There are so many ways to be a person on LinkedIn.
I follow a recruiter who almost every day comments on a story from another recruiter, condemning the bad practices of his fellow searchers or even job seekers.
I have a friend, a corporate patent attorney, who only appears to post links when he has won or a case or appeal.
There’s a former colleague who has been out of work for years yet most days posts an article about office life. Another thanks people over and over for “interesting” posts through multiple posts a day.
None of these people are role models for how to behave on social media. Over time I have reduced interesting, funny people into a caricature. It’s even worse for that recruiter, who I had never met but was at least willing to give some real estate on my social feed.
I work with executives at large financial and technology companies, and one of the things I do is help people craft their social media image. Many times the first steps are basic – setting a profile and providing basic information about job history and titles. We know that social media is important today, but creating and maintaining a useful presence on LinkedIn is harder.
Here are a few tips to building a personality on being social in a commercial setting:
Draw from your circle.
I once worked with a company co-founder who refused to follow anyone from his account. I tried to explain – multiple times – that without connecting to anyone there was no point in publishing things. All of us have an extensive circle of colleagues and experts we work with – don’t be afraid to re-share some of this material. A comment isn’t necessary, but when an observation that brings out the point of a point helps.
Let your voice come through.
Most people are on professional social media to advance. This could be to sell a product or land a better job. It can be very easy to be so focused on a particular goal that you lose your voice. Write a post in 30 seconds and see what comes out. Editing is always possible, but many times we capture our natural style best on a first take.
Try different things.
The human brain craves surprise. People who fall into ruts online risk being ignored. The first time I saw the recruiter pile onto the post of a colleague I was amused. Five times later I was thoroughly disinterested. Keep an eye on what works but experiment with post lengths, cadence and topics. If followers are unsure what’s next, they are more likely to pay attention.
Listen and speak.
No one likes the person at a party who is only waiting for the next chance to jump in. Make sure that you set aside time to compliment, praise and engage with material from your social network. Focus on people with larger or more influential followers, but be unafraid to talk about an idea no matter the source.
Probably the highest compliment I can pay to someone on LinkedIn is that I don’t tie them specifically to the platform. Rather than existing solely on the platform, their personality on and offline seems to co-exist. There’s no need to reinvent yourself online – the person you are in real life will do just fine.
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