New fundamental: Be social on LinkedIn

The knock on LinkedIn has always been. “I set up my profile. Now what? What am I supposed to do?”

For a long time, those were very good questions. How to use LinkedIn beyond setting up your profile was not particularly intuitive. Some folks learned that the value was found in a well-moderated group or the Answers section. (Note: LinkedIn recently discontinued the Answers section.) But that required some initiative and time which could be hit and miss in terms of positive results. For folks who weren’t sold on the benefits of social media or probably didn’t even understand the concept of social media, LinkedIn wasn’t much more than a place to post a version of your resume and sit back and see if anything happened such as job offers.

Sure there was a feed about how your contacts were using LinkedIn but it mainly showed who they were connecting with and what groups the more adventurous joined. You might also get exciting news about what project someone completed or was starting. The best nugget of information was learning when someone changed jobs.

If that is still your impression of LinkedIn, you clearly haven’t spent much time on it recently. There have been a flurry of changes over the last year. LinkedIn is now a more social space than it has ever been before.

Is your profile in the top 10%? James Howe in LinkedIn Top 5 percent

I figure that this post is useful because I have reason to believe that most people have an account on LinkedIn but they don’t use it. For many that probably means that their profile is not at full strength. But I expect there are others with complete profiles who don’t do much more than accept connections with people.

My evidence is that I recently learned that my profile is among the 5% most viewed of the 200 million profiles on LinkedIn*. Yes, I write blog posts about LinkedIn, I have more than 600 connections and I have been reasonably active since I joined about six years ago. While it’s flattering, I’m surprised that my profile is viewed more often than 190 million other people.

That tells me that many people are getting the message that they should be on LinkedIn but don’t know what that means or what to do when they get there. I expect they haven’t discovered  the importance or benefits of being regularly active. My guess is that many of those 190 million people are not familiar with the new LinkedIn.

*To celebrate it’s 200 million milestone, LinkedIn sent messages letting people know if there profile was among the top 1%, 5% or 10% busiest. A great, personalized marketing tactic.

A new fundamental: Be social on LinkedIn

When preparing for a client a LinkedIn workshop based upon my 11 fundamentals of LinkedIn, I shared a link to them. An IABC colleague, Christopher Swan let me know that he liked them  but that he would add the need to interact. I suggested that was a part of my fundamental about staying in touch with your network but as a result of the conversation, I decided that it really needed to be emphasized more directly.

LinkedIn Fundamental #12: Be Social

The LinkedIn news feed described earlier has been overhauled, It now looks much more attractive and is worth spending more time reviewing regularly.LinkedIn home feed

At the top is a set of articles that are suggested for you based upon your profile referred to as LinkedIn Today. They come based upon how others in your field are interacting with this content. You can modify the suggestions by, for example, adding articles shared with people in a related industry. These articles are attractively presented using an arrangement of tile images featuring article titles.

As a result, you’ll see a lot more content being shared in your LinkedIn news feed. More content has also meant I expect that more people are posting their own choices for content they believe their network will find interesting and valuable. I’ve always felt that Twitter was my greatest source of professional development reading but I’m becoming aware of the richness of content found in my LinkedIn news feed.

LinkedIn really is transforming itself into Facebook for professionals. While that analogy has been around for awhile, now more than ever it fits.

If you are interested in your career, engaging in professional development and networking for a variety of reasons. LinkedIn is for you and worth an investment of your time.

The flip side of the enhanced news feed is that LinkedIn is now more than ever a place for interaction. So much so that I’ve decided that “Be Social” is LinkedIn fundamental #12.LinkedIn news feed

The news feed is the best and easiest place to be social on LinkedIn. When someone posts content like an article or blog post, you are able to “Like” it, “Share it,” add a “Comment” or send the poster a message. You are able to congratulate people who have new jobs. And as always, you can also send messages to people making new connections.

Go beyond the bare minimum of making a comment, feel empowered to have a conversation!

Don’t just lurk and see what is being posted and shared then leave without any interaction. Use the tools LinkedIn gives you to stay in touch with your network but go beyond posting status updates or content. Be social.

In many ways, I’m advocating one of my fundamentals of any form of social media in the LinkedIn context: Be Generous: Share. Respond. Comment.

The benefits of social media come out of being social. That is how you build and enhance relationships.

On LinkedIn that means connecting with others who are taking their career seriously and using social media to enhance it. Sounds like the kind of people worth getting to know better eh?

By liking, commenting or sharing, you are contributing to a relationship you’ve agreed to include in your professional network. It also helps to keep you top of mind when that person is looking to work with someone, learn more about a company or make other decisions that could be relevant to you. You can have a great, strong relationship with someone but that may not mean that you’ll come to mind at the right time. Being fresh in their mind can definitely help and it also helps with others with whom you’ve connected.

The same social options are available for the companies that you follow too.

Sharing content and being social with the content of others also helps your network to learn more about you and your expertise. That helps fill out the picture of who you are to everyone in your network.

As Christopher points out, your interactions with content shows up in the feeds of people in your contact’s network. By being social, you create an opportunity to introduce yourself to new people and new opportunities.

Remember that includes how (if?) you respond to comments others are making about your content too!

I’m now making a conscious effort to check in to LinkedIn daily, to review my news feed and to be social by interacting with what I find. I’m now liking, commenting or sharing one or more times each day.

To make a long post short, use the LinkedIn features to be social and make the most of this social media platform.