Do you want to achieve Link∙Ability? Four powerful strategies to maximise your LinkedIn success.
One of my key messages about making the most of LinkedIn is to share tips, knowledge and interesting information. To walk the talk, so to speak, I have recently published a book doing just that.
Link∙Ability: 4 powerful strategies to maximize your LinkedIn success is a guide to help you master one of the most effective business social media tools on the internet.
I have also been running Link∙Ability webinars to share what I know about making the most of the platform. My most recent webinar covered the four strategies for LinkedIn success from my book. These are connecting, publishing, engaging and direct messaging. This article sums up the key points from the webinar which you can view on YouTube.
What do you want from LinkedIn?
Do you know what you want to achieve from being on LinkedIn? If you’re not really sure, then it will be difficult to tell whether or not you are making an impact.
Here’s what my clients tell me they want from LinkedIn:
- To become a thought leader.
- To bring in leads.
- To move up the career ladder or change direction.
- Promoting brands and businesses.
- Developing productive business relationships.
The last point is the most important because success on LinkedIn comes from having a good network of really engaged people. Quality online business networking is at the heart of LinkedIn and what it can do. That is why the first of the strategies I talk about in my book is connecting.
Strategy 1: Connecting
Connecting and building a relationship on LinkedIn is not about numbers, it’s about quality. That’s why it’s important to connect with the right people – and in a way that encourages them to say ‘yes’ and be part of your network.
When you do find someone to connect with, how you follow that up matters. How do you engage people and get a conversation going?
One of the great things about LinkedIn is that you can search for people. You can choose from parameters such as location, the type of industry, the level of seniority of the person that you want to connect with, and a variety of different filters.
Once you are sure about the kind of person or group of people you want to connect with, you can save a search on LinkedIn. You will need a Premium or Sales Navigator account to do this. On a free account you can’t save a search, but you do have access to all the same search filters.
Target people you really want to have in your network. I emphasise to my clients they shouldn’t be connecting to anybody and everybody. They need to be considered about who they decide to have in their network. Otherwise, they end up with a large number of people who don’t engage, who are not interested in them or the services they provide.
It is important to build a network that resonates with you, is a good reflection of the kind of people you want to be involved with and who you want to do business with.
When deciding who to connect with, set some parameters. If somebody isn’t active on LinkedIn, they are unlikely to see your posts or your messages. So, make certain somebody is active on the platform before you connect with them.
If they only have a few connections, that’s also an indicator they’re not quite on board with LinkedIn yet. However, that could be because they’ve only joined recently. In New Zealand, there have been 700,000 new members since lockdown began in March – a huge increase. That has been repeated in other countries too.
Personalise your efforts
When you find somebody you want to connect with, you want them to say yes. So, personalise your invitation. Just sending the default one without a message will not be enough if you want to develop a relationship with somebody.
Firstly, put in their name and add a message to your invitation. Secondly, you need a reason for them to connect.
Look at their profile to find out if you have something in common. For instance, you may have gone to the same school or have connections you both know.
However, if you can’t find something to mention that is specific and you really want them to connect with you, use a more generic invitation. If they say yes to your connection invitation, send them a thank you.
There are three ways to send messages – in written form, voice message or video message. The voice and video messages work from your phone, from the messages section on your app, but written messages can be sent directly from your desktop.
What to say in your message? Send some information about your business or some links to resources they might find useful. But be careful when doing that because you don’t want people to think you’re spamming them. That will turn people off very quickly.
If somebody invites you:
- Look at their profile to make sure you want to be connected with them.
- Make sure they are active.
- Check they have a profile photo and a reasonable number of connections.
- Ensure they fit the criteria you are looking for.
If you say yes, send them a thank you message, and some information about yourself – strike while the iron is hot. You can also invite them to follow your company page.
Strategy 2: Publishing
This is more commonly known as posting and is a good way to be seen and to share your knowledge.
The two main reasons are visibility and credibility. You may have the most amazing profile in the world, but unless it – and you – are visible to people and you’re active on the platform, people will not find you.
To be visible on LinkedIn, you need to publish your own content.
Credibility is important too, because we do business with people we know, like and trust. An excellent way to build trust on LinkedIn is publishing.
Why? It showcases your knowledge, ability and talent to people, including potential clients, employers, business suppliers or partners.
LinkedIn provides many different ways you can publish but these are the ones most commonly used:
- text posts – just words.
- image posting – text and words, usually.
- video – a bit of text and a video.
- polls – you get to ask questions.
- document post – e.g. a PDF of a PowerPoint presentation.
- articles – which is what you are reading here.
While text posts seem to get the most views, video has become more important on LinkedIn. Two to three-minute videos are an excellent addition to your posting plan on LinkedIn.
Polls are the newest type of post (although Stories are on their way). You can ask one question with four potential answers, and then decide how long you want to run the poll for. People can comment on it, then vote. If you’ve asked the right question, you will get useful information that will help you in your business.
Document posts are probably the least used, but they stand out. They look like an image and get good viewing numbers. A PowerPoint presentation often makes a good document post.
Within these post formats, there are others that are useful and visually appealing, such as:
- Celebrate the arrival of a new team member.
- Give kudos to someone for a job well done.
- Launch a project such as a book, new service etc.
These posts look good and provide variety, which is always to be recommended.
Articles like the one you’re reading now are a long form of a post. There is a school of thought that says people don’t read articles, but I disagree. I regularly receive messages from people who say, “I read your article about X, Y and Z topic you wrote two years ago”. So keep in mind that articles have a long tail because Google indexes them in a way it doesn’t with posts. People can find your articles long after they might not be visible on your LinkedIn profile. They have a much longer life which is why they are worth spending time on.
The main concern my clients have about publishing is what to write about. But by looking around them, thinking about what’s going on inside and outside their business, there is no shortage of topics about which to write. If you are, for example, in the property business, there may be law changes, developments, news or market movements to share.
You could also write about:
- What’s going on in your industry.
- News items you have an opinion about.
- Changes within your company e.g. new staff, new products/services, new premises.
- Something you have learned recently you want to share with people.
- A catalyst that has changed the way you think about something.
- A success or failure. (The odd failure is good to share because it shows you’re human. Remember to mention what you learned from it.)
The 5 most important publishing tips:
- Use 3 to 5 hashtags at the bottom of your post or your article.
- Ensure some of those hashtags are popular so a lot of people who follow those hashtags will see your posts.
- If you’re mentioning people in your posts, tag them.
- Include emojis – they give a post a bit of a lift, as do bulleted lists, but don’t overdo it.
Check for errors before posting.
Strategy 3: Engaging
The main reason to engage on other people’s posts is reciprocity: people will engage on yours if you engage on theirs.
Engagement is defined as liking, commenting on and sharing somebody’s post. It’s easy and gives you visibility. If you comment on a post, people will see your profile photo and headline at the top of your comments.
The networking aspect of engaging is key. By doing so, you are seen by second degree connections – these are the first degree connections of the person whose post you are commenting on. This means a lot of different people will see your posts and can look at your profile. They may decide to connect with you or follow you, thus increasing your reach on LinkedIn.
Some tips for engaging
- Keep your comments positive – negativity won’t reflect well on you.
- Perhaps ask a question – this encourages debate, which prompts more comments and widens the viewership of the post.
- Discuss an angle or idea that the person who wrote the post didn’t discuss. This shows you are a proactive person to be connected to, and you know your stuff too. This helps build visibility and credibility.
- Don’t say ‘great post’! Why? Because when somebody looks at your activity feed and all it says is great post, great post, they know you are not an engager and do the bare minimum. This will not impress people, so give more than that.
The benefits of engaging
- You will receive more connection invites.
- It gives you visibility to the extra degree of connection, so many more people will see you, your photo and your material.
- If your comments are really useful and they add to the debate, this will enhance your credibility.
Strategy 4: Direct messaging
According to LinkedIn, messaging skyrocketed during the pandemic. Because so many more people began sending direct messages than before, it’s becoming better understood and more familiar.
However, I believe it’s still sufficiently uncommon that people will read your message. If you have targeted the person with their name and written something relevant to them, you will often get a response.
A direct message through LinkedIn will reach the person who owns the account. Emails often end up in spam or junk folders, so a direct message on LinkedIn is more likely to reach the right person.
Developing a relationship is helpful, and a well-written message that reaches the right person can help achieve this. You can write text messages or send voice messages, a video, or links as well.
Attachments aren’t ideal because a lot of people will look at LinkedIn on their phones. They won’t be able to see an attachment if it doesn’t display well. I put attachments on to my website and share the link in the message. This works much better.
What doesn’t work?
- If you don’t mention the name of the person you’re sending the message to, it’s a red flag your message might be spam. Like using a person’s name in conversation, the more you do it, the better people feel, provided it’s not overdone.
- Stay relevant – don’t send material they’re not interested in.
- Avoid sending anything overtly promotional; people will unconnect and unfollow. Make it useful.
If you personalise your message and make it relevant and not promotional, you will get good results from your direct messaging.
Want to know more?
The tips shared in this article are only a fraction of those I share in my book Link∙Ability: 4 powerful strategies to maximize your LinkedIn success. In it I share information, tips and ideas about connecting, publishing, engaging and direct messaging on LinkedIn.
Link∙Ability is available through all major online retailers and from here on my website.