How To Detect If Someone Is Home On LinkedIn

If you are going to use LinkedIn for outreach, it is probably a good idea to know if the person you are reaching out to will be there to answer.

I have talked umpteen times about how something like 75% of LinkedIn users check in less than once a month. If you are expecting a quick response to an outreach message from these people, don’t get your hopes up.   

But if that is the case, how do you figure out who is likely to be in the magic 25% that does use LinkedIn once a month or more? I have found that a reliable indicator is their LinkedIn activity.

I used to go by number of connections, the idea being that the more connections someone has, the more time they have invested in LinkedIn and the more likely it is that they use LinkedIn often. But after some experimentation, I have decided that activity is a better indicator.  

What do I mean by activity? When someone has been active publishing, posting, sharing, commenting or liking on LinkedIn, it shows on their profile, and prominently too, above their experience sections. You can learn a lot from looking at this activity – in particular, in their activity feed, look for the little date stamps right under their name and headline. Reviewing the date stamps will give you an idea of how often someone is using LinkedIn and what they are doing when they do use LinkedIn. I look for the type of activity too – publishing and posting tends to be best, followed by commenting.  

In my experience, the more active someone is on LinkedIn, the more likely they will be to respond to a message from a stranger. However, that doesn’t let you off the hook for the quality of your outreach message. It has to have the usual best practice ingredients – it needs to be personalized so it is obvious it is not a templated message, it has to address something of concern to the other person, it has to establish your credibility, and needs a call to  action.

So go back and have a look at those outreach messages that got no response. Were those people active on LinkedIn, or not home?  

Outperform Your Peers with the 5:1 Ratio For Promotion On LinkedIn

Pretty simple analogy here that is quite instructive.

Let’s say that a network television channel puts a program on for an hour. Of that hour, they give us fifty or so minutes of interesting content that we want to watch. In return they “earn” the right to show us ten minutes of commercials. That is the deal that network television makes with us viewers: “If we give you fifty minutes of content, will you trade that for allowing us to show ten minutes of commercials?”  

If it was the other way round, and we had to watch fifty minutes of commercials an hour to see ten minutes of content, how many people would watch? Not many. Okay, none. Because that would be an awful trade off. Actually, even the fifty minutes content / ten minutes commercials model is under assault by companies like NetFlix, Amazon and Hulu.

So why do people seem to think that LinkedIn users would be happy to see non-stop commercials? Some people and companies publish the equivalent of sixty minutes of commercials an hour, a steady stream of promotional stuff that is all about them and not about their potential reader / follower and what they want to see.

And then they wonder why they don’t get any traction on LinkedIn.

Here’s an easy idea to help you be successful publishing and sharing on LinkedIn: figure out what your ideal prospects want and give them some of it. Take your cue from the television show / commercial mix and add some something promotional every sixth post – or even less often than that if you can manage it.

Having something promotional that gets sent out every once in a while and gets seen by some readers is better than sending out a lot of promotional material that gets seen by no one.  

Earn your shots and outperform your peers.

What Can You Do About LinkedIn Connections That Don’t Respond?

You know the drill: you connect with someone on LinkedIn, someone you really  feel you are in a position to help professionally and that can help you. You send them a welcome message and…silence. Sometimes they even asked you to connect and sent you a personalized note, you accepted, sent them a message and…silence.

What, if anything can you do about it? Here are five options at your disposal.

One strategy is to just let them be, and see if, over time, they come out of their cone of silence. But let’s be honest, while patience is a virtue, you are not feeling really patient.

Another approach would be to just keep sending them messages. But if someone didn’t respond to your initial post-connection outreach, what makes you think that will change if you keep trying? There’s a fine line between appearing persistent and appearing pathetic.

But if repeated messaging is a low probability strategy what can you do to get their attention?

A third possibility is to post content on LinkedIn, either updates, articles or both. You may get their attention from them seeing your content in their homepage feed. That is one of the privileges of being connected. Your content goes into their feed. They may of may not see it, but that’s a lot better than almost zero percent chance a non-connection has.

Seeing your content can build your credibility with them, which is what you need. Their unresponsiveness so far is a clue you don’t have much credibility right now.

Another method I use is to share content specifically with one person. If you click “share” on a piece of content, one of the options is “send as message” to one or more of your connections. Sharing a piece of content tailored to their work with  (what I hope is) an insightful comment is a way I have found that will get a response and lead to conversations.

Lastly, you can always get a second opinion. The odds are reasonable that you share this new inscrutable connection with one or more of your existing connections. Contact those connections and ask for guidance or their opinions as to what would appeal to this person.

This may seem like a lot of work to go to to just try and open up a conversation with a new connection, but these days many people connect easily but don’t develop relationships as easily. It is your job to establish your credibility and make this person see that you are someone they want to talk to.

You may think that connecting with someone opens the door, but it is best to be prepared for opening the door and finding…another door.

Connecting on LinkedIn Is Easy: The Real Work Comes After Connecting

This past couple of weeks I have had conversations with three connections of mine bemoaning the fact that their connections are unresponsive. They send messages and get no replies. What gives? What are they doing wrong?

Usually, it’s nothing. These folks are smart enough to know not to be spamming their connections with sales pitches and they are not be wasting their time sending messages to people who rarely use LinkedIn.  

What they are doing isn’t really wrong, it’s just ineffective by itself. What they are suffering from is a mismatch between what their idea of a “connection  relationship” is, and their connection’s idea of the same.

Over the past twelve to eighteen months a lot of LinkedIn users have gone from what I think of as “tight” LinkedIn networks – connections that they really do know well, or at least are in their industry – to connecting more freely and widely. I am not sure why this is, but the results are LinkedIn connections who have gone from active relationships to “maybe we will need each other’s help at some point.”

The result? You may be connected to some really good people, but you don’t have a relationship with them. And you shouldn’t assume that they think because you are now connected that you do, right now, have a relationship.  

So where does that leave you? Well it leaves you doing all the work you used to do in order to get someone to connect with you, except you are now doing this work after you are connected. You have to get on their radar and establish your credibility. Here are four ways you can do so.

Be visible, be active. Show them your value by publishing and commenting on LinkedIn. One of the advantages of being connected is that your activity has a greater chance of being seen by a connection than a non-connection.  

Be there when they are visible or active. If they comment, share or publish content on LinkedIn, comment on it, like it or reshare it. This increases your visibility, and they should appreciate your engagement.

Share content specifically with them. Show that you are thinking of what their problems are and that you are a possible resource.

And keep sending them the odd message, with an emphasis on what you have to offer.

Finally, recognize that not everybody you connect with shares your idea of what a connected relationship should be. There are people who don’t see or use LinkedIn the same way you do. Let them go and move on to the people that are on the same LinkedIn wavelength that you are.  

 

Calculating Whether LinkedIn Articles Or LinkedIn Posts Work Better For You

As most people who write and publish on LinkedIn know by now, views are counted differently for LinkedIn articles and updates. Many people get hung up trying to figure out how many update views equal an article view in order to decide which is a better use of their writing time.

I have tried this myself and it is awkward and unwieldy at best. May I suggest that you forget the number of views and instead you just look at the relative number of engagements you get from something you have published. Find an article and an update on similar topics. Then ask yourself:

Which brought more engagement?

Which had better quality engagement?

I did this a few weeks ago for an article I published on Tuesday March 27th (What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn?) and a post I published the next day (The major difference between LinkedIn Articles and Posts: how views are counted) on the same topic.

The article received 1250 views with 26 comments, 74 likes and 12 reshares.

Meanwhile, the post the next day received 6,700 views but only 16 comments, 34 likes and 5 reshares

So the post got almost seven times as many views as the article, but only half the engagement. The quality of engagement was high in both post and article. So in this example, the article would seem to be a better vehicle at generating engagement for me than the post.

But of course, there’s more to it than that.

Articles take me a while to write, posts are quick, like one quarter the time an article takes. Advantage: posts.   

Articles have a long tail that I have not seen from posts. I receive notifications about comments, likes and shares on articles that are two years old. I get notifications about comments on months old posts every day. People are still clicking on the article above (55 times in the last couple of days) while the post seems to have faded away.  Advantage: articles

My original question asked how you could calculate which was better. The answer, as with many facets of LinkedIn is: It’s complicated. I suggest experimenting with both articles and posts to see which work better for you. You may find that it is not a case of an article being better than a post or the other way round, but how one can complement the other, resulting in more quality engagement on LinkedIn.

Does Your LinkedIn Activity Generate Engagement?

I define engagement as people reacting to your activity on LinkedIn. They respond with in one or more of what I call the “big five” ways – likes, comments, shares, followers and people who view your profile.

When people engage with you in one these five ways it is possible for you to identify them – which you can’t do with people who view your content. And if you can identify them, you can reach out to them.

And if you are about to complain that your engagement isn’t what it used to be and it’s all LinkedIn fault for strangling the distribution of your content….you’re right. Now get over it. Either pay for sponsored updates, or figure out how to work within LinkedIn’s rules.    

We interrupt this article for a sidebar:

I am always amused by the people who say they don’t use LinkedIn anymore. But while not using LinkedIn anymore, they find the time to be on LinkedIn, come across a post or article, read it, stop to add a comment saying they don’t use LinkedIn any more, and come back repeatedly to argue with anyone who disagrees with them.

My content generates engagement. And when it does I engage right back. It’s a great way to meet new people and develop my LinkedIn network. I meet people that may become customers and just as importantly, I meet people that may refer me to potential customers.  

Writing content that works, whether it be writing articles or posts, is time consuming. Sharing other people’s content, or getting involved in the discussions that revolve around other people’s content, is time consuming. Make sure that that time consumed on LinkedIn is time invested and not just time spent.  

 

What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn? (updated for 2018)

Back in early 2016, I wrote an article trying to define what a “view” actually was on LinkedIn. In a twist of LinkedIn irony, it became the most viewed content I have written and published on LinkedIn, and still receives hundreds of views every week. And while the core of that article remains valid, LinkedIn has made a lot of changes since then, so this is an update to that original article.

So What does it mean when someone “views” your post on LinkedIn?

Well that depends, because a “post” is not simply a post anymore on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has separated published content into “articles” and “posts” and views appear are counted differently for each one.

Article or Post? A critical distinction

From the top of your Homepage, when you click on “Write an article” you are taken to LinkedIn Publisher. This is intended for long form content. These articles stay associated with your profile in “Your activity” page under “Articles”.

But at the top of your Homepage when you “Share an article, photo or update”, you are creating a post. For posts that you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage (1300 characters), and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “Posts”.

LinkedIn can be inconsistent with the terminology, and it can sometimes be confusing, but if you went into the LinkedIn blog-style Publisher and published something it is an article. Everything else is a post. Shared someone else’s post or article? That becomes your post. Shared a photo? That’s your post. “Shared an update” ? That’s your post too.  

How are views different for Posts and Articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note again that under the post/article definitions that at this point my article served as the basis for their posts). One told me he had gotten 400 views on his post (sharing my article) and the other had gotten 2,000 (sharing the same article). Meanwhile, my original article had received 200 views at that point. It was obvious that post and article views were being counted differently. But how was this happening and what does it mean?

So what is an Article view?

You need to click on and open an article to have it counted as a view. I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

Note that a view is not the same thing as a “read”. Someone could open your article, read the first line and lose interest, or get interrupted at the office, or decide the article wasn’t for them, or stop reading for any number of reasons.

The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

And what is a Post view?

On January 31 2017, this explanation appeared in the help section on LinkedIn:

When you share an update, a “view” is counted when the update is loaded on the viewer’s screen. Viewers do not necessarily need to click or read the update to count as a view, but rather have the update loaded on their Homepage.

(Note that this is an instance of LinkedIn referring to a “post” as an “update”.  Arghh.)

This also would imply that if you open your homepage and hit “page down” a few times, you have just “viewed” twenty or thirty posts. This would go a long way to explaining how posts seem to get so many more views than articles.

But…basing post views purely on appearances in the homepage feed would seem to favor people with huge LinkedIn networks. If you have five hundred connections and I have five thousand, and our posts get loaded on our connections screens, my posts are always going to get more “views” than yours. This is clearly not the case, so there must be other factors at play – enter the LinkedIn algorithms. LinkedIn sends your post out to small subgroup of your connections and if the post gets enough love – likes, comments and shares – then LinkedIn will distribute it further.

I think the best way of thinking of article views versus post views is:

An article view seems to suggest intent (the person had to click to read your article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen your post).

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that in 2017 LinkedIn stopped showing us how many views someone else’s post or article has received, so LinkedIn obviously doesn’t want us focusing on views as an end in itself.

Let’s say you publish two articles (or posts):

The first one gets 500 hundred views and 30 comments.

The second one gets 1000 views and 5 comments.

Which was the more successful? I would say the first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

I think it is instructive that LinkedIn notifies us when people engage with our content. And I can see which individual people liked, commented on and shared my content.

We don’t get notifications saying things like, “Hey, your post got another 85 views”. And being told I got four thousand views when I can’t tell who any of those viewers are doesn’t help me engage with those viewers.

Views are nice, but engagement with your posts or articles can lead to conversations that can lead to connections that can lead to networking and other business opportunities.  

 

A Reminder To See LinkedIn As It Is, Not Like You Wish It Was

Never forget that LinkedIn is first and foremost a database. A database of somewhere around 550 million people.

I call it a database because the majority of LinkedIn users rarely use it. The last public results from LinkedIn said 22% of users logged on at least once a month. That was eighteen months ago, and I have seen nothing in the intervening time that persuades me that that percentage has gotten much bigger.

If the 22% figure still holds, that is around 115 million people accessing LinkedIn at least once a month. How many people are showing up two or more times a week? Half that? 60 million?

I have seen wild claims that there is a much higher active component on LinkedIn, including one claim (in January) that LinkedIn now had 500 million daily users. If “daily user” means “did not close their account today”, then I suppose that’s true, but otherwise, no.

I don’t believe these claims of increased usage for two reasons. The first is, they don’t pass the smell test. In order for me to believe that LinkedIn now has, say, 120 million daily users, the first thing I need to ask myself is, “what has changed in eighteen months that makes LinkedIn at least twice as attractive for users?” Answer: not much. Lots of good incremental feature and usability improvements, but twice as good? No way.

The second reason is if daily use had doubled – or tripled or quadrupled – I really think that LinkedIn and Microsoft would have mentioned it somewhere. Most companies don’t radically improve what is arguably one of the most important metrics they have and keep quiet about it.

The upshot here is that embedded within that big 500+ million person database is a tiny active social network. Well, sixty or so million people isn’t tiny, but compared to Twitter, or Facebook it is.

Where am I going with all this? Simple. LinkedIn is an unmatched resource for searching for people, and it’s an unmatched resource for doing research on companies, the people that work at those companies and their relationships. It is not as good for reaching out and contacting those people you find, because there is a big difference between “member” and “uses LinkedIn a couple of time a week or more.”

See LinkedIn as it is, not like you would like it to be, and you will use LinkedIn more effectively.

Where Your LinkedIn Profile Viewers Come From – You Might Be Surprised

Interesting insights can be found in the oddest places on LinkedIn

Who Viewed Your Profile remains one of the favorite features on LinkedIn. Yet did you ever stop to check out how these people came to view your profile in the first place? I did and was surprised at what I found.

I have a premium LinkedIn account, an old grandfathered (ie: relatively cheap) Sales Navigator subscription. I look at who viewed my profile every day. People who view your profile are potential connections. Potential customers. Potential suppliers. Potential partners. Potential employers. If there is someone interesting in there that I don’t know or haven’t contacted under another pretext, I will do so.

LinkedIn provides some statistics in my Who Viewed Your Profile screen. A slider across the top of the page shows companies that my viewers come from, and the most common titles they have, along with how they found you on LinkedIn.

From day to day these results don’t change much. If I had more viewers from Accenture than anywhere else between Nov 1 and Jan 29, sliding that 90 day window one day to Nov 2 to Jan 30 isn’t going to change that much. But the other day I noticed that that the last entry, the “how they found you” one had changed…and indeed changed almost every day. So I started tracking it to see what it said about people finding me.

LinkedIn says the “how they found me” feature is available on free LinkedIn as well.

Here’s a screen capture:

Over the course of a couple of weeks, a bunch of different ways people had found me showed up. LinkedIn informed me that my profile viewers were finding me via:

Homepage 47% (of all my profile viewers)

Messaging 5%

My network 3%

LinkedIn search 2%

People similar to you 1%

Company pages less than 1%

(These percentages add up to less than 60%, as LinkedIn admits that they can’t figure out where some people are coming from.)

So what do these statistics tell me? Two things.

Appearing in lots of LinkedIn Search Results doesn’t mean very much

In a recent 90 day period, only 16 people who looked at my profile came there via LinkedIn Search. That’s just over one a week.

But in the separate “Search Appearances” feature on my profile, LinkedIn tells me that I am appearing in hundreds of search results every week. Here is what LinkedIn told me for last week.

So I may be in the search results in hundreds of searches every week, but almost none of those searchers are actually coming to look at my profile.

So appearing in search results doesn’t lead to many profile views. What does?

Activity on LinkedIn leads to profile views. Lots of profile views

A lot of people see me on their homepage and then go look at my profile. In the screen cap at the beginning of this article 373 people found me coming from their homepage versus the 16 that found me via search.

My home page drives 23 times more people to my profile than LinkedIn search (47% of all profile views versus…2%).

Publishing, sharing, commenting, liking or getting mentioned results in profile views. Many many more profile views than people finding me via search.

When I looked at those people who had found me through their homepage, I found 70% of them were second and third degree connections. People I don’t know are finding me on LinkedIn because I am active on LinkedIn. They are not finding me through LinkedIn search, they are finding me because of my activity on LinkedIn.

I suggest you go check out your own “People found you via” statistics and see what they say about you.

6 Sales Navigator Features That Aren’t Ready For Prime Time (Yet)

Last week I wrote about the 9 Sales Navigator Features that I like, and that make Sales Navigator a worthy investment for me. This week, the features and quirks that I wish LinkedIn would either optimize or euthanize.

The Social Selling Index

The Social Selling Index measures the amount of different types of activity you engage in on LinkedIn. LinkedIn decides what’s important. My take is that just  because you can do twenty things on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you should be doing all twenty and weighting them equally.

Saving people as leads

Being able to save people as leads in order to follow their posts and articles is a really good idea. With Sales Navigator you can save hundreds of people and companies as leads. But trying to use Sales Navigator to follow the activity of a large number of people is hopeless. You can only sort your Sales Nav homepage feed like you can on free LinkedIn – by “recent” activity or “most important” activity. Guess who decides what’s important? LinkedIn, not you.

Saving people as leads is a great idea. Call me when LinkedIn figures out the execution.

What gets shown in Search results

This is an odd one and maybe I am splitting hairs here, but when Sales Navigator shows you search results, for each person you see:

Name

Company

Current Position

Years in current position

Location.

Meanwhile, the same person shows up in a free LinkedIn search as:

Name

Company

Current position

Profile headline

Location.

The difference being Sales Navigator shows me how long the person has been in their current position, while free LinkedIn shows me their headline. Personally, I get more info from a headline than from time in current position.

Sales leads suggested for you

In the Sales Navigator account setup, you can specify your preferences for sales leads, that is people in certain industries, locations, company sizes and job functions. Sales Navigator will then “suggest” people as leads that meet these criteria. But I think this is way too broad. To be practical I think it needs keywords too. I have yet to have someone suggested that I would want to follow up with.

Separate message inboxes for Free LinkedIn and Sales Navigator

You have a message inbox in free LinkedIn and a message inbox in Sales Navigator. The integration of the two consists of a little red flag in your free LinkedIn message inbox which (very inconsistently) indicates if you still have messages waiting in Sales Nav. This leaves you with having two different inboxes where you can never remember which one had the conversation in it that you need to refer back to. What would you think if your company gave you two separate email inboxes, each of which would have some of your conversations for each person you traded emails with ?

This…is…infuriating.

Sales Navigator doesn’t show some activity

I have seen many instances where a profile in Sales Navigator will show no activity for someone, yet that same profile in free LinkedIn has posts and comments and likes associated with it. I pay for Sales Navigator, yet the activity information displayed on free LinkedIn is more complete. Why?

So that’s the downside. But I hold faith that LinkedIn will eventually fix those last five features. When Sales Navigator first came out, it looked like LinkedIn just took the human resources product, slapped a new coat of paint on it and called it Sales Navigator. A money grab.  Now my opinion is that while Sales Navigator is missing some opportunities and still doesn’t integrate as well with free LinkedIn as I would like, if you are a sales professional it can definitely pay for itself.

With all that I have said and written in these two articles, I trust I have given some of you considering Sales Navigator some ideas to think about. And for those of you that already use Sales Navigator, something to argue about (I can see the Social Selling Index crowd massing at the gates with torches and pitchforks already).

If you are considering Sales Navigator, just use this litmus test: if you can name the specific Sales Navigator feature or features that you feel will make a difference in your work performance, then giving it a try is worthwhile. Sign up for a month or two and try it. But if you are just kind of vaguely wondering if Sales Navigator would help you, you are not there yet. Save your money.