I got an email from a colleague who says he’s had this one question for a few months:
“Why should I keep LinkedIn?”
This is a good question. Perhaps, maybe, you shouldn’t. Maybe you should delete it.
For most people, let me suggest that there’s no harm or commitment or money involved in keeping their LinkedIn account. It doesn’t make sense to delete your LinkedIn account, simply because it takes almost nothing to get it, and keep it up.
I’m not one of those LinkedIn enthusiasts that almost-blindly declares that you HAVE TO, or that not being on LinkedIn is a “deadly mistake” (um, it’s not deadly), or that “if you are not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist” (I’ve quoted recruiters on that one, though). Not being on LinkedIn is not the end of the world. Your career will not collapse, and you won’t be the laughing stock of the block if you don’t have a LinkedIn account.
The cost of having a LinkedIn account is so low (no money, just a little bit of time), and usually there is NO HARM (barring the weirdo stalkers that some people have to deal with) that I’m an advocate of having one. Here is my advice for doing the least amount possible on LinkedIn:
Get a free account
Spend a couple/few hours on your Profile.
Ignore all the invitations you get from people (unless you want to take a half second and accept
That’s a low-maintenance approach to having a LinkedIn account, and as far as some people are concerned, “existing.” If you are wondering how to optimize your LinkedIn Profile, check this Pluralsight course: LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile. You can get a 30 day pass to Pluralsight, no credit card required, through JibberJobber – just check out the video here. All of my advice to help you have a great LinkedIn profile is in that video.
Let’s go back to the question… what if you aren’t’ getting any value out of LinkedIn? It’s “not working” for you? It seems like too many articles I read about LinkedIn on mainstream sites have more negative comments about LinkedIn than positive comments. Many people are frustrated, not finding value, etc. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be found.
My argument is simple: in less than a couple of hours you can have a good-enough profiile, and then move on to the rest of your life. Really, nothing to lose.
If you want to do more, you can. If you want to get more, you can. You’ll have to put some time and effort into it. You’ll want to watch my LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies course on Pluralsight (again free, this is how).
Why would you keep it, and do nothing with it? Perhaps someone will find you. A new boss, a new partner, etc.
Why would you not keep it? Perhaps you are worried about getting spam through LinkedIn. Or recruiters won’t stop bugging you. Or you really do have a stalker. I’m not going to say you have to have an account. You can certainly live without one, and you can do very well. It’s not a requirement for success.
But for the cost, it seems like an easy choice to make.
I think that it’s a good idea to be active on LinkedIn, although I don’t agree with what the article says. In my experience, the main thing you should do is improve your LinkedIn Profile. I have never seen a Profile that is awesome (or, that couldn’t use some help). If I were to grade Profiles, most of them would get a C-. IMO it’s more important to fix your Profile than put up weekly status updates. You can get access to my LinkedIn Profile course (titled LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile) for free on Pluralsight, just login through JibberJobber, and watch the video below to see how to access it (and get free JibberJobber upgrades).
I am writing this post because I don’t want you to think that if you are not putting in status updates, you’re using LinkedIn wrong. Trust me, recruiters are smart enough to figure out your skills and competencies, even if you aren’t posting an update weekly.
I’ve been an advocate of LinkedIn Groups for a while, especially since they took away Answers.
This week I saw a message on Facebook that surprised me. Michael Stelzner is one of the smartest entrepreneurs I’ve met, very savvy with social media, very likable, creative, and he’s been successful with his business ventures. This message, from him, surprised me:
42,000 members in a LinkedIn Group… that’s pretty sizable. I think the only reason to shut it down is that it’s not bringing value to his business. I’m guessing this is because:
As a Group Admin, when he sends out “announcements,” no one is acting on his call to action. Note: Announcements are so powerful, if you own a Group and are not sending out Announcements, you are missing the main value of owning a LinkedIn Group.
There is too much spam. This is a problem on many LinkedIn Groups, and something that people have complained about since the beginning. In his comments to that Facebook post he adds: “Actually we have staff dedicated to moderating our LinkedIn group and this is not a knock on LI, just the groups. In fact we have one of the cleanest groups out there as far as spam, but we have to remove 100s of comments a week that are self serving.”
On a semi-related note, LinkedIn has taken steps to reduce spam, kind of, but the implementation of the Site Wide Account Management (SWAM) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It allows one Group admin to say you are a spammer, and then you cannot post on any group. To give one Group Manager that much power is nothing short of stupid.
Anyway, the idea that someone like Michael pulled the plug on a Group that big makes me question who is getting value out of their Groups. Is it too hard to manage (taking too many resources)? Is there no return value?
I have gotten thousands of invitations to connect over the years. Mainly this is because I have a pretty public persona, from starting JibberJobber, and then writing the book on LinkedIn. I have spoken across the US and have done many webinars to global audiences. So people send me invitations… which I don’t have a problem with.
What I do have a problem with is the idea that getting a connection on LinkedIn seems to be the end goal.
In my LinkedIn trainings I’ve suggested that once you start a relationship with someone, you DO NOT ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn – yet. Why? Because connecting on LinkedIn, many times, means “we’re done communicating.” It’s the end. I have reached my goal, I have won.
Think about it – how many times have you connected with someone on LinkedIn, and then you never hear from them again? How many times have you had a good conversation with someone, then invited them to LinkedIn, and then stopped communicating with them?
I’ve seen this too many times. So my suggestion is to build the relationship more, and eventually connect… but make it clear that you are interested in the relationship a lot more than a somewhat meaningless connection on social media.
Many of you know I was “the first” to write a LinkedIn book (now in the fourth edition). In fact, one person wrote his before me, so I was “the second.” I’m cool with that.
What you might not know is that I’m a nerd for communicating on our Profiles. While I have a bit of “cobbler’s kids” syndrome (that is, he made shoes but his kids were barefoot), I do love picking apart other people’s Profiles and seeing where there is opportunity for improvement.
I focus on (1) being found, which is usually about the search engine and showing up on the front page, and (2) being readable in an engaging, interesting way. What I didn’t say in the newsletter: I also focus on giving you actionable advice…. stuff you can actually do.
I loathe jargon and cliche, and I love helping you stand out in a way that not many do.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can pay at the link below and then send me your profile information. I’ll do a recording of my critique, which might be from 12 minutes to 20+ minutes (depending on how much you have to critique, usually), and then I send you a video file you can watch as often as you want.
I have done this for executives, professionals, entry-level, solopreneurs, career coaches, resume writers, branding specialists, outplacement pros (and their candidates (actually, for outplacement firms I offer a higher level, one-on-one service for their candidates))… it’s been a fun opportunity to help so many people.
A few months ago I did a critique for Tom, who I’ve known for years as someone who is very strategic about his career management, networking and branding. He already had a very good profile. After he watched the critique, these are some of the things he wrote to me:
“WOW! You’ve provided a great deal of excellent advise.”
“Fortunately I’m not in transition but I want to be ready for my next move no matter who’s choice it is…”
“EXCELLENT point about the professional headline. I definitely need to add …”
“Yet more excellent feedback about my volunteer work for… “
“You have provided a wealth of information and I thank you for that. It certainly is hard to be objective about myself so you’ve really helped me see many areas that I can improve my profile to help recruiters get to know me not just my skills and experience.”
I don’t normally get depth of feedback from people, but like I said, Tom is purposeful, and there is a reason he has weathered career transitions so well.
I want my JibberJobber users to have short, less painful transitions. Building our brands and nurturing our network is a big part of that. Shall we do this together? Click on the link above and I’ll do my part…
On Facebook my colleague and well-respected career expert Susan Whitcomb asked if there was a way to block people from seeing updates in LinkedIn. The typical scenerio is that someone starts a job search, and wants to NOT broadcast that to their network. They might update their resume, post an “update” on the homepage, participate in groups, etc…. how do you block individuals from seeing what you are doing?
The short answer is, YOU CANNOT.
This question about privacy reminds me of my IT security professor back in the 90′s who said that if you want or expect any privacy, UNPLUG your computer from the internet. Period.
You really shouldn’t have any assumption or expectation of privacy online, ever.
In LinkedIn, there aren’t any foolproof ways to shut people out of what you are doing. In fact, you can’t even do that in Facebook.
Let me give you an example. Facebook has more refined personal privacy options than LinkedIn does, partially because of what Facebook is for and what LinkedIn is for. Anyway, even with the very tight privacy settings in Facebook, it’s possible to *think* you are ranting privately, and you kind of are. But what if one of your “friends” shares your rant with someone you mutually know, who you have blocked?
The rant isn’t so private anymore, is it?
What if they take a screenshot of your rant and post it on a blog?
Not private at all, huh?
You can have all the locks in place, but as long as humans are involved, there is potential for social engineering, which means that your update you thought was private is now shared in the lunchroom and boardrooms of your current company.
Are there security options in LinkedIn to block? Kind of.
Should you trust them? Only if… well, actually, NO. NEVER.
But what if you aren’t connected with anyone at your company?
Um… let me explain how LinkedIn works: it doesn’t matter!
They can go to LinkedIn and still see some (most) of your stuff. They can also do a search on Google and find some (most) of your stuff. LinkedIn, by it’s nature, is a place to find and be found, to be visible, to share your brand, experience, etc. It’s not a place to hide stuff. That’s what a diary is for (you know, the book you write stuff in, and it’s not connected to the Internet!?).
Like I said, there are some technical privacy tools in place, kind of … BUT none of those matter as long as ANYONE in your network might share what you posted with their contacts… who just might be your boss you are trying to hide from.
Last week I was out of the office all week. Two weeks earlier I was out for an entire week. I was at camps with my kids and really didn’t have access to anything online.
I dutifully set up my “out of office” messages in my two main email systems, knowing that anyone who sent me an email would have known that I would take a few days to get back to them. Unfortunately, I got a number of messages through LinkedIn’s messaging system… and those people didn’t get any message to let them know I was unavailable.
They just got radio silence. Sounds an awful lot like being ignored. Or that I don’t care to respond.
LinkedIn is cool, for sure. But it’s not the only tool you should use. Use email, or the phone, but don’t solely message people through LinkedIn.
If you don’t know someone’s email address, GET IT. If you have it, USE IT.
The other reason I suggest you don’t use LinkedIn for primary or important messaging (if you aren’t doing important messaging, don’t send the message!) is because messages from LinkedIn don’t get in front of me very often. A while back Google (Gmail) decided they needed to sift my email into three groups (they could have just named tabs 2 and 3 SPAM, right?):
Guess where I spend most of my time?
The “Primary” box.
Guess where your LinkedIn message goes?
NOT the “Primary” box.
Don’t use Gmail, so that’s not an issue? I suggest you check out your spam or junk folder, and see how many LinkedIn messages are in there. That should be proof enough that you shouldn’t depend on LinkedIn for sending messages.
Want to get on my radar? EMAIL ME directly.
Sending me a message through LinkedIn is a gamble.
This question comes up all the time when I do presentations on LinkedIn. There are a few different options, depending on the message you want to give (“I need your help…!” OR “I have expertise in this, and oh yeah, I might be open to looking at other opportunities” and everything in-between).
Recently I was talking to Nick Jenkins, a senior operations manager based out of Austin, Texas. Nick has deep experience with the telecom industry but, as we were talking, he was explaining his passion to move to a few other industries (still within technology), including mobile stuff, cloud computing, etc. Nick likes being in the leading edge tech space, which is what he navigated over the last 15 years in telecom.
As we were talking I had a thought: Your LinkedIn profile tells me you are actively looking, but nothing in your profile tells me you are not married to the telecom industry. In fact, everything there indicates you kind of want to stay there. What if you let me know you are open to non-telecom stuff?
I shared this idea with Nick and here’s what he changed to clarify his position (being available for new opportunities, and what he is open to). I think this is the best way to communicate this stuff.
First, the Professional Headline. Nick’s main message here is “I’m a professional! Here are my passions and what I bring to the table!” Instead of focusing on “I’m looking for new work,” which is NOT his brand, he focuses on what he wants you to think of when you think about him.
Next, the Current Title. He makes it very clear that he is actively looking.
Now, when I got on the phone with him, this was all that he had done. I listened to what he was looking for, and open to, and then I compared that with his profile… and therein was the problem: Without having a conversation with him to know he was looking for a career even outside of telecom (or inside of telecom, but not limited to telecom), you probably wouldn’t know that he was open to it. I suggested that he use the job experience are and tell people more about what he is looking for. His summary is the typical “here are my strengths,”… but nowhere did he say “I’m open to non-telecom opportunities.”
The takeaway for me was that I assumed, based on his profile, something that was wrong. After talking with him I understood more, and I encouraged him to share that on his Profile (to remove bad assumptions).
I challenge you to state what you do or want to do, and then read through your profile and see if they are aligned.