LinkedIn is as great – or as pathetic – as you make it

I have more than 26,000 LinkedIn connections and almost 30,000 followers. How many do you have?

I may have more visibility and notoriety, but we are equal in exposure and linking possibilities on the LinkedIn platform. And almost all of my LinkedIn connections are the result of people wanting to connect with me because of the value messages I consistently post.

I click on everyone’s profile before connection. Many are impressive. Most are average or less. Some are pathetic.

Your LinkedIn profile is a powerful social media image — and you choose exactly what it is and what it says.

When others search for you on Google, LinkedIn is one of the first links they click. You have a chance to make an immediate positive business and social impression.

The good: When I realized the business significance of LinkedIn, I hired an expert to help me with the keywords, layout and what to include on my profile page. But I didn’t keep up.

Several years later, my friend and partner Jen Gluckow told me my LinkedIn profile page sucked. She showed me how the new LinkedIn worked and the significance of having a powerful SEO page. She also taught me what and how to post.

It must be working. In the two years since I’ve hired her, I have attracted more than 5,000 organic connections — or should I say potential customers?

At an acquisition cost of zero.

Reality of Linkedin: I receive requests to link, and I also get messages. Some are very nice, some are self-serving, some are insincere, and some are stupid.

Here are some things about LinkedIn to make you think:

  • Your picture is not an option. Show a professional, approachable image. Smile.
  • Give me insight, not just history. Your profile is both an affirmation of your expertise and your pathway to attracting connection.
  • Do not use stock LinkedIn messages. They show your laziness and lack of creativity.
  • If you’re looking for a job or working a lead, tell me why I should connect. Where’s the value?
  • If you’re looking for leads, use the keyword feature (rather than the job title option) in the “advanced search” link to the right of the search box. It’s free, and you’ll find hundreds of people in your industry or in your backyard.
  • Why are you sending me an e-card on Easter? I’m Jewish. Three words that will help you: Know your connections. Three words to ask yourself with any message you send or post: Where’s the value?
  • If you’re asking people to join your group, tell them how they will benefit.
  • Don’t ask me to connect you with one of my second-degree connections. The only way to ask is from first to first. And tell me in a sentence or two why you want to connect.
  • If you’re thinking about asking your connections for a recommendation or endorsement, don’t. You’re asking people to “please stop what you’re doing and tell me about me.”
  • Don’t tell me you “found something interesting,” especially if the link is to join your multi-level marketing down-line or attend your “free” webinar.
  • Allocate 30-60 minutes a day to utilize this vital business social media asset.

The bad and the ugly: Here are some messages and invites I have received on LinkedIn:

• “My name is —- with —-, a leading —- provider that helps organizations connect with their customers through email, mobile, and social networks. I would like to connect about a potential partnership to help Buy Gitomer, Inc. increase their interactive marketing ROI.”

This is a typical self-serving message. Why not give me a tip and ask if I’d like more? And stop using dead sales words like “ROI,” and “helps organizations.” Help me, don’t sell me.

• “Hi All: As I continue to work on building my network, can I ask that you do me a huge favor and endorse me here on LinkedIn? I would be more than happy to return the favor and endorse you as well. Thank you for your support!”

Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Spare me. Beg someone else.

• Subject line: “Your Opinion please. (Name withheld), Supplier Business Executive”

If you’re hoping for an endorsement, here’s my two-word mantra: Earn it! Three more words: Give one first!

LinkedIn is the business social media site. Harness its power, do not abuse its options, and you will reap its rewards.

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