(Warning: this post may contain humor.)
LinkedIn has 575 million users. (Photo by studioEAST)
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for networking. Now, instead of firing out email blasts or troubling someone for a lunch date or coffee, you can promote your latest achievement from the confines of your laptop or phone, dashing off a quick little note or tip that lets your best contacts know you’re still in the game. The policy of only linking with contacts you already know solves the spam issue that has plagued Facebook. The sense that LinkedIn is a business platform and therefore requires the decorum of a business setting weeds out the trolls of a platform like Twitter. And the same business sense keeps people from posting pictures of their kids or dog, because unless there’s some business benefit, it doesn’t belong on LinkedIn.
Director and comic Judd Apatow (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for EB)
Getty Images for EB
But let’s face it. LinkedIn can be a little odd. Judd Apatow has a great comic bit about how strange social media can be. For people who grew up in the analog age, if you wanted to send a picture of your dinner to a friend, you would have had to take the picture (with a camera with a flash), get it developed, put it in a envelope, find a stamp, get their mailing address, and send it. Then they would open it up and go: “What the hell is this? Why did Judd just send me a picture of his fettuccine alfredo?” LinkedIn is like that for resumes. It’s as if there’s a town where every inhabitant is like that kid with a note taped to his jacket, only we’re grown people, and the note is our resume. We all walk around glancing at each other’s note. “Wow—you went to Harvard! Oh, that was a summer extension program. Still—you’ve got the Harvard logo, so that’s something!”
LinkedIn is not going away. Microsoft bought it and they never get rid of anything.
LinkedIn is not going away. It has 575 million users and is growing at 6-9% per year. Microsoft bought it in 2016 and, guys, they never get rid of anything. They still have Internet Explorer. They would have the Zune if Steve Ballmer hadn’t looked so silly dancing with it.
LinkedIn is here to stay. So here are The Six Rules For Crushing It On Linkedin:
Never use a pronoun. That’s right. Where a normal person on a normal platform writes: “I was quite humbled to be chosen as plumbing fixture salesman of the year by the Beardstown Rotary Club,” on LinkedIn, you’re expected to write “humbled to be chosen…” dropping the pronoun altogether. It’s hard to know where this tradition came from. Maybe pronouns take up too much time. Maybe they seem too braggy. But using a pronoun on LinkedIn will peg you as an amateur, and you can’t have that.
Humblebrag about the most mundane things. This isn’t Facebook. We don’t want to hear about your kid’s honor society selection or your dog’s cute sweater. This is business, dammit. But as long as there’s the slightest business application, it’s fair game. So feel free to brag/not brag about: local awards, running into a more senior exec at the airport, meeting Tim Ferris, reading a Tim Ferris book, lifting weights like Tim Ferris. Basically, if you can work Tim Ferris into a post, you’re golden.
Basically, if you can work Tim Ferris into a post, you’re golden.
Feel free to post something for an audience of one. Sure, you’ve spent the past five years cultivating LinkedIn contacts the way Liz Warren doles out selfies, but now that you have 25,000 connections, don’t hesitate to post something that only your boss will care about. “Thrilled to be a part of the SQL Server 25 security patch update cupcake brigade! We gave out 32 cupcakes to everyone at the office, and saved the biggest for my boss @Josh!” 24,999 of your followers will have no idea what that’s about, but who cares? You saved Josh a cupcake! And he liked your post! That’ll come in handy during your review!
Use an image. Studies show that posts with images get much higher viewership and interaction (and, power tip: upload the image directly to LinkedIn. Platforms like to keep you on their site, rather than clicking away with a link). And, come on, the goal of life now isn’t just to live, it’s to foster an interactive community. You want comments, lots of them, and fast! So when you post that humblebrag about your promotion to Assistant to the Product Manager, include the photo of you giving out kale to the poor kids in Bangalore during your year off after college. No, the photo doesn’t have anything to do with your post, but your hair looked great that day, and the photo is already on your phone, so it’s easy to post.
Post every business article you’ve ever read. Reading is hard. Reading more than a tweet is really hard. So if you take the time to get through 500 words on a subject related to business, by all means, post it. Preface it with something that proves you actually read the article, like: “Microsoft has a great new idea!” Or “Google is at it again!” Or even just “this ↓” Come to think of it, you don’t really need to read the article, just a few keywords. Keep that timeline fresh, people!
Smile! You’re a thought leader!
Become a thought leader. I’ve become a little obsessed with self-help gurus whose main qualification seems to be the willingness to opine on any subject for 500 words, and the strange ability to have a selfie to go with it. You’ve seen these types—how do they get so many photos of themselves? Are they dating a photographer? How can they possibly have a new photo at a different desk and laptop every day, always looking at the camera with a determined look that says “I am the future.” Well, if they can do it, you can, too. Pick up your phone. Set up a tripod. Get a picture typing at your laptop, walking around a park, getting into a car (preferably a Tesla). The world needs your opinion on “Why Joe Biden’s shirts are like Facebook’s algorithm” or “Why Oprah is just like my grandma.” Don’t delay. Your take on the day’s pressing issues won’t write itself.
Follow these rules and you’ll be swimming with the LinkedIn sharks in no time. Will it grow your business? No. Will it get you a better job? Doubtful. Will it fill most of your workday? Absolutely. You’ll end up with more followers, to boot. And isn’t growing your following what it’s all about? Humbled that this article was published. Don’t forget to send an invite, like, and subscribe.