An optimized profile is important, but it’s not the end all be all. A strong LinkedIn campaign also includes a focused network and engagement. This is clear based on a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. At the end of the poll, 787 people weighed in. I would say this is a legitimate case study.
As you can see from the poll, 49% of the voters gave the nod to “They’re Equally Important,” but that answer was too easy in retrospect. So “Engagement with One’s Network” earns the champion’s cup with nine more percentage points than the profile and network options combined.
Hold on a second, you’re probably thinking, “How can one even engage without a profile or a focused network?” This is a good point. My question is, “Would you show up to a dinner with a pie that is short by one-third? The point is that you need all of it to be successful.
An optimized profile is not enough
Linkedin declared this a while back when their members were loading their profiles with keywords, namely in the headline and position titles. I once came upon a profile that had—no lie—approximately 900 instances of “web designer” on it. Things were getting crazy.
It’s widely agreed that one needs at least to have a quality photo and a strong headline to start their LinkedIn campaign. But surely that’s not enough.
There’s also an industry-related background photo to consider. You can go with the light-blue, dot-line, thingy LinkedIn provides as the default image, but that’s a sign of, “I didn’t know I can change it,” “I don’t have time to change it,” or “I don’t give a damn.”
Your About section has become the talk of the town. Tell your story, show your value, have a Call to Action, are familiar pieces of advice you’ve heard. I wrote on this subject when it was still called a Summary. Rather than repeat what I’ve written, I ask you to read the article.
I constantly complain that people don’t explain what they’ve done at their positions. It’s as if the Experience section is an afterthought. And yes, you can write it in the first-person point of view so it doesn’t resemble your resume. Also, just deliver the juicy stuff; don’t include your mundane duties.
Very briefly I’ve explained why you need a profile in order to show your value. You’re probably saying, “But you left out a lot of information.” I have.
The oft-forgotten network
According to the poll, this ranks last at 10% which seems kind of ridiculous. With whom would you communicate without your network? It’s like having no family members, friends, and work associates in your life. You have to have people with whom to share information.
That’s why you need to be selective in terms of who you invite to your network and accept invitations from. You want to have conversations—i.e., long-form posts, shared articles, comments on posts, articles you’ve written—with people who actually care.
I go by the cliche 80-20 rule; 80% of your network should be like-minded, 20% of it people you find interesting. Am I successful in this effort? Do as I say, not what I do.
Of course what you do makes a difference. If you’re looking for work, for example, you want to focus on people who will get you closer to your final destination such as your former colleagues, people at your target companies, recruiters, and like-minded people who are in your industry.
If you’re currently working, your range of connections will be slightly different. You might consider connecting with people in various occupations and industries. Salespeople would connect with people in vertical industries, as would marketers and accountants, etc.
Many of my connections are career coaches who have a client base of a variety of occupations and industries, so they connect with executive level and mid-management job seekers. Nonetheless, they also have in their networks other career developer types.
Engagement is tough but necessary
Returning to job seekers; here’s where many of them drop the ball, and I speculate that if they voted in the poll, they chose either the profile or network options. My reason for saying this is because I rarely see them engaging on LinkedIn.
I see two reasons for this. First, engaging might not be their thing. They might not enjoy writing articles, sharing and commenting on articles, scripting long posts, or even short posts. Furthermore, they probably don’t see the value in becoming visible on LinkedIn. Huge mistake, in my mind.
The second reason they don’t engage is that they don’t feel they have a “right” to. I recall one client who when I asked him why he didn’t engage on LinkedIn, told me this exact reason. And he was a former director of communications. I repeat, a former director of communications.
Another client of mine wrote a wonderful piece on working in chaos and as an executive, he encourages it. He ran the piece by me for my approval but never did anything with it. I bet dollar to a donut now that he’s working he’ll probably turn it into an article. Or maybe not.
The sad fact of the matter is that the majority of LinkedIn members who engage on LinkedIn are the same people over, over, and over. I often think, “Where are the new folks?” When I see new contributors, they engage maybe once or twice.
Here’s the major rule for job seekers: if you’re going to communicate with your network, don’t go at it half-assed. Take the plunge. Job seekers especially need to get their faces and headlines on hiring authorities’ radars.
And lastly, don’t let low views, reactions, or just a few comments deter you. The people who are getting a lot of love have been at this for a while, but this isn’t their playground. Be the new kid on the block who asks to be part of the pick-up game. The next Michael Jordan.
So yeah, answer number four might have been the easy pick, but this is what it essentially boils down to; you have to focus on all three of the components. Focusing on only your profile won’t garner results. Boasting you have thousands of connections won’t do any good unless you communicate with them. Complete the job by performing all three.