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July 18, 2016

3 Ways to Change Conventional LinkedIn Thinking

Conventional career coaching wisdom, advice columns and more seem to agree. The mindset for most professionals and many people advising folks who are in career transition is the more you do on LinkedIn the better. Just like most cliches that mindset contains some truth and it seems okay and kind of mild. This thought process says the more posts, updates, connections, and generally shared information is good for your brand. My answer to that kind of thinking is a bland – maybe! Let’s just break down three LinkedIn conventions for closer study.

1. The More You Share the Better for Your Brand. Let me debunk this commonly shared knowledge with a set of questions that should be asked by anyone serious about their brand on LinkedIn. Why are you sharing information, advice, videos, articles, videos or updates? What purpose will these shares have on your connections or better stated your constituents. From this mindset quantity equals quality. Here are some more pertinent, baseline questions that you should ask before you go down the oversharing trail. Are you in career transition? Are you trying to maintain a clear brand focus on LinkedIn or are you counting your likes and assessing your effectiveness based on those likes. What is your overall plan for your LinkedIn brand? Do you have a written plan or at least goals regarding your LinkedIn brand.

Non-Conventional Tip: Stop sharing so much information on LinkedIn. Limit your shares in groups and to your entire network and focus on quality not quantity. If you share a picture let it enhance your professional brand. If you share an event don’t do it to get noticed but do it because you should professionally be doing something like this when you have extra time. Don’t blog or, as LinkedIn now says, Write an Article unless it furthers your business or personal brand.

2. Make Some Controversial, Opinionated Points of View. Whether you are on Facebook or LinkedIn it seems like some people want to “share” their strongly held opinions about a topic. One post said this from someone with 0 political background to his brand. “This is how Donald Trump will roll into his first crisis.” He shared a clown car. “Hillary Clinton hasn’t reached her destiny yet!” said another LinkedIn post. The “hilarious” person shared a picture of Sisyphus rolling the great rock up the hill and a second seen of her running from a rock that stated “Scandal” on it. Both of those posts were from professionals, executives who’s brand had really nothing to do with politics. How cute! But also how dumb.

Non-Conventional Tip: Unless you really know what they heck you are doing on LinkedIn you need to play it safe online and not share anything that is clearly outside of your brand scope. Moreover, you should not share things on LinkedIn that are political unless you clearly understand the implications of your share. At minimum you must consider the pissivity factor of those who are going to love you or hate you because you came down on one side of the political spectrum. “But John, I got so many likes.” Great. Stop this activity unless your brand demands it.

3. Just Being Active on LinkedIn Works. So just doing “whatever” on LinkedIn to show you are on LinkedIn matters and works? Okay that thought process I suppose may, if mindfully done, add to your brand promise and commitment but really doing something may not be better than doing nothing. One client told me early in their career search: “I have been posting in groups, checking likes, adding to my list of connections, following companies and more.” Clicking and running around wasting time without a purpose may make you feel good but for professionals it is essential that you ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish on this platform.

Non-Conventional Tip: Again doing something benign like the activities above may be actually pretty good vs. doing about nothing. But more importantly I suggested we create a business plan and move from what I called passive activity to bold, brand focused professional behavior. Furthermore what if you are a full-time employee or executive at a company or any organization. Should you be sharing what you are sharing on LinkedIn or does it say that you are distracted from your job?

What does what you are sharing have to do with your personal or professional brand advancement? People say it doesn’t matter and professionals sometimes site examples of how “something cool happened” just because they were doing something. That’s fine. Good job. As professionals with a serious business tool that reaches 430+ million people it might be smart to create brand plan and discipline that helps you reach your goals, protects your brand and builds your career. It will take more planning and hard work than you’ve been told. That can be a very good thing.

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