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LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies
by Jason Alba
This course goes beyond the LinkedIn Profile and introduces you to high-value activities that you can do on LinkedIn. Every tactic in the strategy you customize is designed to help you get results with your network and your branding.
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Table of contents
Introduction to Proactive LinkedIn Strategies
Welcome to the LinkedIn Proactive Strategies course. This is a complement to the LinkedIn Profile course. In this course, we're going to focus on things that we can do to get more value out of LinkedIn. Let's get started.
Jason Alba and Disclaimer
Lest anyone thinks that I'm associated with LinkedIn, let me make the following claims. I do not work with or for LinkedIn. I'm not affiliated with LinkedIn. I'm not certified by LinkedIn. And LinkedIn does not endorse this course or any of my books. Having that out of the way, let me tell you a little about me. A number of years ago, I wrote a book called, "I'm on LinkedIn--Now What??? " It's in its fourth edition. Over the years, I have trained many hundreds or maybe thousands of people around the world. I even developed a certification program for coaches and resume writers who work with job seekers. I continue to provide LinkedIn profile critiques, and I do one-on-one strategy sessions. This isn't part of my day job, but I really enjoy these one-on-one sessions because it helps me stay fresh and current on what the issues are with LinkedIn. Also, I use LinkedIn to promote my own business. Let's lay some foundation before we get into the proactive tactics and strategies.
What Is LinkedIn?
In this course, we're going to talk about a number of tactical things that we can do to get value out of LinkedIn. In order to understand why we do any of these things, I want to explain what I think LinkedIn is. LinkedIn for me simply is a place to find other people. I want to use LinkedIn to find industry contacts, thought leaders, people who may not be well known in the industry but still be very important or influential. LinkedIn is almost like my White Pages or my Yellow Pages or my Rolodex. It's a database that I can use to help me find the right people to solve the problems that I'm having. It's also a place to be found. We focus on being found in the LinkedIn Profile course where we talk about optimizing our profile. Some of the things we talk about in this course, such as how we participate in groups and a few other things, will also help us be found. What I don't have on this slide is that when I'm found, I want to portray the right information. In other words, I don't want people to just know my name, I want them to know the right things about me.
Foundation: Three Purposes
So, that's the What of LinkedIn. What is LinkedIn? It's a place to find and be found. Why do we spend any time on LinkedIn? Here are my three Whys. First, I want to grow my network, and I don't just want to grow it so that I can grow it. I actually want to grow it with relevant contacts. We'll talk about that in the next video. I want to nurture individual relationships. I misunderstood networking for a long time. I thought that networking was meeting people, passing business cards, making false promises about how we were going to have lunch sometime. But what I learned was that you could have quantity and quality in your networking endeavors. I wasn't so big on the network growth size. I wasn't worried about how many contacts I had because I knew that they were all pretty superficial. What I really liked doing, though, was meeting individuals and learning more about them, getting beyond the superficial. I don't like it when people connect on LinkedIn and then they fall away and never communicate again. I want to actually nurture real and professional relationships. And LinkedIn can be a great tool for that. You just have to realize that the end goal is not just to have a connection on LinkedIn but to actually work on your relationship. The third reason why I spend any time on LinkedIn is to share my brand. I share my personal brand, and I share my corporate brand. LinkedIn provides us tools that make it easy for us to get who we are and who we represent in front of our network contacts. As we go through the rest of this course, you should be able to take any tactic that we talk about and come back to any of these three purposes. Is this going to help me grow my network? Is this going to help me nurture individual relationships? Or is this going to help me share my brand? These three Whys are at the center of my LinkedIn strategy. And for that matter, they're at the center of my Facebook strategy and my Twitter strategy and my blogging strategy. All of the social stuff I do can be brought back to any of these three Whys.
Foundation: Relevance & Space
Here's another foundational concept that we're going to come back to during this course. I want you to connect with people who are relevant to you. Exactly what does that mean? What makes somebody relevant to me? I say that people are relevant to you if they are in your space, and I define your space by three things. First, your profession. Doesn't it make sense that people who are in your profession, or you can think of that as people who have the same job title as you or people who have job titles that are related to your job title, they're relevant to you, right? If you're a software developer, and you meet another software developer, then you have something in common. They're in your space, and they're relevant to you. People are also relevant to you if they're in your industry. Now, I know in the IT field, we're not necessarily bound by a particular industry. We can really move to any industry that we want. But if you can identify a handful of industries that you're really interested in or that you want to keep your career within, then find other people who are in those industries, even if they don't have the same profession that you do. Each of these three things under space can be and/or. The third element is geography. Somebody's relevant to you if they're in the right geography. The geography doesn't have to be your own city or state. It could be another city where your target audience is, whether those are target customers or target employers. For example, if I want to move to Orlando or Seattle, I would say that whoever is in Orlando or Seattle would be relevant to me. They might not be in my profession. They might not be in my industry, but if I ask, they might be able to introduce me to somebody in Orlando or Seattle that's in my profession or my industry. I'm looking for people who are in my profession or my industry or my geography. If I happen to find somebody who's in my profession and my industry and my geography, that person would be highly relevant to me. Now, we've talked about relevance with connections, right? Let's shift and talk about relevance with groups. It's the very same concept. When you're looking for groups to join, look for groups that are either in your profession and/or your industry and/or your geography.
I can hardly wait to get started on some proactive tactics. But before we do that, we really need to make sure that we understand some of the stuff we talked about in this module. What is LinkedIn? A place to find and be found. You can add a few more things to that if you want, but don't over-complicate this. We talked about the three purposes. Why do we spend any time on LinkedIn? If you're going to lift a finger or dedicate five minutes of your life to being on any tool, let's make sure we understand why we're there. My three purposes are to grow my network with relevant contacts, to nurture individual relationships, and to share my personal and company brand. I've been talking about this for a few years, but it's been hard for me to figure out one more thing to add to that list. It always comes back to growing my network with relevant contacts, nurturing relationships, and sharing my brand. What are you hoping to get out of your proactive strategy with LinkedIn? We also talked about the concept of relevance or space. That is, who is relevant to me? Who do I want to connect with? What groups do I want to join. The idea of relevance and space comes down to three things: who is in your profession, who is in your industry, and who is in your geography or your target geography? If you can understand your three purposes and relevance and space, you should be very productive with your time on LinkedIn. The bottom line is the results are up to you. I have talked to a number of people who have said, Yeah, I've been on LinkedIn, but it doesn't do anything for me. Well, no, of course it doesn't do anything for you. It's a website that just kind of sits there. If you want to get value out of LinkedIn, you need to figure out what you need to put into LinkedIn in order to get value out of LinkedIn. Throughout this course, we're going to talk about what you can do to get value out of LinkedIn. Please don't be overwhelmed with all of the stuff that you could do. I want to introduce you to things that you can do, but I don't want you to think that you have to do all of them right now or in the next month or two. Start with something, and then once you're comfortable with that, maybe add another tactic. But after going through this course, you shouldn't be that person who says, I've been on LinkedIn for a long time, and it doesn't do anything for me. Alright, let's get started on the very first tactical thing, which is LinkedIn Groups.
Leveraging LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups has become one of the most important parts of LinkedIn. And as far as a proactive strategy goes, I think it occupies the number one position. A few years ago, I was saying that LinkedIn Answers was the number one feature for our proactive strategy. However, LinkedIn took Answers away. Groups is really where it's at now. We're going to dig into Groups and see where the value really is. The first thing we're going to talk about is group discussions. If you're interested in a proactive strategy on LinkedIn, this is a must-do part of your strategy. Let's get started on group discussions.
Finding the Right Groups
For people who are serious about a LinkedIn group strategy, I tell them that they should join almost as many groups as they can. The limit is 50, so I say to join between 45 and 47. This leaves a few seats open so that if you find somebody's profile who you're not connected with, and you want to reach out to them, you can see what groups they're in, join a group that they're in, message them, and then leave that group. You would always leave two or three seats empty to do just that. If you're going to look for 45 groups to join, how do you do that? Well, let's go back to one of the earlier slides that we saw, which talks about relevance and space. Remember, a group would be relevant to you, that is, it would be in your space, if it's related to your profession and/or your industry and/or your geography. Let's look at what some searches might look like. At the top of your page on LinkedIn, you'll see the search box. So, what we have to do is change the drop-down from All to Groups. Otherwise, if we search for something, we're going to be searching on companies and contacts and jobs and all kinds of things. And we'll do something easy. Let's do software. You can see there are 27, 000 search results that have to do with software. The first group has almost 200, 000 members. The next group has 115, 000 members. And the third group has 64, 000 members. Are these two groups better than this group just because they're bigger? Not necessarily. Some of the really big groups have done a great job of attracting more members, but the discussions and the dialog that are in there aren't very good. In fact, I would argue that some very small groups would be great groups to join because they're a more targeted audience, and there's a lot less noise in discussions and comments. In other words, your discussions and comments will probably be seen more frequently than in a group that has 200, 000 members. You know I suggest that you join about 45 groups that are relevant to you. Here's another tip. Join some really, really big groups. For example, if I join this group with 200, 000 members and maybe a few more groups that have hundreds of thousands of members, that's going to expand my reach--that is, how many people I can message because they're members of the group--and my reachability--that is, how many people can reach me because they're in the same group that I'm in. So, I want to join a few groups that have a huge reach. Keith Ferrazzi talks about something similar to this in his book, "Never Eat Alone. " He says that when we look for new connections, we should try and find people who are what he calls power connectors, that is, they seem to know everybody, and they can make introductions to other people. Really big groups in LinkedIn are like power connectors. Join one group, and you have a huge reach and reachability. If you take the idea of your space and your profession, geography, and industry, and you join groups that are highly relevant to you, they might be the smaller groups, but that's okay. Wouldn't it be awesome to be a member of a group with only a few hundred people, if those people were in your profession, geography, or industry, or your target profession, geography, or industry? Don't discount the small groups, and don't discount the big groups. They both bring value for different reasons.
Commenting on Discussions
Group discussions is central to the value of what Groups brings us. When I come to a LinkedIn Group, at the top I can see various options. I always start at the Discussions page. Scrolling down, I can see what the discussions are. Here you can see that Meg started a discussion called Brand New Year: Time to Revitalize Your Executive Brand? Dave Perry says, Practical gift ideas for people you know are job hunting. Amit gives a list of free tools. Alex says, Do you understand the emotional stress of the unemployed? Deb says, When a job no longer fits, some tips to help you survive until your exit. So, basically what we have here are members of the group who are starting their own discussions. What I find is they'll typically point back to their own blog post or an article on LinkedIn or an article in a newspaper. But typically what people are doing is they're saying, Hey, I found something interesting, I'm going to share it with you. Now, unfortunately, a lot of times what we see is self-promotion. And this is a big turnoff for a lot of people. However, don't let that get in the way of how you can use LinkedIn group discussions. There are two different things that we're going to do with these discussions. The first is simply to look through the discussions for discussions that we can comment on. For example, without even reading this discussion, I can come in here to the comment and say, The new year is a great time to revisit your brand! Thanks Meg! Now, what happens when I click comment? I have my picture and my name. Note that Meg has her picture and her name and her professional headline, all of which constitute what I call her mini-profile. I don't have my professional headline here, so if I really want it, I'm going to have to put it below my comment. This can get in front of a lot of people. Here's how that works. If it's a smaller group that doesn't have much activity, then typically my comment, especially if it's the only comment of the day, is going to show up in all of the emails, not the LinkedIn email box, but your email box. It will show up in all of the emails of the people who are members of the group. For example, if I'm in a group that has 500 people and not a whole lot of discussion, simply leaving a comment every few days or once a week will put me in the email inbox of the members of the group. That's great for my personal brand, especially if I don't come across as a spammer or self-promoter. If it's a larger group with a lot of activity, I'm probably not going to be the only one in the email. And, frankly, I don't read long emails that have a whole lot of updates. There's just too much, and there're things that are out of context, and it's hard for me to make sense of everything that's in there. So, I just ignore those. But, that shouldn't discourage you from leaving a comment on somebody's discussion. What if Meg is somebody that you really want to start a relationship with? She works at one of your target companies. They're a company that might buy your products or services. Or whatever the reason it, you want to get on Meg's radar. One of the great ways to do that is to start leaving comments on the discussions that she's already leading. I executed a strategy similar to that. It was on somebody else's blog. What happened was within a few weeks, I ended up on the phone with the blogger. And a few weeks later, because of an article she wrote, I was on the front page of Yahoo. com. It was a phenomenal time for my company, and I continue to stay on her radar. You can see that a tactic like this is part personal branding and part networking. It's a very sound and strong tactic.
Starting a Discussion
I like the tactic of writing comments on other people's discussions because it really doesn't take much time or effort or thought, and you're not committing yourself to anything. For example, if I start a blog, I'm kind of committing that I'm going to blog regularly, probably at least once a month. Hopefully, at least once a year. But there's always this idea in my mind that there's a commitment that I need to write another blog post. Well, with comments on discussions, there is no such commitment. You can do it any time. Let's go to the next level, though. This is somewhere in between commenting on somebody else's discussion and starting a blog. This is starting your own discussion. Now, I'm not going to suggest that if you post a discussion once, then you're going to have to post regularly. However, if you want to use LinkedIn as a branding and a networking tool, I invite you to find the groups where you should have a more active role and start discussions in those groups. I actually have calendared certain days to start discussions in certain groups. Let me show you how easy it is to do this. I've written my discussion out so I don't have to type it here. So, I'm just going to click here and paste. My discussion is written towards the end of December, and it says, Job seeker? Here's a holiday assignment. Here's the meat of the discussion. Let's go up to the top. If you've been on my user orientation webinar, you've probably heard me talk about the job journal. This is a tool to help you keep track of your career accomplishments from the lemonade stand you ran when you were six to the stuff you did in school all the way up to your most recent position. Now, note, what I'm not doing here is saying, Get on my webinar, get on my website. I'm not doing anything promotional or spamming. Next, I say, I invite you to make use of downtime during the last few days of this year and spend four to eight hours simply brainstorming your career accomplishments. Brainstorming means the size of the accomplishment doesn't matter. Let's scroll down. Write everything down. Thank goodness for Spellcheck in the browser, right? Then, go into JibberJobber, now this isn't very promotional or spammy because, first of all, this is the JibberJobber group, and it should be okay to talk about JibberJobber here. Also, I'm not saying buy anything. I'm just saying use this free part of the tool. So, go into JibberJobber, click on the Job Journal, and list those accomplishments. You can include PAR Statements, or what I call "mini stories. " This is your homework for the holiday season, whether you are unemployed or not. Even career professionals in this group should take some time to do this. I end off with Shoot me an email to let me know how it goes. And I give my email address. The reason why I did that is because I don't want to say leave a commend in the discussion and let me know how it goes. It's kind of embarrassing to see a request like that go unanswered. I've seen it in the blogosphere, and I've seen it on LinkedIn. If you don't want to have that embarrassment, then don't ask for people to leave a comment. I'm happy if they leave a comment, but I don't want to say, Leave a comment and then have nobody respond. I would rather say, Shoot me an email. That way, people don't know how many other people have actually responded. I end with Happy Holidays!, my name, and then a reminder of who I am, which is the founder of the website. Does this come across as spammy or self-promotional to you? Of course I'm inviting people to use the system, but the main part of the holiday assignment is to sit down for four to eight hours and simply brainstorm. That's an invitation that really applies to everybody in my group. I'll scroll down and click Share, and now this is a discussion that other people will see in their email and have the opportunity to comment on. Note that the link that I put in shows up here with whatever image they decided to pull over, which happens to be the New York Times. Also, as we pointed out in the last video, I have my picture, my name, and my professional headline. The group discussion should not be something stressful. An easy way to slip into this is to simply schedule it on your calendar. And then during the week, find something that's interesting or applicable to that group. For example, if you're in a group with executive IT professionals, maybe you can post a discussion that says something like, Hey, I found this article for IT professionals. It says here're the top three things to do for your career in the coming year. And then post a link to the article. You've written all of one sentence, shared one link, it's high-value add, there's no spam involved, and you have your name, your picture, and your professional headline associated with that high-value message. This is something I would do weekly on the groups that I want to have a presence in.
Finding and Messaging Group Members
One of the most powerful things you can do with LinkedIn Groups is message people that you would otherwise have to pay to message. I'm talking about people who are outside of your first-degree network. For example, I come to Jose's profile. Jose is a second-degree connection. My options are to connect with him, which I'm not quite ready to do, or send him an InMail, which I don't want to do because they're going to ask me to upgrade. I can also ask to get introduced. Those are all okay ways to reach out to somebody. But what I really want to do is just send him a direct message. So, here's how that works. I'm going to scroll down on his profile to the very bottom and look for the groups that he's a member of. I can see that he's a member of these seven plus 39. So, he's a member of 46 groups. Without even drilling down, I can see that I'm a member of one of the groups that he's a member of. But let's go a little bit further. I'll click on the 39, and I'll see all of the groups that he's a member of. Here's another group that we're both a member of. Here's another group that we're both a member of. So, what I'll do is I'll go to one of the groups that we're both members of. I've already looked through Jose's groups and saw that he's a member of the JibberJobber group. So, this is going to take a few steps, but it saves me from having to upgrade. I come to the group that we're both a member of, and I click on Members. Then, in the search box, I'll put in his name. There aren't that many Joses in this group, so I'm just going to type in Jose and wait for those results to come up. I see in this group there are six Joses. He's the one at the top, and here're my options. I can follow him. I can see his activity within this group. Or I can send him a message, which is what I want to do. And then there's the connect option. This is the same interface that you're going to get on any group that you're a member of. If you don't see this Send message, it's simply because that person turned it off in their own settings. That's something you can do. You can say, Don't let other people in this group send me a message. I've never had a problem with this as far as getting too many or spam messages, so I personally just leave it on. When I click on Send Message, something magical happens. I simply get a box where I can send Jose a message. Let's contrast that to what happens if I go back to his profile and click on Send Jose InMail. It basically says, We would love for you to send Jose an InMail. First you have to upgrade. I don't want to do the upgrade. So, what I've just found is a loophole coming through the group, find the person, click on Send Message, and now I can send Jose a direct message because we're members of the same group. This is why I want you to join groups that have a lot of people. Let's say you find a group that has 100, 000 people in it. You now have access to direct message 100, 000 people regardless of whether they're in your first-degree connection or not. That is super powerful.
LinkedIn Groups is clearly a powerful part of your LinkedIn proactive strategy. Can you see how participating in LinkedIn Groups can help you grow your network, nurture individual relationships, and share your personal and corporate brand? I love how we can do all of these things simply by participating in groups. What we talked about in this module was the idea of leaving comments on other people's group discussions. There's no commitment here. If you're worried about spending a lot of time or having to consistently come back weekly or regularly, don't worry about that. Just leave a comment here and there. That's it! When you're ready for the next level, which is not a very big leap, let's start writing group discussions. We initiate our own discussions that other people can leave comments on. If people don't leave comments on your discussions, don't worry. That's not the goal. The goal is to get your name out there in the right places and, hopefully, have those discussions go into people's email inboxes. We also talked about the ability and the power of messaging other group members. This is so important, partially because it allows you to communicate with other people without having to upgrade even if you're not a first-degree contact. It's also important because it increases your reachability. That means that other people can message you. Now, hopefully, in your LinkedIn profile, you're making it easy for people to communicate with you. For example, maybe you're putting your email address in. But if somebody wants to message you through LinkedIn, this opens the door and allows them to do that. Finally, we talked about how to find the right groups. This goes back to your space and relevance. Specifically, you're looking for groups that are in your profession, industry, and/or geography. How many groups do you want to be a member of? Ultimately, about 45. Now that we've talked about participating in LinkedIn Groups, let's talk about what happens if we can own or manage a LinkedIn Group.
Owning LinkedIn Groups
There's power in having a proactive group strategy. Starting discussions, commenting on other discussions, going across multiple groups and having these conversations is really awesome. There's additional power if you own your own group. We're going to talk about that in the next few videos. I started a group called Career Management just because I wanted to see what it was like to actually own my own group. I was just doing research for my book. What I found is that the manager of the group has a certain amount of power, a lot more power than a regular group participant. I can kick people out. If they're saying things that I don't like or they're promoting competition, I don't have to let them stay in the group. I've actually removed people from the group when they've gotten hostile. I can't do that as a regular group participant. In other words, what I'm doing is I'm creating a culture within my group that I like. I'm driving the direction, and if you're not a part of that direction, if you're distracting, I can simply remove you. There's a certain amount of power in the ability to do that. Additionally, as the group manager, I can do other things. Let's see what those are starting with sending a group announcement, which I think is one of the most powerful things that we can do in LinkedIn.
One of the benefits of being a group owner or a group manager is that you can send messages to the members of the groups in bulk. I think of this as my newsletter. Let's see how we do this. I'm on a group that I own, and over on the right-hand side, I see a link that says Manage. Under the Manage page, there're a number of links on the left-hand side. The one that I'm looking for is Send an Announcement. Now, before I send an announcement, I come into Request-to-join and approve everybody who's a real person. These guys all look good, so I'll click on Approve. Now, I'll go back to Send an Announcement, and I'll write my announcement. The reason why I do that is because if I'm going to send an announcement to people, I want to make sure that the most amount of people can get it. And if there's been somebody sitting in the queue to join my group, I want to add them to the group before I send the announcement out. On the announcement page, you can see very simply that I have a subject and a message. And that's really it. I can't put images in. I can't do rich text. It's just basic text. There're definitely pros and cons to that. It's almost like how Twitter forces us to write smarter because they only give us 140 characters to write, so we have to be a lot more careful with what we choose to write. Here in this message, I have to be careful so that I don't have any distractions and I get right to the point. I was on a consulting call about a year ago. And I was talking to somebody who owns a group who had never sent an announcement from her group. I told her that this was easily the number one reason to own or manage a group. If you own a group and you're not sending announcements out, you're completely missing the purpose. Don't trust that your members are actually going to come into LinkedIn or that they're going to come into your group and see what's going on. You want to be in front of them. Having people join your group is almost like having them opt into a newsletter. You get to send this every eight days, and I invite you to take advantage of that. The first thing I do in my group announcement is I change the subject. I don't want it to say, Announcement from JibberJobber:. The reason why is because what I've found in my email is that many times what I'll see is only Announcement from Jib, and then it gets cut off. If I only have about this much space to work with in people's email client, I don't want Announcement from Jib to be what they see. Go back to the Effective Email course in Pluralsight, and you'll get some ideas on how to write better subject lines, which applies to this announcement also. Because, really, as far as the members of your group are concerned, this is an email. In here, I'll probably change it to something like New Webinar or New Features or something along those lines. I want to have the front part of the subject be something interesting so that when they read the title in their email client, they think, Oh, there's something interesting that I want to look at. I'm going to click on this email and read it instead of delete it before I even read it. In the message, I'm going to do something a little different than the other messages that I send in LinkedIn and my email messages. In the Effective Email course and in this course, I talk about the five-part formula for having more effective messages. Those are typically going to be messages where I'm reaching out to you. You might not know who I am or what I want. This is a little different because you've already joined my group. You should have an idea of what the group's about because you joined it. And now I'm sending you simply an announcement or an invitation as a member of the group. So, I'm not going to say, Hey, you might remember me from that networking event. I'm not going to say any of that because it's not necessarily about me. It's more about what the group is about. For example, if we're talking about new features, I might write something simply like Did you know that you can do this thing? Join us on Thursday. We're going to have a webinar. I'll show you how to do it. And then I'll put a link there. What I've found is that when I write an announcement with multiple topics, I don't get a very good response. Multiple topics typically mean that it's going to be long. And, really, it just adds more complexity to the overall message. I try to make my messages fairly short and have one topic or one request. At the bottom of every message, just like I'll do on my emails, I'll make sure that I have a good email signature. LinkedIn doesn't store an email signature like your email client does. So, I simply open up an email and copy my signature, come back into here, and I paste it. And now I have the ending. The reason why I do this is because up here, I have my one time-sensitive or time-relevant topic. Down here in my signature, I remind you what my brand is. Now, for this particular group, they might not care about these webinars. So, what I'll do is I'll delete that line. But I want to keep these other two lines here. I'm not saying that you always delete the third line or that you even ever have to delete any line. But what I'm saying is what you could do is you could have what we call an abbreviated email signature. That is, if you have a long email signature that you have to use, it might include a street address and a fax number and some long disclaimer, you don't have to put that into this message. I want you to keep your message concise. Have you ever read through a legal disclaimer at the bottom of an email? I haven't either. What I want you to do is only have stuff that is important to have. It's going to be so concise that you almost can't not read what's in the email signature. So, what's happening is up here I'm giving you the time-sensitive or the time-relevant information. Down here, I'm simply reinforcing my brand or reminding you of who I am. Here's the key to the LinkedIn announcements: Just start doing them. Do them every eight days. This is a super tool for you to keep in touch with people. If you don't use the tool, you're really wasting most of the benefit of having a LinkedIn group. If you're worried that you're not writing stuff well enough, then just start writing and, after a while, you're going to get better and better.
The Submission Queue
One thing that's going to help encourage people to join and be active in your group is the group discussions. If I scroll down here, I can see that I have a few discussions, and they're actually pretty old. This is kind of my sandbox. I haven't really come in here for a while. So, let's come over to the manage link and see what's going on with group discussions. I can see that I have a lot of discussions in the queue. I trust everybody who's in here, so what I'm going to do is just select all of them and then hit approve. I need to do that one more time to get the last of them in, and now I have 64 new discussions that just went into my discussion area. I can see that I have a bunch of promotions in here. I'm not really interested in sharing those, so I'm just going to leave those there, and then I don't have any jobs. Now, if activity and discussions are going to help get people in my group and help keep people engaged, spam is not going to help at all. And people are going to walk away from my group. So, let's come over here to the Moderation queue and see what we have. Note that I don't have anything flagged in the Inappropriate, Promotions, or Jobs queues. Remember, in the Submission queue, we also had Promotions. The difference is if I start a discussion post, and I say it's a promotion, that'll go in the Submission queue Promotions. But if I don't say it's a promotion and other people flag it as a promotion, then it'll come into the Moderation queue under Promotions. The discussions that show up under these tabs have been flagged by another member of the group. Let's jump over to my other group, and I'll show you what I do for certain members that I trust so that their messages never go in the Submission queue. Here's Martin Buckland. I trust him. He's a resume writer. He has good stuff. I don't see him inappropriately promoting a lot of stuff, so I'm going to say he's somebody who can always post to the group. I'll click on his name and, by the way, I can do this for multiple people at a time, come over to Change Permissions, and click Approved to Post. Every once in a while, you're going to get a message like this. I typically see this on the group's page more than any other place. It doesn't mean that it didn't work. Sometimes if I refresh this page, it actually does work. Alright. Let's go to the next idea. I can click on somebody else and say this person always requires moderation. In other words, sometimes Martin's stuff could have gone through and sometimes it gets stuff in the queue, but Kevin's will always be moderated or stuck in the queue. That way, as an administrator, I can say, You know what? I like these three from Kevin, but these other two are way too promotional, so I'm not going to let those two through. If you find somebody who's continually spamming your group, then check on their name and click on Block & Delete. I kind of have a zero tolerance policy for people who are blatant spammers. I'd rather have them lose their LinkedIn account if they're doing inappropriate stuff than just gently pat them on the head and send them on their way. As you can see, in my main group, I have almost 1, 500 discussion messages. I rarely come in here because I have enough discussions that come through my group without having to go in and approve all the ones that are stuck in the queue. If somebody really wants a message to get through, they'll simply email me, and I'll go in and find their message, and I'll approve it. But this is something I've decided that I don't have time to manage or babysit very much. So, I rarely come in and spend time here. However, if you're just starting your group, I suggest you come into the Submissions queue regularly and make sure that the right things are going through. Not only is that going to show more activity and more excitement in your group, but the people who are willing to post things aren't going to get discouraged that every time they try and post, it gets stuck in the queue.
The Power of Templates
Another critical thing that you should do when you set up your group is to make sure you have templates in place. Now, when you set up the group, you already went in and said, Here's the name of the group, here's what it's about, here's the image. But templates is something else. I love the idea of having the right templates, and here's why. When we get requests to join, that means that somebody for some reason has an interest in what we're doing. I want to take that opportunity and create another touch point to put my brand and messaging in front of them. On the Templates page, you can see there're messages that people get when they request to join and when you actually let them in your group. You can also create templates for a decline message, that is, Sorry, we're not going to let you in the group or a decline and block message, Sorry, we think you're a complete loser, not a real person, or a spammer. I actually haven't set either of these two up. The ones that I'm most interested in are the Request-to-join Message, which is, Hey, you clicked on this and you wanted to join. We'll get back with you. And, Hey, we just let you in the group. Here's what we want you to know. Let's look at what I did in each of these messages. I click on Edit template on the right of the Request-to-join, and it says, Thanks for the request to join the group. And then let's look at what I have down below. Please join JibberJobber. com and use it. Do you see what I'm doing here? On my template, when somebody comes to join my group on LinkedIn, I say, Hey, that's not the end. Get on my website. I clarify, This Group is not JibberJobber. JibberJobber is a relationship management tool. I've actually had people over the years say, Oh, yeah, I've been on JibberJobber for years. What they've meant is they've been on the LinkedIn group for JibberJobber. I then say, If you're a job seeker or preparing for a job search, you need to get on JibberJobber to organize your job search, which I don't say up here, I don't say what it's for. But here I say organize your job search. Down below, I say, If you're a coach or a career professional, contact me to ask what we can do for you. And then if you're a veteran, we give an upgrade for veterans. Thank you, and we'll look at your profile shortly for approval. I'll look at the people who have requested to join, and I'll approve the ones who I know are real people. Like I said, I'm just taking the opportunity here to put my brand and my messaging in front of people one more time. Let's go back to the other template and see what that says. Click on Edit template next to Welcome Message, and it says, You're approved. Don't spam, with a smiley face. Again, please join JibberJobber and use it. This group is not JibberJobber, etc., etc. And then I pretty much say the same thing. Now that they're a member of the group, I tell them that if they don't behave properly, then we're going to kick them out. I can see that in both of these templates, I need to update my email signature. So, I'll grab my email signature from an email message, and I'll simply paste it into this template. I'll click on Save Changes, and now my template has the message and the branding that you'll see in my email signature below. Let's do that same thing to the Request-to-join Message. In this case, I don't have any email signature. Paste, and now I'm putting the message and my brand reinforcement. I can't understate the value of having an email signature that has strong brand messaging in it in practically every message that you send. I click on Save, and now I feel good that both of those templates, which get used fairly often, are up to date with the right messaging.
In this module, we've talked about the power you can have in owning a LinkedIn group. This is almost like if you're like the host or hostess of a networking organization. If you're the person that puts everything in place, and you're the person in charge, there's a certain amount of power and authority that you have. Specifically, we talked about why you should own a group. Now, I'm not suggesting that everybody out there should own a group, but if you want to get the value that we talked about in this module, consider owning your own group. We talked about group announcements. These are so powerful. Like I said, they're like opt-in newsletters. If you have a group of a few hundred people, you can send a message to the few hundred people at one time. If you're group grows to tens of thousands of people, you know have a very powerful communication tool to get in front of tens of thousands of people each every eight days. We talked about how to manage messages and spammers and all that stuff. As you saw in my own group, I don't spend a whole lot of time doing that. I don't want the administration to burden me down, so I'm more comfortable letting things sit in a queue than to spend hours every week or every month managing all of that. Some group managers are very tight on how they manage it. I don't know where you would fall on that spectrum, but I just wanted to make you aware that there could and maybe should be a certain level of management. We also talked about the templates that you can set up when people want to join your group or when you approve them to join your group. Again, this is another touch point where you have the opportunity to put the right information in front of them, including what your own brand is. In the next module, we're going to talk about posting articles on LinkedIn. This is a fairly new feature. They've taken awhile to roll this out, but it's available to almost everybody right now.
In this module, we're going to focus on LinkedIn posts, also known as LinkedIn articles.
What Are Posts?
A relatively new feature in LinkedIn that's a proactive feature is what LinkedIn calls posts and what I call articles. If you come to the front page where you can share an update and see a pencil, then you have the ability to create a post. Let's click on that and see what we can do. At the very top, you can see I can add an image to my post. I can have a headline or a title. And then here's my post where you can see I can do some rich text formatting. I can delete my draft. I can save my draft. Or I can publish it out to the world. We'll go through these steps. But, first, let me jump back over to my profile and show you some of the posts that I've written. Above my summary, you'll see these three images. I didn't upload these images. LinkedIn actually grabbed images and put them on my post for me. If I click on the See more, it'll take me to a page where I can see all of my posts and some statistics. You can see that this post, which I wrote in November, has 192 views, 11 thumbs up, and two comments. As I scroll down, I can see those same statistics for each of the posts that I've written. As I've played around with this feature, I've found that the title of your post has a significant impact on how many people view and even comment on your post. For example, this post is titled, The Power of "Marginal, " and I got 257 views. This post, Job Search: What I Should Have Done in the First 30 Days, I got more than ten times the number of views. My most popular post to date, The Question That Makes Job Seekers Sound Stupid, got over 10, 000 views. While a number of the comments was supportive of that post, some of the people said that it was horrible that I would even put job seeker and stupid in the same title. Well, I'm not here to call job seekers stupid, but what I've found is playing with the title, and even including the word stupid, increased the number of views and comments and likes on that particular post. Let's put a new post up and then talk about how we're going to promote that particular post.
Tips for Writing a Better Post
Let's go through the steps of putting a post up on LinkedIn. When I come to the front page, I see that I have a little pencil here, which shows that I can create a post. When I click on that, I go to the page where I actually put the post up. Now, I haven't thought about an image yet, so I'll just let LinkedIn give me whatever default images they have to put on my post. I'll come down to the headline and put something that hopefully will be catchy. I've actually prewritten this whole thing, so I'm just going to copy and paste it from another file. My title is Getting more out of LinkedIn in 2015. I think this is going to be fairly catchy, and I'll expect at least a few hundred views. In the start writing box, I'll paste what I've already written. Notice that it's actually formatted wrong, so I'll come in here and clean it up just a little bit, taking these extra spaces out. This is one of the dangers of writing it in another application. But it's not that big of a deal. Let's walk through what I have. I'm currently redoing my LinkedIn training videos for Pluralsight, etc., etc., etc. I see some typos, so I'll just right-click and clean those up. First, do this. Second, do this. Third, do this. Fourth, do this. People like lists. Lists are easy to skim through. One way that we make it easy is put each of the items in bold. I could have done bullet points, but I don't want to mess with that formatting. I like this formatting. One thing that I haven't done yet is put a hyperlink in. I want to have a hyperlink, especially right here for Pluralsight. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to highlight that and put a hyperlink in to all my courses. I grab the link to all of my courses, and I do a Ctrl + V to paste. I'll click on Add, and now that's a hyperlink. One thing that I have to do on every single post that I write is put what I call a bio. This is the end-line. This basically says, Hey, I'm the guy that wrote this article. This is something that I just pulled from one of my other posts. I look at it, and it looks just fine. I've written this generic enough that I can actually paste this on a whole bunch of different types of posts that I write. It also has the links that I want to go out. I highly encourage you to have something like this at the end of your article. Sure, people can click on your name and find out who you are and look at your profile. But this is like your email signature. This is the---here's all my message up above, and down here, if you want to learn more about me, here's where you can go. It doesn't have to be as long as this. I think this is kind of long. If yours is only two lines long, that's okay, but I encourage you to help people understand who you are and where you're coming from. That might help them put your thoughts from the article in better context. Now that I have all that, I'll click on Publish. It says, Are you sure? Yep, I'm sure. Publish the post. And it's now live. It's probably not going to go on the first page of LinkedIn. None of my work ever goes on the first page of LinkedIn. And because of that, I'm going to expect to sit at 0 views for a long time. I don't think very many people are going to get this pushed in front of them. In the next video, I'll show you what I do every time I post an article to get more than 0 views.
Promoting Your Posts
Now that I've written my article, I want people to see it. What I have to do is push this in front of other people. I can share a link on my blog, and I can put it on social media. The way that I do it to get the most views, though, is just by simply using the buttons that are already here. I don't share things out on Google+, and I usually use Twitter simply as an interface to post things onto Facebook. I can actually do all the promoting I want just from this little LinkedIn button. The reason why is because I have it set up so it shares out to Twitter, which means from this one page, I can share it on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook. I do two things here. First is I share an update. That might not be the best update, but for the sake of time, it's good enough. 2015, your career, LinkedIn, what are you going to do? It's easier than you think. And then this title and the link will show up. That's what I would consider kind of important. The most important thing, though, is to come to Post to groups. I click on that, and it shows me this new dialog where I can choose groups, put a title and the detail. I've chosen just a few groups that I'm a member of, and I'll share this one post out to these groups. Between all of these groups, there's probably a good 100, 000 people. I'm not expecting that 100, 000 people are actually going to see my article or come over, like it, comment, or any of that stuff, but at least this gives me an opportunity to stay active and involved in those groups. For the title, I'll simply just grab the title that I've already used. And then in the detail, I'll say something like Check out my four tips to get more out of LinkedIn in the coming year. That's all I need to do. I'll click on Share. This is kind of going to go in front of my network. But this is going to go to those four groups. Also, it went to Twitter and to Facebook. Within the hour, I'll expect to have a few dozen views, and probably by tomorrow, I'll have a few hundred views. This is one of the most important things to do if you're going to write LinkedIn articles. Otherwise, I would expect to have less than a hundred views on any article that I've written.
Don't LinkedIn posts look so powerful? This really is a great tool to help us nurture individual relationships because we can put our thinking and our name and our brand in front of our contacts again. It's a great tool to help us grow our network with relevant contacts. New people who have never heard of us find and read our posts, and then they can invite us to connect. And obviously, it's a great way to share our brand. We should only write stuff that's going to help us reinforce our brand messaging. LinkedIn posts and LinkedIn Groups makes up a huge part of your proactive strategy. In this module, we talked about what posts are, how to write the posts, and the importance of coming up with a great title. After you write your post, make sure that you promote it properly. That is, publish your post and then go back and look at it and find the LinkedIn icon that helps you promote your post as a status update and especially to some of the groups that you're in. Don't do this to all of the groups that you're in or you'll probably find that you'll be flagged as a spammer. What I'll do is I'll take one article and promote that one to some groups, and the next article I promote it to other groups. That way, I can rotate through my groups and not fatigue any of them. In the next module, we're going to talk about how to find and communicate with people on LinkedIn. Of course, this is fairly intuitive, but I have some ideas on different places to find contacts on LinkedIn and a specific way to communicate with people.
Finding and Communicating with Others
In this module, we're going to talk about how to find and communicate with people on LinkedIn. Let's get started.
Advanced Search Tips
Remembering that LinkedIn is a place to find and be found, let's talk about the most obvious place that we're going to go to find people. That is the search box. There're two things to know about the search box. First, if you do a search in this search box, you're doing what I call a general search. This is going to be a keyword search, and it's based on whatever you have on the left-hand side. Right now, you're searching on everything, which is people, jobs, companies, etc., everything in this list. Sometimes I'll do a search for a company, and what I get usually is groups. And so I have to come into the drop-down, click on Companies, and then I'm forcing a company search. So, this right here should help you narrow down the search results that you're seeing, just knowing what you're searching on. Usually it's on All. What I find is I typically narrow it down on either people, companies, or groups. Let's go into the Advanced search tool, which you'll find when it's under All. Click on this Advanced link over here on the right-hand side, and now you have the Advanced search window that comes up. Let's walk through this really quick. Remember, if you do a search in here, it basically is a keyword search. See how I do a search for John Smith here? And then I click on the Advanced to open up that dialog, and the John Smith is not first name/last name. It's actually a keyword search. If I'm not getting the right search results, what I'll do is I'll take it out of there, and I'll put John in the first name and Smith in the last name. I know you know how to do an advanced search on a search engine. This is common sense. But I want to show you a couple of other things that I typically do in the Advanced search. Title and company kind of act the same in that what I can do is I can put a title in, so software developer, and then I get another box here that says, Well, when did they have this title? Was it anytime, which is right now or in the past? Was it just now? In other words, if they're not a software developer right now, then don't show them in the search results. Was it only in the past? Or was it only in the past but not right now? We'll just leave it on current or past, which is the default. And then we'll come in here, and we'll type in a company. Notice we're going to get another box right below the company box. And this box does the same thing. I can choose when they were in that company. That's typically what I do to really narrow down my search results. There are other options. For example, what school did they go to and what their location is. You might use location if you're not getting the search results you want or if the search results are too big or if you really want to narrow it down on a geographic location. I don't find myself doing this very often, but I have used it. Another thing I've used is the filtering of results based on my connection with the contacts. In other words, do I want to see everybody in the search results? Or do I only want to see my first-degree connections? Note these icons on the right-hand side, the golden LinkedIn icons. That means you can use these only if you upgrade. So, the ones that don't have this icon are free to use. When you upgrade, you can use these other ones. I don't do enough searching to justify the upgrade. What I've found is typically if I use these fields on the left-hand side, I can get down to the search results that I really want. So, that's it. Again, I know that search is a basic function, but I wanted you to know what happens when you do a search up here and that it's just a general search. And if you want tighter search results, you can come into the Advanced link and then put the criteria in the correct boxes on the left-hand side.
Other Ways to Find Relevant Contacts
Because LinkedIn is a tool to find and be found, let's talk about different places where you could find the proper prospects or contacts. I talk about these places on this course and the LinkedIn Profile course, but I want to summarize it all up in one video. So, let's go. At the very top of the page, we have the search box. You can use the general search or you can click and do the advanced search, which we have a video on. On the right-hand side of the home page, you have the people you may know. It's uncanny to see the names that come up here because sometimes these really are people that we know. I'm not sure how LinkedIn has figured it out, but sometimes the people that show up here are people that we really want to connect with or maybe people we should connect with. As we talked about in the home page video, we can scroll down on the home page and find people that we should reconnect with. For example, Gerald is somebody who I haven't connected with for a long time. I can send him a message or comment on whatever his activity is. In addition, I can find activity from contacts of my contacts. For example, under this message right here, I can see Kate, who's a second-degree contact. So, just scrolling through my home page allows me to see people I can reconnect with but also people who I don't even know because they're outside of my network. Let's go from the home page to the company's page. The same concept that we just did on the home page where people are commenting and liking and things like that apply to the company pages. So, if you're following a company, simply scroll down and see who is either liking or commenting on discussions under the company pages. Similarly, we're going to do the same thing in groups. I can either come to a specific group--here I have a few on the top, and I can view more--or I'm simply just going to come down here and see what discussions people are leaving and who is commenting on them and liking them. This is simply a tactic we might use just to find other people. Let's go over to Tim's profile. Let's say that Tim is the perfect contact for me. Whatever he does, whatever company he works at, I want to find more people like Tim. So, first of all, of course I'm going to reach out to Tim. But let's say I've already done that, and now I want to find some people that are like Tim. On his profile, there are a few different places that I can go to. One of my favorite places is the People Also Viewed. This is so powerful. If Tim is the right contact for me, I'm probably going to find under the People Also Viewed section other people who are the right contact. When I've been trying to prospect into industries or companies, and I find the right person, I immediately come down to the People Also Viewed to see who else I might want to reach out to. This has been a goldmine of information as far as prospecting goes. In addition, assuming that Tim's the right person, I'm going to look at the people who have recommended Tim. These are people that have worked with Tim in some capacity, probably work in the same field, and for whatever reason are qualified to talk about his professional competencies. If any of those three things are true, it's likely that I might want to reach out to some of the people who have recommended this person. There's one more really cool thing that I can do with the contacts that I have. Notice if I scroll down on Tim's profile, I can see the connections that we have in common. That's because we are not first-degree contacts. So, here you can see three connections that we have in common. And I can do a search on those connections. It really doesn't make sense to do it here because out of Tim's more than 500 contacts, there are only three that we share, and I already see all three of them. Why would I search? Let's go to somebody else's profile that I have a first-degree relationship with. I'm going to scroll towards the bottom of Barbara's profile and find her connections. You can see that she has over 500. I have over 500. We have 300 that we have in common, and there's one new connection. Now, if I want to do a search, it's actually going to show me the search results from all of her connections. This happens because we're first-degree contacts. I do a search for Joe, and I find 17 results from her first-degree network. You can see that they're not shared connections because these are all second-degree contacts. Let's sum up what the different places are where we're finding people on LinkedIn. This goes way beyond the search box up at the top. Here's a one-page overview of all the things that we just went over. Where can we find contacts and prospects? Find them on the home page. Use the search box and the advanced search box. I know that's low-hanging fruit, and it's super obvious. But, remember, we can optimize how we use the advanced search box. Also, the people you may know. Don't discount that. Sometimes I find myself treating that as an advertisement box, and I just ignore it. But there're some interesting names that come in there every once in a while. Under the companies and groups pages, we can look at the comments and the likes. Who are the people that are engaging and active on those company or group pages. On the profile page, we can look at the People Also Viewed area on the right-hand side. This is such an awesome place to find like people. We can also look through their recommendations. Don't judge based on whether the recommendation is good or not. Look at what the relationship was with the person and where that person works now and what their job title is. Also, scroll to the bottom of the profiles of your first-degree contacts and look for the connections area. Find the search box, and then you can do searches just on their connections. You never know where you're going to find the right contacts and prospects, but there are a lot of places at LinkedIn where we can find more than just the regular search box.
Three Ways to Communicate with Contacts
In this video, we'll talk about the three ways that you can message someone from their LinkedIn profile. One of the messages I want you to take away from this video is how hard it is for other people to message you unless you put your contact info in the summary section. Let's say you come across somebody's profile, and you don't have any way to contact them. They don't have their email or their phone number or website or anything that can help you reach out and communicate with them. The three things we can do from their profile are invite them to connect. Now, this is pretty cool because we really don't have to have any information about them. I almost always choose Friend as the How do you know this person. As you know, you should edit the canned message. However, you don't get that many characters. I think you get less than 300 characters for this message. The thing I want you to take away from this communication method is that your ultimate goal is not necessarily to just connect with people on LinkedIn. Maybe you're here to grow your network to thousands of first-degree contacts. In general, though, I would say that what you really want to do is start a relationship with the person. That means that you can connect with them on LinkedIn, but you really want to have a conversation with them. So, in this invitation, I might write something like this: Hi Jose. I would like to chat with you for 20 minutes about, and then put what you want to talk with them about. This lets them know that to you, they're not just a number or just another connection. There's a real reason why you want to connect. The caution I give you is that sometimes I get messages like this, and I now the people are spammers. Make sure that whatever message you write here, hopefully with an invitation to go to the next level, either send them an email or get on the phone with them, doesn't make you sound like a spammer. The next obvious option to communicate with Jose is to send Jose an InMail. If I click on that, LinkedIn says, We would love you to communicate with Jose. Just pay us some money first. Well, I'm not interested in doing that. I show you a loophole in how to get around the InMail in the group section. Before we go to that, I'll show you one more option to communicate with this person, which is to get introduced. The way this works is LinkedIn finds the people that I have in common with Jose and says, Who do you want to send an introduction through? Let's see how this works. I'll mouse over the arrow, click on Get introduced, and now it says, Who's the person that you want to get an introduction through? These are all the people that Jose has as first-degree contacts and all the people I have as first-degree contacts in common with his. I would scroll through these and find one that I have a good relationship with, choose that person, and now I will write a message here. The reason I like this is because it allows me to send my message to John, who I may not have been in touch with recently, and to Jose. So, it's almost like killing two birds with one stone. The reason I don't like this is because in order to get to Jose, I have to wait for John to respond. If this goes into John's spam folder or he simply doesn't look at it, then it might take a few weeks for this to even get to Jose. If you're in a time crunch, I recommend you don't go through the introduction. As we talk about in the group video on how to message members of the same group, another option to message somebody is to join a group that they're a member of. It looks like I'm not a member of any of these seven groups because they all say Join. All I have to do is click on Join. Once I'm a member of that group, then I'll go search for him and send him a message. I show you exactly how to do that in the groups module. Again, one thing I want you to do is make it easy for people to communicate with you. That's why I recommend you put your email and/or your phone number in the summary section.
Bulk Messaging First Degree Contacts
There's another way to send messages through LinkedIn. I don't read about or hear about this very frequently. And I think the reason why is because usually on LinkedIn, we're going in, finding somebody, and then trying to reach out to them. This other way, though, does have some merit. Let's go into our Messages area. This is where we can see the messages that we've received. On the right-hand side, we can see a compose icon. When I click on that, I see this page that allows me to send a message. What's not clear is that I can send a message to more than one person. Let me show you how this works. I'm going to type in resume, and it brings up people that have to do with resume. I'll simply click on one, and then I can do that again and again and choose multiple people. This is one way that I can actually send a message to people in bulk from my first-degree contacts. Previously, LinkedIn made it clear that I could only send a message to 50 people at a time. Let me show you a different way to get here that perhaps is a little more intuitive. When I click on my contacts, I can see that I can select all that are showing up on this page. And at the top, it says Message. This basically will put all of those people into a new message. Now, if you notice, those people didn't come up for any particular reason. So, what I'll do is I'll come in here and I'll filter them. If click on the drop-down, I can choose tags. I'm not a proponent of using tags in LinkedIn for any reason other than for bulk messaging. If you're not going to bulk message, then don't worry about it because it's kind of tedious to tag all of your contacts. However, if you want to use LinkedIn to message your contacts, I encourage you to use tags because then what you can do is click on Tags, choose the tag that you want. I only have one person that I've tagged as resume writer. I would Select All, and then when I hit Message, it allows me to send a message to all of the people that I've tagged with that particular tag. Like I said, I don't see people talking about or writing about this very often, but it is a very powerful way to communicate with your contacts in bulk. Another way you can do it, which is much more controversial, is export your contacts, which will include their name and their email address, and then send messages based on the exported file. Once again, the exported file will only be your first-degree contacts.
The Five Parts of a Message
Sometimes, you'll find it appropriate to reach out to somebody on LinkedIn. Whether they're connected with you or not, let me introduce to you the first parts of a message. I go into more depth on this in the Effective Email Communication course. The concept is pretty much the same even though we're communicating through LinkedIn's messaging system. Here are the five parts. First, have a good title or subject. This is something so that when they see it on their phone or they see it in their email client, they're not going to think you're a spammer. Make sure that your title or subject is catchy, but it's also straightforward. Next, introduce why you're writing to them. This might be something like, I found your profile on LinkedIn. Thought it was interesting. Or, I see that you've been working in this industry for seven years. Something that helps them understand that you've actually done a little bit of research and know who they are. It might be something like, I saw you speak at the networking event last week or I say an article you wrote. Just something to put this message into context. The next part is the Why. This is the main part of the body. You're eventually going to get to the point where you say, Here's why I'm contacting you. I want to get on the phone with you. I want to learn from you. I want to have a conversation with you. I want to show you something. Whatever it is, make sure you put that Why in the body. The next thing is the call to action. If I want to have a phone call with you, I'll state that in the Why, and then at the very end, I will say, Can we get on the phone or When is a good time that we can get on the phone? There's a specific call to action. That is, it's an invitation to do something. You usually can't have the Why be the call to action because it says I want to get on the phone with you, but it doesn't say Can we get on the phone? Finally, end it with your email signature. There's not a place in LinkedIn to store your email signature, so you'll have to go to your email, open up a composed message, grab your signature, and then copy it over. Your email signature should have good branding, especially if you've watched the Effective Email Communication course. I want a tag line in there. I want something that helps them understand a little bit more who you are. That might not necessarily be in the introduction or the body and probably not in the call to action. The signature's a great place to put a little bit of your branding in front of them. Your tag line could be the professional headline that you have on your profile. There's nothing wrong with putting that in your email signature. But, typically, you want something more than just your name and your title. Help them understand who you are.
In this module, we talked about how to use the advanced search. I know you know how to search, but did you learn anything with the advanced search? One of the coolest things is the ability to put in current and past and various renditions of that on a title and on a company. Also, remember, when you use the general search at the top of LinkedIn, those are simply keywords. If you're searching for first name/last name, and you don't get the search results you want, go into the advanced and use the first name and the last name fields instead of using the keyword field. We talked about a number of different places to find people outside of the search box. We talked about different ways to send messages on LinkedIn. Did you ever think that an invitation to connect could be a place where you could put another message? We also talked about sending messages to multiple people at once. And, finally, we talked about the five parts of a message when you're reaching out to somebody who's probably not expecting your message. In the next module, we're going to talk about different tactics and tips to help you find value and round out your proactive strategy on LinkedIn. Let's get started.
Proactive Strategy: Kitchen Sink
In this module, we're going to talk about various other tactics that fall into your LinkedIn proactive strategy.
Finding Value in LinkedIn Companies
There're a few places where we're going to find value in LinkedIn Companies. Whether you're in a job search or not, whether you're prospecting companies or not, companies can be a great place for you to come understand the industry better and even do competitive intelligence research. That is, go follow companies that are your competitors. See what they're up to. See what's going on. You already know about the updates that you can see as you scroll down the company page. You can see what's going on, who likes that, who's commenting on that. Those might become people that you reach out to to have a conversation with. On the right-hand side, there's interesting information. For example, how you're connected. When I find myself trying to network into a company, I typically will look at how many first-degree contacts I have in that company. If you click on that, it'll show you who the contacts are. And that gives you the first place to go to start trying to network into that organization. As I scroll down on the right-hand side, I can see a section that says People Also Viewed. This is really quite important. Don't overlook this. If you think that GE is one of your target companies or your competitors, it makes sense to see what other companies people are looking at. For example, I knew about GE and, of course, I knew about IBM and Siemens, but I didn't know about ABB. What is that? Maybe it's a company worth looking at. If you're doing prospecting of companies, go to the People Also Viewed to see what other companies there are that you might not have thought about or heard of before. Frankly, there used to be a lot more value in a company page than what we see here. But LinkedIn has taken that away. So, really, what I'm doing is I'm following a company, looking at their recent updates, using the How You're Connected section to find first-degree contacts that I might want to start a relationship with, and then looking at the People Also Viewed area to see what other companies I might want to research.
Using Job Boards for Research
The Jobs section of LinkedIn is probably an area that you haven't been to unless you've been in an active job search. Some of the jobs on LinkedIn supposedly are not found anywhere else. They're exclusive just to LinkedIn. I'm not going to spend time on how to use LinkedIn as a job board, but what I want to do is talk about what you can learn from the jobs that are posted on LinkedIn. I've opened up a few companies that have job postings. So, we'll start here at Phillips. There're two specific things that I'm after as I look at jobs on LinkedIn and really on any job board. First, what is happening with this company? And maybe even bigger, what's happening in the industry? Second, I'm looking for specific contacts. People who can help me network into the hiring manager or sometimes the job posting actually has the name and contact information of the person that I can get in touch with. Those are all great data points that I want to keep track of as I'm trying to network into this organization. Let's look at the jobs at Phillips. What we have is senior software QA engineer, director of supplier quality assurance, professional services trade consultant. So far, these are all very technical roles. I don't see a whole lot about sales, except down here, there's a field sales rep. If I were researching this company, I think it would be interesting that it looks like they're investing more in R&D and not as much into sales. Let's jump over to careers at Microsoft. Of course, these are all going to be technical roles. Let's open up some of the job postings and see what we can learn. On the right-hand side, you can see the people you know at the company. This would be helpful if you're trying to network into the organization. Of course, it's going to be a lot more helpful if the company's not so big. But maybe just reaching out to some of these people and saying, Hey, I learned about this opening. Can you tell me who I can talk to or give me any information about it? There's not a whole lot of information on these Microsoft jobs, so let's go through to some other openings. Here're some Chevron openings. Same thing, job description, all the typical stuff that I would expect to see. As we go through this, though, we're going to see something interesting. On the left-hand side, you can see 22 people have applied through LinkedIn for this particular opening. If I was interested in this, I would come over here and look at who I have connections with and reach out to them to see what I can learn. I'm also going to scroll through this job posting and usually towards the bottom and look for contact info. Surprisingly, I sometimes find it on the bottom of the job description. Don't overlook job postings even if you're not in a job search. They're a great place to do competitive and industry research, as well as figure out how you can network into the organization and see what problems they're trying to solve.
Exporting First Degree Connections
In another video, I talk about different ways to communicate with people and suggest that you can download your LinkedIn contacts and then use that file to message them. I don't encourage you to put them on a newsletter or in constant contact or something like that. But, hey, they're your first-degree contacts. You've already agreed to connect with them. They've agreed to connect with you. And you have access to their email addresses. You probably have an email in your email client from them, or you can simply go to their profile and click on the contact info link to open up and see what their phone number and email address are. All we're going to do is access those in bulk. I also recommend that you do this maybe once a year just to get a backup of what your connections are. Let's see how to do this. While this changes about every six to 12 months, I'll show you how you can do it now. Click on Connections, and then on the right-hand side, you see this little gear icon. Click on that. And then on the right-hand side, you'll see Export LinkedIn Connections. I click on that, and I go to the really old page. I don't think this has ever changed. All I do is I keep it on the Outlook CSV format. If you're a Mac user, you probably want to change it over to the VCard, but I simply keep mine at CSV since it's so universal. I'll click on Export, and I'll go through the process to download this to my computer. What I'll have then is a CSV file that I can simply keep as a backup. Sometimes, I choose to scrub the file. Now, here's what you'll get. About 55 columns. Five columns have data in them. That would be first name/last name, email address, company and title. The other columns are blank. If you're a database nerd, you'll probably want to delete all of the empty columns Now, you're left with five columns that actually have data in them. I never change anything from title or company. Typically, the email address is just fine. If I am going to scrub the data at all, it'll be sometimes the first name and usually the last name. Just scroll down your spreadsheet, and you'll see people who have things in their last name, like MBA, how many connections they have, whether they're LIONS or not, or whatever other information people put in their last name field. If you're not going to import that into another system, like I import mine into JibberJobber, which is my CRM, then I would say don't worry about scrubbing it. Just download the file and have it as a backup. If you are going to import it, I would recommend that you do scrub the data before you put it into whatever database you want to have it in. Like I said, do this maybe once a year just to have a backup of your data. The added bonus is that you get email addresses in bulk. Just don't abuse those email addresses.
Finding Value in the Home Page
The LinkedIn home page is pretty easy to understand. It's intuitive. There are a couple of things that I want to point out as far as proactive opportunities. The first is at the very top of the white area, which is to share an update. This is simply like posting something on your Facebook wall or on Twitter. What I recommend is that because of this audience, we keep it aligned with your business or professional brand. I'll share an update, which is that I'm updating this course. With this simple update where I say that I'm updating the LinkedIn course on Pluralsight focusing on proactive strategies, I'm sharing two different ideas. One is that I do work for Pluralsight. I think a lot of people in my network know that, but this is going to be a good reminder for other people who didn't know that. Another thing that I'm showing is that I continue to stay current and relevant in the LinkedIn world. Some people know that a few years ago, I put out a book on LinkedIn, but they might not know that I still currently do stuff related to LinkedIn. The update place is a great place for you to simply remind people what you do. This is a brand reinforcement strategy. Before I hit Share, I always choose to share this on Twitter also. The reason why is because this post will get in front of some of my LinkedIn contacts and some of my Twitter contacts, and I have the API set up so that if something goes on Twitter, it also goes on my Facebook wall. In other words, I'm putting something in one time, and it's going on the three major social networks that I participate in. I click on Share, and now it shows up here. If we're first-degree contacts, then you might see this when you first login to LinkedIn. Let's scroll down and see what some of my first-degree contacts have done. This contact is sharing a poem. This is an advertisement snuck in to make it look like it's something from my contacts. This contact started a discussion in a group. Sybil made an update to her profile. And we can go on and on looking at what other people have chosen to share with their first-degree contacts. Why would we care about this? I recommend that if you're in a proactive mode, one of the things you could do maybe once a week or every other week is take literally 10 or 15 minutes, scroll down through recent things, and simply add a comment. Notice that Thomas commented on this, and there are other comments that we can see. Basically, what we're doing is using the opportunity that other people are giving us. They start a conversation, it kind of hangs out there in the air, and then we have the opportunity to come in and like or comment on. I would recommend that you comment more than you like. Notice the likes are kind of hidden here under the 8 others, and I really don't care about who liked it. What I'm really interested in is reading what other people think about it. I think there's more value in actually leaving a comment. Those are the two most intuitive things that we're going to do from the LinkedIn home page. Let's spend a little bit of time in the settings area.
Important Settings and Preferences
Let's spend a little bit of time in the settings area. In the LinkedIn Profile course, we went into the settings area and talked about the things that you want to know about for your LinkedIn profile. The way you get to your settings is you mouse over your image on the top right and then click on Privacy and Settings. It should make you log in again. We're only going to go through the highlights of the settings page. One thing I recently learned about was the active sessions. This says to see where you're logged in. If you click on that, you might find other places that you've logged into LinkedIn and didn't log out. This kind of freaks people out, so what they say is to go in and clear all of those out. I really don't care about it because my work computer is the only place that I log into LinkedIn from. Down below, we have four tabs. On the first tab, we see a number of privacy controls and settings for your profile. In the first link, it says, Turn on or off your activity broadcasts. This is what you're going to do before you make a lot of changes to your LinkedIn profile. Turn it off and then go in when you're almost done changing things and turn it back on. That way, your contacts aren't going to get a lot of messages saying that you've been changing your profile. The next one is to say who can see your activity feed, and I suggest you choose Only you. The activity feed is a ridiculous part of your profile that really takes away from your branding and your messaging. If you set it to Only you, then you're hiding it from everyone else. You can select what others see when you've viewed their profile. I have mine set to be completely anonymous. I don't want to give people false impressions that I'm interested in them just because I look at their profile. One of the privacy settings that people are worried about is who can see your connections. If you leave it to the default, which is Your connections, then you're letting your first-degree contacts see who your other first-degree contacts are. In the spirit of networking, I would say leave it at the default. There are a few people who have been stalked or had other situations where they change it to Only you, and I'm totally fine with that. But for the most part, I would recommend you leave it as Your connections. If you want to make sure that your status updates are also going to Twitter, simply click on this link. And then down here below, you can see some other things related to your profile. Let's click on Communications. Here's where we can set the frequency of emails that we get from LinkedIn. If you feel like you're getting too many messages from LinkedIn or any particular group, simply come into this page and make changes from here. I wouldn't change anything else under this tab. Under the Groups tab, you can see a number of different things we can do, such as changing the group display order. This has been a little buggy in the past, and I don't necessarily trust it. I personally am not worried about this. You can also change some of the communication settings from your groups. I will leave everything here at the default. On the Account page, you can do some interesting things. I would leave most of these alone. A lot of people wonder why I would ever show or hide the profile photos of other members. Well, a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about recruiters in HR discriminating based on pictures. They could actually come into their LinkedIn profile and turn pictures off. I think that's done a complete 180 in the last few years, but I think that's why this option is here. The one thing I would do from the Account page is right here--Add and change email addresses. Make sure that you have more than just your work email address as an email address on LinkedIn. You should always have a Gmail, a Yahoo, or some other private email address that only you control as an email address on LinkedIn. I would actually make that private email address your primary address. That way if you lose your job and access to the company email, you won't lose your LinkedIn account.
By this point in the course, your head might be spinning with all of the things that you can do to be proactive on LinkedIn. I don't want you to be overwhelmed with the stuff we talked about. I have a few assignments for you, and that will get you started on your proactive strategy. First, let's wrap up what we did in this module. We talked about LinkedIn Companies and how and where you can find value in LinkedIn Companies. We also talked about the job board. Whether you're in a job search or not, you could find some great information on posted jobs. We talked about exporting your contacts and my suggestion to do this at least once a year. We talked about finding opportunities for networking and branding on the landing page. And we talked about what settings and preferences you should know about and perhaps edit. The bottom line is what you get out of LinkedIn depends on what you put into LinkedIn. Here are the next steps for you. First, go to a group that you're in and leave a comment on an existing discussion. It could be a one-liner. Second, start a new discussion in the right group. If you can find a group that is in your profession and your industry and your geography, go start a group discussion in that audience. Finally, write a post, also known as a LinkedIn article. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it probably won't be great, but I want you to get started. These are the steps in your proactive strategy. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the questions box on this course. Good luck to you!
Jason Alba is founder of JibberJobber.com, an online relationship manager for professionals to manage their career and job search. Jason is the author of I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??? and coauthor...
Released6 Feb 2015