How Are LinkedIn Articles Different From LinkedIn Posts? Which Is Better?

Warning: potentially snooze inducing content follows. Skip this article unless you are interested in publishing content on LinkedIn.  

You can publish articles on LinkedIn and you can publish posts on LinkedIn. So what’s the difference between the two? And does one get better results than the other? I decided to do a little investigating.

How do you write an Article versus a Post?

At the top center of your homepage is the little publishing box:

 

If you want to publish a post (which LinkedIn will also refer to as an update), you just start writing in the publishing box at the top of your homepage.

But if you click “write an article”  you are taken to LinkedIn publisher and you will see something like this, where you can format and write your article.

The major difference between Articles and Posts: how views are counted

 

You need to click on and open an article to have it counted as a view. LinkedIn even calls them “clicks” instead of “views” in a couple of places. The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

Posts views are completely different. From the LinkedIn help section:

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.

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

The easiest way of thinking about views is that an Article view signals a person’s intent to read your article, while a post view shows that the person had the opportunity to read your post.

By counting views differently, posts appear to get a much larger number of views than articles do. For example, my last six articles averaged just over 800 views each. My last four posts averaged over 8,000 views each.  

Posts: more views, but less engagement per view

So posts get a lot more views, in my case about ten times as many. Very good for the ego. But views are a relative indicator of how one post did versus another post, or one article did versus another article. Because LinkedIn doesn’t provide us with lists of our post or article viewers, you can’t do anything with views.

Engagement, on the other hand, you can.

On those six articles I cited above, I averaged 129 people engaging (like, share, or comment) with each one. One in every six people who viewed my articles chose to engage with them.

On the four posts I averaged 72 people engaging (like, share, or comment) with each one. Less than one in every hundred people who viewed my posts engaged with them.

The quality of engagement was also higher with my articles as a lower percentage of the engagement was “likes”.

I am sorry if this bursts the bubble for people who like bragging they got a ton views for their posts, but look at it this way: if you sent an email campaign to 8,000 people, would you measure your success as having had 8,000 people “see” your email?  Or would you measure your success on the engagement that came about from the email campaign?

So the pendulum just swung from “posts are better because they get more views” to “articles are better because they get more engagement and better engagement too.” But there are further nuances to the argument….

Other advantages of Articles over Posts

  • Articles have more formatting options, like a blog does – headings, numbered lists, quotes, embedded links and photos. The presentation is  better.
  • Statistics on articles go on forever. Statistics on posts appear to disappear on posts over a month old. I can still look at the statistics on articles that are a couple of years old (and as I have an article that is 18 months old that still gets 600 views a week, yes, that is important to me).
  • Notifications on articles also go on forever. If you are fortunate enough to have readers interested in your older articles, LinkedIn will let you know about likes and comments on those articles. I still get lots of likes and comments on that 18 month old article. Articles are the long tail gift that keeps on giving.

But Posts have advantages over Articles too

  • Articles tend to be 400 words or more. Posts can be one or two sentences and a photo. While just as much thought may go into coming up with an idea for one or the other, there is no arguing that writing a post is less time consuming than writing an article.
  • Posts do not have to be clicked to be opened, they are just there in your homepage feed. And because posts tend to be short, you can get the gist of a post pretty quickly.

The bottom line, from a writer’s point of view

Article views are one tenth Post views, but get a significantly higher level of engagement and quality of engagement. What makes me different from most writers on LinkedIn is that I systematically review every single person who engages  with my content, from both articles and posts, and I reach out to a lot of them. They become connections – fifteen or twenty of them a week. That means for me articles are better.  More engagement, more opportunities.

But I do use both. I write articles about topics that need more depth, like this one. I publish posts when the topic is more conducive to a conversation. But I don’t publish for views in either case. I publish for engagement. High quality engagement and lots of it. You should too.

All About Your LinkedIn Followers

Who your LinkedIn Followers are, how following works and how to take advantage of it. This is a revised version of an article I wrote in the Spring of 2016, updated to account for changes in the desktop user interface.  

Summary: following people on LinkedIn doesn’t really work, but here are some tips on what you can do about it.

How you obtain followers

You tend to pick up followers when you publish on LinkedIn. On each article on the   LinkedIn longform publishing platform, a light blue “Follow” appears right after the author’s name at the top of the article. Another opportunity to follow appears at the bottom of the article with a “Follow” button to the far right of the author’s name. I don’t know LinkedIn has two places to “Follow” on each article. The one on the bottom makes more sense , as I decide I want to follow someone after I read their article, not before.  

You can choose to follow someone from other places on LinkedIn such as the “recent activity page” which makes sense, or from the drop down menu behind the “connect” button on their LinkedIn profile, which doesn’t.  

So who are these people and what do they want?

Followers are your ephemeral connections. They are interested in what you have to say. They are not interested in connecting with you; at least not yet. They are fans of what you write, but not necessarily you yourself. They may have liked or commented or shared one of your posts and are interested enough that they have chosen to follow you to see what else you come up with. They are so intangible that LinkedIn doesn’t even give them a relationship designation like a “1” or a “2”.   

The benefits in following someone

LinkedIn tells us that the advantage to following someone is that you will be notified when they post or publish on LinkedIn. This is both 100% true and 100% misleading. This is because the “notification” you will receive is not one of those that appear under your notifications tab. Instead their post or article will get tossed into the salad that is your homepage feed, along with everybody else’s, where the chances of you seeing it are extremely low. And that was it, that was your notification that someone you followed has published something.

So if someone signs up to follow you they will likely never see the content they signed up to see. You used to get some “real” notifications for posts and articles if you had a high “connection strength score” with another LinkedIn user, but that seems to be a thing of the past too.

How to find out how many followers you have

 

Go to your Profile and your number of followers will be the first thing listed at the top left in your recent activity section. This is your total number of followers. In my case when I wrote this article I had 6,273 followers. But this number includes your connections. So next, go your “Settings and Privacy” page. The new Settings and Privacy page has your number of connections displayed quite prominently. In my case, I had 5,297 connections when I wrote this article.

 

 

And now for some math that could only take place on LinkedIn:

Subtract your number of connections from your number of followers to get your number of followers.         

Or to put it a little more clearly, your total number of followers minus your number of connections equals the number of people who have “signed up” to follow you.

For most LinkedIn users, this number will be zero. For people who are active on LinkedIn – sharing, liking and commenting on other people’s posts – this number may be in the dozens. For people who write and post often on LinkedIn, it can be in the hundreds or thousands (in my case it was just under a thousand when I wrote this article). And of course the LinkedIn Influencers can have hundreds of thousands of followers.

How to see who your followers actually are

There are two ways to do this. LinkedIn will notify you if anyone new has started following you in the last day. This will come through in the notifications under your notifications tab. I have found this notification to be really flaky since the new desktop user interface came out; that is I will see I have three new followers today, go back to see who they were later in the day and find that the notification has disappeared. It usually comes back, but several days later, which is frustrating.

To see all of your followers, go to any post of article in your homepage feed and click the three dots at top right. Select “improve my feed”. Then click on your number of followers.  

Some observations:

  • Your “true” followers are listed before your connections begin to be shown.
  • This is the only place I can think of on LinkedIn where people’s photo, name and headline appear, but without a superscript number to identify how they are related to you on LinkedIn. You can’t tell if they are a “2” or a “3” for example. You have to click on them to go to their profile for that.  
  • If you do click on a person to check them out, then go back to the list, LinkedIn takes you back to the top of the list and you have to scroll down all over again. If you have a hundred or more followers this is a pain.

What are the benefits to the person being followed? (the “followee?”)

I suppose in theory, the more followers you have the better, as these are people who have indicated an interest in your content. But as your followers will be largely unencumbered by the knowledge that you have published, I kind of question that benefit.

But this is where you can take matters into your own hands. You can see you have followers, but not necessarily why they followed you. And while there are a couple of tricks like the free group message hack, you can’t send your followers a message unless you have a premium account with InMail privileges.

I am fortunate in that I do have a LinkedIn Premium account and my followers are a go-to place for me to look for people that I may want to connect with. I will send such people a message explaining the notifications conundrum and telling them I will accept their invitation to connect if they would like to send me one. Seventy percent of them do, so this is a very effective strategy.

Or, if you find one or more followers that look interesting, you could just ask them to connect yourself. Don’t forget to customize your invitation. These are people who took an interest in you, so I like your odds.

Why did LinkedIn put in followers in the first place? An extension of following Influencers? Probably. But then the idea of followers conflicted with people complaining about getting too many notifications, so LinkedIn put limitations on notifications and the followers idea is left drifting in the wind.

So do like I do. Contact your followers and turn them into connections instead.

To set up a ten minute call to talk about upping your LinkedIn game, just go to https://bruce-johnston.youcanbook.me/

 

 

Why I Give Away My Time And Expertise On LinkedIn (And Maybe You Should Too)

I receive a half dozen requests for help with using LinkedIn every day, ranging from a simple one like “where did this feature go?” to complex as in “how can I make publishing work for me?”.  I try and answer everyone who asks, often with a full answer or I can just kind of give the person some suggestions and point them in a more productive direction.

Back in June I actually tracked how much time I was putting into these ad hoc help sessions and it came to just over thirty minutes a day. That’s 3 hours a week of time that I don’t get paid for. Then I just shrugged and have kept doing it, whether it be for clients, ex-clients, connections or strangers who accost me with “I have a question about LinkedIn…”  

I have good reasons for doing this. Here are eight of them.

It keeps me sharp.

A lot of my time goes to Sales Navigator and related topics such as InMail and Using Advanced Search. I also coach people on publishing articles and posts in LinkedIn. But I get questions coming out of the blue on all kinds of things – profiles, invitations to connect, groups, privacy settings, you name it. Responding to these questions keeps me sharp.  

Helping people shows me how most people uses LinkedIn

Helping other people gives me clues as to how users are experiencing LinkedIn and where they have problems. I have been using Linkedin every day for several years now. It is easy to forget that people may be confused about things I take for granted.

It sets a good example.

I am a big proponent of “give to get”.  

Helping other people is like giving away free samples.

Free samples of what it would be like to have me coaching them. People respond well to free samples. It makes them wonder “if he gives this coaching away for free, what’ the paid stuff like?”

It makes me better at explaining LinkedIn.

Practice never hurts.

It gives me ideas for content

I publish an article about using LinkedIn every week. I publish a post about using LinkedIn every week. That’s a lot of ideas I need to come up with on a regular basis. I get a lot of those ideas from these help requests. If one person is asking why LinkedIn posts seem to get more views than LinkedIn articles, a lot of other people must be wondering too.

It’s gratifying

Who doesn’t like being seen as a “go-to” resource?

Most importantly, helping other people for free is good for my business.

Most of the non-client people I help don’t become clients. But many of them recommend me to their connections. This is one of the great values in networking that most people never “get”.  It would be nice for the person I help to become a client. But it is just as nice when that person becomes a sales person, talking me up to their one thousand connections.  

Giving away little pieces of my time now leads to getting paid for big pieces of my time later.

If you want to up your LinkedIn game, schedule a call with me using the link at the top of the page. 

A Simple Technique That Improved My LinkedIn InMail Response Rate By 30%

Author’s note: while today’s article will mainly appeal to people who use LinkedIn InMail, it also shows how a good understanding of LinkedIn’s rules and how LinkedIn works can yield surprising benefits.

I would like to share a simple idea with you. I figured this out a little while back and it has increased my InMail response rate quite dramatically. But to understand this idea, you need to look at InMail a bit differently than perhaps you do now.

The number one rule for LinkedIn InMail is that If you get a response – any response, including “I am not interested” – you get a credit for another InMail from LinkedIn, and get to try again with someone else.

Because you are credited with a new InMail for any response, there are only two ways you can “use” up an InMail credit:

  • Someone reads your InMail and does not respond
  • Someone never sees your InMail (and consequently does not respond)  

The latter point I am not worried about as I only send InMails to people who I am pretty sure are going to see them. But I wondered how I could get more of the people who did read my InMail to send me a response, any response, as even a negative response would get me a credit.

So I decided to ask them to respond. I added a variation on this line to my InMails:

If you are not interested, just say so: please reply “Not Interested”

My InMail response rate went up 30%.

Now I should explain here that I experiment a lot with InMail (I sent 368 of them in May for example, that’s a lot of experimenting) and I am very good with it. I do a lot of things “right” and this discovery added one more tool in my InMail toolbox.

Sometimes it is that simple. You want a response to your InMail, even a negative one. So ask for it.

This “go ahead and ask for a negative response” idea has become one of fifteen items on my InMail checklist. If you are interested in upping your InMail game, I can help you do it.

The Return Of Who Shared Your LinkedIn Article Or LinkedIn Post

The background

I have a rough “hierarchy of engagement” for people that engage with me and my content on LinkedIn. These people are important to me – and if you publish on LinkedIn, they should be important to you too. In order of how likely it is to engage them in conversation, and possibly connect, the hierarchy goes like this:

  1. Followers
  2. Comments on posts or articles
  3. People who share posts or articles and add an introductory comment
  4. “Naked” shares, that is people who share with no comments
  5. Who viewed my profile
  6. Likes

You can identify your Followers and Who Viewed Your Profile types, and Likes and Comments can be easily seen in association with any given article or post you publish. But aside from the odd oblique notification that someone shared your post or article – for example, someone shared my post and I received a “Someone liked a post that mentions you” notification – we were out of luck with respect to who shared our content.

The return of who shared your article or post

Late yesterday I got a note from one of my connections, Thom h Boehm

“Did you notice that you can now see who shared your posts again? It is nice to have that feature back. I actually did not expect for it to return!”

(hat tip and thanks to Thom. Shameless plug follows: Thom’s a great writer and publisher of articles on LinkedIn. If you don’t follow Thom already, go check him out.)

I would have discovered this new feature myself today, but not in time to write this article. Today’s regularly scheduled article on a trick to increase your InMail response rate by 30% will be seen at this same time next week.

How it works

So after seeing Thom’s note, I went to have a look. And indeed your sharers are back. When you click on the statistics icon – where it says number of views for your post or number of clicks for your article:

You then see an addition to the statistics screen:

The number of times your post or article has been shared is there. Clicking on that will reveal a list of people who shared your post. Each entry on the list is clickable so that you can go to their re-share of your content and see what engagement they got. But the important thing is you can identify the people who shared your content so that you can engage with them – in my case I like to thank people who  shared my content, and often that will lead to a conversation and a connection.  

A couple of observations:

  • so far, no real Notifications that “XYZ and four others shared your article / post”
  • some, but not necessary all, of the people who shared your post or article will be shown. The article I referenced in the screenshot above has been shared 51 times to date. Upon clicking, a list of 25 people shows up. My guess is we are not shown the people who shared our posts and articles to individuals and to groups.

So why is this important?

Engaging with people that engage with you is one of the best ways to meet people, build your LinkedIn network, and uncover business opportunities. And it is something most LinkedIn users seem to ignore. I get around twenty new connections every week that started out as people who discovered me through my content on LinkedIn. I have been publishing on LinkedIn for three years and have a sizable network, so those are important contributing factors. But I also  have a specific repeatable process for identifying, tracking, responding to, and engaging with the people who have taken the time to engage with my content. And people who share my articles and posts are an important part of that group.  

Thom’s right. This is a welcome return.

What I Learned About LinkedIn Profiles From Reaching Out To 2000 Connections

(skip the first paragraph if you have read any of the other three articles I have written about my 2000 connection research).

Background

A couple of years ago I had 1500 LinkedIn Connections. Then I started using LinkedIn Publisher and writing articles about using LinkedIn every week. And I started receiving connection invitations. Lots of them. Even accepting well less than half of them, I was adding fifty connections a week. Last year I realized that my connection network was made up of a lot of people I had connected with but didn’t know aside from reading their profiles. So I started a program of reaching out to my connections, sending individual personalized messages one at a time (I refuse to use that automated mass messaging crap) and inviting them to a 15 minute phone or Skype call to find out more about each other.  Over time I sent these messages to 2000 of my connections and wound up having several hundred conversations.

This is what I learned about job hunting and LinkedIn profiles

A lot of profiles are too thin

There are many LinkedIn profiles with no Summary and with Experience sections that consist solely of the title, company worked for, and years worked there. This didn’t surprise me though I don’t understand why anyone using LinkedIn wouldn’t want to add some detail about what they do in their job (are they ashamed?). But they are certainly not in some tiny minority in not fleshing out their experience sections.

A lot of people have way too many specialties

What I never realized and what did surprise me was the number of people who have profiles that are overrun with specialties.  In these LinkedIn profiles, the writer is paranoid about missing something so they list everything they “specialize” in. You know the ones I am talking about. The person who specializes in twenty different areas. Or thirty. And I am not talking about endorse-able skills, I am talking about discrete specialties in one long list, usually in the summary. They seem to be under the impression that they may lose out if they don’t list everything. Their profile becomes a catch all. And as an old advertising adage goes, “when you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.” A LinkedIn profile is a place to talk about what you are uniquely good at doing. And that’s because – whether it’s a new hire or a new supplier – companies want someone who specializes in something they don’t have already.

Here’s an example: you decide to start blogging. One LinkedIn profile says “Specialties: Publishing, Videos, Podcasts, Blogging, Slide decks, Webinars, Livestreaming, E-Books, Testimonials, Case Studies and Semaphore.” Another LinkedIn profile lists their specialty as: “Blogging, Just blogging.” All other things being equal, who would you call first?   

The idea here is that when you list a pile of specialties, people don’t think, “wow, he can do it all”. Instead they think “There isn’t anything special about this guy.”

I was surprised at how many people are quietly looking for better work

The passive job market is huge. There are a lot more people that would jump than you think. They are just waiting for the right offer. LinkedIn has this right. I was shocked (but I still reserve the right to despise the term “dream job”).

Regardless of how fabulous a LinkedIn profile is, it only tells 10% of the story

This was one of the biggest things I found from actually talking to people. When you talk to someone you find out what their real specialties are, and what they are really passionate about. What’s in their LinkedIn Profile is the tip of the iceberg. A lot of profiles list the things someone does on their job. A conversation tells you the things that really matter to that person. What fascinates them. The parts of their jobs that they really look forward to doing.

Someone will be a “content specialist” and on their profile they list all their tools and capabilities. Then when I talk to them they casually mention that what they are really good at and enjoy doing is writing for healthcare providers and medical device companies. They have some relevant background in this area that makes them particularly comfortable with the lingo and the way content needs to be written for that industry. And there was nothing about this on their profile. Not a hint. But after my conversation with them, I now  have a go-to content writer for healthcare and medical that I didn’t have before.   

So here’s your thought for today: if you haven’t talked to one of your connections in months, invite them to have a 15 minute call with you. When you get them on the phone, ask them what’s hot in their specialty area lately and how it is affecting them. Offer to help them. Offer to introduce them to someone in your network. They may not need your help right now. But you will know them better, they will know you better, and they will remember that you offered to help them.

And almost no one on LinkedIn does it.  

Deciphering The New LinkedIn “Weekly Search Appearances” Feature

There is a bar on your profile under your intro section and above your articles and activity section. It used to feature your profile strength, the number of people who had viewed your profile, and the number of views of your latest post or article.

Then last week I noticed that it had changed.

The profile strength has been truncated (that’s the blue star at the left end of the bar) and “Weekly Search Appearances” has been added.

Clicking on the number of search appearances results in this screen:

(the number of search appearances differs between my two screen caps as one was taken using last week’s numbers and the other for this week’s)

What this page appears to do is to provide you with some clues as to how well your LinkedIn profile is performing for you.

The statistics that LinkedIn provides show three things.

The number of times you showed in search results during any given week

While it is a nice ego boost to think I am showing up in a lot of searches, without any context I am not sure that knowing this number helps me much. That’s because LinkedIn quite helpfully does not tell us how a “search” is defined. Here’s a good example: if someone I know types my name in the search bar and hits enter, they find me. Does this constitute a search? And if so, should I be excited that I turned up in their search results?

And it would be nice to see how many of these search results that I showed up in actually translated into profile views. I am guessing not many because if the number was impressive, you would think LinkedIn would want us to know. I know my profile was viewed around 160 times in the past seven days…but how many of those came from searches as opposed to from posts and articles and other places?

And there appears to be a few bugs in the system. I took the screen capture at the top of this article on Wednesday afternoon, June 21st. It said I showed up in 867 searches for the week that ended June 20th. Later the same day (June 21st) I went back to check something and noticed I now had appeared in 940 searches for the week ended June 20th. How can that number still be going up today if the search period ended yesterday?

The statistics screen then lists the top places your searchers work

I am not sure what to make of this. Last week on my report there were three companies listed. This week there are two. Those two were both there last week too. WTF? (WTF of course, stands for “Wednesday, Thursday, Friday”). Apparently, over a two week period I landed in more searches performed by people at Oberlin College than anywhere else. How can that be? Does Oberlin College have a “Find Bruce Johnston on LinkedIn” course that I don’t know about?

Even if I put the nice people at Oberlin College aside, that leaves Intel as the next company. Now how can I use that information? Maybe I can send messages to my three connections at Intel asking if it was them. Or maybe I can send InMails to the 5,600 second degree connections I have at Intel.

So once again this information is interesting but not useful.

What your searchers do

Now this is data that helps. In my case, I show up in more corporate trainer’s searches than anyone else. And these are the type of people I want to meet so I know my profile is doing it’s job. If I was job hunting, I would hope to see Recruiters and Human Resources people as my top searchers.

What these statistics don’t do for you

They don’t tell you where you ranked in the results and that is a big deal. If you don’t rank highly in a set of search results then who cares? I regularly perform searches that get thousands of results. I don’t look at them all. When was the last time you performed a Google search and reviewed all the results? Okay then, when was the last time you performed a Google search and got even halfway down page one of the search results?

In a lot of ways, these statistics make me think of views you would get for a post on your LinkedIn Homepage screen.  A thousand views means it was on a thousand screens. But you don’t know how many people actually saw your post and then read it. In the same way, appearing in a thousand search results is nice. But it doesn’t tell you if the people searching even saw you in the search results, let alone clicked on and opened your profile.  

I just stopped writing for a moment, hopped on LinkedIn and did a search for people in North America. So congratulations, if you are a LinkedIn member and live in North America, you just showed up in my search results….with 118 million other people.

As it stands, “Weekly Search Appearances” gives us some useful clues, but not the whole story.

 

Should You Send “Blind” LinkedIn Invitations To Connect?

Maybe not. Let me see if I can persuade you may be heading for a brick wall.  

I define a blind invitation as one that comes in out of the blue. The recipient is not aware of the inviter’s existence until the invitation to connect arrives. Sometimes the invitation to connect is personalized, but often the personalizing isn’t very imaginative, just a bland “We share ten connections so we should be connected too” type of thing.

Some aspects of the blind connection request you should take into account:

They can leave you waiting…and then what do you do?

Someone receives your invitation, reads your personalized plea to connect and goes, “meh”, and does nothing. But you don’t know that, you’re waiting for a reply.

Did they reject your invitation?

Did they just put it aside for a couple of days?

Did they turn it down?

Welcome to Limbo, population: you  

They can turn you down…with extreme prejudice

Someone you invite to connect has the option of not only declining your request, but telling LinkedIn they declined because they don’t know you. Collect enough of these “I Don’t Knows” and LinkedIn will restrict your account. Even worse, LinkedIn will not warn you if have collected any “I Don’t Knows” or how many.

Having your account restricted means having to know and provide the email address as part of any connection requests you make from now on. I had this happen to me early in my time on LinkedIn when I sent invitations to connect to customers of a company I used to work with. Apparently I remembered them a lot better than they remembered me. It took a lot of explaining with LinkedIn in order  to get my privileges restored.

LinkedIn appears to be changing the focus from a finite number of invitations to your overall invitation success rate

LinkedIn used to allow you a certain number of lifetime invitations to connect. A few years ago this number was rumored to be three thousand and in the past couple of years it was rumored to be five thousand. If you reached the invitation cap, you were cut off from inviting more people and you had to go and grovel with LinkedIn to get an extra fifty invites at a time to use.

Now it seems that “negative feedback” matters more than absolute numbers. In the LinkedIn help section, the references to a hard cap seem to have disappeared. Instead, LinkedIn says you can be “limited from inviting more members” if too many of the people that you invite to connect either ignore you or report you. So it is not just “I Don’t Knows” anymore. Even well written and personalized invitations to connect are not immune to being ignored.

Blanket acceptance of invitations is being taken advantage of

There was a “sweet spot” in late 2016 and early 2017 when a lot of people would accept connection requests pretty easily. Being rejected was something you really didn’t have to worry about. So blind invitations became a popular strategy for sales people. But the pendulum seems to have started swinging back again as too many people have used easy connection acceptance as a way to immediately bombard those new connections with sales pitches. Even more insidious, these connectors would immediately – and without permission – add those new connections to their email lists and the Spam those poor connections outside of LinkedIn too.

I think this has the potential for connection requests to be not accepted as easily as they were just a few months ago. And there are other potential problems with this as well:

  • If LinkedIn users start thinking of their connections as pests, maybe they will start ignoring messages from connections.
  • Maybe the pendulum swings too far the other way and LinkedIn members start accepting fewer and fewer connection requests.  
  • Or maybe to avoid spam, more LinkedIn members start using a “special” email address for LinkedIn. One that they never bother checking.

While these latter three may seem improbable, the idea of them happening would probably give LinkedIn a case of the cold sweats. So my guess is at some point LinkedIn will really clamp down on invite abusers.

The takeaway here? Don’t take inviting someone to connect for granted. If you are inviting ten people to connect and getting four acceptances, maybe it is time to re-think this strategy. Someone accepting your invitation shouldn’t be an open question, it should be close to a given. Keep your invitation acceptance rate up.

Be The One To Offer Value First

Once every week or two someone will contact me and the conversation goes something like this:  

Seeker: No one in my network wants to help me.

Me: How many exactly have you helped?

Seeker: Well none. No one has asked.

And there is the crux of the problem. You will be offered help from people you have offered to help.

And this leads to one thing that works on LinkedIn: providing real value to other LinkedIn users first. And for free too. Regardless of what your goals are – networking, finding a job, sales, marketing – nothing beats providing value, especially at the start of or early in a new relationship.

Because what does everyone want? More. More information to help them make better decisions. More access to the right people. More resources. That’s what it comes down to. Be the person that offers some of that information, that access. Be one of those resources.

Providing value is giving a little piece of yourself to someone else on LinkedIn that will make them better informed, give them information that they can use, or help them with a problem that they have. And at the same time, not expecting to be compensated directly for it.

When I suggest this to someone, I usually get this objection:

“We don’t give away our hard won knowledge and expertise for free. They should expect to pay for it.”

 But I didn’t suggest you give it all away…just a piece. Enough to help the other person. I often do this, sending one of my how-to’s on something like using InMail. The how-to I send will legitimately help someone with a facet of InMail such as subject lines or  calls to action. But as I teach eighteen different facets to InMail in my course on that topic, I’m not worried about giving away one of them.  

Giving away a bit of your knowledge demonstrates your expertise. And it invites the question, “Well what else can he/she do for me?”  Helping someone like this makes them think of you as an expert first and someone out to ask them for something second. It puts the focus on business and it puts the focus on them and their problems.

Some people say that what they sell or work with doesn’t lend itself to the idea of giving away little pieces of their knowledge. That’s fine. You have something else extremely powerful to offer: your LinkedIn network. You can offer access to your connections. If you have 500 connections, you have multiple people you could introduce someone to that would be valuable to them, and to your connections.

An offer to help someone, sincerely and without expectations of any direct compensation or tit for tat is something people don’t expect. But they will appreciate it. And it works.   

Outreach On LinkedIn: The Things They Don’t Want And The One Thing They Do

Pretty simple message: When you reach out to someone new on LinkedIn here are some of the things they don’t want to hear about:

  • Your company’s latest product improvements
  • Your need for a sales meeting with them
  • Your company’s new service
  • Your need to get them on the phone
  • That you are the #1 sales person or #1 anything else
  • Any other fabulously self-congratulatory achievement, even when you think you have disguised it by saying something like “I was surprised and humbled to receive the Nobel Prize for sales this week…”

All of these translate into you and what you want. Well, what about what they want? And what they really want is:

Information that helps them to make better decisions.

Give them information that will help them make better decisions with the problems they face and those other things that you want will take care of themselves.