The diversity of LinkedIn members runs the full scope. From solo operators, small businesses, employees, Prime Ministers, global industry leaders, high profile influencers, ASX & Fortune 500 directors. Every level is represented from every sector.
A well-established professional platform, there is a wild pursuits for businesses and soloists to grab a slice of the tasty LinkedIn pie of opportunity. But how and who should manage and drive that pie is a conundrum for many.
The issue of lack
As with all vital sales and marketing strategies, inaction or poor execution occurs due to ‘lack’. Be it lack of time, knowledge, training or resources (financial or staff). Lack can be singular or multiple. And ‘lack’ of any genre can be given as a smokescreen for another lack – a lack of belief in value. But that lack is a subject for another time as I focus on those who are rightly sold on the merit of the platform and seek to leverage with gusto.
Similarly many people have managed their LinkedIn activity in the past and are overwhelmed with the increased demands and the growth that the platform has delivered to their business.
The Cobra Effect – Unintended Consequences
With all problems there are many and varied solutions that propose to solve the given challenges. Some are highly effective and others ineffective. Which leads me to the Cobra Effect, which is aligned to the concept of ‘perverse incentives’. It refers to when good intentions ultimately create negative outcomes and unintended consequences. And this is the essence of the discussion of personal activities and solutions on LinkedIn.
Unless you are a prime minister, senior government official, famous celebrity, global business superstar, ASX MD et al, you should personally be steering your own LinkedIn activity train.
Your personal profile style should also bear in mind these caveats. In other words, unless you are of the aforementioned, personal profiles are best written and received when in the 1st person vs 3rd person narrative.
Connect – Engage – Contribute
Shifting the responsibility of your voice and input can be risky as it is your personal brand and reputation at stake.
How you CEC – Connect, Engage, Contribute encapsulates the full Monty of ‘Brand You’. Judgements will be made and you can quickly tarnish your reputation if you give the baton to someone else who misses the mark.
Why outsourcing can be risky
Done for you services (taking over all connecting, engaging and content) which promise the world can be particularly risky, albeit contravening aspects of the User Agreement. It may seem an easy solution to reach business goals this way but quality is always more important than quantity across every aspect. And quantity of metrics is a risky motivator.
Many outsourced and done for you services integrate prohibited plug in tools, click farms and dodgy practices of cut and paste 3rd party media and content without permission.
Often network building campaigns in outsourced services will use automation tools which place you at risk of profile suspension or LinkedIn Jail (where you must have an email address to send an invite). They can also integrate engagement on the posts they curate and or post which are not aligned, in your tone, have poor English grammar or at worst is often disjointed to the topic.
Banal content and reputation
We can see where the buck has been shifted in a flood of motivational memes, vanilla or unintelligent comments on posts, automated invitations, curated cut and pasted content in Pulse articles and message responses which show no gravitas or company knowledge.
The list continues and most who pass the baton have no idea really what is happening under their name. I recall many instances where I took the courage to ask why someone in the technical sector would have a host of Buddha type memes etc. They were shocked and assumed their outsourcing was on their business.
There are often outstanding posts from high level members where engagement has been outsourced (or automated) as is evidenced in the banal responses that have no conversational substance. Further constant poor English grammar damages your brand.
No one would expect the likes of Scott Morrison, Richard Branson, Janine Allis, and Cindy Hook, Jeff Weiner et al to write and answer their own LinkedIn messages would they? No of course not. But for soloists and small businesses well it is a fair assumption. Trust will be knocked quickly if people get a suspicion it wasn’t you who signed off your message.
Best Practice Tips
How can the lack of time, money, resources etc be managed smartly, efficiently and with LinkedIn best practice T&Cs?
- Set boundaries of time allocation – 20-30 mins a day is easy for most to manage (aka 3 hours a week). But it does take discipline and like any action, must be tied into a goal that is prioritised as being a ‘must do vs a ‘nice to do’.
- Obtain specialist help with the positioning, creation and development of your profile and personal brand messaging.
- Invest in training and coaching. There is a mountain of free online information to consume but it will save so much time and angst to consult with a well credentialed LinkedIn specialist who has many years of technical and creative expertise.
- Hire and work with content strategists, videographers and copywriters for your content if you don’t have the time, or not a great curator (no shame). There are a range of fee ranges which will save time and money in the long run especially with content re-purposing.
You don’t need to write all your own content or create the road map for your strategy. Hell most people have no idea how to do this. It’s a collaborative effort and great content and strategy takes time and will amplify results. I recommend hiring Australian based folk who understand the local landscape, vernacular and language. And hey lets help the Aussies first. For the cheaper $$ you get in overseas outsourcing, you mostly save time in many ways and hence $$ long term.
- Internal Assistance: there is nothing wrong with having a trained staff member (or your Australian EA/VA) help manage your Inbox & Company page to alert you of urgent messages, build connection target lists and post content. But they must be part of your inner circle and have training to support your goals not just tick and flick.
- Use Sales Navigator or Premium to build lists to send Connection requests. Sure they can be a little templated (but very creative and sector aligned thanks). If your internal person is doing this put a LinkedIn Update Session as part of your weekly WIP meetings.
- Respond and engage personally and follow up with care and follow general protocol and best practices to protect your personal profile and brand.
Your personal brand is golden asset. Like anything worthwhile it takes effort so keep the buck close on LinkedIn so you get your share of that pie of opportunity.