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Getting your feet wet with LinkedIn

Despite the constant use of the words “social media” in every second conversation these days, a very large proportion of people have not yet taken the plunge. I don’t blame them, frankly, because even just the term “social media” is starting to grate on me too and I’m a big fan!

But if you think you might like to get your feet wet, I think that LinkedIn is a good place to start. It takes very little time and the “unwritten rules” of engagement are pretty straightforward. Now, I’m not just talking about setting about a basic account and then calling it a day … I’m talking about logging in to LinkedIn regularly and actively engaging via status updates, group discussions and Q&As. So from my little coffee spot, here’s the things I think you need to know before you get wet:

#1: Provide value

While it’s completely acceptable on twitter to note what you’re having for lunch, the folks on LinkedIn are generally “all business, all the time.” This means that if you’re going to post a status update or start a discussion, it should add value. If your update can help others improve knowledge or skills, build their businesses, do their jobs, solve problems, or understand networked video connectivity better — then it’s adding value. 

#2: Write what you know 

In follow-on to rule #1, your best bet for status updates and joining in on group discussions is to stick to your own particular area of professional expertise.

#3: Don’t push products 

It’s perfectly fine to share a link to your company’s news release in your status update, but the minute you go into a group discussion and start promoting a specific product to the other members, they will “turn off” immediately. The unwritten code in group discussions is to share expert advice and knowledge, but not to sell anything.

#4: Be careful with your opinions 

There is a fine line between a healthy debate and an incendiary reaction. A “flame war” can spark up online easier than anywhere else and once it gets going, it’s really hard to stop it. So it’s best to be careful and respectful. Before pressing “publish,” a good litmus test is to ask yourself: “Would I say these exact same words out loud, and to someone’s face, in a business meeting?”  

#5: Don’t overdo it:

Remember, LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter. As I noted in #1, its users are generally strictly for business. For this reason, I don’t personally recommend updating your status in LinkedIn more than once a day. As for the automation feature that allows your Twitter steam to be automatically posted into your LinkedIn status, I wouldn’t do it unless you tweet very infrequently and almost exclusively about business-related subjects.


It’s a new world, but the old rules still apply

Unlike the world I grew up in, there is no longer a clean line between your personal life and your professional life. That’s because google and all of its social media cousins make it so simple for anyone to find out where you work. What that means, for example, is that if I join in on a group discussion on LinkedIn, the other group members are only one click away from seeing only my name to seeing who my employer is.

This ultra-connected world we live in now is new for everyone, so mistakes are bound to happen. But just because it’s a new world out there online, I still think the age-old mother’s advice applies really well: “If you make a mistake, say you’re sorry” and “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!


  1. Anonymous says:

    great post Julie.  I can’t stand when people have their twitter feed on Linked In – it just doesn’t make sense there! Are you actively involved in the discussions on Linked In? I just haven’t really waded in to that territory yet but want to.

    • Hi Lara,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! It gets on my nerves when my whole LinkedIn page
      is clogged with someone’s banter on Twitter. I have been getting more and
      more involved in the Group discussions …. like most things, some are
      better than others. The best thing about the Groups is that they are very
      narrowly defined by theme, so the discussions can right on target in terms
      of your own interests.


  2. I think LinkedIn is a very valuable tool. My two cents: upload a photo! I think a lot of people are embarrassed to do add this to their profiles, but it makes sense. It gives people another way to connect with you (and it’s helpful when meeting IRL for the first time too).

  3. I’ve never LinkedIn, but it does sound like it could be useful. I just can’t figure out where people find the time to do all this social mediaizing.

    • I’d say that LinkedIn is ideal for someone who works in business development
      or sales, or if you work in an industry with alot of churn and might need to
      job hunt frequently (by the time you’re laid off, it’s too late to start
      Linking-in with people!). One advantage of LinkedIn is that you can do as
      little or as much activity as you want and it can still have some
      effectiveness, whereas an inactive blogger or tweeter is basically invisible
      — or worse, just stale.

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