Poor LinkedIn. It’s just for when you need a job, right? No? Oh, well maybe some people use it like “Facebook for business professionals.” You know, you’re on Facebook at home but on LinkedIn at the office. Wrong again?
I felt sorry for LinkedIn for a while. It seemed like one of those things you only pay attention to when you need it (like when you’re job hunting). But it’s MORE. So much more! It’s a personal brand. It’s an “about me” link that is not on your company website. It’s a resume. It’s a blog. It’s a networking tool. You might meet a recruiter there. But you might meet customers, valued vendors or even influencers in your industry. You may secure an investment or make a post that resonates. LinkedIn is great. And it’s woefully underused by so many. What can we do about that?
Aunt Karen is not welcome here.
Let’s talk first about the content on LinkedIn. On Facebook, as Gerard Braud (pronounced “Jared Bro” if you’re not a native Louisianan) puts it, posts that resonate make people angry, make them cry or make them laugh. On LinkedIn, posts that resonate make people think. The best posts provide valuable information. They provide well-informed alternative viewpoints. They provide information you maybe didn’t even know you needed. On LinkedIn, you shouldn’t find tinfoil hat conspiracies from your third cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker. If you wouldn’t say it at the office, it’s probably not on LinkedIn. And that’s a bit of a breath of fresh air versus some of what you’ll stumble upon elsewhere. And these posts? They reach a different type of audience.
One strong example of a great LinkedIn post came from Phil Baker. Phil’s one of our clients. He’s a very smart man, a pharmacist and a person who always strives to do the right thing. When Amazon announced its pharmacy services, a lot of people asked Phil’s professional opinion. So he shared it. He backed it up with information, and people wanted to talk about it. In fact, he got offers to write for a media outlet as a result. Dissenting opinions were also welcome, and they were discussed civilly. It was a wonderful example of the power of this platform.
Which brings me to the audience on LinkedIn…
I’m what they call an “old millennial.” That means I was on Facebook not long after it launched. Back then, we added people whether we knew them or not. I once befriended a guy simply because his birthday was the day after mine. It was pretty common to recognize your acquaintance’s roommate on campus because she appeared in her roommate’s profile picture. LinkedIn is not like that.
Sure, people sometimes request to connect with other users they don’t already know. In some cases, that’s acceptable. (I gladly connected with a college student majoring in PR after my dad met her and she messaged me a note alongside her request.) But generally, don’t expect to connect with someone you don’t actually know just because they might be a prospective client or other beneficial person with whom to network. However, if you did meet someone, LinkedIn is an excellent place to follow up. Or if you’re seeking appropriate contacts, it’s a great place to do some research.
Use your resources.
LinkedIn has all kinds of cool features. A few of my favorites are:
- Slides or article shares – Beyond the typical post (perhaps with a picture or article linked), LinkedIn allows you to share even more. Brand your slides or use the article features to really flex your knowledge sharing muscles.
- Recommendations and skills – These are on each user’s individual profile. It gives your connections a chance to endorse you. Skills endorsements are simple. For example, if you work in PR (like me), you may list your skills as “writing” or “social media management.” If your connections (including your colleagues or clients) believe you are skilled in those areas, they can endorse you. Going further, they can write out a full recommendation. It certainly limits the scramble of soliciting these later if you’re job hunting.
- Analytics – Whether you’re running your individual profile or a company page, you’ve got access to some level of metrics regarding your posts, who has viewed your profile and more. Even the basic free individual accounts will show you how many people have viewed your profile recently. But that brings me to another point…
Consider going premium.
If you hope to use LinkedIn to grow your business, increase your profile (for any number of reasons) or make great hires, you may benefit from a premium account. Prices vary, but the platform does offer a 30-day free trial if you’re considering its benefits. Going premium allows opportunities like…
- Private messages to users with whom you aren’t already connected
- Expanded search capabilities (to find more of the people you hope to reach)
- Premium insights on company pages (whether you manage those pages or not)
As with any social media presence, LinkedIn will only work for you if you use it appropriately. That means posting authentic content, engaging in meaningful ways and maximizing your use of its features. Are you In?