Keeping Your LinkedIn Network Healthy

You may have five hundred connections. You may have five thousand connections. But regardless of the number, your network should be tended to from time to time to keep it healthy. You built it to serve your purposes, and now that it is built, you have to keep it from getting unruly and out of control.

Think of your own network. There are probably times you have suffered from “connector’s regret.”

4 signs your LinkedIn network could use some pruning

You find someone on LinkedIn you would really like to meet, and seeing that they are a second degree connection, you are looking for an introduction. And then you see who is the first degree connection you will be asking to make that introduction  and it is someone you have never talked with or even exchanged messages with since you first connected with them over a year ago. And you can see they are not active on LinkedIn. If you find five people that could introduce you and they are all no good, you have a real problem.

Or you see a lot of odd people that seemingly make no sense in the “People You May Know” section. Gee, why am I getting all these people from Spain? Maybe because I just accepted the connection requests of a bunch of people in Spain. LinkedIn is just trying to help. And LinkedIn is helping by in effect asking me, “What’s with all the Spanish connections?”  

Do you suffer from low grade annoyance at your homepage feed? You see connections posting inane things and even worse, connections who comment and like inane things, clogging up your home page with worthless drivel. If you are constantly seeing this junk in your homepage feed, you have a problem. And it is kind of a problem you created because you connected with these people. If the sponsored content on your homepage is starting to look good to you, you know it is time to take action.

Then there are the people that you connect with but have never responded to one of your messages. I am a big fan of being optimistic in my connecting, but if you are going to just sit there like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you are testing my optimism.

And course there are the people who connect with you and decide that you should be the recipient of a “special offer.”  You shouldn’t be suffering from people who treat their connections like an email list, fishing for customers and referrals with what are obviously form letters. I got a message last month from a connection offering to teach me the secret to LinkedIn. I was tempted to respond “I already know the secret to LinkedIn. It’s Don’t spam your connections with canned messages”.  

What you can and should do about an unruly LinkedIn network

For posts that annoy you: hide this post

Use the “three dot” drop down menu at the top right of the post and choose “Hide this post.” This works well for posts that are getting lots of comments and keep re-showing up in your homepage feed.

For posters that annoy you: unfollow them

From the same drop down menu, the next selection is “Unfollow”. You will stay connected with the person in question, but their content will be hidden from you. A good option for connections who are “judgmentally challenged” in their homepage activity.

For connections that annoy you: disconnect (ie: Defcon 3)

This option is for those times when the disadvantages such as spam or total unresponsiveness lead you to deciding that disconnecting is your best option. First go to your settings and privacy page, choose the middle tab “privacy” and change Profile Viewing Options to “Anonymous LinkedIn Member”. Now go to the connection in question’s profile, click the 3 dots to the right of their photo and select “remove connection” from the drop down list. LinkedIn does not inform the other person that your connection has been severed, and by being anonymous they won’t see you visited their profile. It’s all very efficient and discrete.  

Your network should be full of people that can help you and are around to do so, and of course you should be ready to offer the same to them. Keep your network clean and effective. 

Using The 80/20 Rule Of LinkedIn Participation To Your Advantage

Here’s a simple way to get more responses from more people on LinkedIn.

In LinkedIn’s last publicly announced quarterly results almost exactly a year ago, one statistic released was that seventy-eight percent of LinkedIn users show up less than once a month. LinkedIn consistently posted similar engagement percentages in previous quarters too, and as Microsoft surely would have informed the world if this number had improved, I assume it hasn’t changed much.  

The other twenty-two percent of LinkedIn users show up at least once a month. So who should you be trying to contact? Correct. The 100 million members that 22% represents.  

Sending a message or invite to connect to someone in the other 78%  is a questionable strategy. When is the next time they will show up on LinkedIn and see your message? Thanksgiving? New Years? Spring 2019?

So in theory, paying attention to the 22% is a good idea. But what about in practice?

Premium account badge

A little gold premium account badge on a LinkedIn profile means that person has (surprise) a premium account. The assumption being that someone who has a premium account actually comes around LinkedIn on a regular basis to use that account and get their money’s worth. But there is one thing that you still won’t know: you can’t tell whether someone is paying for their premium account or whether their company is. An individual covering their own costs seems more likely to show up more often. A possible indicator, but a mediocre one.  

Completed profiles

A complete profile tells you that the user realized the importance of LinkedIn…at one time. The problem being you don’t know if that time is now.

Lots of connections

Now we are getting somewhere. Someone with more connections typically means someone who “gets” networking, and they will check in on LinkedIn more often. Not completely reliable as an indicator, but I like the odds of getting a response from someone with two thousand connections over someone with two hundred.

Activity

This is the “aha” indicator. You can spot someone’s activity right on their profile. And because activity is date stamped, you can get a pretty good idea of what the minimum baseline of activity is for that person (because some activity you won’t see, like searches, or reading posts). Recent activity is the one indicator I use every time in considering whether to approach a person on Linkedin.

Activity with you

This may sound odd, but let me explain. People engage with you in one or more of five ways –  like, comment, share, profile view or follow. I added this one because most people don’t take advantage of the situation when someone shows an interest in them or something they have written. When someone tells me that they got twenty likes on their post, I will ask them what they did with all those likes, and often the answer is “nothing.” Well, why not? If I get twenty likes, I am all over those twenty profiles seeing if these are people I want to know better.

The ideal situation is when the LinkedIn user shows two or three of these indicators.

There no guarantees you will get a response after identifying one of these more frequent users, but at least you can put the odds in your favor.

Land Of The Canned: LinkedIn Messages That Are Wearing Thin

One of the great incongruities with the idea of social selling is the volume of messages that people wind up sending. Instead of cold calling a hundred people  once, it becomes a hundred people to monitor, share content with, comment on and send messages to.

To be social you need lots of engagement.

But lots of engagement sounds like a lot of work.

Enter the mass messaging.

Which sounds great. Come up with a message and send it to a hundred people.

But there are two problems with the mass messaging approach: zero customization and zero personalization. I receive messages all the time offering to help me…with my LinkedIn skills…or publish content on LinkedIn…or generate sales leads. It is apparent that these people didn’t bother looking at my profile, and that I was just one of a large number of people sent this same message.

Let me see if I can put this politely:

Actually reading the profile of someone you want to send a message to may seem like a lot of work, but there is a lot to be said for not looking like an idiot.

Not that polite? Sorry.

You wind up receiving messages like this: “I see you looked at my profile and based on your fascinating background I think we should connect.“ (this was an actual message a friend received a few weeks ago).

So what you have are irrelevant messages apparently being sent to a large number of recipients who didn’t request them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call spam. So while people sending these messages may think they are being brilliant social sellers, they are actually closer to pond scum.

The worst part with this type of  messaging is the apparent contempt of the sender for the recipient. That’s what really grinds me the most. Your assumption that I will be flattered and stupid enough to fall for it.

The solution? Customization and personalization. For each person. And each message. The operative word is “person.”

And the people that send me those sad little boilerplate messages? I always respond courteously and thank them for my interest, point out that reading my profile would have saved them the effort, and wish them success in their next job.