Over the past few years, our clients have gone from “What is LinkedIn, and why should I be there?” to “I know I should be leveraging LinkedIn for business development, can you help me get started?”. Professional and financial services executives have bought in.
As a result, we have spent a great deal of time educating clients on best practices for filling out their LinkedIn profile, making connections, engaging in groups and using LinkedIn to uncover and maximize sales opportunities. During these group and one-on-one sessions, a few of the most common concerns and questions executives have about LinkedIn were revealed (beyond how they will find the time to use it!):
1. Can I keep my contacts private?
Business is about relationships, and we hear a lot of concerns from executives who are worried that a competitor will look at their contacts to try to poach clients or employees. Unfortunately, LinkedIn’s options on contact privacy are all or nothing. Contacts can be visible 1) only to you, or 2) to all of your connections. They also caveat that “people will always be able to see shared connections.” While there may be some cases where a professional would need to hide their network, we generally advise against it. One of the main benefits of LinkedIn is tapping into second-degree connections and looking for ways to facilitate mutually beneficial introductions.
2. Do I have to connect with everyone who asks?
No. You can ignore requests from the bum you knew in college who is currently unemployed and requests from people you don’t know or simply don’t want to know. Your network is your public rolodex. Your connections should be people you know personally and/or have done business with, and who you might be able to refer to others. And because some executives worry… no one you ignore will receive an email saying they have been denied.
3. What types of content should I share on LinkedIn?
I love this question because so many executives spend time perfecting their profile and then effectively hide it by not regularly acting on LinkedIn. Share your company’s news, thought leadership and blog posts. Share when you’re attending a relevant industry or regional event. But don’t make it all about you. Link to that fascinating article you read in WIRED about what the ideal hospital should look like in 2020 or a professional tip or piece of news that will be relevant to your network.
4. What is the difference between Endorsements and Recommendations?
As LinkedIn says, an endorsement is a one-click way for your connections to validate your Skills & Expertise (similar to a Facebook Like). A recommendation is a more detailed, written statement from a connection that can be requested directly in LinkedIn. They are both excellent credibility builders, and savvy LinkedIn users have plenty of both. We always say the best way to get is to give, but please make sure you can independently verify the endorsements and recommendations you give.
5. When should I connect with new contacts?
Growing your network is an ongoing process. Generally, we recommend connecting soon after an in-person meeting, but there are plenty of exceptions. Even if you haven’t met face-to-face yet, it is perfectly acceptable to request connections if you work regularly with someone virtually, or a mutual contact is making an introduction via LinkedIn, or you have a meeting scheduled and want to learn more about their background. Remember that it’s important to keep your network up-to-date and, of course, personalize your connection requests.
Did we cover your top LinkedIn questions? If not, tell us what other questions you have or hear regularly.
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