Tips for Optimizing LinkedIn Profiles [Interview]

Maximizing LinkedIn

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ROCHEL: I would just like to take this time to welcome Richard to “Blissful Living”. Richard is the author of Focus on LinkedIn, which is a book about how to brand yourself on LinkedIn by optimizing LinkedIn profiles. I am your host, Rochel Marie Lawson. Welcome to the show Richard.

RICHARD: Well, thank you. It’s good to be here.

ROCHEL: Great, thanks. It’s good to have you. With all this personal branding stuff and social media—we have so many things out there now beyond Facebook. You’ve got Twitter, you’ve got Instagram, you’ve got Snapchat; you’ve got all these things. But particularly LinkedIn to me stands out in a different context from all of that stuff. Why would you say LinkedIn is so important in today’s professional career in business arena?

RICHARD: As a manager and a leader, if you give me your name and we connect, the first thing I’m going to do when I get to a computer is to look you up on LinkedIn. I’m going to see what it says about you. It’s not just about the words, it’s about professionalism and your personal brand. What message are you delivering, and did you do it in an effective manner?

What you have written tells me some facts about you and your experiences, skills and value, but what other things about your profile can say a lot more than you probably intended.

Regardless of your actual intentions, not having a profile means something. Having a crummy profile means something else. And having a really nice profile means something. That’s without even reading the information. That’s just looking at it and going, okay, this guy actually put some effort into it or not.

That’s literally the first place I’m going to look, LinkedIn. Always. Because really, it’s the professional place to be. That’s what it is. And that’s where everybody looks.

ROCHEL: Okay, what messages do you pick up when you look at a profile?

Not having a profile at all tells me you don’t understand the power of this communication media and how it can help you get your message out.

A sparse, terse, resume-style profile, on the other hand, speaks volumes about your communication skills. Well, it could mean you haven’t had the time to update your profile properly or it is a work in progress or something like that. But what it also says is you have down prioritized getting your message to your audience in an effective manner.

Poorly written profiles give the worst message of all: that you don’t know how to communicate effectively. Grammar and spelling errors create a poor image of you, and a wandering, not-on-point summary causes your audience to tune out.

ROCHEL: Some of that sounds unfair…

RICHARD: Look at it this way: you have complete control over the content on LinkedIn. You can write whatever you want, so why is it unfair to judge your value and skills based on what you have written or not written?

ROCHEL: That’s a good point.

RICHARD: Sometimes you have little to no control over what appears on the internet. A troll – that’s someone who delights in stirring up trouble with negative posts – can make derogatory remarks about you and you may not be able to fix that. Someone could post unflattering pictures of you or write a bad review on something you sell – you might not be able to control that.

But you can completely control what you write on your own profiles on social media – your LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Google+ and all the others – you control what you post and write.

Optimizing LinkedIn Profiles

ROCHEL: Getting back to LinkedIn, so basically, LinkedIn — you’ve got all those other social media avenues out there, but the more professional (and I’m going to say the most professional) social media icon that we have out there would be LinkedIn. If you’re somebody looking to establish yourself with professionalism, you definitely want to set up a LinkedIn profile.

RICHARD: Definitely, you want to set up a LinkedIn profile, and you want an extremely professional LinkedIn profile. You don’t want to just throw your resume up, which is what a lot of people do, or just fill in some of the blanks with random things, or something that doesn’t contribute towards your overall message and, or something that doesn’t present you in the best light. Don’t do it at all if you’re not going to do a really good job.

ROCHEL: What do you mean by a professional profile on LinkedIn? Can you give a bird’s eye view of what that looks like?

RICHARD: Sure. Start with a good picture — a professionally taken picture. A head shot with good lighting. Not a selfie — nothing professional about selfies. Not something that you cropped with somebody’s arm still in the picture. Don’t do that. I do this for a living; you can imagine what I see.

A professional is confident and is making a living, a good living at his or her business. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, this is a message you want to get across. You are a professional and you are doing well. An amateur photo looks, well, amateur and it makes YOU look like an amateur. What, you are not doing well enough that you cannot afford to hire a good photographer?

You see how you can unintentionally communicate a message that was not intended? If any part of your profile looks amateurish, then YOU look like an amateur. The best place to start is to get a very good professional photo.

ROCHEL: That’s very interesting. I never thought about that before.

RICHARD: Don’t put up a picture with a cemetery in the background or a bar or anything like that, because what is in the background will be associated with your message and muddle your brand and message. That’s the first thing that somebody’s going to see when they’re looking for you — your photo.

The second thing is the headline. They’re going to see this headline, and you have no more than 120 characters – it’s even less than Twitter – to hook people into reading the rest of your profile. Include in a few keywords: your title and two or three keywords.

My title includes “ghostwriter” for example, that’s one of the keywords. So, whoever sees my profile immediately knows that I’m a ghostwriter, and my other keywords tell them I’m an author and a computer security person. So, these things are listed in my headline.

After the photo and the headline, the next thing of importance is your summary, which needs to be very, very well written. Also, write it in the first-person, as if I were talking to you.

Don’t write it in the third person, because that’s less personal and sounds more like a resume. LinkedIn is about you, and the best profile are written as if you’re sitting in the chair across from me and you’re telling me all about you, your brand and your message. AI it should tell me about your brand — your personal brand. We’ll get more into that shortly.

The remainder of the summary should support your headline. So, if your headline states, in the keywords, that you are a ghostwriter, then the summary, as well as the rest of your LinkedIn, profile should support that you’re a ghostwriter. Don’t get into other things that don’t support that main thesis.

You can have multiple themes, multiple brands, to a certain extent, but everything should focus up to your primary brand and sub-brands. Eliminate anything that doesn’t add to the picture you are creating of yourself.

If you don’t do that, your message will come across as muddled and confusing.

ROCHEL: I’m sure you’ve seen some profiles, probably not now, but when you first came across, that you were like, really? You put that up there? You’re trying to represent yourself and you’re trying to get business from people, and you’ve got that up there? With regards to your experience with LinkedIn and how a person can really target or find their unique little brand and really display it on LinkedIn appropriately beyond their profile and their summary, what would you say that a person should do?

RICHARD: You mean when they first get on LinkedIn, or when they’re trying to figure out what to do with it?

ROCHEL: Well when they’re trying to establish themselves in a particular brand. For instance, we’ll just use you. Ghostwriter. Okay, do you post anything on LinkedIn that, if someone goes on there and sees your profile or sees your feeds, so to speak, will know from what you post: he’s a ghostwriter. They would know that. What your brand is.

RICHARD: The first thing you have to do, before you even touch LinkedIn, is sit down and define your personal brand, which is the image you want to portray. And keep in mind it’s a personal brand. It’s generally not your company, unless you’re—like the CEO—very, very strongly identified with the company.

Optimize your LinkedIn ProfileIt’s you. It’s not your company, it’s not your hobbies, it’s not your Facebook profile. This is about you as a professional. So let’s take me: I’m a writer, I’m a best-selling author of Focus on LinkedIn, a ghostwriter, and a WordPress website designer.

I wanted all this to be on my LinkedIn profile, but to just say it all would be a muddled mess. It took some hard brain work to figure out how to to tie it all together.

I decided my brand is: I support your personal brand via writing, design and WordPress website design and implementation. This means I can help you design and implemented your WordPress website, write the copy, compose letters and letterhead, help you write or edit your book, ghostwrite your book, and even publish your manuscript — I can do all of those things.

So that’s my brand: the all-in-one stop-shop helping your define, create and promote your brand, for your business and you as a professional.

That’s what you have to do before anything else: define and establish the brand. A lot of people come to me — I worked for a company that which helped people create professional LinkedIn profiles and now provide this service myself — and they don’t know what their brand is. They think they know, but they have five or six different things, and you can’t do that on LinkedIn very easily.

LinkedIn supports one brand per person. You can’t have multiple profiles. So, you need to boil that down into the question what is your personal brand? What do YOU want people to see and understand when they find your profile, and your other presences on the web? Are you a diplomat, are you CEO of a robot company, or are you a computer programmer?

Once you’ve got that, you can boil it down even more to say something that applies to your personal audience.

The definition of your personal brand is really important. You could compare it to real life: when somebody looks at you, that first impression is critical: you’re wearing a nice tie or a business suit or something formal, not necessarily very formal, you’re not dirty, you’ve brushed your teeth.

Those things, you could relate directly to a personal brand on the internet. That is a major part of your personal brand: the first impression that somebody is going to see when they look at you as shown on your blog, website, LinkedIn and other social media.

When they look at your LinkedIn profile, that’s what they’re going to see. Is this guy messy or is he clean? Is his brand focused or not? Is he talking about all kinds of scattered things, or is he on-point?

You want your profile to be on-point because otherwise the person who reads it gets a weird wishy-washy message, and that’s not good, because he’s going to go somewhere else, to find someone who is focused on what he needs and wants.

ROCHEL: I see, so if the message is confused, if the message with your branding is confusing, then you’re not going to be able to capitalize on that person who may be interested. They can’t decipher what you really want to do because you’ve got a lot of things up there.

RICHARD: Correct. You’ve got the concept.

ROCHEL: With regards to the important parts of your summary, I know you mentioned having a really good photograph. I know you gave some examples of what not to have, but can you just share with everyone out here why it’s so important to have a professional head shot versus maybe a full-length shot.

RICHARD: Well, faces are very interesting, people notice expressions and smiles and things like that. LinkedIn allows a square photo, so you can’t really use a full-length shot. You don’t really have a lot of room; it’s just a teeny-tiny little photo, like a post-it stamp. So a head shot shows up best. A full-length photo tends to also be harder to make look good – there is a whole body in the shot, after all.

In a head shot you should focus in and not have any flaws show up. Me, I’m a little overweight. That shows up really well in a full-length photo, and I don’t necessarily want that to show up. You know what I mean? In a headshot, that’s not going to be obvious.

You should be smiling, unless you brand is reinforced by not smiling – maybe a clown or a horror actor or something similar. Except in very specific circumstances, you definitely want to be smiling.

Something to understand about smiling — something that a professional photographer will tell you—and by the way I’m also a professional photographer — is you think you’re smiling, but the camera doesn’t see it. You actually have to over-smile.

Stage actors know this very well. You have to over-act for the audience to understand your expressions. The point is, when you take a photo, you think you’re smiling and you’re not. Which is why it’s important to have somebody else take your photo.

Besides, selfies not only look bad — you don’t really get a view of what you’re doing. You want to be looking at or near the camera, not looking down — looking down signifies weakness, so you don’t want to be looking down.

You don’t want to be challenging the camera, of course. Thus, the best thing to do is smile.

Also, be aware of the lighting. Good lighting is something a professional photographer knows very well and amateurs don’t understand at all. If you have bad lighting, it can easily make you look 10 years older. This is especially true of sunlight. Bright sunlight can make you look a whole decade older, and you don’t want that.

ROCHEL: No, you don’t. That’s a nugget of gold right there. Okay, repeat that one more time for us, Richard.

RICHARD: Bad lighting can make you look a lot older in a photograph. A lot older — cracks, crevices and crow’s feet and all that show up like you don’t believe. I learned this very fast when I was photographing dancers; you’ve got to have good lighting, or they look older. And let me tell you, dancers don’t like that at all.

ROCHEL: Women, we don’t like that at all anyway.

RICHARD: Right. Well most of the dancers I photographer were women, so there you go.

If you’re going to photograph outdoors, you want to do that towards the evening or in the early morning, not in the bright, sunny day because that will make you look old and washed out and haggard and tired when you’re not.

If you use a flash, you’ll get flash marks, which are the bright spots on your cheeks and any place that has oil on it. And that will make you look kind of weird.

Red eye is an effect that can cause a photo to look strange. In this case, it’s the “demon eye” look.

Professional photographers know all this stuff; pay the hundred bucks for a head shot or whatever it costs. It’s not that much money, especially if you’re a professional.

Don’t try and cut corners because that head shot will to make or break your profile. That’s the number one thing. Besides the headline, the number one thing is the head shot. Your average viewer will see a bad photo and most likely move on.

Spend the time and money to get a good photograph.

ROCHEL: Great information. Go on.

RICHARD: Not only that get a lot of photos from your photographer and then pick the best one, two, or five. You don’t have to keep the same headshot all the time. Maybe you get four or five from your photographer. Pay the extra 20 bucks or 50 bucks or whatever he charges and then change your photo occasionally, so it’s not always the same. Change it up.

ROCHEL: Again, more nuggets of gold. Make sure you pick the right lighting so that you don’t look older. Spend the money to get a professional picture done and get multiples. Get a photographer to do multiples and then you can pick and choose, or you can switch them up periodically just to keep it fresh, so to speak.

But make sure you get really good-quality headshots from a professional photographer to represent the true brand that you want to put out there. Very good information. It really won’t cost you a lot. It may not cost you anything if you can connect with the right people to do that for you.

Is there another part of the LinkedIn profile that a person should sketch out before the—I know you talked about the summary and the opening, so to speak, but is there another part of the profile besides getting the professional head shot and making your headline be an attention-getter, so to speak, and it speaks about what you do? Before we get to the summary, is there something else in there that a person can add that may make somebody want to continue taking interest in looking at their profile?

RICHARD: You can include graphics, videos and slideshows on the summary and all your experiences. For example, on my profile, I have several videos of people holding up my book and talking about it for a minute, saying how good it was—testimonial videos. You could have a video of you interviewing somebody on your profile. I did a profile for somebody who did a leather factory that was under construction, and he did a three minute video that was a tour of the leather factory.

These things are awesome for helping your brand. It’s very easy to do. Video and slideshows, and you can also include documents and other things on all the various portions of the profile, really help with—people like visual. They like looking at things. They like videos; videos are big these days. And they’re easy to create. Take a quick video and throw it up on YouTube. Make sure it’s reasonably quality and add it to the appropriate place in your profile.

ROCHEL: What about the video someone takes with their iPhone? Say I’m speaking at an event or something, and someone has an iPhone and they’re taking a video of a segment of what I’m talking about. Would something like that suffice, or should it be the videographer in the back whose got the three cameras going and can give me a two minute… Of course, I know that would be better. But what I’m asking is, is the iPhone video okay to post on there if you can clean it up a bit?

RICHARD: You could post it on there as: “A fan sent this to me, and he was so excited about the show. And you can see…” You can hype it that way, a video from a fan’s point of view. Like if you were a rock star or something, having a fan video… “A fan took this of me while I was there and he kind of did it—he’s not supposed to, but he sent it to me anyway, and it looked pretty good.” That would work wonders. But normally for a CEO or something, I wouldn’t recommend that.

ROCHEL: Right. Well if you’re hoping the CEO of a company can afford to have their video done. Now you just opened up another question for me, because I’m thinking about my LinkedIn profile, and I’ve got a ton of professional videos, but never really thought of posting any of me speaking or teaching a workshop or whatever on my LinkedIn profile.

How would one go about doing that? Is there a way we could go about doing that? I’m just going to log on to LinkedIn while I’m talking to you, so I can be a little bit more… Is there a simple way to go in and do that with regards to your profile? Can you just touch on that a little bit for us?

RICHARD: Yes. It’s actually utterly trivial. First of all, you load it up to YouTube or one of the other video services. I use YouTube. And then you go to your LinkedIn and when you edit it, right under the edit it has several buttons that are different kinds of media under summary and experiences and schools. Just put in a link and it goes out there and looks it up and then pulls in a picture, and you type in a little description, and you’re pretty much done. It really is that fast.

ROCHEL: So a very simple thing to do. Anybody can do it.

RICHARD: Very simple.  Anybody can do it. The only downside is it’s not very configurable. You can’t change the photo that it decided to use, you can’t change the format; it does it for you. But other than that, it’s easy, almost trivial.

ROCHEL: Oh, okay cool. Well thank you for sharing that, because I didn’t know that you can post a video.

RICHARD: One caution on video. Make it short. Thirty seconds to two minutes at the most. Don’t put up your full show; you’re just teasing people, you’re not giving away the farm.

ROCHEL: Don’t put up the hour, right? Thirty seconds to two minutes.

RICHARD: Yeah. This is a marketing spot; this isn’t your show.

ROCHEL: What does a person need to do before they even start working on their LinkedIn profile?

RICHARD: Well, the first thing to do is to gather up the information that they need, such as the resume. Many people haven’t updated their resume in years. In fact, I have been slow to update my resume. I’d been at Trader Joe’s for 20 years, so who needs a resume, right?

Get your resume and get it updated. That’s a good place to start, because you’re going to want to use that as a reference. Personally, I don’t write resumes. I haven’t done them in a long time.

My recommendation is to hire somebody who does them for a living. Expect to pay $700 to $1,200 to get a good resume done by a professional. Resume writing is an art, and you want it right, because it may be the first and only thing that a potential employer sees. If your resume isn’t good, you can be sure you aren’t going to get noticed out of a stack of random resumes.

Your LinkedIn is not your resume, but your resume has information you’re going to need. Get any other documentation that you have with the information needed to write up your brand, and, of course, decide on your personal brand; that’s always something you need to do.

What’s audience are you trying to attract? Who are you trying to get? It’s an important question. Are you looking for recruiters? In my case, I’m looking for customers. I’m looking for people who want to buy writing services, books, and so forth. So my audience is general managers who will pay enough to buy a ghostwritten book from me, which, by the way, isn’t cheap.

I’m not looking for somebody who doesn’t have money. I’m looking for people who have enough money to purchase my services. That’s the kind of fact that’s important when defining your audience. I’m not looking to sell a thousand-dollar book, I’m looking for a lot more than that.

Thus, one of the things you need to consider is: who is your audience? Also, who is not your audience? That’s also important. There are people you need to exclude.

If you’ve ever been in sales, wasting that hour on somebody who’s not going to buy means you’ve lost a good portion of a day not making an income. Your LinkedIn profile can help by attracting the right contacts, and likewise disqualifying those who are not your target audience.

It’s great to discourage unqualified leads, because you don’t waste the time talking to them and building up a relationship. That’s one thing to be aware of. You can also use it to exclude by how you write it.

Define your brand, define your audience, and define your overall purpose. Are you looking for a new job? Are you looking for customers? Are you looking for vendors? Are you looking for any number of other things — what kind of client are you trying to get? And that will help you write your summary.

Next to the picture and the headline, the summary is the number one most important thing in the profile. That’s the most important thing.

ROCHEL: Repeat that. That’s worth repeating one more time.

RICHARD: The summary is, besides the picture and the headline, is the most important thing in your LinkedIn profile by many, many times. It’s more important than anything else because normally it’s the only thing anyone is going to read.

First, they will look at your picture and decide if they want to know more. Then they are  going to look at your headline and they’re going make the decision to look further. If they get this far, they’re going to look at your summary. Or rather, the first paragraph of that summary, and then decide to continue reading. After that, they’ll read the second paragraph, same thing. You’ve only got four or five paragraphs, and you better hook them or they’re gone. That’s the thing.

ROCHEL: Got you. So, now, can LinkedIn be utilized… I know people utilize it to job seek, so to speak. People utilize it to connect with others that might be in their industry, or to expand their reach outside their industry. What are some of the most successful ways that people utilize LinkedIn beyond job-seeking?

RICHARD: Well, a lot of people are actually not job-seeking. They’re looking for customers. They’re looking for clientele. They’re actually trying to pull in a different class of people.

Maybe the vice president of the leather factory — he’s trying to attract people who want to purchase space in his leather factory to do leather works. That’s his successful action, to create a LinkedIn profile that attracts not people who are going to buy leather, but people who are going to buy space in the factory.

Sometimes people just want to brand themselves. They just know that they’re the CEO or the CFO or some big name in their company, and everybody is going to look at them. And they want to make sure that their profile shows them in a good light. They are promoting their brand.

That’s why it’s important to understand what your message is and who your audience is and what you’re trying to do.

ROCHEL: Okay, yeah. I see. Because if you don’t know that, it will come across as confusing and maybe a little jumbled. It will lead people to click off your profile and go on to the next versus becoming more engaged and possibly entertaining the option of connecting with you on a more professional — outside of LinkedIn — arena.

Very, very good information. Now we’re talking about all the things that you should do right with regards to LinkedIn: your photo, your headline, your summary, adding videos to it to entice.

LinkedIn Profile Endorsements and Recommendations

What about endorsements and such?

RICHARD: There are two things in that area: Endorsements and recommendations.

ROCHEL: Talk a bit about each of those for us, please.

RICHARD: I’ll start with endorsements. Enter some skills into LinkedIn. For example, I’m a writer, a ghostwriter, public speaker, and photographer. Once you’ve got those entered, LinkedIn prompts other people to say, yep, he’s a writer, yep, he’s a ghostwriter.

The only purpose of that is so that when I look at your profile, I can look at that list of skills and in a couple of seconds go, okay, she’s a radio show host and a lot of people have agreed with that.

That’ all endorsements do; it’s for that glance. So I can see, at a glance, that she has the skills I need, or she doesn’t, so I don’t need to talk to her.

Recommendations are far more important. If you can get recommended by people, get recommended. I would recommend as many as possible. Get fifty or sixty recommendations, if you can.

Those recommendations are best from influencers and people higher than you on the organization board. In fact, as high as you can reach. So, if you can go all the way up to the CEO of the company, go up to the CEO and get him to recommend you.

If you can find somebody who has spoken publicly about whatever industry you’re in, and they’re very well-known, they’ve written books, and they’ve been on TV, then get them to write you a recommendation.

There’s a trick to it though. You don’t get that person to write you a recommendation. You write it for them – send it to them when you ask for the recommendation.

You say, I would like a recommendation, and here’s my suggestion. I just received one of these the other day from somebody who transcribed one of my books. She wanted me to recommend her, and she said, “Here’s what I recommend.”

She wrote a paragraph that she thought would be good. I changed a word, and I added her recommendation with a simple copy and paste.

Why do you send them the actual text? Look at it this way, you’re asking somebody who’s the CEO of a billion-dollar company or a person who speaks or writes books – they’re very busy.

If you don’t give them the text, they’ll almost always either ignore your request or say, “Sure, I’d be happy to give you a recommendation.” Then it sits on their inbox for the next six months.

If you write it for them, all they’ve got to do is copy, paste and click the link, and they’re done. You’re much, much more likely — like 50 times more likely — to get that recommendation if you write it for them.

Just so you know this works for books as well. When you write a book, it’s best to get somebody influential to write the foreword. But they almost certainly will not have the time, so you’ll never receive it.

To get around this, you write it for them. You write the foreword for them and say, “How’s this?” They’ll modify it and send it back to you, but you’ve already done most of the work. So, you’re more likely to get a foreword back.

ROCHEL: Right. Okay, I love that. I never thought of writing the recommendation and then asking for it. Writing it and sending it to the individual. And you’re right, because I’ve had people do that to me where they want me to give them a testimonial or a recommendation or something like that.

I see it and I think, “Oh, okay, I’ll get back to that later. Let me take care of X, Y, and Z that’s going to generate revenue for me” Then sometimes the end of the day comes, I forgot. And then another day, and so on and so forth. And pretty soon there’s a few days that have gone by. And then either it pops up in my memory when I’m getting ready to go to bed, or I’m in bed going to sleep, or somewhere during the day when I’m in the gym or driving in the car.

When I remember, I think, “Oh, I’ll get to it.” Then sometimes life catches up and it just never happens. However, if someone sends me an email with, “Hey, I’m asking you for a recommendation. This is something that I’ve written. Feel free to edit it. If you could send it back to me that would be great.”

The work is done for me, so I’m either going to look at it and be like yeah, click, send it back, or let me change a couple words and boom, it’s done. And it’s out of my hair, and I’ve taken care of them.

I feel good, and they feel good, and it works out perfect. So that’s great. I love that information. Just simply ask those people that are influencers or that are higher up in the organization. Keep asking and doing what you just said, and for sure the recommendations…

Now, okay, so I’ve done that, and I’ve got maybe — going for a hypothetical here — I’ve got maybe 75 recommendations. What is that really going to do for me when someone looks at my profile? Is it going to give me more credibility?

RICHARD: Well that’s the beauty of recommendations. By the time someone reads down to recommendations, they have already looked at your photo — yup, it’s fine. Headline’s fine. Read your summary, great. Looked over your job experiences, which some with recommendations. The person has already gone through quite a bit of your summary, so they are already interested in you.

Nothing there turned them off to the point where they don’t want to see any more. And then they see you’ve got 75 recommendations, and they think, Holy cow! They start looking at them, and some of them are names that they recognize.

Authors, speakers, politicians, whatever. And they are impressed — all these people thought that this person I’m looking at is worth recommending. They took the time to do that, and they wrote good words about her. It will probably seal the deal.

First of all, the reader had to get there; it’s actually pretty far down on your profile, so that person had to already be somewhat interested. This seals the deal. Oh, boy, he’s a writer and he’s got 45 recommendations from satisfied customers. Wow. Yup, I want to talk to this guy and see if he’s really as hot as everybody says he is. That’s the point. The point to remember is somebody actually had to get there. They’re actually interested already.

ROCHEL: And then that just really, pretty much solidifies the deal.

RICHARD: It gives you the credibility. You suddenly have credibility, because credibility is other people saying, yeah, he delivered. He did this right for me. I liked him. He was good to work with, he was personable. He was happy. He got it done on time. He got it done under budget. In fact, he gave me a refund.

It’s the same thing if you’re selling on eBay or on Amazon and people write little feedback comments: this was a good seller. You look at that, on Amazon especially, before you buy a video, you’re going to look at the comments and see if it’s a good video.

Well you do the same thing with people on LinkedIn. You find out if that person has any recommendations at all. The recommendation you don’t need is people below you on the org board. You don’t need people who are not known. People who aren’t influencers.

I mean, it doesn’t hurt, but if somebody works for you, their recommendation is worthless because they work for you. If they’re not influencers or high-level managers or something like that, or customers, it doesn’t carry as much weight as somebody who has a name which is well known. Because you want the names to be recognized in your industry.

That really, really helps. Now it doesn’t hurt to fill it in with a few lesser names or people lower in the organization. It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help all that much.

Just as important is the other way — recommending people. Recommending people gives you credibility, because part of working in teams is helping your team players, helping your other team members.

If we connected on LinkedIn and I gave you a recommendation: “She was a great talk-show radio host, it went very well, very personable,” then that gives me credibility as a team player and makes it known that I am somebody who is willing to go that extra mile and give that recommendation.

Also, recommending you puts my name in your profile, which means if somebody’s looking through your profile, they run across Richard Lowe, ghostwriter. “Holy cow, I need a ghostwriter!” Then they click over to look at my profile all of a sudden.

Search engines love links, by the way. So, if you give out 50 recommendations all over LinkedIn, that means that’s 50 more ways for Google and LinkedIn to find you. And it builds your credibility with the search engines as well. Both ways.

ROCHEL: Oh, okay. So giving recommendations as well as receiving them, they’re both very beneficial.

RICHARD: You should be giving more than you receive. If you have an action plan for LinkedIn on a day-to-day basis, I will give two recommendations a week, if possible. And ask for one.

ROCHEL: Give more than you receive.

RICHARD: That’s the key to networking, and everything you do for others will come back to you.

ROCHEL: Perfect. I’m writing all this down, because I think this is information I definitely need to do, that I haven’t really put much effort into. Other than just what I do already on LinkedIn, as far as really capitalizing on how it can potentially help me so much more. Really, really good information — I never heard of that.

Okay, so great info on what we should do and how we can create all this wonderful credibility and really take some of the stress out of connecting with people and engaging with people and having people wanting to connect with us. What should you avoid doing on LinkedIn?

RICHARD: Spamming. LinkedIn is very big on not spamming. Spamming would be connecting to people that you don’t know. Don’t do that. If you don’t know them, assuming they’re not a lion — I’m a lion, which means I’ll accept a connection request from anybody, even if I don’t know them. Or at least I won’t mark them as a spammer.

Because on LinkedIn, when you get a connection request, you can report an unknown connection request as a spammer. If LinkedIn gets more than a few of those, it will lock you out from sending out more connection requests.

Then you have to email back and forth to LinkedIn support to get them to unlock your ability to connect. It’s never happened to me. You don’t want to be sending connection requests to people who you don’t have a relationship with already of some kind, even if that relationship was just a handshake at a trade show.

There are a lot of ways to get around spamming. You can start by becoming very active in groups on LinkedIn, and you can put a little tagline in your group on each comment that says, “Feel free to connect with me.”

That gets them to connect with you. They can’t say you’re a spammer if they’re the ones sending the connection request. So you get them to connect to you.

Start becoming known in groups as a person who answers questions. Post your videos and post them publicly. And actually, to answer that question even a little more, part of your daily routine on LinkedIn should be giving a little status on what’s going on in your professional life.

Do those two or three times a day. I’m on the internet a lot like many people. When you read an article that’s of interest to your audience, write a little paragraph that says something like, “I found this great article on how to write a novel, and I thought it would be of interest to you. And here’s the link to it.”

Do that two, three times a day —it’s really easy, if you’re on the internet, because you’ve just read it and you just have a copy of the link and you write a sentence or two. Be sure to make them public.

People will start to connect to you because they see that you’re giving to the community information that they’re interested in. I’m getting a dozen connection requests a day, partly because my book got published, and partly because I’m doing exactly that. “I read your book or you post a lot of articles; I like that. Keep doing it, and by the way, I want to connect with you.” Okay.

ROCHEL: Right. There are times where I get a ton of request, and then there are times when it’s a little bit quieter. So I’m not posting two to three times a day, but I do try to keep it actively engaged with what I post. Because you’re right, I have a link on my phone, so if I post a blog article or something, I could easily just go on my phone, click my LinkedIn app, open up my profile, post something about this wonderful article that I’ve written, and post a link on it. It’s amazing when you share information how you start dialoguing.

People begin to engage. It’s a beautiful thing. I have one other question—I have a question with regards to groups. You can have all these different groups that you join on LinkedIn. Do you have any suggestions, recommendations, words of wisdom around that?

RICHARD: You bet. LinkedIn is all about networking. If you have a free LinkedIn account, your network consists of the people you’re connected to, and that people they’re connected to. That’s two deep. If you have a paid account, with the lowest level paid account, it’s three deep. So it’s the people you’re connected to, they’re connected to, and then they’re connected to.

Add to that everybody in all the groups that you’re a member of. So those are the people that you can send an email to — an InMail, a LinkedIn email — for free. If they’re not in your network, it’s ten bucks. Worse yet, its ten bucks for them to send a message to you. Now nobody in their right mind is going to pay ten dollars to send you an email message.

ROCHEL:  Oh no. If they are, they’re crazy.

RICHARD: It’s a way to discourage random messages to random strangers; they must at least be in your network. Because groups are part of your network, what you want to do is find large groups that are your target audience, as large as you possibly can, and active.

Go through the groups and… how many members are in this group? 200. Whatever. 20,000. Okay, that’s getting there. 100,000. Ah, that’s the group I want. And join that group. But only if the members are part of your target audience or you have some other interest in the group subject. Those 100,000 people become part of your network and there’s no charge for sending these messages.

That means that those people are all potentially your customers, your employers, your employees, vendors, whatever you’re looking for.

Then you want to make sure the group is active. Take a quick look at the group, the last message somebody posted was four years ago — okay, that’s not active at all. Oh, six messages have been posted today: that’s pretty active for LinkedIn. So that’s the group you want to join. 100,000 people, messages being posted all the time.

Once you have joined a few groups, you start taking part in conversations. Throughout the day, answer a question or two. Maybe once a week even. Spend ten minutes answering some questions or asking a question or posting a little bit of wisdom.

I usually add a little tag like to each of my posts: “feel free to connect with me if you want to discuss this more” or something like that to get people to connect with me. I don’t do it all the time. But every once in a while: “Feel free to connect with me. I enjoy having conversations. I don’t mind people connecting with me.” Something like that.

Then you get into a popular group, you wind up getting a whole bunch of connection requests over time, because you’re starting to be seen as somebody who knows what he’s doing, who knows what he’s talking about. That’s one thing you can use groups for: to make your network bigger, and then to build that engagement with people who you may not even know, to let them know who you are. That’s what they’re for.

ROCHEL: Oh, I like it. Okay, with regards to groups. How — because then I’m going to tell you, I’ve been in groups, I post. How do you get out of a group once it’s no longer active or the members of the group don’t seem to be as engaged, or the person that started or owns the group has changed the criteria or whatever and it just doesn’t fit what you’re trying to do. How do you disengage from a group?

RICHARD: There’s a screen that lists all of the groups, and on that screen, you can just say you want to remove yourself from it. It’s pretty easy. There’s a button to leave, and you just click it and you’re gone.

ROCHEL: Okay, so simple. Just as easy as you guys can get into groups, you can easily get out of those that you may dibble and dabble in and there’s no engagement, there’s no activity really, it’s not what you thought or perceived it to be. You can actually get out of that group as well and check out another one.

Love this information; it’s very, very helpful. Now, as often as we get on these social media networks, we want to have as many connections as possible. Of course, you want to have connections that are — I don’t want to say bonafide, that’s not the right word I’m looking for — connections that actually want to connect and engage with you.

I know on Facebook a lot of times you can max out on how many friends you have but out of the context of, I’m going to say max out on 5,000 friends, you may really only actively engage in 100 or 200 of them. With regards to LinkedIn, how should you manage your connections that you have on LinkedIn?

RICHARD: Well first of all, you said you connect with as many people as possible, and it really depends upon your strategy. You don’t necessarily want to connect with as many people as possible.

For example, a connection has visibility to all of my connections, which means they might be able to see who my customers are, or my vendors, or other people that I’m connected with, and then maybe steal a customer from me or something.

You wouldn’t necessarily give you customer list to your competitors. If you accept them as a connection, you just gave your customer list to your competitor. You want to be really careful with that — who you connect with as far as competition. That’s one thing to consider.

The second thing is spam requests. You’ve seen them I’m sure. The request comes in: “I want to connect with you” and they either don’t have a picture or it’s a picture that’s obviously stolen off the internet of some beautiful woman. Still has a watermark on it. Amateur scammer! Don’t connect to them obviously, because you don’t really need that four and half million dollars that the Nigerian prince has left in the United States, and you’re not going to get it anyway.

ROCHEL: Right. Darn it!

RICHARD: Yeah, exactly. If they’re not somebody who is helpful to what you’re trying to build, then you probably don’t need to connect with them. One thing about connections is you don’t just accept them. You want to accept them and then return a short message to them saying “Thanks for connecting. What did you,” especially if they’re random, “what did you find interesting about my profile?”

Actually, even before you connect you might send back a message that says, “I appreciate the connection request. What’s up? What do you find interesting about my profile that made you want to connect?” Start a dialogue before you connect.

I get 30 connection requests a day. I’m not going to bother doing that, to tell you the truth. But if you don’t recognize the person and you don’t recognize the picture and it makes no sense to you, you can always ask them before you connect: “What’s up? Why do you want to connect with me?”

In other words, use a little discretion. But I wouldn’t spend all day doing it. Because other than the competitor caution, it really doesn’t matter. You can always disconnect from them.

I think your question was more of: do you need to do any trimming? I don’t bother to trim my list. I do on Facebook, and I’ve got 4,000 friends on Facebook, I keep bumping into that 5,000 limit. Every once in a while, I have to go through and then there’s the ones who get into the rabid political arguments, they get deleted from Facebook because I don’t need that stuff.

On LinkedIn, if I find that they’re posting unprofessional things — to me, political discussions, if they’re not a politician, are unprofessional. And if they keep doing that, goodbye!

Also, posting of any kind of inappropriate material or things that belong more on Facebook. If I see that, I generally either disconnect from them or just hide them, so I don’t have to look at what they post.

ROCHEL: Well, we’re out of time. Thank you for being on the show.

Richard Lowe
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Lots of great advice in this article especially the ones about proper lighting in your linkedin profile picture,writing your own recommendations & joining linked in groups
which are so easy to overlook

Kim Steadman

This is a very informative article. It’s made me rethink my opinion about LinkedIn. Looks like I have a new project!