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. 

Some First Aid For LinkedIn Desktop User Interface Problems



There are a lot of bugs in the new desktop User Interface, and while it is fun to speculate with our tin foil hats on…

  • did Microsoft push LinkedIn to roll out the new User Interface before it was ready?
  • did LinkedIn underestimate the complexity of the new User Interface?
  • did all the good LinkedIn engineers cash out their stock options and leave the rookies to do the coding?
  • maybe it was gamma rays
  • no wait, aliens!

…the causes of all the bugs and problems with the new User Interface don’t matter. Dealing with them does. I am getting half a dozen “have you seen this?” or “is this happening to you?” messages every day.

A lot of these problems are fixable or can be worked around.  

There are three reasons you may be experiencing problems with the new LinkedIn Desktop User Interface:

LinkedIn may have changed the way something works or removed a feature

Well, there isn’t anything you can do about this except confirm that the the feature has changed or disappeared. Most (unofficial) LinkedIn trainers or consultants can usually set you straight on whether a feature is gone or drastically changed. They will often be able to show you a workaround or alternative method of accomplishing what you want.

Note that LinkedIn has also backtracked on some changes to the new User Interface and re-incorporated some features that looked like they were gone for good.

You may be experiencing what I like to call a “transient”

That’s a bug or problem with the User Interface that is affecting only you in your current session on LinkedIn. In particular, these types of bugs manifest themselves as missing information or missing features on your pages. And these happen a lot.

Solution: Log off LinkedIn. Clear your browser cache and log back in. Sometimes it is necessary to reboot your computer. I use Google Chrome and I find that once I reach 300Mb of history and assorted junk in my browser cache, anomalies start showing up on LinkedIn. I was working with a client last week and he kept getting the “it’s not you, it’s us, try again” message when he wanted to do a LinkedIn search. It turned out he had 700Mb of odds and ends in his browser cache. Cleaning the browser cache fixed the problem.

You have a problem or problems specific to your Browser

There seem to be a lot of issues with different browsers. I am not a browser or operating system expert, but it is apparent that some of the bugs and oddities users are experiencing are caused by the new LinkedIn User Interface not working not integrated perfectly with their browser.

Solution: try doing the same thing you are having a problem with but using a different browser. If you use Internet Explorer, try Chrome. If you use Safari, try Firefox.

These suggestions are workarounds, ideas to keep you functional until LinkedIn stomps all the bugs out, which may take a while.  If you have solutions that have worked for you, please include them in the comments section.

LinkedIn Notifications: Updated

I published an article on all the changes to LinkedIn Notifications four weeks ago. Two weeks after I published the article, LinkedIn made one more change…a big one. So I took down the “old” article, and have rewritten it here, adding the new information (thanks to all who read, shared, commented and liked that article).

First of all, there are two terms that need to be understood: articles and posts. An “article” is written by clicking on “Write an article” at the top of your homepage feed. This takes you to LinkedIn publisher. Articles tend to be longer form content and LinkedIn publisher has more options for formatting and presenting your content. A “post” is short form content written after clicking “Share a post, article or update” at the top of the homepage feed. As often seems to be the case with LinkedIn, this can get semantically weird. For example if you take this article of mine that you are reading and share it, my shared article becomes your post.

Here are the types of notifications you will now receive:

Birthdays

Work Anniversaries

LinkedIn parses these out piecemeal over the course of the month, as for most us, dumping all fifty or five hundred people who have an anniversary this month in one notification would be overwhelming.

Job Changes

Job Recommendations

These are the jobs you may be interested in, based on LinkedIn’s algos.

Activity on your articles

These are Likes and Comments on your article. And a word about Likes. Likes are wonky in the new format. You are given less information (just the name, headline, and a photo) than we used to receive.

In these “activity on your articles” notifications, you are also offered the link to see who’s viewed your article, which brings up the new but not improved statistics for your article.

Activity on your posts

Likes and comments on your posts. And again, you are offered the link to see who’s viewed your post which takes you to the new hokey unusable statistics.

Activity on your post comments

This includes: People who liked your comment

People who liked your reply to someone else’s comment

Someone liked a comment that mentions you

People who also replied to a comment you replied to

Posts you were mentioned in

This includes: Someone mentioned you in a post

Someone mentioned you in a comment on a post

Someone liked a post that mentioned you (this is brutal. Makes for a lot of notifications)

Activity on posts you were mentioned in

This includes: Someone mentioned you in a comment or reply on a post

Someone liked a comment that mentioned you

Who my connections are following

There seems to be a bit of misdirection here, as the only notifications I seem to get so far are new people who are following me. Once a day I receive a list of any new followers I have. What’s alarming about this is that this is the only place in the new User Interface where there is any reference to my followers at all. I have approximately seven hundred followers. I know who the four are that followed me yesterday and the two from the day before. The rest of my followers? No way of knowing.

Who viewed your profile

 

Notifications that seem gone or are “to be determined”

New endorsements from your connections

A low level priority it seems. I see these occasionally.

Someone you follow has published an article

Rare. At least for me. I have had the new User Interface for about ten weeks now and have received one notification for a connection who has published an article. And I have a lot of connections who post every week. So out of several thousand possible notifications for this type of event I have received…one.

Shares

You receive no notifications when people share your post – unless the sharer mentions you. I think people who share my posts are the single most important engagement opportunity on LinkedIn. Either this is a mistake LinkedIn will rectify, or LinkedIn doesn’t think sharing is important anymore. In which case they need to change the Social Selling Index, as sharing is a critical part of the SSI.

 

Three takeaways from all of changes to Notifications

1) Notifications are now highly configurable. Hurray.

You now have the ability to turn any of the eleven types of notifications on or off. At the top right of any notification is a tool wheel (some people have three little horizontal lines with circles in them – equalizers? sliders? hamburgers gone bad?). Clicking on the tool wheel allows you to turn this type of notification on or off.

Here’s what the list of notification I have turned off looks like:

2) Mentions are insidious

This is the biggy. Mentions/tagging now rule the roost. Mentioning someone in a post, or in a comment on a post, or someone liking a post or a comment that mentions you, generates a notification, and these notifications seem to supersede all others.

A lot of LinkedIn users are already sick and tired of the mention feature, as it has already become the new way to Spam people on LinkedIn.

3) Notifications are still not there yet.

LinkedIn has consolidated some types of notifications into once a day types. This is good. LinkedIn will also consolidate your likes and comments for a particular post into one notification (as in “Bob Smith and twelve others liked or commented on your post”). This is also good.

There appears to be a hierarchy of notifications. Mentions are on top, along with likes and comments on your posts. Notifications for new posts by people you are connected with or follow are on the bottom and get lost. This is bad

Two practical suggestions for managing Notifications

Think twice before commenting or replying to comments on other people’s posts, especially posts that you can see already have a lot of likes or comments. Further activity on these posts will generate a lot of notifications. I am not saying you shouldn’t engage this way of course, just be sure you really do want to wade into a busy discussion. Your actions will have consequences that may wind up irritating you.

Hide notifications that you are not interested in seeing. In my case, I dumped birthdays, work anniversaries and jobs you may be interested in.

In closing, what LinkedIn has done with Notifications is good. Not perfect, but moving in the right direction.

Like quite a few aspects of the new User Interface, notifications have been cleaned up and made to look more presentable, which is good for the occasional user. And the ability to turn off any combination of the eleven different types of notifications is a welcome addition. However, issues such as not being notified about people who have shared your content and connections who have published articles remain. And while this is not notifications specific, it is notifications related: for us power users, we would like to have more control over what we see in our home page feed (I will have a bit of fun with this idea Thursday).

Notifications are still a work in progress – for example LinkedIn hasn’t decided between the tool wheel and the equalizer. So maybe I will see you for another update in four weeks.

This article originally appeared on my blog, www.practicalsmm.com