I have been using LinkedIn for just over 10 years. This is an interesting time to review how I have used it differently over the years as well as how I have seen others change in their use of LinkedIn. I can see a series of blog posts coming about this – first we will look at connections and messaging.
I currently have 1,865 contacts. I would say 80% of those contacts are people I have met through networking or I have trained during the past 10 years. 15% of the remaining will be people I have connected with as a) we have a lot of shared connections or b) I feel they need help with their profile or c) they looked interesting. The remaining 5% are people I accepted a request from without really having a reason.
As a general rule, I would like to have more of my contacts as people I have talked to either online, in a networking meeting or have trained. This allows me to message them to strengthen the relationship but also gives me the opportunity to ask them for introductions to their contacts (my 2nd level contacts).
I have seen over the years, a move towards connecting with as many people as possible. I have seen people boast about having 5 or 6 thousand connections. To me, this is like collecting pebbles. It looks pretty but doesn’t actually mean anything unless you are in a situation that you can message your connections without it looking like a cold call. For example, I know somebody who is looking for an introduction to somebody. When I looked on LinkedIn to make an introduction, he is already connected to that person – but clearly, it is not a worthwhile connection.
One of the things that haven’t improved over the years is people sending notes when they want to connect with me. I get too many requests from people I don’t know wanting to connect without explaining who they are or why I would want to connect with them. It is like somebody coming up to me at a networking meeting and thrusting a business card into my hand without explaining who they are. I will either bin many of these contact requests or add them to my undecided list. To send somebody a note:
On a desktop:
- Click through to their profile
- Click the Connect button and add a note (LinkedIn prompts you).
On the mobile app:
- Click on a name
- Click view full profile
- Click More and choose personalise invitation.
This brings me on to the use of messages on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, LinkedIn is increasingly being used as a hard sell. If I do choose to connect with somebody I don’t know, I will invariably get a message from the individual trying to sell me their services – often services that are clearly of no interest to me – the latest was somebody trying to sell me support desk software – or services that I actually offer! If you are going to sell to me, at least do me the courtesy of reading my profile which clearly states what I offer (and that I own my own successful company so I’m probably not in the job market).
The ability to message somebody on LinkedIn is a great way of keeping in touch with somebody, it allows you to build relationships and nurture prospects. It allows you to do face to face networking from the comfort of your home and office – don’t abuse it. You can now even use voice to message on LinkedIn (though I still prefer receiving text messages rather than having to listen to a voice.)
Messaging has become an easier to use part of LinkedIn over the years – I like the way that you can use messaging from anywhere in the site now – but let’s not abuse the system as it will lose the impact.
As a side note, I’ve recently used Messenger to propose and win work – quicker and easier than email and much more personal.
Do you use LinkedIn differently than you did when you first joined? Do let us know in the comments below.
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