Over Thanksgiving break, I used Linkedin to reach out to quite a few people on multiple threads, and have been receiving near real-time responses. It has made me sit back and think. We give thanks to a lot of things in our life, and I think (while ranting is a great stress reliever), it is a good opportunity to thank Linkedin for all the benefits it has given me. I also came up with a list of ten ideas that can help us all on this community to bring back the greatness of this platform. Please feel welcome to add your thoughts, and we can make this a group effort at self-policing and adding value to every member.
- Staying grounded: Linkedin is a great way to connect, collaborate, and cooperate. It is a platform for People. Like you and I. What amazes is me is how many profiles use meaningless phrases to describe what they do. The key among them today are Digital Transformation Specialist, Mentor, Marketing Maven… I have even seen someone call himself Digital Astronaut. Well. Many of these phrases are used purely to be found or to be seen as an expert in an upcoming industry phase; Digital Transformation for example. But I would rather connect with more grounded people who can tell us who they are easily and convincingly. I remember reading a profile description as Geek, Hardworking Mom, Life-lover. Wow. I shy away from someone who is crass enough to call him- or herself a Mentor. That is a title given, not taken.
- Make it real: This is a thread off the first point of staying grounded. I cannot fathom why people will go to the trouble of creating fake profiles and request to link up. I am calling out all these folks at SalesBox Inc, who constantly send out invitations to connect, and I can easily see they are fake. Fake photos, fake profiles and education, and fake intent. Why does one go to the trouble of creating these profiles in today’s connected world, that can be weeded out in minutes?
- Request an introduction with a reason: I frequently ask some of my connections for an introduction to someone I want to reach out to, and also receive numerous requests to help connect with my contacts. Some of the best requests I received come with an excellent reason: “I notice that company X has initiated program Y, and my team has executed a similar project for company Z, and we think we can add immediate value to this initiative. Would you be open to introducing me to Ms S who I see is connected to you? Please feel free to say no, and I will understand.” This gives me a good position to look good to Ms S, who now knows I am making an introduction that brings value to her firm.
- Use the platform to learn: There are so many wonderful people on this platform. Linkedin’s Pulse is a great tool that allows these thought-leaders to regularly publish great material. If each of us makes an effort to post content that will help others learn, we can turn Pulse into a powerful collaborative tool. Before we post yet another photo-opp or the next click bait, we should step back and think if it will serve any purpose to our audience.
- Respect groups: I find groups on Linkedin to be very informative and supportive in many instances when I asked for help or information. In the same breathe, I do notice a lot of click-bait messages that have no room in these groups. Group owners take trouble to build this ecosystem, I know of at least a dozen committed group editors who are passionately involved in their communities. If we cannot respect their work, we should not disrespect their efforts by hijacking the audience to serve selfish purposes.
- Give, before we take: “What do I give?” you may ask. Very simple things like sending out an introduction to someone in your network, where you can introduce one of your contacts and help them find a job. Recommend a profile. Take trouble to read a contact’s post, comment or share. We must learn to earn the right to ask, it is called networking, not using alone.
- Don’t pitch the title, pitch yourself: Not surprisingly, the most coveted connections on Linkedin would be to Chief Information Officers, Venture Capital Partners, and other famous people like Satya Nadella or Fred Smith. Getting to connect with them doesn’t get us immediate ROI. Most of them also do not respond simply because they see no immediate value in what we have to offer or pitch. If planned well, Linkedin allows us to be thought-leaders in what we do and excel in. Why not pitch our skills and capabilities that provoke these titles to want to reach out to us?
- Inmail with intent: I receive quite a few in mails almost everyday where the writer has no clue about my business, pitches offshore services, and even attaches her sales deck in the first ever outreach she does. It takes about a minute to read my profile to know who I am, and what I specialize in. Why not make it worth my while to in mail me with some purposeful intent?
- Flag trolls: Some of these trolling examples include posts of starting a WhatsApp group or posting a list of job offers only to collect profiles and phone numbers. Is there a way to flag these posts and warn the posters? Can we come up with a bolt-on tool? Any other ideas?
- Block those quizzes: That math formula, or “only a genius can answer” posts are digital waste. It does nothing for the platform, and I am appalled to see some of my most respectful Linkedin connections fall prey to these. What can we do to help eliminate these trivial but behind-the-scenes dangerous posts?
I am sure this list is in no way as exhaustive, but I am hoping it can help us all pitch in ideas to explore how we can leverage Linkedin better. I welcome all your ideas.