privilege of having this access.  Most importantly, it’s critical not to spam the email addresses of those in your network just because you have access to them. Although they agreed to join your network on LinkedIn, they didn’t opt-in to be solicited through your email marketing service.  This one mistake will cost you customers and connections as well as cause damage to your brand and reputation. We’ll dive deeper into this topic in our next post.

If you’re a user, what do you like most about LinkedIn?  Has it been a valuable resource to your business? We’d love to hear from you!

Have questions?  Send us a message using the form below.