Social media and LinkedIn
If you are on a social media platform, you may interact with posts for one reason or another. Some platforms are mostly for personal stuff, others are for business. I’m going to focus primarily on a particular platform because I see the most egregious demonstrations of what I’m about to discuss.
I’m going to focus on LinkedIn, because on a bad day it’s High School For Business People. On a good day it is a platform to share, to market, to solve and to connect with others in business. Some may be potential clients while others are your peers, still others are those who would become your mentors.
What you and others should be doing
Let’s start with what you and others should be doing on LinkedIn. Besides the connecting with others, updating your profile, researching possible leads, etc etc there’s one other thing you should activiley be doing – posting updates. The updates should take the form of discussion starters, interesting updates about your business*, helpful info graphics that mostly originate from you, etc. So when your contacts make these kinds of updates I’m focusing on what you do next…
Participating and Reciprocating
You can thank my shower for that handy rhyming phrase. When others post things you should be doing three things – Participating, Reciprocating and Cheerleading.
Participating – This means you read though the actual post/update and join the conversation. If an article was posted, you actually read the article. If a point is being made directly, you read, absorb and understand what they are actually trying to say. Then you participate by commenting on it. Perhaps you had a similar experience? Perhaps you disagree with the article or its delivery? Perhaps you know how your contact would handle the point of the article. Let them know – make a clear, intelligible statement about it. Grunting a yes is not participating. If you want to grunt your affirmation you can use the like button – it’s the equivalent of a head nod or a smile.
By offering what you know – what you’ve experienced from your world – you are participating in the discussion. This kind of interaction is very satisfying to see because you get to see other perspectives and experiences. That’s very valuable in the kind of tehno tribal setting I’m talking about. And yes I just made that up. So now you’re participating in a discussion.
Reciprocating – At its core it just means giving back what you take, and that’s exactly what it amounts to. So if you are learning from others – following others and learning from them – make it a point to do the same for them and others. Share your knowledge, share your wisdom. Sometimes something is really obvious to you but not others, and because it’s so obvious you tend to undervalue it. And you don’t share. So share. Share things like how new tax law affect your business. Share how you were afraid to hire your first employee. Share how you stressed about your logo and experienced paralysis by analysis for almost a year. Stuff like that. You may have a particular flavor of things that you share, and that’s fine.
Cheerleading – This means you are, for the most part, just saying ‘hooray!” to something you read. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the following –
- You should observe an 80/20 rule with the three items: 80% participating and reciprocating, and 20% cheerleading (when done properly).
- Cheerleading conveys almost nothing to anyone but the poster. Would you gain anything from seeing a room full of people patting each other on the back? Wouldn’t it stand out if only once in a while you saw that? Because what happens when you see it all the time? It loses its meaning. If they post that 304 people are really great and the best, you will probably not consult them for referrals, because you no longer value their judgement and ability to discern the good from truly exceptional. Yes it’s great to see what you value when others value your opinion. yes it’s a lead in into a possible connection, but temper that with sparsity.
- Over using it causes you lose some of your status and validity.** If a person in your feed spends the vast majority of her interactions telling everyone how great they are, over and over again you start to a) wonder what they are really doing on LinkedIn and b) lose interest in their interactions. The latter will cause you to tune them out, and you may go so far as to unfollow them (but still stay connected).
- Over using this by those in your feed causes you to undervalue LinkedIn, because it’s just a bunch of noise. Happy-Happy-Everything’s-Great noise. If you undervalue it, you’ll come here less and you pay less attention to updates. You already do this to some degree already probably, as we are all constantly assessing the usefulness of a tool. Lucky there are these awesome helpful articles. That’s another thing – this article is not awesome. It doesn’t cause you to stare at it with awe. See below.
- Cheerleading usually includes sensational words like awesome, rock star, fantastic, unreal, unbelievable, perfect. If someone continues to call everyone a rock star then they probably don’t know what that means, the people aren’t really rock stars or by some incredible twist of time and space this person you know happens to know absolutely incredible people. They don’t. They really don’t. They don’t know 30 people like that. If they did they could take down a country in one night, or put mankind on Mars with sheer awesomeness. They can’t. Sorry.
So, keep the kudos and cheerleading down a bit to increase its value, your value and the overall value of LinkedIn. Increase the reciprocation to increase the value you provide to others. Increase the participation because it helps make the platform a better place for all.
And whatever you do don’t say “Great post Mark.” I dare ya.
* Yes they can be about you, but use it sparingly and make sure it’s not Facebook-esque update regarding your dinner, how much you love your wife (unless she’s your business partner, or inspired you to start your business, etc. And yes if you are a solopreneur you will more likely than not post updates that seem personal since you are ALL of your employees and the embodiment of your business
** If you want to learn more about status I have a card game and a book you should see.
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