Connecting on LinkedIn Is Easy: The Real Work Comes After Connecting

This past couple of weeks I have had conversations with three connections of mine bemoaning the fact that their connections are unresponsive. They send messages and get no replies. What gives? What are they doing wrong?

Usually, it’s nothing. These folks are smart enough to know not to be spamming their connections with sales pitches and they are not be wasting their time sending messages to people who rarely use LinkedIn.  

What they are doing isn’t really wrong, it’s just ineffective by itself. What they are suffering from is a mismatch between what their idea of a “connection  relationship” is, and their connection’s idea of the same.

Over the past twelve to eighteen months a lot of LinkedIn users have gone from what I think of as “tight” LinkedIn networks – connections that they really do know well, or at least are in their industry – to connecting more freely and widely. I am not sure why this is, but the results are LinkedIn connections who have gone from active relationships to “maybe we will need each other’s help at some point.”

The result? You may be connected to some really good people, but you don’t have a relationship with them. And you shouldn’t assume that they think because you are now connected that you do, right now, have a relationship.  

So where does that leave you? Well it leaves you doing all the work you used to do in order to get someone to connect with you, except you are now doing this work after you are connected. You have to get on their radar and establish your credibility. Here are four ways you can do so.

Be visible, be active. Show them your value by publishing and commenting on LinkedIn. One of the advantages of being connected is that your activity has a greater chance of being seen by a connection than a non-connection.  

Be there when they are visible or active. If they comment, share or publish content on LinkedIn, comment on it, like it or reshare it. This increases your visibility, and they should appreciate your engagement.

Share content specifically with them. Show that you are thinking of what their problems are and that you are a possible resource.

And keep sending them the odd message, with an emphasis on what you have to offer.

Finally, recognize that not everybody you connect with shares your idea of what a connected relationship should be. There are people who don’t see or use LinkedIn the same way you do. Let them go and move on to the people that are on the same LinkedIn wavelength that you are.  

 

Calculating Whether LinkedIn Articles Or LinkedIn Posts Work Better For You

As most people who write and publish on LinkedIn know by now, views are counted differently for LinkedIn articles and updates. Many people get hung up trying to figure out how many update views equal an article view in order to decide which is a better use of their writing time.

I have tried this myself and it is awkward and unwieldy at best. May I suggest that you forget the number of views and instead you just look at the relative number of engagements you get from something you have published. Find an article and an update on similar topics. Then ask yourself:

Which brought more engagement?

Which had better quality engagement?

I did this a few weeks ago for an article I published on Tuesday March 27th (What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn?) and a post I published the next day (The major difference between LinkedIn Articles and Posts: how views are counted) on the same topic.

The article received 1250 views with 26 comments, 74 likes and 12 reshares.

Meanwhile, the post the next day received 6,700 views but only 16 comments, 34 likes and 5 reshares

So the post got almost seven times as many views as the article, but only half the engagement. The quality of engagement was high in both post and article. So in this example, the article would seem to be a better vehicle at generating engagement for me than the post.

But of course, there’s more to it than that.

Articles take me a while to write, posts are quick, like one quarter the time an article takes. Advantage: posts.   

Articles have a long tail that I have not seen from posts. I receive notifications about comments, likes and shares on articles that are two years old. I get notifications about comments on months old posts every day. People are still clicking on the article above (55 times in the last couple of days) while the post seems to have faded away.  Advantage: articles

My original question asked how you could calculate which was better. The answer, as with many facets of LinkedIn is: It’s complicated. I suggest experimenting with both articles and posts to see which work better for you. You may find that it is not a case of an article being better than a post or the other way round, but how one can complement the other, resulting in more quality engagement on LinkedIn.

Does Your LinkedIn Activity Generate Engagement?

I define engagement as people reacting to your activity on LinkedIn. They respond with in one or more of what I call the “big five” ways – likes, comments, shares, followers and people who view your profile.

When people engage with you in one these five ways it is possible for you to identify them – which you can’t do with people who view your content. And if you can identify them, you can reach out to them.

And if you are about to complain that your engagement isn’t what it used to be and it’s all LinkedIn fault for strangling the distribution of your content….you’re right. Now get over it. Either pay for sponsored updates, or figure out how to work within LinkedIn’s rules.    

We interrupt this article for a sidebar:

I am always amused by the people who say they don’t use LinkedIn anymore. But while not using LinkedIn anymore, they find the time to be on LinkedIn, come across a post or article, read it, stop to add a comment saying they don’t use LinkedIn any more, and come back repeatedly to argue with anyone who disagrees with them.

My content generates engagement. And when it does I engage right back. It’s a great way to meet new people and develop my LinkedIn network. I meet people that may become customers and just as importantly, I meet people that may refer me to potential customers.  

Writing content that works, whether it be writing articles or posts, is time consuming. Sharing other people’s content, or getting involved in the discussions that revolve around other people’s content, is time consuming. Make sure that that time consumed on LinkedIn is time invested and not just time spent.  

 

What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn? (updated for 2018)

Back in early 2016, I wrote an article trying to define what a “view” actually was on LinkedIn. In a twist of LinkedIn irony, it became the most viewed content I have written and published on LinkedIn, and still receives hundreds of views every week. And while the core of that article remains valid, LinkedIn has made a lot of changes since then, so this is an update to that original article.

So What does it mean when someone “views” your post on LinkedIn?

Well that depends, because a “post” is not simply a post anymore on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has separated published content into “articles” and “posts” and views appear are counted differently for each one.

Article or Post? A critical distinction

From the top of your Homepage, when you click on “Write an article” you are taken to LinkedIn Publisher. This is intended for long form content. These articles stay associated with your profile in “Your activity” page under “Articles”.

But at the top of your Homepage when you “Share an article, photo or update”, you are creating a post. For posts that you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage (1300 characters), and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “Posts”.

LinkedIn can be inconsistent with the terminology, and it can sometimes be confusing, but if you went into the LinkedIn blog-style Publisher and published something it is an article. Everything else is a post. Shared someone else’s post or article? That becomes your post. Shared a photo? That’s your post. “Shared an update” ? That’s your post too.  

How are views different for Posts and Articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note again that under the post/article definitions that at this point my article served as the basis for their posts). One told me he had gotten 400 views on his post (sharing my article) and the other had gotten 2,000 (sharing the same article). Meanwhile, my original article had received 200 views at that point. It was obvious that post and article views were being counted differently. But how was this happening and what does it mean?

So what is an Article view?

You need to click on and open an article to have it counted as a view. I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

Note that a view is not the same thing as a “read”. Someone could open your article, read the first line and lose interest, or get interrupted at the office, or decide the article wasn’t for them, or stop reading for any number of reasons.

The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

And what is a Post view?

On January 31 2017, this explanation appeared in the help section on LinkedIn:

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.

(Note that this is an instance of LinkedIn referring to a “post” as an “update”.  Arghh.)

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

But…basing post views purely on appearances in the homepage feed would seem to favor people with huge LinkedIn networks. If you have five hundred connections and I have five thousand, and our posts get loaded on our connections screens, my posts are always going to get more “views” than yours. This is clearly not the case, so there must be other factors at play – enter the LinkedIn algorithms. LinkedIn sends your post out to small subgroup of your connections and if the post gets enough love – likes, comments and shares – then LinkedIn will distribute it further.

I think the best way of thinking of article views versus post views is:

An article view seems to suggest intent (the person had to click to read your article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen your post).

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that in 2017 LinkedIn stopped showing us how many views someone else’s post or article has received, so LinkedIn obviously doesn’t want us focusing on views as an end in itself.

Let’s say you publish two articles (or posts):

The first one gets 500 hundred views and 30 comments.

The second one gets 1000 views and 5 comments.

Which was the more successful? I would say the first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

I think it is instructive that LinkedIn notifies us when people engage with our content. And I can see which individual people liked, commented on and shared my content.

We don’t get notifications saying things like, “Hey, your post got another 85 views”. And being told I got four thousand views when I can’t tell who any of those viewers are doesn’t help me engage with those viewers.

Views are nice, but engagement with your posts or articles can lead to conversations that can lead to connections that can lead to networking and other business opportunities.  

 

Where Your LinkedIn Profile Viewers Come From – You Might Be Surprised

Interesting insights can be found in the oddest places on LinkedIn

Who Viewed Your Profile remains one of the favorite features on LinkedIn. Yet did you ever stop to check out how these people came to view your profile in the first place? I did and was surprised at what I found.

I have a premium LinkedIn account, an old grandfathered (ie: relatively cheap) Sales Navigator subscription. I look at who viewed my profile every day. People who view your profile are potential connections. Potential customers. Potential suppliers. Potential partners. Potential employers. If there is someone interesting in there that I don’t know or haven’t contacted under another pretext, I will do so.

LinkedIn provides some statistics in my Who Viewed Your Profile screen. A slider across the top of the page shows companies that my viewers come from, and the most common titles they have, along with how they found you on LinkedIn.

From day to day these results don’t change much. If I had more viewers from Accenture than anywhere else between Nov 1 and Jan 29, sliding that 90 day window one day to Nov 2 to Jan 30 isn’t going to change that much. But the other day I noticed that that the last entry, the “how they found you” one had changed…and indeed changed almost every day. So I started tracking it to see what it said about people finding me.

LinkedIn says the “how they found me” feature is available on free LinkedIn as well.

Here’s a screen capture:

Over the course of a couple of weeks, a bunch of different ways people had found me showed up. LinkedIn informed me that my profile viewers were finding me via:

Homepage 47% (of all my profile viewers)

Messaging 5%

My network 3%

LinkedIn search 2%

People similar to you 1%

Company pages less than 1%

(These percentages add up to less than 60%, as LinkedIn admits that they can’t figure out where some people are coming from.)

So what do these statistics tell me? Two things.

Appearing in lots of LinkedIn Search Results doesn’t mean very much

In a recent 90 day period, only 16 people who looked at my profile came there via LinkedIn Search. That’s just over one a week.

But in the separate “Search Appearances” feature on my profile, LinkedIn tells me that I am appearing in hundreds of search results every week. Here is what LinkedIn told me for last week.

So I may be in the search results in hundreds of searches every week, but almost none of those searchers are actually coming to look at my profile.

So appearing in search results doesn’t lead to many profile views. What does?

Activity on LinkedIn leads to profile views. Lots of profile views

A lot of people see me on their homepage and then go look at my profile. In the screen cap at the beginning of this article 373 people found me coming from their homepage versus the 16 that found me via search.

My home page drives 23 times more people to my profile than LinkedIn search (47% of all profile views versus…2%).

Publishing, sharing, commenting, liking or getting mentioned results in profile views. Many many more profile views than people finding me via search.

When I looked at those people who had found me through their homepage, I found 70% of them were second and third degree connections. People I don’t know are finding me on LinkedIn because I am active on LinkedIn. They are not finding me through LinkedIn search, they are finding me because of my activity on LinkedIn.

I suggest you go check out your own “People found you via” statistics and see what they say about you.

Why I Customize All My LinkedIn Outreach Messages

(photo caption: with this customized wardrobe this young man is ready for anything winter can throw at him)

I hear this so often that I finally had to write about it. I am talking with someone who wants to get more sales leads out of LinkedIn. One of the recommendations that I always make is that any kind of outreach should be customized and personalized to the person that will be receiving the outreach message.

And what do I get? The terrible too’s.

That’s too hard and it will take too long.

What do they want? They want a trick that requires no real work on their behalf. They want to automate with a templated cookie cutter message they can send to everybody, just changing the first name for each person, or the name and title something like that.

What they want is an email blast, only one done on a social network so they can convince themselves that what they are doing is “social selling.”

Here are four reasons why I customize and personalize every message that I send on LinkedIn:

Customizing and personalizing requires me to actually look at a person’s LinkedIn profile to ensure that my message applies to that specific person. It shows that I  have invested time and effort in the other person. I reviewed their profile and their LinkedIn activity. My message ties in with information found in those areas.

Personalizing sets me apart from the masses sending the same junk over and over. My messages are different. There’s a focus on the recipient that that recipient doesn’t see in other messages in their inbox.   

Personalizing shows my respect for the other person. At the end of this message I am going to ask the recipient for something and the respect I have earned can help get me a reply.

And the last reason? It works. In the last six months of 2017 I sent 157 unique outreach messages to people I did not know. I received 91 positive replies. If I had sent a cookie cutter message to those 157 people my responses probably could have been counted on one hand.  

LinkedIn is like a lot of things,what you get out of it is related to what you put into it.   

The Key To Writing Good Content On LinkedIn

This one’s easy: Stop thinking of it as trying to write good content, and just write.

If you want to get noticed on LinkedIn – either as a company or as an individual – you need to write and publish. But when I tell people this I get push back, usually something like this:

Coming up with content is hard. We have no idea what to say in our our content should say, no one here has any ideas for content, and we are not sure our customers would like our content. “

So I will say, stop thinking content and start thinking stories. If they still balk, if  someone tells me they can’t write or don’t know what to write about, I ask them two questions. The first is:

“Can you tell me about that time you saved your customer?”

Because everyone has a story about the time they went above and beyond the call in order to help a customer with something difficult or to meet a ridiculous deadline. I usually get this really enthusiastic recitation of a story with a neat twist or lesson in it.

And when the other person is finished, I just ask them the second question:

“That is a great story, now can you write that down?”

So here is a story they can publish that makes the person or company look good, shows the lengths they will go to assist a customer and at the same time, doesn’t come across as advertising or a sales pitch.  What’s not to like?

And inevitably they will go, well that’s just the one story, now what do we do. So I ask them to tell me ten mistakes their customers are making, or ten misconceptions that their customers have. Good, there’s your next ten stories. Go get ‘em.

Some of my articles and posts do really well, and some not so much. And I have no idea which it will be beforehand. Last week I published an article on people using “likes” on LinkedIn. I thought it was an interesting topic, but I didn’t know if anyone else did or would. It has almost a thousand views and forty-six comments so far, so in retrospect, other people thought it was an interesting topic too.

Everyone who doesn’t write on publish on LinkedIn is preoccupied by how hard it is. All of us who do write and publish on LinkedIn just go ahead and do it.

Some Pro’s and Con’s of “Liking” on LinkedIn

(photo caption: “Yeah, it’s been a long day, maybe I’ll just slap a “like” on this one,” Photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

Everyone “likes” articles, posts, discussions, comments and updates on LinkedIn.  But did you ever stop to think what value that liking has? So I wrote some of my own Pro’s and Con’s down. For the purposes of brevity, I use the term
“article” as a catch all for content.

Pro: Likes are easy

Liking something takes no time at all. Click of a button, done. Which leads me to…

Con: Maybe too easy

I always wonder if likes are too easy – you can pull up an article and the option to like it is right there at the top of the screen before you have even read it.

Pro & Con: The “that’s what I was going to say!” like

You come across an article and what you wanted to say has already been nicely articulated by someone else. So either liking the article or liking that person’s comment is the right thing to do, but you still end up a little frustrated.

Pro: The acknowledgement like

Likes  are often a shorthand for “I agree with you” when they are appended to comments in particular. I use “likes” quite often when people make simple comments on one of my articles.

Con: The value add factor is low for likes

When you like an article or post, it adds little value for you. You are one of the rather anonymous like crowd. You pale beside the commenters who are adding to the discussion about the article. When I see someone has liked one of my articles, I think “thank you.” When I see someone has commented on my article, I often reply to their comments and occasionally send them a message thanking them for their comment.

Pro: Added visibility

I see many LinkedIn users who seem to employ likes as a visibility strategy. And if kind of works – authors will see those people in the list of people who liked their content. But….

Con: Too many likes look odd

So I look at someone’s activity and see all they do is like posts. No writing, no sharing, no comments, just likes. This tends to make me wonder if this is a real person or a fake profile.  

Con: Smaller opportunity for engagement

When someone comments on my content it gives me something to latch onto, and provides a possible opportunity to start a conversation with that person. Likes are kind of flimsy. I have sent thank you’s to people who have liked my content, but statistically, I can say they are much less likely to become connections.  

I suppose for me it all comes down to:

If you can, comment. If you can’t comment, like.  

 

Why Would Someone Create A Fake LinkedIn Profile?

I wrote an article a couple of months ago on some of the ways to identify a fake LinkedIn profile. One comment I received quite a bit was “why would someone do this?” It seems like a lot of work, for some nebulous benefits.

And it does not take a lot of work. I could build one in ten minutes and it would likely fool most people. Start with an email address and come up with a new name. Then just cut and paste everything from another profile…like yours, and copy your photo too. There. Done.

Here are four uses for fake profiles. The critical part is getting you to connect with them, because they can then indulge in a little…

Email address collection

This is the obvious one. Harvest email addresses from connections.

Identity theft

When added to the information most users include in their LinkedIn profiles, this is a good start. In addition to their email address, many LinkedIn users list their birthdays, and this is viewable by their connections.

Phishing, spear phishing and other scams

If a connection sent you a message with an attachment, would you open it? It could contain malware. How well do you know and trust this person?

Connecting adds credibility

This is the sneaky one. When you connect with someone there is your implied  endorsement that they are a real person. When they go to connect with someone you are connected with, that someone sees  you connected with them. They connect. They open the email with the attachment.

How do you fight this? When someone you don’t know invites you to connect, ask them a question. One other aspect to look for is comments on posts and articles. Faking activity by liking content or sharing it without comment is easy and fast. Taking the time to make comments on that content is not. It’s time consuming.

It’s one thing to cut and paste a profile together, but another to be taking the time to comment on posts, or publish posts.

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]

Be careful out there.

 

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.”

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]

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.