Why Writing Good Content Is Worth The Effort

Because it yields results way out of proportion to the time and effort you put into it.

When you put the time and effort into your writing, it shows in the results.

When you think hard about what your prospective reader really wants to see, it shows in the results

When you take the time to think all around the subject you are writing about, it shows in the results.

When you write from the standpoint of thinking “What’s in it for them? And how do I give it to them?”, it shows in the results.

When you get input from your readers, and take that into account when you write, it shows in the results.

When I write, I have two things going for me: After writing hundreds and hundreds of LinkedIn posts, articles, blog posts and now newsletters, I have a pretty good idea what my readers want to know more about.

The second thing I have going for me is I am willing to take the time to write it out and explain my thinking. I take my first draft and put it away for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. Then I usually take that draft and edit it again before it goes in a newsletter or on LinkedIn or my blog.

I write three newsletters a week, a blog post or two, and usually an article or post on LinkedIn. Writing, editing, and posting takes me around 12 hours a week. That is significant. And it is also untouchable. If I have work for my clients that is cramping me for time, then I write in the evening or on the weekend, but that writing is going to get done, and I am going to put the time into writing it that it deserves.

And it shows in the results. The average open rate for consulting and coaching newsletters is nine percent. The open rate for my three newsletters is just under forty percent (and by the way, thanks to all my subscribers for that).

Put the time and effort into your writing. It will show in your results.

Should You Have A LinkedIn Company Page?  

This may seem like a silly question, but there is a case to be made for not having a company page – or as LinkedIn calls them these days a “LinkedIn Page.”
Here are the pros and cons of just what you can do with a Page and what a Page can do for you. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
Con – Your reach with your Company posts will be pretty poor
The fact is LinkedIn just does not distribute company page content that much. Yesterday, I got a notification that one company I follow had published a post. This company publishes two or three times a week. This was the first notification I had received or post I had seen this year. Your organic reach just isn’t there. I have even seen conjecture that LinkedIn will go to a pay-for distribution model like Facebook’s.
Con – It takes work!
Setting up a Page is easy. Populating it with really good content – on a regular basis – is another story. Pages need content, and the more the merrier. And that content needs to do one thing: show the visitor that you have the answers to their questions. Your content should be “benefits loaded”, that is less about your capabilities and more about your customer’s results. Even for companies that have that mindset, coming up with a steady stream of that content is a lot of work.
Pro – A Page allows your Company to be found on LinkedIn
Your description and the keywords, phrases and the company specialties you list all provide “hooks” that searchers on LinkedIn can use to find your company. I think this is a vastly undervalued part of a LinkedIn Page, and many companies do not take advantage of it. And it only takes five minutes to set up or fix.
Pro – You can use it to establish your credibility
This would be the role of that content I talked about above. Establishing credibility is a missing part of many companies’ sales process. You need to have credibility in order to be considered your prospect’s purchasing team. A Company Page is a good place to start that ball rolling, because then you can send them…
Pro – You can use your Page to send people back to your website
LinkedIn doesn’t really give you much room to stretch out and write posts – the character limit for Page posts is 700 characters including spaces and punctuation, and you can’t say very much in that amount of space. The solution is a teaser for your content and then have a link back to the content on your website.
Conclusion & Recommendations
A company page is good for credibility, but not for reach. For companies with the resources to keep up with the commitment to write good content, a Page is worthwhile. If you work for yourself, I would suggest that you can do a good job building your credibility without a Page by publishing articles – which can be found via LinkedIn Search, and are also indexed by Google Search.

A LinkedIn feature that should be ignored: Your weekly search stats

Why being a grain of sand in this photo can be like being found in LinkedIn Search Results


This just in: No one is searching for you.

Every week, LinkedIn slips you a notification that says something like: “You appeared in 412 searches this week”. You can then click on it and go to learn more about “your searchers”.

Take it from someone who knows: “You appeared in 412 searches this week.” is about as disingenuous a statement as you will ever read. 

Here are five reasons why “Your Weekly Search Stats” should be ignored:

  1. You are not told where you ranked in those search results. LinkedIn doesn’t say whether you were on page 1 – and likely to be seen listed in the results – or on page 27, where you will hardly ever be seen. When was the last time you performed a Google search and reviewed all the results?
  2. LinkedIn shows you five companies where your searchers work. This has absolutely zero value because you don’t know what these people were searching for. Was it the HR department looking for employees? Was it someone researching an industry? A vendor doing research? A salesperson looking for prospects?
  3. LinkedIn shows you what your searchers do. Again, with no context, what am I to think of this? Six percent of the people whose searches I turned up in last week were “Founders”. Of what? IBM? Fred’s Flower Shop?
  4. LinkedIn will tell you what keywords they used to search. In my case they were VP Marketing, Coach and Consultant. The last time I was a VP Marketing was the late 90’s.
  5. And this is the biggest one, which ties all the others together:

Most LinkedIn users have no clue how to search effectively. 

They put titles in the search box instead of searching by title…they search too broadly by geography…and they get too many results, most of them garbage results. Those are the searches you showed up in. 

Let me summarize with an example: 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 180 million other people. But my search will be one of the ones you showed up in when you get your weekly search stats next week. 

You may turn up in LinkedIn search results, but that does not mean the searchers are looking at your profile. Or even looking for you at all.

I publish weekly newsletters on using LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each of these 3 is typically a two or three minute read and contains useful ideas you can put into practice right away.



Four Advantages Of Using LinkedIn Inmail Over Email For Cold Outreach

I was going to write about three advantages, but I thought of a fourth as I was editing this post. It’s at the end.

The closed system

The first advantage is that InMail takes place within the confines of LinkedIn’s closed system. This makes it safer for users to open, and less likely to contain malware and viruses and other nasty stuff. LinkedIn users can be more confident opening an InMail message from another LinkedIn user.

The possible hooks

One of the great aspects of LinkedIn and Sales Navigator is that the same place you can send those InMails from is the place where you can do the research that can give you ammunition to use in those InMails.
When I am going to send someone an InMail, I am doing research in three places: that person’s LinkedIn profile, the profiles of his or her obvious company peers (that I have found using Search in Sales Nav), and their LinkedIn company page. In all of these areas I am looking for hooks, information I can use that will help me get a response. For example, I have commented on how someone took what appears to be a hard turn in their career fifteen years ago (“I see you went from IT into sales. I would love to hear the story behind that career move.”) Or I will see something on their company page such as their headcount is way up in the past year (or way down!). Either of those two extremes can give me instant ways of couching my message, appealing to their growth or their need to cut costs.
These things don’t always jump out at you, but there is usually something there you can use.

The Tacit Approval

What almost no one knows is that you can opt out of receiving any InMail messages. In sending thousands of InMails I have never run across one of them. People seem to accept that part of the price of using LinkedIn is that non-connections may send them messages. They don’t have to open them, but they will show up in their inbox.

The user who is more likely to respond

This is my secret InMail weapon. I have found that LinkedIn users who use LinkedIn a lot are more likely to “get” LinkedIn, and are more likely to be open to receiving a message from a stranger. This makes sense. So I wondered how I could identify those people and it turned out to be pretty easy. I just look for people with lots of connections  – which I can see on their profile – and even more so, I look for people that are active on LinkedIn – which I can also see through their profile.
If I find someone with two thousand connections who shows up on LinkedIn once or twice a week and comments on posts or shares other people’s posts, I like the odds that if I send him or her a message that they will read it –  and of course it will have the hooks we just talked about in it. But if I send a message to a LinkedIn user who has two hundred connections and doesn’t look like they have been on LinkedIn for months, well that person doesn’t “get” LinkedIn and my odds of them ever even seeing my message let alone responding to it are awful.
And the bottom line?
My experience is that when I send outreach emails and outreach InMails with the same message, the ones I can send to active people get a 14% higher response rate. And that makes the effort worthwhile.

One Disadvantage About Using LinkedIn InMail For Cold Outreach

No sunscreen? Yes, that’s a disadvantage.
The disadvantage is your perception of what InMail is.
Here is the awful misconception many LinkedIn users have when they start using InMail: a method for sending messages to prospects on LinkedIn that pretty well guarantees a response.
They start using InMail thinking it is some magical method that somehow – because it is InMail – will cause otherwise rational business executives to respond to a message like some kind of Walking Dead Zombie.
So thinking that a response is pretty well guaranteed, the sales type sends generic “aren’t we wonderful, let’s do a phone call” cookie cutter stuff with just the name changed at the top.
And they get no responses. And they blame LinkedIn and InMail and just about everything except the real culprit: themselves.
Simply put, here is what InMail is: a method for Premium LinkedIn users to send messages to people they are not connected with on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is like email: your message needs to be really really good for you to stand out from the crowd and earn a response.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you are willing to put the time in to do it well, InMail can be very very rewarding. How good? My response rate runs in the 60-65% range. That’s the culmination of sending several thousand InMails over the past five years and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
I am going to talk a lot about InMail over the next few months, and give you ideas and best practices that you can put into use.
And one other thing: LinkedIn has three big advantages over email. I will talk about those next week.

The Only Question You Need To Answer To Market Successfully On LinkedIn

This applies to every post, article, or company page update you publish on LinkedIn.
Ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?”
What do your ideal customers want? Why are they here on LinkedIn? What questions are they asking? What information do they need?
And then one final question,  “How can I give it to them?”
What I find many companies do is they say they are answering that question, but when you look at what they have published, it’s “what’s in it for our company?”
You get interviews with the company brass, press releases on new equipment they have purchased, list of their capabilities, and supposed benefits customers receive from working with them.
I had a client just the other week where they were putting together a piece of content on one special type of work they could do. They put together two mock pages, one with the special capabilities at the top and one with a blurb about how the company had been in business for forty years, and the other one with the company and capabilities reversed. They canvased the company management for their opinion. Here was my opinion:
“When your ideal customer is searching LinkedIn for answers, which is the burning question their engineers and manufacturing people are looking for answers to?”
a) “Is there anyone out there that can build this special requirement we have?”
b) “I wonder if there are companies out there that have been around for forty years?”
My opinion prevailed.
If you perpetually drive yourself to ask “what do they want? What’s in it for them?” you will come up with better content and get a much better response to it on LinkedIn.
And they will come back for more.

Introductions: The “You Don’t Need Sales Navigator” 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 they in turn know well, that’s 90,000 people they can introduce you to.
What does an introduction take?
“Alan this is Brenda, this is how I know Brenda. Brenda has some unique insights into widgets.”
“Brenda this is Alan, this is how I know Alan. Alan 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 person making the introduction for you bestows upon you credibility with the other person you would like to meet. 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.”
And the secret to making this strategy work? Offer to do it for your connections first.

FAQ: Managing Invitations to Connect on LinkedIn 

And a carefully written note with your invitation can go a long way…


If the other person does not answer or accept, can I withdraw my invitation to connect?

Yes. And perhaps oddly, LinkedIn will allow you to send that person another invitation after three weeks have gone by. 

To manage sent invitations, click on the “My Network” tab and choose “manage” at the top right. 


Why am I being asked to provide the person’s email address that I want to invite to connect?

It is possible that the other person has set their account to only receive invitations from people who know their email address. I have never seen anyone do this. 

The more likely scenario (cue ominous music) is that you are in LinkedIn jail. This happens when you have been ignored or rejected by a large percentage of the people you have invited to connect. LinkedIn (or at least LinkedIn’s algorithms) think you are pushing your luck as to who you are inviting to connect. 


Do connection requests expire? 

I haven’t heard of this. In theory your connection request can sit for years, waiting for the other person to see it. In theory this kind of makes sense: a lot of users only come around every few months, so having your request expire too quickly doesn’t help you or that other person. 


Should I delete invites that don’t get a response? 

I do. I usually delete invites once I figure someone should have seen it and responded by now. For someone who uses LinkedIn every day, I will give them three or four days. As I am not interested in connecting with occasional users, I don’t let any invites hang around for more than two weeks. 


Should I send a personalized note with my invitation?

People are on both sides of the fence on whether one is really needed. I think it depends on the situation. If I know the person, or they are a logical person to accept – they work at a client company for example – no note is needed. However if they come in out of the blue, I want to know the context as to why they want to connect. 

It never hurts to add a note that gives context to why you sent the invitation. It all comes back to the “what’s in it for the other person” idea. We want to give them a reason to say “yes”.

With thanks to one of my Connections, Wayne Yoshida, who had the idea for this post and several of the questions. 

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Homepage Feed – part 2 – fine tuning

Three micro settings to fine tune your homepage feed.

All of these changes pertain to individual people and posts you come across in your feed. The first do are done through the three little dots menu at the top right of any post. 

Here is what you can do when different problems arise: 

When you are sick of a post reappearing at the top of your screen

Solution: choose “Hide this post” 

Sometimes LinkedIn’s algorithm will decide I really should see a post and it keeps showing up at the top of my feed. Sorry, time to go. Roll your mouse over the three dots at the top right of the post in question. A drop down menu will appear. Choose “Hide this post”     

Note that this only hides this particular post as posted by this one particular person. If someone else in your network posts the same content, it will show up again.

Note that there is also a selection at the top right of the feed that you can change from “Top” where LinkedIn selects the post it thinks you want to see and “Recent” where whatever is the newest post among the people / topics / companies will come first. If you do change it to “Recent”, this selection is not very sticky and will revert back to “Top” after a day or two. 

When a connection is a serial bad poster            

Solution: unfollow them

I call this “connection jail.” If I find someone who just keeps posting content that I find no value in, I put them in connection jail by unfollowing them. The unfollow command is in the same drop down menu as the “hide this particular” update command.

Note that you can’t “partially unfollow” someone. I have had several people ask me about this. They like what the person writes but don’t want to see his or her likes and comments on other people’s posts. I am sorry, it’s either everything from that person or nothing. And I am really sorry if the person you are asking about is actually me. 

When a connection goes sour                

Solution: sever the connection

This is a favorite of mine for a couple of reasons. The first is we all make mistakes. We connect with someone and find that it was not one of our better decisions. To remedy this problem, go to their LinkedIn profile and click on the More button. Then just choose “Remove this connection”

Now, here’s the other part I like: LinkedIn keeps it quiet. The other person is not notified that you have disconnected from them. It’s all very discrete. They will never know unless they view your profile and see you are now a “2”.  

Don’t spend your time on LinkedIn with updates or people that aggravate you or don’t provide value. Your time is more important than that.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Homepage Feed

Seeing what you want and getting rid of the stuff you don’t want.
Ah, your homepage feed on LinkedIn. What most users don’t realize is that you have options to tune your homepage feed and make it more useful. In this post I will show you some macro settings to optimize what you are seeing.
The place we want to go is “Settings and Privacy.” It’s accessed through a drop down menu under your avatar. Under the Account column you will find…
Autoplay Videos.
Choose whether you want videos to start playing when you scroll to them, or if you want to hit play yourself. I always have this set to “off.” I am not a fan of scrolling down and having a video come to life with some vidiot yelling at me to buy his guaranteed solution. If there is a video I think I want to watch, it is not exactly onerous to hit “Play”.
Feed preferences will take you to a whole new screen. Here there will be “Follow Fresh Perspectives,” the number of people you are following and the people that are following you. Let’s take then one by one:
Follow Fresh Perspectives
You will be given a ton of choices here: Hashtags, Companies, Influencers, Magazines and Websites. You are telling LinkedIn what content you want to see in your homepage feed. Note that as I mentioned in this newsletter a couple months ago, electing to follow someone or something in the case of a hashtag or company does not guarantee you will see all of that content.
Following will be preceded by a number, which is your number of connections. By default when you connect with someone you follow each other. You can choose which connections you no longer wish to follow here. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time, as you can unfollow people on an as needed basis from your homepage feed anytime. This page is a really useful one as it will dawn on you after a moment that your connections are listed by how often they post every week. This is your opportunity to get rid of the serial posters that clog up your feed and appear there over and over again. As I reviewed my list while I was writing this post, despite the fact I review this page every few months I had managed to get a couple new people who post over a hundred times a week!
Note that there are also slider filters at the top right of this people chart and you can do the same for out of network people you are following like Bill Gates and other influencers, plus companies and hashtags you are following. You may be surprised at some of the people and topics you are following that you had forgotten about.
Followers – again preceded by a number – are all the people following you on LinkedIn. Before you get all big headed about this number, realize that it is just your connections plus anyone who has decided they want to follow you. For most people this number will be very close or exactly the same as their number of connections. People that amass large numbers of true followers usually fall into one of three categories:
  • they are legitimate influencers like the aforementioned Mr Gates
  • they are decision makers at their companies and get lots of sales people following them
  • they publish a lot on LinkedIn and attract followers over time
I fit in the latter category. I have a little over five thousand connections and another three thousand followers. Note that three thousand followers sounds great until you realize that I have probably published around six hundred posts and articles on LinkedIn so my average published content gains me five – count ‘em five – new followers.
Okay, this gives you some good info to work with. Go give your homepage feed a (late) spring cleaning and next post I will show you how to fine tune your feed on the fly.