Ten Linkedin business marketing mistakes to avoid

Many millions of people using Linkedin are missing out on the fantastic brand building opportunities new Linkedin presents. I say new because after several years of under-investment, Linkedin has gone functionality crazy of late.

Give your Linkedin profile a spring clean today, avoid these ten all-to-common mistakes and start to take the most of the platform as an unbeatable research and business development tool as well as an incredible brand builder.

1. Poor or non existent profile pictures. Who wants to see a faceless profile or worse a company or brand logo. Not me. As with all social media, add a profile picture.

2. Lack of clarity in titles and descriptions. Use keywords that best represent who you are and what stand for do.  That little box that tells you how many times you’ve been looked at – its down to keywords.

3. Lack of focus on achievements and what you add. Too many people fixate on titles when they should be focusing on your impact on sales, brand launches, new initiatives, or improvements in quality, process, training or operations if you are not in a commercial role.

4. Failure to use all available opportunities to promote via the profile page. There are some great links and embed opportunities. Use them. Add your website, a blog, a Twitter account, a Slideshare account.

5. Not having a thought out contact strategy or approach. Are you connected to all the people you’ve ever worked with rather than the people you want to sell to? Time to rethink who you want to be connected to by researching people using the search function, identifying key companies and seeking opportunities to informally approach them through Groups (see below). And don’t let Linkedin send a default invitation request. Tailor it giving a reason to connect – reference to a group, common contact or other common ground.

6. Not enough or over use of the status updates feature. Linkedin status updates containing tweets is one of the most frustrating parts of logging into new Linkedin. If you’re not careful a handful of people will take over your feed – luckily they can be hidden without dis-connecting. On the other side, don’t be a Linkedin bore. Update once / twice a day with something useful.

7. Not enough or over use of testimonials. These should matter. The best testimonials come from former managers, clients or customers. Asking your peers, team or suppliers to provide references just seems lame. Go for quality over quantity on this one. .

8. Being a lurker not a contributor in Groups. I estimate 1% of a Linkedin group’s membership actively engage in discussions within the group. What a missed opportunity. Getting involved in groups of like minded people is the cornerstone of the Linkedin experience. There is a group for almost everything on Linkedin. Search and sign up for one to try it out. There will be discussions taking place that you can add value to today!

9. Not building reputation through Answers. Like groups, this is a great feature to really build your profile as an expert in your field but as it is hidden away in the ‘More’ tab it is overlooked. Browse the categories and begin to provide feedback and recommendations to questions posed by other Linkedin members, worldwide.

10. Not fully populating your Company Page. This feature has developed in recent months with opportunities to add specific products and services linked to targeted landing pages and your Linkedin member colleagues.

Q: What other mistakes do you see made on Linkedin and how can they be avoided?

Avoiding Linkedin group fatigue

Once the first destination for job seekers, Linkedin has fast developed its abilIty to cater for the needs of the modern business professional. In part a response to the phenomenal viral uptake of Facebook, the Linkedin boffins factored in a range of specific functionality to draw professionals into spending more time on the site.

More recently this has included blog plug-ins, news digests (Linkedin Today) and Status Updates, but it is the older ones that work the best.

Recent research suggests that over half of registered users now frequent one of the many thousand groups. Most lurk, watching and listening whilst a small, vocal minority set the agenda and contribute to the discussion. As you might expect, there is a group covering everything – as my current list below shows.

But there is creep. As groups are increasingly seen as the gateway to influence, more are springing up. People are starting more groups, which means more digests, more alerts, more email. Unless you opt out, you’re signing yourself up to the daily or weekly digest of activity – and if you join a discussion, you risk receiving an email every time a single subsequent response is posted thereafter.

If like me, you are a member of a large number of geographical, sector, job specific and special interest groups, your inbox can pretty quickly start to look like this. Information brings knowledge, but everyday, this can become overpowering.

When it comes to Linkedin matters, most users forget the settings they activated when they joined. For groups. it is as simple as switching the activation of daily to weekly email alerts to avoid the level of email above every day if you don’t want it.

Or not being in so many groups!

How often do you check the relevance of the groups you are a member of? Chances are you rely on only a handful.

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Face value

There has never been a better time to be a marketer. The opportunities that Internet and technology have afforded us means that we can build massive audiences and even larger followings, as well as better profiles of our customers which help us work out how best to profitably meet their needs.

But it also means we can waste a lot of time especially online, hiding behind the technology. We’re probably all a little guilty of racing to build large online networks and contact pools, of which we rarely have detailed contact with most, spoken to less and probably met hardly any.

In trade marketing, exhibitions, conferences and seminar circuits are thriving, because there is still a need for face-to-face interaction. It’s trite, but its a fact. People do business with people.

I’m wondering if it is time to make time to check through my contacts, all the people I am in some way connected to and and commit to reconnecting with them in a deeper and more meaningful way?  It might just be time well spent?

Image: SmallBizTechnology

Social media hits and misses

Today, a great little slide set from Custom Communication which charts the developments in the social media space over recent years, highlighting which innovators stayed the course and which fell at the early fences.

What is interesting, like in so many sectors, is how in most cases whether it’s social networking, images, blogging, location etc, the early innovators no longer lead the way. Whether that means you should wait rather than innovate, I’m not sure, you just have to be prepared to be flexible when change is demanded. And few areas are needing flexibility more than the online social space right now.


Ten steps to making Linkedin work for you

If you’re only using Linkedin as a platform for solely posting your CV, you’re missing out on its power to develop your personal brand and that of your business and its expertise. For free.

The real benefits of Linkedin come when you join in, when you engage and offer opinion and recommendation. If like me, you believe in karma, you’ll believe that good things happen to those who do good things. Clean up your profile in line with the tips below and allow yourself fifteen minutes a day to check in and keep it ticking over.

1. Profile name / account set up – Sounds obvious but secure your name or the ‘easiest to remember’ version of it. (Whilst you are at, do the same on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, SlideShare and any other content site you might prepare to use in the future).

2. Profile content – Structure your content as follows:

Picture – Seems obvious, but people like to see a face, rather than a blank square or a company logo. Use a head shot, so there is some detail. Avoid glasses and hats and smile – this makes you more approachable. Avoid boring corporate styles.

Title/Description – Keywords are short and punchy. Make it about what you are and/or what you do and the value you add.

Career highlights – Add a few lines about each of your career positions, the companies you’ve worked for, your role, responsibilities and achievements. Keep them light but high impact. This means focusing on your impact on sales, brand launches, new initiatives, or improvements in quality, process, training or operations if you are not in a commercial role.

Links – Set up, and channel a Twitter account (more below). Link to your company website or your blog (if you don’t have one, set one up on a topic you are passionate about).

Personal information – Like a CV, add a little personality to your profile by displaying some sports or leisure interests. Remember people ultimately buy people.

3. Contacts – Once your profile is set, look up key people you’ve worked with at the companies you’ve listed. You should already start receiving connection recommendations in the top right of your profile page when you sign in. Linkedin generally recommends that you link only with people you know through specific parameters. I’d guard against spamming people in groups (see below) or prospective clients you would like to work with. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

A note on LIONs: Linkedin Open Networkers. These are the guys who think quantity supercedes quality. Personally I don’t. My view is that you are far better having close relationships with 100 people you know than 1,000 people you don’t. Linkedin has been flooded with recruitment specialists connecting with anyone and everyone. Though in theory, your status updates may reach a wider audience by appearing in a LIONs feed, I counsel against connecting with too many of them because they are not fundamentally into developing deep relationships.

4. Status – As the name suggests, update this at least daily as this information appears in the feeds of all your contacts and in email digests. Use it to position yourself in their minds. (What have been working on? Who for? Link to a new blog post).

5. Testimonials – Opinion is divided as to the validity of testimonials, but I think if you consider Linkedin as your professional shop window, you want to dress it up as credibly as possible. Ask a select few previous and current managers, and a few line reports (especially those who were managed to bigger and better things) to recommend your approach, style, creativity, organisation and all round management skills. The only harm is in having everyone and his dog recommending you. They need to come from credible sources.

6. Groups – Getting involved in groups of like minded people is the cornerstone of the Linkedin experience. There is a group for almost everything on Linkedin. Search and sign up for one to try it out. When you request to join, tick the box to received the daily email digest of activity. This provides links direct to new discussions, news, jobs etc within that group. Then, build your profile and credibility by adding comments to existing discussions, sharing interesting news and views from the Internet, and in time create your own discussions, ask questions run polls.

7. Liking / following – A new feature, adapted from other sites like Facebook and Ecademy, which can alert people to informative, relevant content. I’m not sure of this simply because LIONs can easily amass lots of likes/follows for fairly average content. The jury for me is out on this one, but using this functionality for others will undoubtedly raise your profile as you navigate groups and discussions.  The like/follow functionality now has a role in highlighting key weekly influencers in groups, so if your ego needs a boost, try it out.

8. Answers – Like groups, this is a great feature to really build your profile as an expert in your field. Selecting the Answer tab via ‘More’ in the top bar allows you to browse all categories and provide feedback and recommendations to questions posed by other Linkedin members, worldwide.

9. Twitter – Integrating Twitter into your Linkedin activity can be done well but I’d personally caution against automatically syncing all tweets through Twitter. With all the RTs, @’s, # hashtags, shortened URLs, it is like text speak. Done well, it can promote content being promoted on other platforms and develop your contacts across them. Be cautious, though, if you are using Twitter for leisure and Linkedin for business.

10. Linked applications (Twitter, WordPress, SlideShare, Amazon, TripIt etc) – There are a wealth of applications that you can easily integrate into your Linkedin profile. As well as Twitter, the most popular ones are WordPress blogs where recent posts can be displayed on your profile page. The same thing applies to Slideshare presentation and document templates.  Books you want to read, are reading or have read can be profiled and reviewed using the Amazon application. This provides contacts an insight into what your fields of speciality and interest. And Tripit can be used to keep them up to date with your travel movements. As ever, be cautious, especially if people have your personal contact details and address and you are planning on being away from home.

Take a steady approach and you should quickly find Linkedin to be an information rich resource full of interesting and experienced people, for the most part happy to help, advise and support as needed.

Why quality social networking beats quantity every time

If you read this blog, I think you’re savvy enough to have a number of active social networking accounts up and running in your name.

They’ve steadily grown over a few years. You’ll have a mixture of good friends, colleagues, customers and clients, suppliers and distributors and a healthy number of people you know only in cyberspace.

And if you’ve moved jobs or moved company, you probably picked up a number of recruiters, agents and other professional services contacts that were relevant at one time or another but not necessarily now.

The unwritten rules of ‘social networking’ (which if you do it in a business context make the very name a little absurd) seem to focus on quantity not quality. Social networking experts suggest you build an audience quickly and then take the time to refine it over time. Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook as examples of mainstream platforms all offer recommendations, make it easy to search and invite lots of contacts to connect, follow or become a fan.

I disagree with this well preached approach for two pretty fundamental reasons.

1/ Who ever bothers to or has the time to conduct a spring clean? Have you ever actually tried it? If you started out with a numbers game in mind, it’s a nightmare job to undertake.

2/ More importantly, don’t you want to be engaging with the like-minded niche? Isn’t marketing about being targeted, about being relevant? If you adopt a ‘connect with everyone’ approach in social networking, what message are you conveying? How are you going to be perceived – as a professional or an opportunist?

Some will disagree but personally I avoid the list builders on Linkedin (look out for the LION), avoid high follow and spamming Twitter  networkers (the clues are there in their numbers and tweet content) and look for people that inspire me, offer something interesting or different, or can give me information.

I propose anyone starting out now on their digital journey to do the same.

20 steps to a successful event

Been to some interesting events over recent months and have managed a fair share myself.

If you’re considering using seminars, conferences and networking events as a tool in your promotional mix, don’t sour your reputation by putting on a poor show.

Follow this guide to plan, promote and deliver impact events.

Pre event

1. Consider your audience, their needs and where they are.

2. Offer an interesting, relevant topic, ideally with business cases and not academic related.

3. Book an engaging, passionate speaker

4. Select an interesting venue (it’s part of the draw – but not a bar!) i.e. business schools, museums, town halls, football grounds, new business premises etc with optional tours.
5. Offer online booking

6. Offer early bird, group and recommendation discounts.

7. Provide real time attendee information – so people can see who else is attending.

8. Use Linkedin groups to promote your event to your audience.

9. Consider partnering / sponsorship opportunities to cover costs and maximize exposure.

At the event

9. Offer drinks and nibbles.

10.  Provide sufficient time for networking pre & post, especially if a presentation is involved.

11. Consider building in some structure if it is a solely networking event i.e. regular 5 minutes with whoever is stood to your left.

12. Circulate a delegate list on the day

13. Give delegates large, readable name badges with their name, company and title/interest.

14. Provide sufficient time for Q&A if a presentation is involved.

15. Remember to thank sponsors, venue, caterers.

16. Ask for feedback on the night via feedback forms.

Post event

17. Make speaker notes available to all attendees.

18. Give additional opportunity to feedback.

19. Send out a press release and post feedback on your website & social networks.

20. Start planning your next event.