Once you have set up your LinkedIn Profile and completed it to “Advanced” strength or better, and you have made a healthy batch of initial connections, it’s time to become a visible part of the LinkedIn community.
LinkedIn’s entire pool of members is too vast for you to totally engage in, of course, but you do want to become a reliable authority in your particular business niche. You want to become someone everyone automatically thinks of as a leader, when they think of your area of marketing or business.
You can start participating by:
- Writing your own posts
- Responding to other people’s posts
- Sharing posts on Twitter
- Participating in Groups
- Following authority figures and niche peers
Your aim is to gain the coveted 500+ followers and connections – as quickly as possible – and a highly active account. This vaults your status up to top level.
Step 1. Preparing to Interact
Before you start firing off LinkedIn posts, repeat this mantra to yourself:
“This is NOT Facebook.”
“This is NOT Facebook.”
“This is NOT Facebook.”
Facebook allows you to burble stream-of-consciousness observations, and it’s not uncommon to see posts complaining about sleepless nights, migraines, lemon meringue pie recipes, feeling down in the dumps or asking what the best cure for an infected sliver is. And Facebook users also seem to love spamming people, wittingly or unwittingly.
You won’t find that sort of post on LinkedIn. It is a focused business network, populated by professionals. Go to your Home Page and read feeds from your connections before you make your first post. Get a feel for the tone and mindset of your networking peers.
Decide also on your LinkedIn goal. Ask yourself what is most important to you, with regards to LinkedIn. Ask yourself if you want to…
- Become highly visible in your industry
- Find and nurture potential joint venture partners
- Find a job
- Find potential clients
- Build your list
- Raise public awareness of facets of your niche (especially ones you specialize in)
- Any or all of the above
Step 2. Making Your First Post
First, jot down some ideas for posts that would most interest the connections you would like to engage.
- Select the best post out of the batch you have written
- Go to “Home”
- Enter your post into your feed textarea box
Notice that you can ensure a particular person sees this post by typing her name, or including an “@” sign in front of the name. Directing your first post to one of your new 1st degree connections is a good idea because it instantly ensures your post will be seen by her connections.
(Just make sure you’re posting something she will find genuinely interesting or relevant.)
- Attach an image, documents or presentation for added value and interest. (Just click on the paperclip within the textarea box, top right-hand corner).
Note that you still cannot attach files within LinkedIn messages. And adding rich media like videos to your posts doesn’t seem to be an option yet. (You can, however, add the URL for videos and multi-media presentations within your post textarea box.)
- Decide where to share your post. You can press the tiny down arrow to the left of the blue “Share” button for a drop-down menu, which offers you three choices:
- LinkedIn + Twitter
- Be sure to check your post later for replies!
Step 3. Follow Industry Influencers
“Participating” doesn’t just mean endless posting. It means staying on top of not only your industry, but what top influencers in your industry and sphere of culture are thinking, saying and doing.
Knowing the latest news helps you make informed comments to other connections of yours who post about them. And if you post a reply to one of their posts, you may be acknowledged by the leader you’re following – providing your post is really worthy and has something original or insightful to say.
You can’t follow just anyone, however: At time of writing, LinkedIn has a preferred list own picks within a section called LinkedIn Today. It is to be hoped you can find someone within that list who will add to your social networking life.
Note there are four tabs you can access, to keep up with the latest:
- Your News
- Influencer Posts
- All Influencers
- All Channels
Select “All Influencers” to find people to follow: Select “Influencer Posts” to see what they are actually posting.
Step 4. Analyze your Connection Value
One way to increase the value of your participation: See who has been viewing your Profile, and how often they have accessed it.
You can also choose whether or not you want them to see you (and how many times you’ve checked their Profile).
- Go to your “Account & Settings” tab and select “Privacy & Settings”.
- A new page will open up. This page is almost like a central dashboard: You can perform a number of functions from it, as well as instantly see your status in certain key areas.
For example, you can instantly see how many introductions you have left (5 introductions for a basic Account). You can see what type of account you have – and instantly upgrade it.
You can change your password, change or add an email, purchase InMails and more.
You can also “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”, as well as control other visibility options.
You’ll most likely want to let them see your full name, Profile photo, location and title – but if you are really researching someone or studying a competitor (or even just simply getting the hang of LinkedIn) you may want to choose one of the other Anonymous options.
Be aware, however, that doing so will disable Profile Stats.
The real reason we are looking at this feature, however: So you can be aware of who is viewing you – and you won’t be confused when you see “real people” mixed with anonymous someones on LinkedIn.
Do keep an eye on who has viewed your Profile and how many times they have done so. There’s no way of telling why they viewed it – but the important thing to check is that your Profile is generating interest.
- Who are they?
- What industry are they in?
- Are they your competitors?
- Are they your connections?
- Are they 2nd or 3rd party connections of your connections?
If the answer to the latter question is “yes” – send them an invitation to connect. Do NOT say “I notice you’ve been stalking me…” DO as your first degree connection to introduce you or reference your first degree connection, when asking your “stalker” to connect directly.
Growing your online network greatly increases your chances of meaningful participation. But do take time first to read the instructions for managing your Account Settings.
There are many ways you can fine tune participation with the right settings – which effectively increases meaningful interaction.
Step 5. Integrate with Twitter
Another function you can quickly perform from this Account Settings Page: Syncing your LinkedIn account with your Twitter account.
Just click on “Manage your Twitter Settings” in the “Profile” section of your settings dashboard, and a pop up window will open, where you can click on “+Add your Twitter account”.
Even though you are already logged in, you may be prompted to sign in again with your LinkedIn password. Once you do so, you will see a screen asking you to permit LinkedIn to post to Twitter for you by accessing your Twitter account.
This screen will also let you know exactly what LinkedIn will and will not be allowed, in terms of Twitter permissions.
Sharing between LinkedIn and Twitter creates powerful cross-promotion, and is able to draw in a bigger section of your market.
In addition, your connections on LinkedIn who also rely heavily on Twitter will see more of your content, and feel comfortable with your sharing methods.
Step 6. Start or Participate in a Help Forum Discussion
Got a blistering hot topic? Start an open discussion in LinkedIn’s open Help Forum.
Be warned, however: All LinkedIn forums are public.
In order to make the most of your discussion (while protecting your security):
- Avoid revealing personal information
- Search before posting to make sure there isn’t already a highly similar discussion
- Be sure to read the forum’s guidelines
- Add tags to help other forum users find your discussion
- Fine tune your Account Settings, if you plan on making public posts
Unfortunately LinkedIn discontinued its popular Question and Answer function; and now Help Forum questions seem to be its substitute.
Where this becomes useful to you: When you check out recent Help Forum discussions and provide answers, if you have something positive to contribute.
LinkedIn Participation: 7 Top Tips
Finally, let’s finish with 7 top tips on creating maximum, targeted LinkedIn interaction:
- Keep things positive. While you may get initial reaction from controversial or combative posts, it’s not the way to foster connection and invitations. Nor will it present you in a desirable light, if people are looking for someone to employ or work with.
- Remember that five quality connect requests are worth twenty indiscriminate ones. Not only will you annoy people if you “spam” people you don’t know, you risk having them respond to LinkedIn’s prompt on whether or not they know you.
If more than five people answer “No”, your account may be suspended.
- Make LinkedIn a habit. Log on daily – and respond/reply/comment. Your LinkedIn connections are like any other relationships you value: You need to feed and nurture them.
- Be selective in Groups and Industry Leaders you choose to follow. Keep on top of discussions. Check out their posts daily.
Become an expert on your experts!
- Join Groups – but not too many. Better to belong to two highly active Groups and participate in discussions than join seventeen and ignore them all!
- Provide resources for your network connections. Post infographics. Attach handy templates or checklists people can use.
- Always keep your LinkedIn networking goal in mind. Don’t post anything that takes attention away from what you are trying to become known for.
And here’s on final, bonus tip:
- Don’t overthink your LinkedIn participation.
Just get on there and interact – every day.