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The Sophisticated User’s Guide To LinkedIn

1. What’s my ‘Public LinkedIn profile’?

Your Public LinkedIn profile is what people see when they search for you on Google (and other search engines) and they’re not logged into LinkedIn. LinkedIn lets you decide how much of your LinkedIn info you want to share in your 1 page Google version. I’ve opted to share absolutely everything because I’m going to make it as easy as possible for folks to find me and read my LinkedIn stuff. I recommend you do the same.

2. Should I add my birthday to my LinkedIn profile?

No. You are providing personal information which is irrelevant to your professional objectives/success on LinkedIn. Someone knows your birthday and gets an additional data point on you and your online accounts. See #8 below. 

3. How important is my Headline?

Extremely important. It’s not just your Headline, it’s also your calling card. When you are active on the LinkedIn commons i.e commenting on a post or listed on it as a group member or in a search result, there are only 3 identifiers that people see:

  1. Your Photo
  2. Your Name
  3. Your Headline

Would your current Headline persuade readers of that post/viewers of that list to click on your profile to find out more about you? If the answer is “I don’t know” or “No” you may be in need of a change. I’m a devotee of the ‘slogan’ headline because if done well, this kind of headline captures attention and builds profile traffic. I know this because people who contact me often mention my Headline. I wrote about the 3 different kinds of LinkedIn Headlines here: What Are You Doing With Your LinkedIn Headline?

4. Can I just copy ‘n’ paste my CV on LinkedIn?

You can. I recommend you copy and paste the relevant text from your CV to the Experience section of your profile, it’s a good way to get started, you can then tweak and perfect each entry, adding bullets for those data supported achievements, telling the reader not about the organization but what you specifically did while you were there. You should never copy and paste anything from your CV to the Summary section though since this key area of your profile is your only chance to engage, tell your professional story and spur action. You have to satisfy the busy speed reader here and entice them to scroll down and find out more about you. Copying and pasting that yawn inducing, mind numbingly boring CV summary (if you have one) would be easy, but it would also be a mistake. I would advise against adding your CV as Rich Media on your profile, because technically it’s not ‘rich’ and you’d probably want to update/customize it before giving it to a decision maker, right?

5. Is it possible to know when I connected with someone?

Yes, on their profile, click on ‘See contact info’ and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see the exact date you ‘Connected’ with that person. I think it would be awesome to have a reminder of who sent who the connection request to whom but just knowing the date is helpful, kinda. It’s also possible to find the date you joined LinkedIn. Click on ‘Me’, ‘Settings & Privacy’ and you’ll see ‘Member since [Month Day, Year]’. Now you can celebrate your LinkedIn Birthday, no – that’s not and hopefully will never be a thing.

6. Why is my Home feed full of irrelevant crap?

Because you didn’t train it and because you connected with a lot of random people. You can teach your Home feed to serve more relevant content (by hiding, unfollowing, improving your feed) but if you’ve got a large network that would take years off your life. And even if you took the time to do this, you’d still have to contend with other stuff you don’t want to see (‘Promoted’ LinkedIn ads).

My advice is to ignore the Home tab and focus on Notifications instead. LinkedIn have begun to introduce a bunch of different actionable notifications which can be fine-tuned (click on the small three dots) helpfully providing a short cut to taking action (click on the blue box).

My hope is that LinkedIn changes the Home feed to a mix of data rich insights (for example: viewer composition/relative content performance etc.) which will do more to attract the casual user, because I personally don’t want to see ads anywhere else on LinkedIn.

7. How do I find out if someone has blocked me?

If you know for sure that someone is registered on LinkedIn and you can’t see them (you get this graphic when you search on their name).

You have been blocked. This simply means that you won’t be able to see their profile or their content and they won’t be able to see your profile/content. The only time you’ll be able to see their name is when you’ve been tagged along with them (in a post or in a group) and their name will be black (non-clickable) instead of blue (clickable).

8. Why are there fake LinkedIn profiles?

There are a number of different capers favored by criminals (and some totalitarian Governments) who love to lie/cheat on LinkedIn because it is a target-rich environment.

  1. Phishing – sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords, social security numbers and credit card numbers
  2. Spear phishing – sending emails ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce specific individuals to reveal confidential information
  3. Cat fishing – scammer spends a long time to build trust in an attempt to get money/other benefits, they are not who they say they are
  4. Profile hijack – your LinkedIn profile gets hacked, taken over because you had an easily cracked password, scammer then uses the profile as credible cover to ask victim’s network for money (the lost wallet while on vacation, please send money ploy) or as a recruiter trying to elicit key personal data to be sold on the dark web
  5. In-Mail virus – scammer sends an In-mail from a hacked/fake account which looks legit with a url link (shortened, so difficult to know what it is), you realize too late that the link downloaded a virus to your computer

See this post for how to spot fake LinkedIn profiles, with 3 real life examples (pictured below) 3 Stunningly Good LinkedIn FAKE Profiles

9. Is there a list of the people I’ve blocked on LinkedIn?

Yes. Don’t worry though, only you can see that list. Click on ‘Me’, then click on ‘Settings & Privacy’, select the ‘Privacy’ tab and click on ‘Blocking and hiding’. Click ‘Change’ next to ‘Blocking’ and you’ll be able to see the full list of people you are blocking currently. You can block a maximum of 1000 people at any one time. You’ll have to wait 48 hours before re-blocking the same user after unblocking. You can’t block anyone who is in the same LinkedIn group as you, so yes that’s a chore – having to leave, block and re-join a group just because Steve was an ass…

10. What happens if I ‘Ignore’ a connection request?

Nothing. The person who sent you the connection request won’t get notified that you clicked ‘Ignore’. They may assume this or think that you’re taking a long time to decide, if they don’t become connected with you long after sending the connection request. My preference is to accept or ignore as quickly as possible, that way the person who reached out to me and is successful will see that I am responsive/decisive. The only way to stop repetitive connection requests from the same person, is by blocking them.

There used to be an option to ‘Report’ a connection request which seemed unnecessarily punitive to me and this seems to have vanished. LinkedIn changes all the time (that’s mainly why I’ve never written a book) – but if it’s gone for good, I say good riddance Report option.

11. I’ve seen SSI mentioned on LinkedIn, users talk about their SSI score. What is SSI?

It’s the acronym for ‘Social Selling Index’, designed to get you thinking about your ongoing performance in 4 specific areas (brand, people, insights, relationships). LinkedIn believes that these 4 are critical when trying to fully leverage LinkedIn for selling products/services. I personally don’t spend any time at all tracking or worrying about my SSI, I’m more focused on adding value, helping others and being consistent on LinkedIn. Here’s a slightly deeper dive on SSI (how it evolved, how it’s perceived by some sales pros) What LinkedIn’s SSI (Social Selling Index) REALLY Measures

12. How many recommendations do I really need?

I’m so glad you said need, because that’s the crux of the matter as I see it. I think a good rule of thumb is to have 2 or 3 recommendations for each role you’ve held. Most of my clients have an average of 10 total. I simply don’t see the point in having an abundance of recommendations, I’ve seen people with hundreds! Giant freakin’ waste of time, they’ll never get read. Gilding the lily!

You should be aiming for high quality testimonials from senior professionals who are respected and well known in your industry. It used to be possible to move recommendations up or down as you saw fit but now they’re ordered by date added, so if you’re getting recs now, save your best two until last, ensuring that your strongest supporter statements are the most visible. When you ask an ex-colleague for a recommendation on LinkedIn, send them suggested text – not only does this make it easy for them and encourages a faster turnaround, but more importantly, you then get to shape your professional brand via your recommendation section. I recently featured 2 highly engaging recommendations which shone a bright light on the recommendation writer and the recommendee Two Stunningly Good LinkedIn Recommendations

13. I’ve recently noticed a new tab ‘interesting views’ appear in my viewer history page. What’s that?

Like a lot of new features on LinkedIn, they suddenly appear minus explanation. This is one of them. As far as I can tell, this is an attempt by LinkedIn to highlight certain profile browsers by category. The categories I’ve observed so far are:

  1. XX is a senior leader in your industry.
  2. XX is a senior leader in another industry.
  3. XX works at Y, a company you follow.

So few categories and I question the usefulness of putting some browsers in these buckets. So what if Fredrik is a senior leader in another industry? How does having this vague info help me? Also, I’ve come across one ‘senior leader’ (Rohan) who has clearly stated on his profile that he is an Intern, so the algorithm got it wrong. I’m connected with Sarah Johnston (who is an absolutely superb Job Search expert) but I’m not sure why she’s been highlighted in this tab, she teaches her clients how to use LinkedIn but she doesn’t work at LinkedIn .

Context is important on LinkedIn and it’s not as if there’s a lack of data! I’m hoping that users will get additional categories like ‘XX is highly endorsed for Y by your connections’ or ‘XX got Y engagement on his/her content recently’. In the meantime I’d encourage you to pay more attention to how people found you (via Homepage, LinkedIn Profile, My Network, Messaging) since this shows which path your profile visitors have chosen to get to you and crucially – which of your activities are generating the most profile views.

14. What is a ‘customized LinkedIn url’?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/linkedinsights is my customized LinkedIn url, it used to be something like this https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyfoote03p18v49. Customizing your url is a smart marketing move since you’re branding the clunky LinkedIn-provided url and making it yours. You should put it to good use by adding it anywhere it will get clicks (email signature, blog, other social media platforms etc.). If someone already grabbed your customized url name, don’t just add a number (www.linkedin.com/in/jimbeam04) Why? Because adding a number just tells everyone that you were too late and can’t be bothered to find a creative version. You could for example use www.linkedin.com/in/mrjimbeam or www.linkedin.com/in/thejimbeam or www.linkedin.com/in/jimxbeam, you get the idea.

15. What are ‘Search appearances’?

Every week LinkedIn will provide a summary to premium members via notification saying ‘You appeared in XXX searches this week’. If you click on that notification you’ll be taken to a summary of those stats listing where some of your searchers work, what some of them do (job title) and some of the keywords used to find you.

This information is of limited value in my opinion because it fails to tell you why those searches were made and therefore doesn’t help you with your LinkedIn strategy going forward.

The weakest part of the viewer analysis for my profile has consistently been keywords (not shown below). Unfortunately LinkedIn has failed to provide me with information I can learn from or use. As I said before (#13), the missing ingredient necessary to make sense of our profile keyword data is context. This is why you don’t see me writing about optimizing your LinkedIn profile for keywords; there simply isn’t enough contextual data at the moment to leverage keyword search techniques on LinkedIn.

16. Who are the best LinkedIn trainers out there?

You mean apart from me? There are many LinkedIn practitioners who know the LinkedIn platform inside out, keep up to date with the constant changes and delight their clients. But if I list the folks who I rate highly, I’ll be sure to miss a bunch of respected consultants who I personally don’t know.

I’ll change the question and hopefully get the same result: What are the hallmarks of a great LinkedIn trainer?

I’d look for someone who’s been doing it for years rather than months. I’d pay close attention to their All activity section, especially the engagement they’re getting on their content (articles and posts) and the stuff they’ve curated. Having a large network with low engagement on their content ought to be a red flag, it suggests they connect with anyone and everyone but don’t have an actual following. Look at the content they produce; are they pushing out self promotional garbage or consistently providing value/insights and generating interesting/dynamic brand centric, professional, relevant discussion? Do they have a blog/website? Are you impressed by their global online presence (LinkedIn, blog, facebook, twitter etc.).

Look for signs of breadth and depth on the LinkedIn platform. For example, I run and currently manage 12 LinkedIn Groups with 36,000+ members and I wrote an article about LinkedIn summaries in 2013 which has been read by 2.8m people. Don’t just look at how they brand themselves, look at what they’ve achieved and how they’ve done it. Ask to see who they helped (and look at their Recommendations for client testimonials) and look at those profiles, this will give you an outsider’s glimpse of how that trainer writes, thinks and presents his/her clients on LinkedIn.

17. Why can I send some users and not others, free InMails?

Some premium users switched on the OpenLink (now called Open Profile) feature on their profile which in effect means that any user can send InMails to them for free. LinkedIn used to allow members to advertise that they had OpenLink by displaying the OpenLink symbol on their profile. These days no one knows you have enabled free InMail messaging via Open Profile until someone tries to send you an InMail and they’re then told it’s free. I think LinkedIn should allow Open Profile members to once again easily advertise (as they once could) the fact that they have opened their door to (free) communication via InMail.

18. What’s the best way to get engagement on my posts?

I think the short answer as far as engagement is concerned is to find topics which are (a) widely relevant and (b) opinion trawlers. Before you write a post ask yourself if lots of people on LinkedIn will be interested in reading it (does it have intrinsic content value?) and crucially – whether it will spur discussion from some of those readers. A high value post that is read in silence, with little to no engagement will not be distributed by the LinkedIn algorithm. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking a (good) question. It’s imperative that you persuade the reader to click on and read your post. A technique I and many other authors use is to write posts with an opening 2 line hook, here’s an example. 

A word of caution, don’t just write for the chattering classes. It’s nice to get engagement around a popular topic of the day but how are you adding value? If all you’re doing week after week is acting as a lightning rod for vociferous water cooler discussions, how does that help/advance your brand? Being the moderator on LinkedIn, isn’t as valuable as being on the panel.

Also, don’t get too hung up on views, they’re not that useful or relevant. They’re impressions, not clicks – so your post may have been one of many scrolled by and not read in the home feed. I pay very close attention to comments, because the only thing that truly matters on LinkedIn is and aways will be, authentic engagement and building relationships.

19. Should I ever have anything other than my photo as my picture?

No. Apart from breaking the LinkedIn User Agreement, you won’t get taken seriously. LinkedIn users expect to see your face. Not a logo, not a dog, not a cartoon character, not your wife and kids, not a celeb. It should be your likeness. Litmus test: would someone recognize you by looking at your LinkedIn pic, when you walk in the room?

20. What’s the best connection strategy?

I look for commonalities, for example connecting with people in my city, the same profession, same LinkedIn group or with folks who share a similar background/function to me. But there’s also a strong urge to connect with other LinkedIn members who prima facie apparently don’t have anything in common mainly because if you don’t connect, you could miss out or close a door on opportunity (a good example of this kind of ‘fomo’ for most LinkedIn users would be a connection request from a recruiter). I think many people are building their networks in this way and it results in having a ‘telephone directory’ rather than a ‘rolodex’ of LinkedIn contacts. I’ve amassed over 8,000 1st Degree connections and I only stay in touch with a handful. LinkedIn networks top out at 30,000, so after you reach that ceiling, you can only add people as followers (see #34).

But having a large extended network can be useful, for example, I recently reached out to 18 Kiwi connections (who I really didn’t know) to ask them to help a job-hunting friend who had recently moved from Chicago to Auckland. 5 responded within the day and suggested 3 additional people (not in my network) who were both local to my friend and highly relevant to her job search. So the large, ever-expanding network of networks can certainly provide advantages/benefits on LinkedIn. I wrote about connection strategy in I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS On LinkedIn, my view on LIONS has not changed (see #39). Don’t do this folks.

21. How much time should I be spending on LinkedIn?

Well technically it’s ‘in’ LinkedIn, that’s why it’s called Linked..In but I’m splitting hairs. Time spent on the platform varies from user to user. There’s a widely held perception that there are fundamentally 2 types of user, one ‘light’, one ‘heavy’. In 2014, Forbes found that over 50% of LinkedIn users spent more than 2 hours per month, 26% spent between 3 and 4 hours on the site every month, and 11.8% spent more than eight hours on the site every month. So you’re either checking your profile once a week for a few minutes, nosing around other profiles, maybe making new connections. Or you’re on LinkedIn daily interacting with people/brands, commenting on articles/posts/industry news, and aggressively building a network. I expect whether you are a light/medium/heavy user has a lot to do with your job satisfaction, career prospects/trajectory.

This is my LinkedIn morning routine:

(1) Check & respond to messages (3 mins)
(2) Check & respond to notifications (5 mins)
(3) Check & browse interesting profile visitors (3 mins)
(4) Quick scroll of Home feed (1 min)
(5) Comment on & like relevant/interesting content (5 mins)

That’s what I typically do before I tackle my daily work to-do list.

22. Is my picture OK?

The mere fact that you have to ask probably means that you suspect it is not the best representation of your likeness. So if you threw it on thinking, this will do, it probably won’t. Go with a professional headshot or a high quality, properly illuminated picture of your face which actually looks like you today and use LinkedIn’s built in photo tools to get rid of anything unflattering, weird or distracting.

Your face should almost fill the circle, because you want people to recognize you in even the smallest version.

Don’t bother trying to squeeze the company logo in the background, there’s not enough space. White is the best possible background because it makes people focus on your face and white goes well with LinkedIn’s color palette. There are sites which promise to crowdsource opinions (Photofeeler) or apply machine learning to your pic (Snappr) but separating you from your money is the true objective, so don’t waste your money or time. If you can’t decide or just need a 2nd opinion ask your friends for their trusted/honest feedback. I’ve seen some terrible headshots on LinkedIn over the years, but here are some of the best: https://www.linkedinsights.com/5-stunningly-good-linkedin-headshots/

23. I have a duplicate account. What should I do?

You can merge both/multiple accounts by going to Settings and merging. Merging dupe/multiple accounts identified with your name ought to be a priority though. When people search for you and find multiple accounts, apart from making it more difficult to find you, what impression does that give?

24. What is ‘People Also Viewed’?

PAV is a weird but prominently placed list displayed on the right of your profile comprised of 10 sometimes seemingly random people that have looked at you (maybe) or looked at other people similar to you (huh?), or have not looked at you at all (seriously?).

LinkedIn wants you to (a) spend as much time on the site as possible and (b) bump into (browse) as many people as possible. PAV is part of that strategy. Because you don’t have any control over who appears in PAV and because it changes often and because clearly, PAV is a great way to steer folks away from your page as fast as possible, I tell my clients to turn off PAV. Most users don’t even realize that it is possible to switch it off.

Of course, I don’t mind at all when I appear in somebody else’s PAV 🙂

25. Should I only connect with people I know?

No. Though the LinkedIn User Agreement (8.2.g) states “You agree that you will not: Invite people you do not know to join your network” everyone knows this is both unenforceable and contrary to a major premise of LinkedIn. The big selling point of LinkedIn is the ability to grow yourself a network by connecting virtually with people you have not met and you don’t know, yet. Only connecting with people you know in real life is the equivalent of building an imaginary wall around your profile and ignoring all of the engagement and information sharing going on around you. Or you could just join MySpace.

26. Should I always switch off notifications when I make changes to my profile?

No. This is an imaginary salve. Concocted by a LinkedIn marketer to make you think you’re always broadcasting and your network is glued 24/7 to your every update. It simply isn’t so. Don’t worry about switching it off when making changes. Have you ever seen a notification giving you a heads up that someone in your network had changed x on their profile? Me neither. Don’t believe the hype.

27. What is anonymous browsing? Sounds creepy…

Something you do when no one’s watching. There will be times when you don’t want someone to know that you peeked at their profile. The only way to do this is to go into Settings and change your browsing status to anonymous (or as LinkedIn calls it ‘Private mode’). You should be aware that when you switch to private mode and you are not paying for premium membership, LinkedIn penalizes you by not showing who visited you while you were wearing that mask of anonymity. So don’t forget to switch back after you’ve finished snooping.

There’s also a setting ‘Private profile characteristics’ which will only show ‘Someone at [employer/educational institution].

I don’t get it, if you’re going to wear the mask of anonymity when browsing on LinkedIn, do that – but what’s the point of teasing with the ‘Someone at…’ designation? You won’t get browsed back. It’s a bit of a head scratcher. When I tell clients that they’re semi-private, they confess that they didn’t know or forgot that they chose this (anti-social) setting.

28. Can I make my LinkedIn profile private?

No. Understand that you are the product. Your data is valuable. Hiding that data is not in LinkedIn’s interest. Sure, you can try to hide by inserting ‘Private Company’ or ’Stealth Startup’ instead of naming your employer, or you can call yourself ‘Jane D’ to disguise your identity. But doing this would mean that you don’t benefit from being found and being invisible/hidden on an engagement rich professional discovery site like LinkedIn doesn’t make much sense.

29. Should I hide my network from people I’m connected with?

No. Part of my connection request communicates that we’ll be connecting directly but that I’m also providing access to my network. I think that’s the right thing to do and I hope the open/shared networks approach is reciprocated. When my clients talk about keeping their network hidden from their connections, they’re usually worried about competitors seeing who they know. If that’s the issue, simply don’t connect with your competition in the first place.

30. Should I prune my network to get rid of dead wood?

No. I had this debate last year with a fellow LinkedIn trainer, he was a proponent of the prune. He advises his clients to periodically go through their connections and disconnect from people they felt were no longer worthy of connection status. Who has the time to do this? I say disconnect when someone gives you a reason to. Reducing the size of your network for no apparent reason seems anal, shortsighted and willy nilly. Spend your valuable time doing stuff which engages, builds your profile/network and shines a light on your professional strengths and abilities.

31. Someone is harassing me on LinkedIn. What can I do?

Block ‘em. You can block up to 1000 people on LinkedIn. Don’t worry about them seeing you when you go to their profile to block, LinkedIn will wipe all traces of your visit. When you block someone, the effect is 2-way; they won’t see you or anything produced by you and you won’t see them or their digital dust. To block a LinkedIn member, go to their profile on your computer. Click the three dots located to the right of their profile picture. This will open a menu where you can choose to block or report them. Choose ‘Block’ and you’re done. You can see/manage everyone you’re currently blocking in your settings panel.

32. Should I publish on LinkedIn?

Yes. I’m a big fan of publishing on LinkedIn, even though there’s an algorithm which analyzes then throttles the distribution of your content….

Even though you’re writing on ‘rented land’, publishing on LinkedIn still has major upsides. By writing about what you know, think or feel, you’re painting a multi dimensional portrait and seeding engagement. People may dig what you write or disagree with your views but the advantages of producing original content on the largest professional forum in the world far outweigh any disadvantages. Writing articles or posts on LinkedIn is still a great way to build your profile, find your tribe and influence others. I advise my clients to flex their intellectual/wordsmith muscles – get writing. My early stuff was painfully bad, I promise you will get better. If you need to get better fast, I can help.

33. What’s the difference between articles and posts?

LinkedIn publisher articles can be up to 40,000 characters. LinkedIn posts max out at 1300 characters. When LinkedIn launched publisher (2015) and let everyone write articles, views were driven by notifications which went to all of your network when ever you published. Authors loved this but LinkedIn worried about people getting frustrated by boatloads of notifications. So instead of fine tuning notifications (which came much later) LinkedIn inserted an algorithm which meant that a tiny proportion (2-5%) of your network was notified when you published. Authors naturally hated this and (many) stopped writing. These days the preferred mode of publishing is via posts. It’s the twitterization of LinkedIn publishing, with slightly more characters. Don’t get excited about all those views, they don’t mean much. Every refresh of the home page where your updates are shown counts as a view, including your own.

To write a post go to the top of your Home Page, click on ‘Start a post’. You can edit your post (but not an image or video) after it has been published. Don’t forget to engage with your audience via comments and thank everyone who shares your post by commenting on the shared content.

34. What are ‘Followers’?

Hangers on. Followers dig what you have written or like the cut of your jib on LinkedIn. Following someone on LinkedIn does not automatically mean that they will get notified when the person being followed writes/shares their content though (that would be too logical, right?).

The algo shows your content to a tiny random sample of your connections and followers and looks for signals that your content is appreciated. If these folks respond well to your content the algo shows a slightly larger sample your content and keeps looking for engagement, repeats the test with successively larger groups of people until LinkedIn Editors flip the kill switch or boost your content (see #60).

Followers were born after LinkedIn publisher launched (Feb 2014) in an effort to encourage budding authors to think of their network as a built-in audience for their content. When you connect with someone you automatically follow them too. Everyone who follows you is potentially interested in connecting with you. Ask them!

35. How much space do I have in my Headline/Summary?

120 characters (headline) 2000 characters (summary). You can (currently) get approx. 220 characters if you edit your headline on the mobile app.

Don’t feel you have to use all 2,000 characters for your summary. Here’s a link to 4 ‘stunningly good’ LinkedIn summaries, four ordinary LinkedIn users who do an extraordinary job of describing what they’re all about via their summary https://www.linkedinsights.com/4-stunningly-good-linkedin-summaries/

The aforementioned article features one of the best summaries I’ve ever seen. Very, very well done Eleni.

A comprehensive list of all maximum character counts for LinkedIn text fields and image sizes https://www.linkedinsights.com/maximum-linkedin-character-counts-and-image-sizes-for-2019/

36. What is ‘Rich Media’?

Rich Media is an opportunity to make a potentially boring, text heavy LinkedIn profile “pop” with multimedia (video, audio, slides etc.). I have 3 rules when it comes to adding RM to a profile:

(1) It ought to be relevant to the section that you add it to
(2) you should ensure that the image is compelling (click worthy) and
(3) don’t truncate the title, describe the media properly

The temptation is to cram as many RM in as possible, like this:

Or just add two:

I think those descriptions are pretty important, so less is more. The most common mistake I see with RM is tiny text and boring visuals. Often it’s a tiny fugly resume. If LinkedIn gave users analytics on how often RM were clicked, we’d all have a better understanding but for now take my advice, make it visually appealing and give it a good/relevant title that can be easily read/understood.

37. What is the ‘Home Page’?

It’s the main page where you can see your home feed – a long, endlessly scrolling list of content shared by other LinkedIn users from a variety of sources: 1st degree connections, posts from people you’re not connected with and sponsored company crap. It’s also the place where you create your content (Start a post / Write an article). You’ll also see a variety of data on the left relevant to you: # of people who have viewed your profile (monthly) and # of people who have viewed your latest post/article, viewed your company page along with your groups and hashtags followed.

38. Are Endorsements important?

Kind of. Endorsements are the equivalent of a professional thumbs up for a particular skill listed on your profile. People endorse other people for a variety of reasons, often it’s just an engagement tactic or it’s reciprocal. A plethora of endorsements simply means that the endorsee has a social network that is supportive. Endorsements are a very loose form of professional feedback. Recruiters tend to give more weight and credence to actual work testimonials i.e. recommendations. Only ‘featured’ skills are initially visible on your profile, you should therefore ensure that your top 3 skills are core to what you do professionally. Yes, you can re-order your skills, move ’em up or down.

At the time of writing, LinkedIn is currently asking for additional data on skills when users are being browsed. They’re asking endorsers to refine the endorsement given by asking follow up questions (How good is Donna at Recruiting: Good, Very Good, Highly skilled) and then trying to qualify/weigh this response by whether you worked directly with or have indirect knowledge of the skill you’re endorsing. (Oh and Donna Svei is highly skilled at all things resume btw…).

This suggests to me that LinkedIn are in the process of trying to strengthen the skills section by cleaning the existing data and adding context. About time.

39. What are ‘L.I.O.N.S’?

Linkedin Open Networkers (LIONS) are LinkedIn users who are primarily focused on growing the largest possible network. Their connection strategy has no strategy beyond connecting with anyone and everyone.

While there are clear advantages to having a large rather than a small network on LinkedIn (see #56), you could have all of the advantages and none of the negatives of an open network strategy by not advertising your LION/Open Networker status.

I won’t connect with a LION because I prefer to connect with people who have carefully and methodically built their circle of trust. Connecting with LIONS weakens my carefully built network and potentially exposes people within it to random/bothersome connection requests and spam. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140723144206-31946332-the-problem-with-lions

40. What is an ‘All Star’ profile?

It’s a carrot/vanity approach to encourage you to add some key information to your profile. There are currently 3 levels: Beginner, Intermediate and All Star.

You can reach All Star by providing: a photograph, headline, summary, work experience and 3 skills. Only you can see your (LinkedIn profile completion) status.

41. Are LinkedIn groups worth my time?

Yes. LinkedIn groups are fundamentally 2 things: databases and communities. You can join up to 100 groups. Why wouldn’t you want access to as many different databases as possible? The trick is finding groups (communities) which have kept spam at bay, have great dialogue and supportive/active participants. Over 2m to choose from. Groups are a great way to find kindred spirits, market yourself and conduct research on people, issues and organizations.

LinkedIn have tried many different initiatives over the years to improve the LinkedIn groups ‘product’. The fact is that groups are not a revenue earning part of the business so until that changes, they will never be a priority. I continue to be bullish on groups because they’ve been around for so long and technology could change the current group landscape for the better. Two good examples of this are the recent introduction of ‘LinkedIn live’ video streaming and the half baked ‘Find nearby’ radar type feature on mobile.

42. What is the ‘Commercial use limit’?

It’s LinkedIn blurring search results then nagging you to upgrade to premium after you’ve exhausted a set limit of searches. My limit is 300 profile searches per month, it’s geared to the type of premium package you have. You have 4 choices when you hit that limit: upgrade, stop searching until your limit resets, continue searching via the mobile app, or via a dupe/test profile.

43. Is LinkedIn Premium worth the money?

Yes. The Career premium plan (formerly ‘Job Seeker’), is worth the money and it’s the cheapest premium plan at $29.99 p/m (only you can see the type of plan that you have) and it’s the one I recommend to all of my clients. Career provides the most value in terms of features that everyone, regardless of what they want to get out of LinkedIn, will benefit from.

One of the features I use daily is ‘Who Viewed your Profile’ which allows me to see all of the folks who have looked at my profile listed by most recent, going back 90 days. Knowing who’s looked at my profile is an essential part of my networking strategy. Without it, I’m flying blind. How can you engage with someone if you don’t even see them coming into your store?

There are a handful of other features included with Career (3 InMails/4 Premium search filters / 300 profiles per search /5 saved searches per month) that I would categorize as ‘nice to have’ rather than crucial. I don’t have any information on how useful or effective being a ‘Featured Applicant’ is.

You can try any of the premium packages out for a month, for free.

Career (Job Seeker): $29.99* per month (*when billed annually)
Business (Business Plus): $47.99* per month
Sales Navigator: $64.99* per month
Hiring (Recruiter Lite): $99.95* per month

44. Can I withdraw a connection request?

Yes. Click on ‘My Network’ and click on ‘Manage all’, click on ‘Sent’ and then click on ‘Withdraw’. Withdrawing prior sent invitation requests is smart because you add them back to your allocated connection request pool (it is generally thought that you have between 3,000 to 5,000 connection requests that you can send).

45. What are ‘InMails’?

If you have LinkedIn premium membership you’ll get an allowance of InMails. These are messages you can send within LinkedIn to people you are not connected with. In an effort to reduce misuse of InMail, LinkedIn introduced a credit system (Jan 2015) which essentially rewards people who use InMail properly; you get an InMail credit for every InMail message that receives a response within 90 days of the send date. A reply or a “not interested” response both result in a credit.

46. What section should I focus on to quickly learn about someone?

Pound for pound the Activity section can be a goldmine of useful/interesting information, if you’re trying to get a read on someone quickly (and they’re active on LinkedIn).

My recommendation would be to look at their articles, posts and all activity in that order. Look at the content they’re producing and curating, look at what they’re liking, sharing and commenting on. This is a great way to gain insight on an individual who is active on LinkedIn, this kind of detail/background can give you a real edge in virtual and real life interactions.

47. What is ‘tagging’?

Tagging (or mentioning) is a way to bring another LinkedIn user into a discussion by adding @ and typing their name.

Sometimes, when you type someone’s name and you’re not connected (1st degree) or don’t have connections in common (2nd degree), they don’t appear in the tagging menu. So annoying! Try this: after you’ve typed their name, start to type something that is obvious about the person’s brand/profile (a key identifier, like Employer). For example, Elizabeth Ward was not appearing in the menu but when I started to type ‘Vi’ as in ‘Virtuoso Legal‘ after her name, LinkedIn presented her immediately in the tag search. Yay!

If the person you’ve tagged doesn’t engage or worse, untags his/her name, take that as a hint going forward, don’t be a tag pest.

When you’re tagged in a comment, you’ve actually got 2 ways to respond, if you click on the little reply box, your comment will be nested…

but if you start a brand new comment…

… you’ll gain more visibility in the discussion thread and the post author may benefit – if the algo prefers stand-alone over nested comments, just guessing here folks.

LinkedIn recently introduced a ‘See translation’ option for some non-English language comments, which is sehr cool. My advice would be to use google translate to respond to the commenter in their own language, which in my experience is always appreciated!

48. Can I remove Recommendations?

Yes. Go into your Recommendations section, click on the blue ‘edit’ pencil and click on ‘Given’, then click on ‘Delete’. You can also Revise it and adjust settings for who can see it (Public, your connections, only you).

The recommended person can’t delete a recommendation he/she has received but they can show/hide recommendations and ask for a revision. Don’t forget to click ‘save’ whenever you make any changes to your LinkedIn profile 🙂

49. Why does LinkedIn order connections by 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree?

Mainly to get users thinking about concepts like proximity, reach and connectivity. They really want us to think about the possibility of somehow benefiting from not so distant strangers. Using degrees of connection (instead of separation) helps LinkedIn to emphasize the potential of networking, discovery and connecting on LinkedIn. There are 3 types of connection on LinkedIn and only one of them is an actual connection. 1st degree are actual connections of yours. 2nd degree means someone you’re directly connected to is connected with that person. 3rd degree connections don’t have any mutual connections in the 2nd degree group.

50. What is that big blue space at the top of my profile?

It’s called a Header, also know as a banner/hero image. Caps the top of your profile page and is a prime swath of screen real estate which you should customize to hint or show what you do professionally.

Adding a city skyline, pretty flowers or yachts may look pleasing to you but if you’re not an architect, florist or sailor you’re missing out on a major branding opportunity.

Boston, I think. Looks nice – but doesn’t tell me anything about what this dude does for a living.

A mistake I see often: people adding text to their banner without accounting for the fact that the circle with your face is smack bang in the middle of your banner on the mobile version of your profile. This is why my logo is on the right of my banner leaving plenty of room for the small screen version/placement.

In this article I show how 9 LinkedIn Influencers have utilized their Headers over time: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-do-influencers-use-linkedin-header-andy-foote

51. What is a ‘Company Page’?

It’s a profile page for companies where they can advertise products, services and job openings. Company pages can be followed and visitor traffic to the page can be analyzed and content can be sponsored. Showcase pages are mini Company pages attached to the main page which can be utilized to present specific products or services, campaigns or initiatives etc. When you see a grey logo on someone’s Experience section, it’s because the organization they worked for doesn’t have a Company page on LinkedIn (or the user added the org name incorrectly).

52. Can someone delete my comment?

Yes. If you comment on an article or post and someone, not just the author of the article/post wants to, they can “report” it and it will vanish from the view of the person who reported it. LinkedIn will review the comment and decide whether it should be removed or not. When you report a comment, you have 4 potential reasons to report it (inappropriate, spam/scam/fake, from a hacked account or “something else”). The author can delete any comment he/she wants, without needing to report it.

53. Is it possible to download all of my LinkedIn contacts and their contact details?

Yes and no. LinkedIn offers an option to export an archive file of your data, which includes full name, email address, current employer, and position of all connections. Don’t expect every contact to have an email address though, LinkedIn quietly added a user setting at the end of 2018 which had the effect of removing most email addresses from the archive. The option to share email data with your connections is turned off in settings by default, Facebook stopped allowing their users to export friends email addresses in 2010. You can still get your connections emails but you have to do it one at a time by navigating to ‘See contact info’ at the top of their profile.

54. Should I use 3rd party software/bots to automate my LinkedIn account?

No. Too risky. If you’re caught using auto/bot software which does stuff like visiting other profiles automatically, you could be banned from LinkedIn for life. Some of the available auto tools will undoubtedly make your life easier and could supercharge your engagement/marketing efforts but I think the risk far outweighs the reward.

Here’s a no-no list of all of the 3rd party apps currently banned by LinkedIn (courtesy of Josef Kadlec):

55. Is there a way to find out if someone disconnects from me?

Yes. Browse their profile. If they are a 2nd degree connection and they used to be 1st, chances are they disconnected from you. It’s unlikely a ‘bug’ caused it, just saying. If you can’t seem to find them on LinkedIn, they blocked you or deleted their account. There used to be a cool app (Friend Check) which made it really easy to see if someone disconnected but it was rendered useless by LinkedIn’s stricter control of their API. Boooo.

56. Should I go for the largest possible network, or keep it small and cozy?

These days large social networks are becoming more commonplace. Most people understand that the bigger your net, the more fish you’ll catch.

Reid Hoffmann, Co-founder of LinkedIn has a “small gifts” approach when building his network; he tries to do something nice for each connection (i.e giving advice or an intro) and doesn’t expect anything in return but he thinks there are big payoffs over the longer term by adhering to this altruistic and nurturing technique.

Clearly, the larger your network, the more difficult it is to try to do something nice/helpful for everyone consistently. I think there’s another approach which has the best of both worlds; help when asked but keep on expanding your list of connections on a just-in-case basis. One of the reasons we join LinkedIn is for the unparalleled access to fellow professionals all over the world and the ability to conduct unlimited research on current and relevant data. There’s some interesting research by British sociologist Robin Dunbar (Dunbar’s Number) who reckons we can only keep friends with 150 people. I think he’s onto to something.

57. Should I connect with recruiters?

Yes. I never understood any reluctance/hesitation to connect with recruiters. They could approach you with options or they could do the same for your connections. So where is the harm? So what if they want to nosy around your network, doesn’t hurt you at all, could help you (or your connections) in a big, career-changing way.

58. What are ‘Introductions’ and how do they work on LinkedIn?

Introductions are what friends do for each other on LinkedIn. Making a formal introduction to someone in your network is like a mini conference, good for engagement, mutual support and network cohesion. The main reason I continue to build a ginormous network on LinkedIn is so that I can help my clients by introducing them to people who could open doors and positively impact their lives. Just add the names of the folks you want to introduce to each other in the top of the LinkedIn message box, write a short intro/explainer and then let the magic begin.

59. What should I measure on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn would love you to focus on views, which I’ve already cautioned against (#18). Views on content rack up quickly but are hard to analyze and are almost meaningless. Views on (visits to) your profile page are still fundamentally a vanity metric but at least you can see who browsed you (if they’re not in private or semi-private mode, grrrr). I’ve found that my two main drivers of profile visits are (1) content creation/engagement and (2) browsing. Visitors to my profile peak when I comment on content or when I browse other users.

I’m obsessed with comments. Not likes, not shares but actual conversations with my fellow LinkedIn peeps. I think this is the only ‘stat’ worth measuring on LinkedIn. Why? Because whatever you’re trying to get out of, or from LinkedIn, relationships are obviously key. If enough people like what you say, you’ll get top billing in the discussion thread:

My goal is to always make the most valuable contribution but I’d be lying if I told you that getting the most likes and being crowned as the writer of the ‘Top Comment’ (the default view) does nothing for my ego. Pretty sure it helps with name recognition and my business pipeline too.

60. Help! I trained my feed and it’s still full of irrelevant crap.

Because, silly, the algo is just a device to funnel all LinkedIn content to a small omnipotent committee (50+ people) who are known as <cue mildly threatening music> the LinkedIn Editors (see flowchart diagram at #32). They choose the hits and they feed your feed.

I am resigned to the fact, and have been for a while, that my content will likely never reach hundreds of thousands of people on LinkedIn, not because it’s not good enough – but because LinkedIn Editors will decide… that it’s not good enough.

These 50+ people have the power to decide what goes viral on LinkedIn. Oleg and Hyacinth? They made those guys famous. They ultimately decide:

(1) What your entire network gets to see (connections and followers)
(2) What a select proportion of LinkedIn gets to see
(3) Which content gets shown in your Home feed

On google, getting on the first page (viral) is entirely algorithmic. On LinkedIn, going viral is entirely decided by (these) humans.

So where do they hang out?

https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/linkedin-editors/about/
https://www.facebook.com/LinkedInEditors/
https://twitter.com/linkedineditors

61. What are Reactions?

They’re a new way to express how you really feel about content on LinkedIn.

Personally, I’ll most likely be clicking the lightbulb (‘insightful’) from now on, since that’s totally my brand. I think the purple fella (‘curious’) is kinda passive aggressive borderline trolling, but I’m probably reading too much into it. I think the designers totally ripped off Keith Haring btw

62. How do I deal with trolls?

Delete their comment and then block them. If a discussion turns heated, don’t get sucked in, don’t respond with that witty put down – just go somewhere else, walk away and cool off. You can do real damage to your professional brand by going toe-to-toe with another professional in a public forum. There’s a crowd gathering on the virtual sidewalk, they are there but you can’t see them. They’re taking notes and they’re judging.

I wrote a short etiquette guide born of my long experience making and learning from my mistakes on LinkedIn 30 Eminently Sensible LinkedIn Etiquette Suggestions (2018)

63. What are Pods?

A pod is a group of people who join forces to try to boost content, usually their own, in an attempt to overcome or trick the LinkedIn algorithm into believing that since a lot of people seem to like a piece of content, it must be good and therefore worth distributing to more people.

I’ve run a couple of pods, mainly out of a pioneering sense of curiosity. I don’t think they’re a terribly effective way to get more eyeballs on LinkedIn content. I think LinkedIn data scientists are smarter than me when it comes to designing effective content tests, barriers, gates and springboards. The ultimate reason I closed my pod experiments was because I heard from a pod member that LinkedIn were investigating pods and when I asked LinkedIn whether I was breaking any rules by running and belonging to a pod, the answer was an explicit yes. I was told that pods were contravening 8.2.(q) of the User Agreement, prohibiting ‘gaming algorithms’. I’m not interested in counter arguments like “well how would they know that I’m in a pod?”. I’m interested in not fucking up my LinkedIn business.

64. LinkedIn Live, what’s that?

It is LinkedIn’s first attempt at live stream broadcasting currently in beta (pilot phase). You can apply here: Applying for Live Video Broadcasting

So far it’s a work in progress, costs money (you need special software to do it), you can’t see comments when you’re broadcasting (unless you’re on 2 separate devices) and the live feed is prone to freezing. I’m sure the kinks will eventually be ironed out. When you apply, LinkedIn treats your application like a complaint, which is odd.

65. Settings are confusing af Andy, got any advice?

Funny you should ask. In 2012 there were 38 settings you could change. By 2015 this had grown to 44 and last year there were 66. That’s 74% more settings than in 2012!

You could spend a lot of time tweaking settings to try and make LinkedIn do what you want. I put together a handy quick reference guide to help you whether you had 5 minutes or 20 minutes to tame the beast A Time Sensitive Guide To LinkedIn Settings

66. Do you have any advice for students on LinkedIn?

I think every career counselor in every university/college across the land should make it a priority to ensure that each student in their care has a decent summary on their LinkedIn profile. Regardless of how far away they are from graduation. Young adults on the cusp of their professional lives really ought to be thinking about marketing themselves sooner rather than later. The stakes are high. Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – as my Latin teacher would say – Harvest the day, give trust to the future as little as possible. Harvest the LinkedIn summary, today. Don’t leave it until tomorrow.

I spent a lot of time earlier this year looking for examples of students/grads who understood how to fully utilize the summary space. It was really tough to find great examples. I wrote about and featured 5 of them here 5 Stunningly Good Graduate Student LinkedIn Summary Examples

67. What is the ‘Highlights’ section?

LinkedIn recently changed up the order of how some sections are presented on LinkedIn. They moved up highlights and moved the summary down, and changed the name of your summary to ‘About’.

The main thing you should know is that the highlights section is something only your profile browser can see and you can (currently) only change the settings for your highlight section on mobile. To change your highlights, hop on to the mobile app, click on ‘View Profile’, scroll all the way down to ‘Reach out to [Your name] for and then click on the blue pencil icon. You’ll see 9 options in the next screen (you can choose a max of 3 interests). Click save and you’re done.

68. Can you give an example of a great connection request?

Yes. This one.

69. What do you think of emojis on LinkedIn?

Personally I don’t think using emojis or other symbols on your summary (or in your headline, next to your name etc). is good for your brand. But I’m an old fart and a purist who believes in the power and beauty of carefully chosen words, so maybe I’m biased? Having said that, one way to ensure that you’re not alienating old farts and other folks who may dislike or be turned off by emojis, is…. not to use ’em at all. Would you use them on your resume or your business card?

I do miss the ability to bold, underline, strike through and italicize text on LinkedIn, and though LinkedIn doesn’t have any built-in tools to change the look of your fonts, there are workarounds. I use these tools: Unicode Text Converter and Cool Fancy Text Generator to write posts like this:

70. I get way too many connection requests, is there a solution?

Luckily for you LinkedIn recently allowed users to switch from this:

to this….

And why is this a good thing? Well, for one it makes it a tad more difficult for people to connect with you, they can still connect but they’re gonna have to look for the connect option (in the More… menu).

Putting this tiny hurdle in place may also improve the caliber of your connectors. Secondly you don’t have to do a single thing when people follow you; you don’t have to accept/ignore, it’s perfect for busy people who are not on LinkedIn all day. Thirdly, your network count will still increase when people follow because LinkedIn insists on co-mingling connections and followers. Fourthly, think of followers as potential connections, think of having a Follow button as a sign that indicates that you’re kinda fussy/particular about how you build your network. LinkedIn previously only allowed Influencers to have the Follow button, now doesn’t that make you feel a wee bit special? To change to a Follow button go to Settings > Privacy > Blocking and hiding.

Wow. You read all of that….and you’re still reading? Clearly a glutton for punishment! A bonus for making it all the way through: my take on the LinkedIn algorithm (but please get up, stretch, get your blood pumping before you read it, ok?).

The LinkedIn Algorithm Explained In 25 Frequently Asked Questions

Need help with your LinkedIn game? I am currently accepting new clients: andy@linkedinsights.com