Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Back to basics Tuesday: no automatic replies, ever

Reliance on canned answers and impersonal boilerplate communication does not make you look like a person anyone would like to do business with.

You need to be different, better, sharper, more memorable than the rest.

Never allow Linkedin to send the standard “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn” (or whatever it says–they are so bland that I ignore these completely!).

If you ask someone to connect, you MUST use a personal invitation, referring to a person who referred you, a situation in which you met, a shared group, or a common interest.

Don’t be usual. Be personal, be giving from the get-go. An example is what I wrote extending an invitation to connect with someone after we spoke on a zoom call and unearthed some gritty ways we are following the same subject matter. I say, connect to collaborate:

“Nice to meet you today on our call. Please join my amazing group of professional connections on LinkedIn. On our topic of personal brand perception, I have an article that came across my desk that I want to share with you: {URL link}. Hope you like it and you will send me your impressions. Best, Marc

My point: connect to people you get to know who show great tangible promise to contribute to you and you to them. Someone has to throw the ball first: nurture them immediately as an on-boarding habit. Encourage further interchange of ideas. Show you care. Follow up.

They will see how you differentiate yourself.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Culturally speaking at my next presentation

My LinkedIn presentation slides finished, I am now thinking of the finer points to bring to my session tomorrow for a new audience for me: South African and Swazi entrepreneurs.

An exciting first for me, speaking on LinkedIn to an audience on that continent.

I consulted my handy reference guide on my bookshelf, “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands.” The 1994 edition (dating from my old global corporate travel days) does not cover South Africa. And Swaziland is absent from the book too.

The latest edition is dated 2006, but I noticed a 2011 Sales and Marketing edition covers South Africa. Alas, I cannot get it delivered soon enough for my talk on Tuesday. Ah, but it is in the local branch of the public library, so off I went to check it out, in both ways.

I figured the extra effort is warranted to engage myself and the local audience, our nationalities being unusual for each other, especially since it is a virtual talk, with new challenges I intend to leap over.

I asked for the names of all attendees and reviewed each participant’s LinkedIn profile to gain insight into their background and current entrepreneurial pursuits.

My next assignment will be to look them up on LinkedIn and draw some overall conclusions on what concepts and techniques to concentrate on in my verbal comments, all to help the greatest number.

Since I can’t make the effort to visit with them, and meet them, in person, my goal is to be sure they know I did everything I can to appreciate their cultural and business expectations of me as a speaker, that I have much to offer them, in what will be a learning experience for all of us.

I’ll report back on my assessment and the attendees’.

What goes around comes around. Right?

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze

My Outlook calendar allows me to place an event on “snooze.” I can choose the time interval for it to return to remind me that it’s coming up again. Or I can delay and procrastinate and eventually stop thinking about doing it if I hit the snooze button again and again, and then it’s enough.

It’s been ignored, deleted, wiped away as if I never saw it.

Similarly, I can hit my mental snooze button on a dull, formulaic, boring LinkedIn profile, one in which I will painfully read until I no longer stand it any longer, never knowing or caring what they now do, and more importantly, where we can go together. So I hit the snooze on their past experience, being so resume-y and factoid-y,

Don’t make your reader hit the snooze button. Keep them enthralled, at least enough to consider contacting you. Or they will never come back. Ever.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

As much time as it takes

I am venturing out more readily now, Yes, the variant scares the hell out of me, but I need people contact. So I select the already-vaccinated colleagues I have missed seeing and joking and discussing the foibles of entrepreneurial life. And the clients who I intend to update on new events and technologies they need to know about. All in outdoors meetings as much as possible.

So when I visited a client a few weeks ago in their NYC office, they all smiled, glad to see me and me them, and we proceeded on to new developments in their business and how I can accommodate their needs; then I met a colleague in the park a few weeks ago, we got to know each other that much better; then off to a networking session in a conference room (imagine that!) where I finally met some really fine colleagues face-to-face, hug to hug, with whom our relationship started in the pandemic; and then finished the day with a large client and we engaged in a very honest conversation about how we need to develop new ideas together to keep the already-great relationship so vital.

One hour, one half-hour, one hour, one hour, respectively. A rich full day.

My two-hour lunch last week cemented a budding relationship with a peer, on a sunny day under an umbrella in an outdoor coffee venue. Over that period of time we covered a lot of ground, opened new channels, and agreed to repeat our meeting.

I am not saying every meeting need not be 2 hours to be effective, as I have found great value in a zoom once a week for an hour with one colleague, and every month with a few others. Or a staccato zoom chat for a few minutes to see, speak and agree each other. Or a Slack message.

In as much time as it takes to be effective and efficient.

Regularly refresh and reassure, reassess and refer, retrench and redirect, refocus and refine, return and repeat.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Random acts of professional kindness

Someone sent a bouquet of flowers to a colleague and she doesn’t know who was behind it. My friend sends thank you cards, and in some cases, brownies, to make a lasting impression.

I gain psychic compensation connecting great people on LinkedIn in hopes of their eventual collaboration (my company name is connect2collaborate, ya know). Both get the benefit of reviewing each other’s profiles, based on my advance comments and thus the conversation is greatly improved ahead of time, for mutual clarity and opportunity of cooperation. And I know these connections last far beyond the shelf life of flora or flour.

To each is or her own, I say, anything to show you care.

Did you know you can even record a voice message and send via LinkedIn? This hybrid method can be really effective in the right situation. A perfect blend of an e-hug via intonation and emphasis in your voice on our favorite platform.

See, unsolicited presents come in many packages.

Not everyone knows what to do when they are “gifted” and know how to react. The receiver of the flowers still has no idea who sent them but is so complimented. In my world, a referral of someone else to you can be the ultimate exchange of gifts.

But the recipient of your favor will certainly remember your kindness. No matter how you channel your warm appreciation, show it in whatever way is appropriate for the situation. Just do it.

As mentioned here 2 other times, be a mensch.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Back to basics Tuesday: when is self-expression too much on LinkedIn?

It takes a LinkedIn village to raise a business. Sometimes it’s the village blabbermouth who teaches us what not to do. Or the village wallflower blending into the woodwork who shows us what else not to do, the opposite extreme.

Just because you can post on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you need to gush on various topics we may not admire or relate to. And just because there is now a 3000-character limit on a LinkedIn post (as of this past May) does not mean you need to fill the space with a litany of venom or sadness or self-psychoanalysis to bury us.

So when is it TMI about your kids, your illness, your kid’s illness, your business wins (when others’ businesses are suffering from the pandemic), your severe weather, the loss of a parent, or a hardship case of someone else or you?

My intention here is not to be heard-hearted, but hearten you to be perceived as admirable, relevant, relatable, referable, not pitiful.

The answer lies in our constant entrepreneurial exercise of self-evaluation.

If you are not objective viewing yourself from 30,000 feet, switch that to asking your tribe of supporters, “Is this over the top? Should I dial this back a few notches?”

Chances are if you feel you need to ask them, it already is.

Then choose the right entourage members to ask, based on an array of their personal attributes and direct your personalized request only to those who will honestly respond. If they love and respect you, they will answer honestly. And you may not like what they say but at the very least it’s all worth considering.

Then re-write it. Let it cool. Come back to it and re-tweak and let it cool again. Then think when to post it.

Or if.

Back to my village metaphor above, don’t let anyone, ever, perceive you as the LinkedIn village idiot. You will never recover the tarnish to your reputation.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Writing days

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

One day each workweek, I take a writing day.

Yes, I am in the office, but I have nothing officially scheduled for that day. No zoom sessions, no networking meetings, no client calls, nothing on the calendar.

And if you know me and the pace I keep, that’s dramatic. As in opposite of what I maintain the other 4 days a week.

Just a day for reflection, observation, and composition.

That day of the week varies, so don’t feel like phone calling me or emailing me will interrupt my writing day workflow. You will not know what day of the week it falls on, and I will answer you right away if warranted, or advise you that I will get back to you tomorrow, if it can hold. I’ll be there…

It’s how I stack up and tackle my work: upcoming blog posts such as this, proposals, following up on referrals, making Linkedin introductions to kindred spirits, amassing random ideas to be deposited in a file on my hard drive to be used later, like an artist’s sketchbook.

But it’s also a day for me to compose slide decks for upcoming presentations, outline podcast discussions with the host, cook up collaborative ideas with colleagues–any of a number of idea-creation tasks that need deeper evaluation and no interruption.

I stack the stones in a neat pile, balancing them ever so gingerly to create a new design in my life.

I might even review my LinkedIn profile for possible tweaks when I am in that “how am I morphing and have I expressed that in my branding there” frame of mind.

Once a week, I suggest you take a timeout, regenerate your mental jets with contemplative thinking and you may be amazed at what you develop for your future mental and entrepreneurial well-being. Perhaps not for an entire day but for a segregated period of time that you adhere to.

So I ask you, and hope you will answer with more than a “like”: do you take a scheduled breather and settle back? What do you do to reflect and develop yourself?

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Things that go ring in the night?

The radio ad said the diet doctor gives you his personal email address and cell phone number.

Yeah, right.

For those middle-of-the-night calls you need him, as he talks you out of that raid on the refrigerator. Or perhaps you need to text him, a calorie-burning effort in itself, with a 3 am question. Aw c’mon!

But the concept, if not the reality, is more meaningful when you consider that we are expected to be “on” 24x7x366, accessible by call or text, day or night, weekday or weekend, and that makes us more marketable.

You may not like it, but others may expect it. You can, and should, manage the client’s expectations early on.

Not that you have to accept the call at night or on a weekend–you can let it go to voice mail and listen to it, then answer as appropriate. Or reply to that anxious text with an anticipated time of response. Just follow through.

Don’t relish placing your cell number in your contact details anywhere on the internet? Think again: with only a company phone number (or worse, no number at all!) on your LinkedIn profile, you will certainly be late to reply to that voice mail until you check back into the office, and never see the text they tried to send you. And miss what could be a new opportunity, or one to serve the client in a timely manner, depending on the situation.

Time is of the essence. Be accessible. Be in the (right) moment and be reasonably responsive.

Be sure your cell phone number is in your LinkedIn profile’s Contact Info link.

It should be easy to get a message or text to you. And if not to you, then expect them to contact your competitor.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

In this case, the angel’s in the details

What makes your LinkedIn profile a winner, and hopefully, the competitor’s just meh?

It’s usually the richness of your word choice that attracts a reader. Your finger movements on the keyboard leave an indelible mark on the reader’s mind, makes the reader want to know more about you, read further as you expand your career narrative, think of questions for you to answer, want to find pull aside the curtain to reveal you as the wizard, in essence fall in “like” with you, enough to take the next step: contact you.

It’s a process. Fine movements make an overall impact.

That means active voice, pronoun “I” and power verbs. No typos or other syntax or format errors. You as you want to be seen, noticed, queried, and approached.

Top to bottom, or at least as far down as the reader will peruse.

Be fascinating on LinkedIn; finesse it.

Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Getting ready, getting set, always going

I am a fan of technology as a means of being more efficient.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I am not a fan of severe, abrupt changes in technology. I prefer they develop in ways I can adapt, in digestible steps.

For that reason I am considering which networking groups to return to in person and which to Zoom.

For some, like the one in upstate NY and the global ones, the choice is obvious.

But for the local- and NYC-based groups, I have a decision to make.

I prefer the time saved in not commuting to/from, rather attending the meeting as scheduled as part of my business day. I barely have to lift a finger to attend and still benefit.

On the other hand, I savor the interpersonal face-to-face aspects of physical meetings for the human interaction, like in the good old pre-pandemic days.

I am hearing more of groups that allow you to come and go, Zoom or in person, so long as you attend regularly. As you wish.

That seems a reasonable compromise, especially as the Delta variant looms.

I am sure I am not ready to fully thrust forth and meet in person all the time. But I will use LinkedIn as a powerful tool to prepare for each meeting by researching new members, or reviewing others’ profiles, Zoom-chat with them on the side showing I read about our common interests, colleagues, etc. and arrange a later meeting.

That always breaks the proverbial ice and warms the meeting environment for better interaction, virtually or in person. And leads to hot new business opportunities.

My choice with so much at stake, I will prepare and be ready, in the method I choose, Linkedin in my pocket.