5 signs you’re using LinkedIn like Facebook

LinkedIn is, without doubt a fantastic business development, networking, educational and profile raising platform. Last time I checked, over 17m UK business professionals have a profile on the site. That’s a Hell of a lot of people for you to reach out to, engage with and maybe do business with.

Personally, the vast majority of our referrals come through LinkedIn, as we work with businesses and individuals up and down the country. We head here first thing for business news, to check up on contacts’ news and to see how we can help fellow group members.

Our Lu offers LinkedIn training, and as such knows a thing or two about using LinkedIn.  Like it or not, she gets to see the good and the bad of LinkedIn activities, and she’s decided she can’t keep her mouth shut any longer.

Caveat: Though we do offer LinkedIn training via Time Saving Heroes we are NOT trying to sell anything here.  Our sole purpose for writing and sharing this blog is to help people get the most from this potentially amazing platform, and ideally not look like they’ve just come from Facebook.  In the long run, it will hopefully make everyone else’s days just that little but happier when they are on LinkedIn!

#1 – A profile picture that won’t get you hired

When it comes to online interaction, what’s the most important and memorable brand asset you have at your disposal?  That’s right, your face!

If the image you’re using is a grainy selfie, holiday pic, a photo from a drunken night out or something from a family photo shoot you’re really not going to be making the best of impressions.

The same applies for avatars and pictures with someone else other than you in them. And let’s not get started on pets!

Get a profile picture of just your face, and nothing but the face.  OK, shoulders are allowed.

#2 – A professional headline that is anything but

Chief fixer? Director of customer love? Marketing extraordinaire? Social media guru? You are probably none of these things. Think about how it looks and how people search on LinkedIn.

When writing your headline, make sure you use a description that is both accurate and related to either the benefit you provide or your title within your company. Either way, this is guaranteed to return your profile in some searches.

Head of Beverage Operations, will not!

#3 – Shameless friend collecting

This is without doubt one of the biggest crimes on LinkedIn. You use one-click connect which sends generic messages rather than connecting through a person’s profile and personalising the message specifically for them.

Trust us, it’s a bad first impression. It says you can’t be bothered to take the time to genuinely reach out and connect.  It’s even worse if you’ve not been on their profile at all (and seriously, they’ll notice). Give people a reason to connect with you and start off on the right foot.

#4 – Not even really wanting to be friends

Once you’ve collected all these random connections, what do you actually do with them? Do you actively keep in touch? What do you do when you get a message from a contact about business? Do you tut, sigh and ignore them? Fly into a rant about people contacting you on LinkedIn to talk business opportunities?

How very dare they, indeed!

The whole point of networking is to make connections, NOT collect names. So change things around and start building relationships by having actual conversations with the people you asked to connect with.

#5 – Going all “selly sell” from the outset

If you send a message to someone the second they connect with you trying to sell something, then you’re spamming.  You might think it’s a warmer way to do it than cold calling, but it is absolutely no different.

It is far better to create rapport by asking questions, sharing content, joining the same group and showing your expertise. Once you’ve made contact via those methods, get in touch and start a discussion – it’s not all about you. In fact, in sales, it’s not about you at all!

How many LinkedIn connections do you need?

If you have 501 or more connections on LinkedIn, you become one of the 46% of users who have an “unknown” number of contacts.  On the face of it, this means you’re officially a “serious networker”.

 

Or does it?

 

Far too many people see the number of connections as a sign of something relevant.  Someone with over 501 must be well connected. They must be influential.  They must be able to help you.  Their business must be doing well.  They must be using LinkedIn correctly.

 

For all any of us know, they might well be using LinkedIn correctly, but the chances are you’re not going to see what goes on behind the scenes.  You see that elusive number, and want to emulate it, desperate to have people think those wonderful things of you – simply because you have the required number of connections.

 

The reality is, it’s rubbish, utterly distracting and a complete waste of everyone’s time.

 

When I say this to people during their LinkedIn 121 training, they usually come back and ask “how many connections should I have, then?”, hopeful that there really is a magic number that’s going to make all the difference.

 

They get quite disappointed when I say there isn’t.  No number is going to change anything, and suddenly ensure it starts raining referrals.

 

Forget LinkedIn for a moment, imagine you’re at a real, live networking event.  There are 501 people in the room.  The place is buzzing, and people are busy talking animatedly in groups.  You know there are some really influential people in the room, some of whom might be interested in your products or services.  You spend an hour collecting their business cards, and then leave.

 

You never had a single conversation – but at least you’ve got their email addresses.

 

You go back to your office, and for the next few weeks you wait for the phone to ring.  You were there, you were one of them, why aren’t they calling?

 

Not a single person in that room knows who you are, or what you do.  Why on earth should they call you?

 

LinkedIn is no different.  If you simply collect connections, either accepting every request that comes your way, or sending them out like confetti, then you’ll get the exact same results.  No one will get in touch.  No one will remember you, and very few will even know you!

 

It’s easy to say such networking events don’t work, but they do, if you approach them correctly.  And the same is true of LinkedIn.

 

When I get a request from someone with 501+ connections, I’m not impressed.  I know that I’m going to disappear into the crowd, another unknown that clicked “connect”.  I’m not important, and they’re not going to be important to me.

 

I always advise people to think smaller, when it comes to LinkedIn connections.  Don’t aim for 300, 500, or 1,000 connections.  Remember that the fewer connections you have, the more you can engage with them and the better results you’ll see.  Those you do connect with, respond to, build a relationship with and reach out to will know you, and they will be willing to help you, recommend you and engage with what you’re saying.

 

It really is that simple.  Please, stop trying to over complicate it.

 

 

How social media can help warm up cold leads

Yesterday I wrote a piece on cold calling, and today I thought I’d carry on that theme.

I always bang on about how social media is a great way to expand your audience and generally raise brand awareness, but it can be a huge help when it comes to warming up cold leads.

Let’s say you’ve done your research and you have a list of prospects you want to contact.  Yes, you could just drop them an email, or pick up the phone to schedule an appointment, but we all know the chances of you getting anywhere with that are quite remote.  Someone that doesn’t know you, and hasn’t had any contact from you in the past, isn’t going to jump at the prospect of working with you.

It can be hard to know how to make contact with someone you don’t actually know, but the reality is with social media you can reach out to countless people around the globe. Yet, for some reason, so few people actually bother.

If you look at your list there’s a good chance every company on there is going to have at least one social media channel.  It might be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest to name but a few.  If you’re serious about reaching out and starting a two-way relationship, then you need to start following them.

Not only that, you should actively interact with them.  Now, I don’t mean you should RT everything they post, that’s entering in to creepy stalker territory, but do get involved where it makes sense to.  Tag them in posts you think would be relevant to them, engage in conversation.  DM them when it’s appropriate to do so to introduce yourself, and perhaps your business and services.

If the company is on LinkedIn, follow them and share some of their updates.  You can also find out who some of the employees are at the business, which may make it easier for you to make contact and get a positive outcome further down the line.  Where possible make contact with these people.  You can always lead with “I’ve been following your business on Twitter for some time and would like to find out more about what you offer”.

I always say social networking is not simply about collecting names.  It doesn’t matter who you know if you don’t genuinely know them, and can’t reach out to them when you need something.  You need to take the time to nurture these relationships, and honestly it will pay off in the end.

 

5 examples of good LinkedIn etiquette

I’ve been doing this gig for a while now, yet it never fails to amaze me how bizarrely people act on social networks compared to how they would in real life.

It’s almost as though when you sit someone behind a screen and ask them to connect with a fellow human being, all rational thought and social etiquette goes out the window.

And it really gets my goat.

So here are my top 5 tips when it comes to LinkedIn etiquette.

# 1 – Be personal when connecting

If you’ve decided you want to connect with someone, take the time to send them a personalised connection request.

If you were in a face to face environment you wouldn’t just go up to someone and shove your business card in their face, hoping they’d get back in touch with you one day. That would be rude.

It kind of works the same way on LinkedIn.

Sending someone a generic message shows you can’t be bothered to explain to them why you’re reaching out. What is it about them that makes you want to connect?  What is it you think you can offer them that would be of benefit?

Yes, many people will accept your request regardless of how you ask them to connect, but they’re not going to be invested in you.  They’ll just ignore your posts, and ultimately might end up removing you as a connection anyway. So what’s the point?

Put the effort in now, and you have a much better chance of establishing a genuine networking relationship.

# 2 – Once you accept, send a message

Far too often when you accept a connection request from a random person they don’t actually get in touch.  That means there’s no interaction, which is kind of the whole point of LinkedIn. Isn’t it?

The best thing you can do is send someone a personalised message as soon as you accept their invitation.  This is a great way to get the conversation started, and also get a better feel for whether they’re genuine, or are just collecting names and bulking out their contacts list.

# 3 – Say thank you

No doubt your parents always taught you to say please and thank you – well that rule hasn’t gone out the window just because you’re on LinkedIn.

If someone has taken the time to endorse you for one of your skills, then you owe then a thank you.  After all, they’ve gone out of their way to do something that’s of no benefit to them, but could be of benefit to you.

They didn’t have to do that.

Don’t feel obligated to endorse them back, although, if you can genuinely recommended them for a skill they possess there’s no reason why you wouldn’t.  However, make sure you avoid the trap of trading endorsements when you have no idea what you’re really talking about.

# 4 – Keep it professional

Not all social networks are created equal, and nor do they have the same purpose.  LinkedIn is not the place for you to share photos of your kids, your dog or to moan about the weather.

LinkedIn is business focussed, which means anything you post should be business related.  You can post about what you’re up to, who you want to connect with, ask for information or assistance from your connections and discuss industry news.

But no one wants to see a picture of what you’re having for lunch.

# 5 – Introduce people

The whole point of networking is to increase your network. I know it sounds obvious, but apparently when it comes to LinkedIn many people seem to have forgotten this.

One of the best things you can do when it comes to using this amazing platform is take the time to introduce your contacts. If you know someone who’s looking for a web designer, and you happen to know a web designer, then take a minute to introduce them to each other.

Facilitate other people’s connections and you greatly increase your own social capital, as well as getting a warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

 

If you want more tips on Netiquette please email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or call 0161 883 2024 to find out when our next training session is.

I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

Yesterday we wrote a piece about the importance of actually making contact with your contacts.  Today, we thought it might be worth thinking about whether size matters when it comes to your network.

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.

 

 

 

Why snooping on snoopers can improve your networking

A fair few weeks back I wrote a piece on LinkedIn Premium, and the advantages the paid for version had over the free one.  To be honest I focussed solely on the LinkedIn Learning feature, which I think does give you a bit more bang for your buck.  However, there’s a lot more you can do with Premium which makes it worthwhile.

Most of us are aware of the ability to see who has viewed your profile as it’s available as an option on free accounts. However, you can only go back and see the last five person, which means if more than five people view your profile in a day … well, you can do the math.

With a Premium account this isn’t an issue as you can see everyone who has viewed your profile (and a lot more information besides).

Now, you might be wondering what the big deal is.  After all, these people took the time to come across your page, had a snoop, and then disappeared in to the distance without saying howdy.

It’s true, but then how many times have you looked at a profile and just not bothered to make contact?  Why is that?  Perhaps you didn’t know how to make an introduction. Maybe you wanted to be connected by a mutual contact? Maybe you got distracted.

There’s a whole host of reasons (besides lack of interest) as to why someone might view a profile and then not reach out.  If there’s a genuine reason that took them away, but the interest remains, wouldn’t it make sense for you to try to initiate contact instead?

I will usually send a message to people who have viewed my profile to see if I can help with anything. Personally, I customise mine rather than sending a generic text, but that’s a personal call.

In my experience this is a great way to make new contacts, and to extend your network; however, again it all comes down to how you work your contact lists and actually network with the people you are now connected with.  Don’t allow LinkedIn to become the graveyard where potentials go to die.

 

If you’re not getting leads through LinkedIn, you might be making this mistake

Usually when I speak to people about LinkedIn they tell me it’s a waste of time.  Initially I was surprised by their attitude because, for me, I’ve always found LinkedIn to be really useful when it comes to promoting my business, expanding my network and generating meaningful leads.

A few minutes and some pertinent questions later I realise that in every single case the individual concerned is using LinkedIn wrong.  For most they half-heartedly set up a profile months (or even years) ago, and haven’t done a single thing with it since.

And they wonder why the phone’s not ringing off the hook.

The simple fact is, if you’re on LinkedIn and you’re getting nothing out of it, then you’re using it wrong.

It honestly doesn’t get any simpler than that.

No matter what your ultimate LinkedIn strategy is, it’s ultimately going to involve communicating with your network.  In order to do that you need to have a network in the first place, and you can only establish one of those by connecting with other users.

Which leads me on to my tip for this week.

Make sure your profile is optimised

There’s no part of your LinkedIn profile that’s not important; however, there are some bits that are slightly more important than others.

When you send an invitation to someone to connect, the first things they’re going to see about you are:

  1. Your name and profile picture
  2. Your professional headline (job title)
  3. Your message

As a result, it’s fair to say your name, picture and headline are the three most important things you need to add to your profile to make the right first impression.

Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot you can do about your name – you’re probably used to it by now, but do avoid using nicknames. Equally, you might want to give some thought as to whether you want to include letters after your name.

I have a BSc, but don’t include it on my profile because it’s utterly irrelevant.

When it comes to your profile photo you need to make sure you have one.  I’ve seen many business owners who decide to use their company logo instead of a photo of themselves.  They might think this helps with getting their name out there, but it doesn’t.

If I’ve just met you at a networking event I’m going to remember you, not your logo.  You profile photo shows me who you are, and a professional one shows me that you can be taken seriously.

As for your professional headline, this is really important and so many people get it wrong. It is not simply your job title, though you might very well went to include that in there somewhere.  Headlines are searchable, which is why it’s key to think of something that not only clearly represents what you do, but is easily understandable to your target audience.

If someone needed your product or service, what would they search for?  The biggest problem I see is business owners identifying themselves as “Business Owner.”  If I’m looking for a carpet cleaner, or website designer I am not going to type in business owner in the search bar – therefore, I am never going to find you.

You might well be precisely what I’m looking for, but LinkedIn doesn’t know that, therefore I won’t know that.

 

 

Here at Time Saving Heroes we spend a lot of time helping people develop LinkedIn strategies to achieve their goals.  Part of this includes providing a review on LinkedIn profiles to make sure you’ve got everything you need to make a good impression.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.