Clues That A LinkedIn Profile Is A Fake

 

Last week I received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from the person above. Let’s go over all the clues that this is not a real person:

1) The person has an absurdly low number of connections. Actually she had one when she invited me to connect, and had added a second before I could take this screen capture. This is a classic case of a profile not passing the smell test. Human Resources people use LinkedIn more than any other occupation. According to this person’s school and work history, they have been employed full time for four years. How many HR people on LinkedIn do you know with two connections?

2) Someone who is in human resources in Brazil would logically want to connect with people in, I don’t know…maybe Brazil? Nope. This person immediately figured in order to advance her career in HR in Brazil that a person in Toronto was the optimal person to connect with.

3) It almost goes without saying that the invitation to connect did not include a personalized note.

By the way, LinkedIn deserves all the credit in the world for this: within one hour of my reporting this person their profile had been removed by LinkedIn. The downside is that I didn’t have enough time to get a screen cap of her experience sections….

4) Fourth indicator that this was a fake?No job descriptions, just a listing. No Summary at all. I am always skeptical of people who want to connect who have really “thin” profiles.

5) Odd time sequences for jobs. Often you will see fake profiles with job dates left out, or apparent full time jobs overlapping (you worked for Oracle and IBM at the same time for a year? That’s impressive.) This is just sloppiness giving them away. In the case of this person’s “current” job, there were no dates at all.

6) In the example above, the photo belongs to someone else. I ran this one through TinEye (a browser extension which will look for a photo on the web) and TinEye showed me this photo being used six times in other places.

7) And does anyone else think a field of flowers as a background banner is an interesting choice for an HR professional?

The bottom line? Just look for the incongruities. They are there. Fake profiles often have pieces that by themselves look okay, but when combined together just don’t present a coherent narrative.

Oh, and the last reason I knew this was a fake? It’s a bit of a cheat but….

8) The young lady in question says she got an undergrad degree in HR at the University of Sao Paulo, and then she traveled to Canada and got a Masters degree at Upper Canada College. In what can only be an incredible coincidence, I also attended Upper Canada College.

It was my high school.

Stay safe out there.

The LinkedIn Secret Ingredient: Introductions

This is the “You don’t need a Sales Navigator or Premium LinkedIn account” strategy.

If you have 500 LinkedIn connections and those connections have 500 connections each, you have 250,000 second degree connections. A lot of them are going to be people you would like to connect with.

Want proof? Go take a company that you would like to get more deeply into and search for it. Choose “people” as the result. Now select just your second level connections. What you will probably find is that while you don’t have a “two” that is THE person you would like to meet, you have multiple pathways into the company.

So turn your connections into your ambassadors and ask them to introduce you to people they know at those target companies.

I know what a lot of people will be saying: I have 1500 connections but I really don’t know them all that well, maybe only 300 of them. Fine. Just work with the 300. If they have 300 connections each that’s 90,000 people they can introduce you to.  

What does an introduction take?

“A this is B, this is how I know B. B has some unique insights into the widgets.”  

“B this is A, this is how I know A. A has been in the abracadabra industry for fifteen years.”

That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.

Here’s why introductions are huge: Credibility.

The introducer bestows upon you credibility with the other person. It is just a sheen of credibility, a starter kit of credibility, but it gives you you a shot at making  an impression. You don’t get this credibility boost via InMail, email, or cold call.

What an introduction on LinkedIn decodes as is “This is someone I know. He or she is not going to waste your time.”

By the way, this is one of the reasons I try and have an introductory call with my new connections: I want them to know me a little better and have them comfortable with the idea that I may ask them for an introduction, and that I welcome them asking me for an introduction to someone in my network. They can feel comfortable that if they introduce me to a third party that I won’t be wasting the third party’s time and I won’t be saying anything that may damage the credibility of the person that introduced me.

And the secret to making this strategy work? Offer to do it for your connections first. Then when they ask you for an introduction, follow through for them. It’s a variation on “give to get”.  

 

An Arcane LinkedIn Search Filter You Should Be Using In Sales Navigator

Arcane (adjective): understood by few, mysterious or secret

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator has a lot of search filters – twenty-three at last count. Many are pretty obvious and useful including geography, industry, and title. Many are not as obvious or useful: Profile language? First name? Member since?

But I want to talk about a Sales Navigator search filter that is not among the  twenty-three obvious ones. A filter that is both obvious and arcane at the same time, and one of the most useful filters LinkedIn has.

Once you have performed a search using Sales Navigator, and your search results are in front of you, four filters appear across the top of your results screen, along with the number of people from your search who fit with each of these four conditions.  

 

These four – changed jobs, mentioned in the news, posted on LinkedIn and share experience with you – are what I call the “hook filters”.  They are possible hooks, promoted as social selling excuses to contact someone. While the other three are interesting, the one I use in almost every search is:

Posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days.

For me, this is one of the most powerful filters on LinkedIn, because it tells you about the person’s behavior. Over three quarters of Linkedin members show up less than once a month. People who post are people that are active.

Which leads me to Bruce’s Rules of Responsiveness on LinkedIn:

Rule number 1: People that are active are more likely to see your message to them.

Rule number 2: And people that see your message are more likely to respond.

It’s obvious when you think about it, but most people don’t think about it. Why not play with the people that have shown they are players? And even better, you can go to profiles and go and see what that activity is – Articles? Posts? Comments on other people’s posts? Now you have both a better opportunity to reach that person along with possible insight into how they are using LinkedIn.

The “Posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days” filter gives me an edge in getting responses.

Making The Connect First Strategy Work For You On LinkedIn

(I asked that new connection to call me after lunch…)   Photo courtesy Mark Johnston

LinkedIn users appear a lot more open to connecting than they were a couple of years ago. So a lot of people are bypassing getting introduced or using InMails and just flat out inviting people they would like to be connected with to connect.

There is a possible downside to this approach though. On the LinkedIn help area it says, “If you’ve sent a large number of invitations, your account may be limited from inviting more members. This is generally due to many of your invitations being rejected or ignored by the members you’ve invited.” But for the most part, people seem to be more accepting of connection requests these days. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I am hearing from a lot of people that their new connections are unresponsive. They ask for a phone call: no response. They send a message.  Silence. So they ask me for suggestions. I always wind up asking them why they think the new connection should respond.

“Because we are connected.”

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. They assume that being connected conveys privileged status to them and that the new connections will want to respond to them. They are half right. Being connected has privileges, primarily that you can send each other messages. But neither one of you has to respond.  

The reason that these people are not getting responses is simple: they have little or no credibility with the other party. If you are going to ask for someone’s  attention, they had better feel up front that you are worth paying attention to. And that’s the problem with most blind connection requests. They often result in a connection, but you haven’t established your credibility or possible value to the other party. That still needs to be accomplished.  

So what can you do? Well, you need to figure out how you can build credibility with this person. What do they want? What problems do they have? How can you show them that you have answers to those problems? Show them your value. This can be in sending them information they can use (I understand your problems) or in offering assistance they can use (I can help with your problems).

People will talk to you once they think it is worth their while talking to you.

 

Some Thoughts On Going Viral On LinkedIn

 

While you should publish on LinkedIn with a goal of getting engagement, there is no doubt that getting a lot of views is good for the ego. Just don’t let the Holy Grail of going viral drive you batty.  

If you have ever had an article you published on LinkedIn go viral, or even one that did really well in terms of views, it is easy to get caught up in trying to go viral again. But if the odds of it happening once are pretty low, then the odds of it happening a second time are very, very low. Note that I am talking articles that require clicks here, not the “drive by” views that posts get.

My LinkedIn articles tend to get in the middle to high hundreds of views each week. Once every every six weeks or so, one will get over a thousand views, once every three months one will get two thousands views and once I got over three thousand.

And then there is the article I published back in early 2016, over a year and half ago. It has forty-five thousand views, and is actually getting stronger, pulling in an extra thousand or twelve hundred views every week.

Every week I get an email from LinkedIn telling me the three articles that got the most views in the previous week. Almost every week that old article is on top, handily beating out the ones I have published in the past couple of weeks.   

The upside is that  eighteen months ago I wrote something that readers really liked. And apparently they still do. The downside is I have had around 80 shots at publishing new articles and replicating that success. Not so far.

But I don’t worry about it and here’s why: I have no clue why that article went semi-viral and why none of my other couple hundred articles did not. I think you can write as well as you can, hit publish and then it is out of your hands. If it goes viral, enjoy your moment in the sun. I published one article that got one hundred times the views I normally get. I don’t know what was different about that one from others I have written. I don’t know the secret.

And no one else does either. Anyone who writes that they know how to go viral is full of it. Otherwise they would be viral every time they published…and wouldn’t have to write articles on how to go viral.

And while views are good for the ego, engagement from those views is the real deal. LinkedIn doesn’t tell me who my viewers are, so I have no way to identify and contact them if I wish to. People who like, share and comment are identifiable so I can contact them. I consider an  article with three hundred views and sixty people engaging with me to be more successful than having three thousand views and thirty people engage with me.

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.