LinkedIn is becoming the social network of choice for many financial professionals. But there are three key areas where miscommunication is common: connecting, endorsing and sharing.
Here's how to avoid sending the wrong signals.
You receive a connection request from someone you've never met in person or spoken with on the phone.
LinkedIn generally functions as a network of people you already know – current and former colleagues and other people you've done business with. That's why you need to specify how you know someone when you request to connect.
LinkedIn is different from Twitter (where it's appropriate to follow strangers) and Facebook Pages (where a "Like" is seen as nurturing a relationship).
When someone you don't recognize requests to connect with you, there are usually two main reasons: either the person doesn't realize it's bad form to connect with a stranger, or you're receiving the equivalent of a cold call.
When this happens to me, I think, "Maybe this is a prospect who wants to connect in order to do business with me." But this isn't usually the case. If someone really wants to do business with you, they call or email. Or, if they've never met you, he can explain his reason for connecting in a custom message that accompanies the request.
Tips for connecting on LinkedIn:
- Don't connect with people you don't know so you can pitch them.
- If you connect with strangers, be aware of the signals you may be sending and use a thoughtful, custom message to explain your intentions.
Note: This topic has also been discussed by Stephanie Sammons in her piece: Should You Accept or Decline that LinkedIn Invitation to Connect?
You receive an endorsement on LinkedIn from someone you haven't heard from in awhile or for a skill you don't consider one of your strengths.
In both cases, LinkedIn's auto-generated endorsement suggestions may be part of the problem. But the other part of the problem is a careless endorser.
Endorsing is a simple, powerful way to do something nice for a colleague. Yet, endorsing someone for something they don't particularly do well, just because LinkedIn suggests it, doesn't send a good message. It suggests you're out of touch or simply not paying attention.
Tips for endorsing on LinkedIn:
- Endorse one person at a time. Never use the four-in-one endorsing screen that LinkedIn offers.
- Go out of your way to endorse people with whom you've had recent contact for a skill that was relevant to that interaction.
A frequent participant in LinkedIn groups is mostly sharing self-promotional content.
A consultant I know participates in several of the same groups that I do and she's frequently sharing articles. The majority of these articles are either written by her or quote her.
It's become a game: Whenever I see her share an article, I'm looking to see how she's promoting herself this time. And that's the problem.
Everyone wants to use social media to promote themselves and their businesses, but disproportionately sharing articles you write or ones that feature you as an expert may have the exact opposite effect. Too much self-promotion undermines people's opinions of you.
Sharing to help people, on the other hand, is far less self-serving. It suggests you care about others' well-being. When you share an article someone else has written with a similar message to yours, you look smart (for finding it) and generous (for sharing it) and far less self-serving (because you're helping).
Tips for sharing on LinkedIn:
- Share remarkable content written by others in order to demonstrate your subject matter expertise.
- For every 10 articles that don't mention YOU, share one that does.