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About the Author

Crystal Thies has been known as the LinkedIn Ninja since founding her company, Crystal Clear Buzz, in 2009. Although well versed and experienced in all social media, Crystal specializes in the utilization of LinkedIn for sales and business development. As a past financial planner, Crystal is one of the few social media strategists with expertise to work with those regulated by FINRA, the SEC, and IIROC. She is the co-author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors” published by Bloomberg Press.

Nov 17

Women are Shooting Themselves in the Foot on LinkedIn

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn , LinkedIn Profile

I’m dumbfounded. We have no one to blame but ourselves. LinkedIn released new analysis of gender gaps in the workforce including how well men and women use their LinkedIn Profiles to their own benefit. This analysis is based on the past year, and when added to the findings of their 2011-2016 Economic Graph study, it tells us that women definitely have work to do.

It is now a fact that your LinkedIn Profile IS your professional, digital representation to the world. When people Google any name, the first results are public LinkedIn Profiles. By default, every LinkedIn Profile is public UNLESS you change the setting to make it private. So, if it’s half complete and you haven’t given it any love, it’s likely visible and that’s the first impression that many people have of you.

It’s probably not much of a surprise, but men hype themselves and their accomplishments more than women. In fact, they tend to remove their early positions to emphasize senior positions with greater authority and accomplishment. It’s as if, they jumped right to the top. It’s debatable among LinkedIn experts if this is a good strategy, but it definitely emphasizes the positive.

Let’s look at some of the sad findings.

In the 2011-2016 Economic Graph project, they analyzed the differences in Profiles between men and women who received MBAs from the top 10 business schools. They found that female graduates, while having comparable numbers of skills and awards listed on their Profile, did not tend to complete the Summary or job descriptions. These sections tell your story! These sections make people notice and remember you. Even the brightest female minds in the business world are not taking the opportunity to shine and share information that could propel their career.

The most recent analysis looked at all women in the U.S. They found that women had shorter Profile Summaries and listed 11% fewer skills. As stated earlier, the Summary is what tells your story; it differentiates you from your competition. LinkedIn has also found that Profiles with five or more skills are viewed 17 times more than Profiles with fewer. So, increasing the number of skills listed on your Profile is important.

Before you jump in, take a step back to strategize.

If you want your LinkedIn Profile to be successful (help you attract that job, new client, or next step up the ladder), you it must speak to your target audience. You should not look at your LinkedIn Profile purely as an historical document. Yes, those you want to pick you care that you have the past credentials, but they also want to know how you can help them now and in the future. In fact, your LinkedIn Profile should be almost as much about them, as it is about you.

There are three types of LinkedIn Profiles – Jobseeker, Career Development, and Sales & Business Development.

The Jobseeker Profile is an enhancement and extension of your resume. It should be consistent with you resume (differences could raise flags), but should provide greater dimension and highlight special projects, accomplishments, and work samples. In addition to all of the facts and accomplishments related to your career, it should lay the case for why you are the best candidate for the type of job you want now. Your Profile Summary should be more like a Cover Letter.

The Career Development Profile is similar to the Jobseeker, but the Summary should focus on where you see your career going. You’re not looking, but you’re laying the groundwork for the next step up so that opportunities can find you. What do you want to do in the future? What are you learning now or skills you’re improving that will help you take that next step? Many recruiters are looking for employed people to fill their positions. If you’re ready to move up, make it easier for them to identify you.

The Sales & Business Development Profile is very different from the other two. Potential clients don’t care about your employee skills, they care about themselves – and explicit details about your sales skills, could even make them feel like prey. Your Summary should be more akin to an Elevator Pitch. It should tell people what products/services you provide, who you provide them for, and what makes you better and different than others offering the same. It should be very clear that if you offer what they need, that you’re the solution for which them.

Take Action

We have to reverse this trend. Your LinkedIn Profile is not the place to be humble. If you’re uncomfortable strutting your stuff, then your LinkedIn Profile is the best place to get comfortable – you’re not looking people in the eyes when they read it. It can also serve as a regular reminder of just how great you are when you need a boost of confidence. Pull out all of that things you’ve done that you didn’t think were a big deal and when you put them all together on your LinkedIn Profile, you’ll see it’s a pretty big deal.

Nov 06

Is it a GLITCH? OR is it LinkedIn?

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn

We’ve all experienced it (some us in front of a room filled with hundreds of people)… We’re tooling around in LinkedIn, go to do something and WHAM-MO! What we’re looking for is no longer there OR you click on it and it doesn’t work OR you type in an invitation to connect/group post/comment/etc., your text disappears and nothing happens!

We have ALL experienced this frustration at some point. Since the platform change, I know there’s been a lot more frustration than normal. As one of the original 10 Official Volunteer LinkedIn Forum Experts (now 14), I’ve been on the front lines of that frustration. I’ve been sharing my troubleshooting steps with many in the Help Forum on an individual basis, so I thought I’d share them with everyone. My hope is that following these steps can help alleviate some of your frustration.

One of the best things that has come from participating in this program is seeing with my own eyes that LinkedIn is listening to the feedback it is being given – and they want you to give them your feedback (you’ll find a pop up on every page of the Help Center) There are lots of big and small changes happening every day that are IMPROVING the platform. (I really wish they would publish an ongoing list so that it would help us find them – once they’ve come out of beta.) I have been vocal in my displeasure over the changes, but I can positively say, that I’m liking the new format better every day.

The downside of this massive coding activity (make us all fall back in love with LinkedIn), is that you’re going to run into glitches. There’s just no way around it. When you have a program this LARGE and LIVING (could you imagine if they took it offline to fix things?), then there are are going to be bugs no matter how well the new code was tested. You never really know how the code will run until it’s tied into the entire program.

So, how do you troubleshoot to see if it’s a GLITCH, a bigger problem or intentional change?

Step #1: Close the tabs in your browser running LinkedIn and clear your cache.

Your internet browser creates a cache of websites you visit. This is essentially a copy of those pages on your hard drive. It does this to help give you a faster internet experience because it can pull those pages instead of waiting for them to download all over again (since many don’t change that frequently). Because of the coding changes in LinkedIn, if your browser pulls a cached copy of a page that has been changed, you’re likely going to get a glitch. Clearing your cache erases all of the saved copies and forces the browser to pull the current page getting the newest code. Once cleared, open LinkedIn back up and see if you have the same problem. If that doesn’t fix things, go to Step#2. Clearing your cache depends on the browser you’re using. If you’re not sure how to do that, here’s an article with directions for every major browser: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-clear-cache-2617980

Step #2: Try to duplicate the problem in a different browser. 

First, be certain that you’re using one of LinkedIn’s supported browsers. Here’s a great Help Center article that covers what browsers are supported and some known issues with the browsers:  https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/4135 Open a second supported browser and see if the same thing happens in that version of LinkedIn (generally speaking, it’s always a good thing to have 2 to 3 different browsers available on your computer). Each browser has it’s own eccentricities that requires some of the coding to be customized to them. You could be trying to use a feature in the middle of a coding change and they just haven’t customized it to your preferred browser yet. This type of glitch usually doesn’t last too long, but I have had to go a week or more opening up a second browser to do a specific task that wasn’t working in my preferred browser. If it doesn’t clear up after a day, then go to the next steps.

Step #3: If the problem occurs in multiple browsers or it’s not clearing up in your browser, then check it see if it’s listed in the Known Issues article in the Help Center:
https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/topics/6304/6305

While it’s not always 100% up to date, they do tend to list the problems that are bigger and that they are getting a lot of tickets on. Not every little known issue is listed, so if yours isn’t, then it’s time to move to Step #4. 

 

Step #4: Submit a Ticket to the Help Center. 

This is the last option for any type of problem you have on LinkedIn. If you’re having a technical or account related problem, do not bother posting a question in the Help Forum. The Help Forum is not monitored by tech or customer support. It is a forum for LinkedIn members to help each other. To Submit a Ticket, look for the “Contact Us” link in the footer of the Help Center. The Ticket process will funnel your problem to the best people to help you, so please review all of the different options to categorize your problem properly. This will prevent delays in having to get re-routed to the right people. Try to take screenshots or screen videos to be able to show them the problem. A picture is truly worth a thousand words in helping them understand what the problem is that you’re having. In your description, include the details on any troubleshooting that you’ve already done so that they can skip over that if it isn’t necessary and get to a more advanced solution.

So, that’s what you should do if something seems wrong. Those first three steps can be done in minutes and they will likely fix your problem – or at least know that it’s a temporary problem – most of the time. Don’t be afraid to submit a ticket too early. I’ve submitted tickets and had the glitch get fixed before I get a response.

LinkedIn isn’t perfect. The ticket process can take longer than you want and you don’t always get a clear response. In case you’re wondering, there is no phone support – for anyone – not even premium. I have found that the success that you have working with support is greatly dependent on the information you provide. Details, Details, Details! Oh, and Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!

The more you can troubleshoot your issues on your own, the less likely you’re going to have to turn to tech support. So, I hope this helps decrease your frustration the next time you don’t see what you expect or have happen what you expect when you’re working on LinkedIn!

Nov 06

Why You Should Never Accept a Default Invite…even if you choose to be a LION

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn

LinkedIn Invitations to Connect and Messages

LinkedIn networking philosophy is a highly debated topic. In my opinion, there truly is no hard line right and wrong. It really depends on your purpose and goals for using LinkedIn. I just want people to really think it through and make the decision that’s best for them and their business or career goals.

Personally, when Lewis Howes first said “Connect to the World on LinkedIn!” back in 2010, my response was, “Uh, …no.” I’m a huge believer of referral/relationship/introduction marketing. My background is financial services and fundraising – two sales methods where the relationships and the introductions matter to the success of the sale. So, having a ton of threadlike connections who don’t know me, would not be of help at all because they could never give me a solid enough introduction that success would be probable. I need to be able to see where the strong relationships are in order to be successfully introduced.

So, of course I’m not a fan of blindly accepting invitations to connect from people I don’t know and who have sent only the default invite. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to connect with someone just because I haven’t met them yet either. But, even if you’re a LION and the quantity connection strategy works for your purposes and goals, you shouldn’t blindly accept those default invites either.

Why not? Because you don’t know the person’s reason or interest in connecting and you are throwing away the momentum of their invitation to connect and your ability to take control of the situation. If you’re using LinkedIn for sales and business development, people will invite you to connect because they are interested in your products or services. If you simply accept, then you may never know. You’re leaving the power of the sales opportunity in the hands of the prospect. They may not be ready to take action and are connecting for “some time down the line.” But when that time comes, someone else may be more front of mind. You’ve lost a sale and you didn’t even know it.

You need to know why people are wanting to connect with you in order to capitalize on the sales opportunities. I take two approaches to the default invite. First, if the person is not a direct fit for my target market and it is not evident why they want to connect, then I simply send a message before accepting to find out more.

If they are interested in your services, they’ll tell you. If they want to connect for another reason, you’ll start a conversation. If they never respond, then you can decide if it’s someone you want to connect with or not – it’s your call.

Recently, simply by asking a person why they wanted to connect, I landed a $50k deal . Maybe it would have still come to pass if I hadn’t asked, but maybe it wouldn’t have. By opening a dialogue, I was able to take control of the situation.

Second, if the person is a direct fit for my target market, then I’m not letting that person get away. I do accept that invitation, but then send a follow up message. The follow up message should try to elicit information about their intention and offer them additional information that will require a sign up to your list. If the person is interested in what you have to offer, they will reply back and let you know or sign up for your other information. You now have control of a lead that has demonstrated interest – how good of a sales person you are will determine the outcome at this point!

The bottom line is, that if you’re blindly accepting invitations to connect, you’re missing out on opportunities – sales opportunities and relationship building opportunities. You should look at your LinkedIn Network as a collection of relationships and not just Rolodex of people.

 

Jul 23

The LinkedIn “Follow” Function and How You Can Spy on LinkedIn (and be spied on)

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles

Follow ButtonThe “follow” feature is one of the hardest to understand and one that most people may not recognize until too late. I was just helping someone who thought they had their activity feed turned off and their boss saw one of the activity updates. I don’t know what it was, but I’m guessing it wasn’t something that they wanted them to see.

Essentially, with the wrong setting, anyone can now follow you and possibly without you knowing. This could be competitors, your boss, HR directors, colleagues that don’t like you, etc. However, you can somewhat control if they can see anything. There are 2 privacy settings that have to be tweaked to prevent this.

The first is “activity broadcasts” which are updates to your profile, recommendations that you give, and companies you follow. This is either on or off. If you turn it off, that means that your Connections don’t get to see it either.

The second is “activity feed.” This can be set to your connections and everyone. There used to be an option for “only you” which allowed you to put your feed in lock down, but that option is now gone. Therefore, if it is set to your everyone, then anyone who follows you will pull your activity feed into their news feed. AND you cannot prevent anyone you’re connect to from seeing your network – which could be colleagues and supervisors – so be careful who you connect with if that’s a concern for you.

Therefore, if you are being open, you have to be certain that what you are doing on LinkedIn is something you don’t mind everyone knowing – especially competitors, employers and potential employers.

For those of you that are in a supervisory position, this can also be an interesting way to keep tabs on your employees and you may be able to figure out if there is a problem or someone is ready to fly the coup before it happens and possibly prevent it – if you want to.

I definitely follow and keep track of competitors and prospects that I’m not connected to. The competitors, in order to know what they’re doing so I can more effectively strategize for my business. For prospects, to find an opportunity where it would make sense for me to connect or get referred in. I don’t have any employees, but if I did and they didn’t want to connect to me, then I would definitely want to follow them if possible.

How can people follow you?

Follow Person Profile Drop DownYour connections automatically follow you. There’s nothing you can do about that. People who aren’t connecting to you can follow you in two different ways. First, directly from your profile, they will find a drop down that gives them the option to follow it if you HAVEN’T changed it in your Privacy Settings. By default, anyone can follow you.

The second place that people can follow you is if you’re writing the long form, Publisher Posts. There is a follow button on every article so that people can continue to get your new articles – of course, they get everything else, too.

How can you tell who is following you?

LinkedIn has recently made a change to the follower function after putting it on hiatus for a while. With the creation of Pulse and allowing anyone to use the long form Publisher, LinkedIn is now encouraging the following of people who are publishing. As a result, if you are using that feature you get analytics about the performance in addition to accessing the full list of everyone following you. I have not found a way yet to review followers if you are not using this feature.

Can you make someone stop following you?Block Person from Profile Drop Down

Yes, if you fully block them from any access to your profile, so if they are a connection, this action will disconnect them from you. This is a nuclear option that forbids them from viewing your profile and communicating with you in anyway, so you do want to use it judiciously. You find the Block or Report feature in the same drop down menu as the Follow. You can Unblock someone in the Privacy Settings, if you should change your mind. If they were a connection, you will need to re-invite them to connect.

There is one other limitation in the Privacy Settings and that is to only allow connections to follow you. You have only two options – Connection or Everyone (except people you block).

How can you use it to your advantage?

If you’re using Publisher, see who is following you. If appropriate, consider inviting them to connect. Chances are, if it’s not a competitor or employer then it is someone who is interested in what you have to say or the products/services you offer, or possibly hiring you. Just be certain you personalize that invitation to connect to let them know that since they are following you, you would be open to connecting with them. Who knows, you just may find your next client this way!

These settings can be tricky and can have some serious repercussions so give serious thought as to how you want to use them.

Need some more LinkedIn help? Several times per month we offer a FREE webinar called the Seven LinkedIn Mistakes that Kill Sales and What to Do Instead. Click Here to check out and register for the next sessions. If they don’t fit with your schedule, register any way and we’ll send you the replay!

Jun 29

EXTRA! EXTRA! LinkedIn Limits Group Member Messages

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn , LinkedIn Groups

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For about the past two months, those LinkedIn members who are very active with their groups and in sending group member to group member messages have found that they suddenly were unable to send such messages. The ability to send group members you are not connected to a message has been one of the most powerful features for free and premium members alike since the inception of LinkedIn groups.

Some of the first few people who suddenly found they were no longer able to send these messages turned to the LinkedIn Help Forum to find out what was happening and to share the response they received from LinkedIn in explaining this sudden turn of events to their account activity. It didn’t matter if you were free or premium, and those paying were extra specially perturbed. You can read all of the comments and see the evolution of LinkedIn’s responses here: http://community.linkedin.com/questions/323652/you-are-no-longer-authorized-to-message-this-membe-5.html#answer-335674

Today, one of the participants received a definitive answer. LinkedIn is limiting the number of group member to group member messages that anyone can send to 15 per month. On the first day of the new month, your allotment will renew. This limit EVEN AFFECTS group owners and managers who need to be able to communicate directly with their group members if they are posting inappropriate content or breaking the rules.

Why is LinkedIn Doing This?

Two reasons…First, people have abused it and LinkedIn has mentioned that as a primary motivation. The second (in my opinion), is to get more people to upgrade to premium and companies to use sponsored InMail messages to have LinkedIn deliver this promotional information.

Using the group member messaging option has been a very powerful tool for me and my clients (it even helped me land my book deal). Using these messages for sales or promotional messages has been controversial and many people are against it. That’s because most people have done it wrong.

Each of these messages takes several steps to launch and must be done individually; it’s time consuming. People have hired low cost labor to just go into a group focused on the target market and just go down the member list indiscriminately sending the message to as many group members as possible. The problem is that it is unlikely that EVERY person in the group is a fit for your offer. I’ve even received messages from people telling me that they looked at my profile and thought I was a good candidate for a free webinar to teach me how to be more successful with LinkedIn. They obviously didn’t look at my profile and I wasn’t a good fit.

The second method is with the use of third party software that uses bots to launch hundreds of these messages against LinkedIn’s terms of service (like Mojo Global). The software automatically launches these messages without you reviewing or selecting appropriate recipients.That means there is a high probability that the messages are going to inappropriate people.

Those two methods are what drive people crazy because the messages are not only not wanted, they are irrelevant. There are always going to be people who hate any kind of advertising and promotion, but the vast majority don’t mind a custom-tailored, well-targeted marketing or sales message being sent to them.

Don’t believe me? LinkedIn’s own Koka Sexton held a LinkedIn Poll on this very question 2 years ago (before we lost the ability to poll too). Look at the results:

LinkedIn Poll - Do Solicitations Bother You

 

 

 

Less than a third said they were bothered by unsolicited messages. The primary qualifier was whether the products or services offered were relevant.

Those of us who have used this strategy selectively and with relevance and authenticity and gotten positive responses from the recipients, have lost a great tool. When used responsibly, it is not seen as spam by recipients. I have turned down clients wanting guidance on using this strategy inappropriately for mass promotion without interest in relationship development.

We now have only 15 of such messages to utilize each month, which means we will need to be even more selective in their use. You will need to focus such communications on quality business potential and not quantity. For those who want quantity promotion to prospects, you’re going to have to pay the piper…LinkedIn.

One potentially bad, big picture consequence to this change, is that it’s going to push more people to open network and connect more indiscriminately. Just when the tide was changing against open networking, we may see a shift back. I believe in building a network with purpose and not just with numbers. But if you can only message people you’re connected to and you want to message a lot of people, then you’ll need to connect to lots of people. LinkedIn is pushing people to act contrary to their own philosophy of connecting to only people with whom you have a relationship.

Did you use this feature? Will the loss of it affect your continued use LinkedIn in any way?

This article was originally published in Pulse. You can see it here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/extra-linkedin-limits-group-member-messages-crystal-thies

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Dec 03

Who Should I Invite to Connect on LinkedIn?

By LinkedIn Ninja | Branding with LinkedIn , Latest Articles , LinkedIn , Marketing on LinkedIn

InMapsAfter you’ve finished building out your LinkedIn profile, then next step is to grow your 1st degree Connections. Ideally, you do not want to build your network until you’ve fully built out your profile. Inviting someone to connect is the one time that you can almost guarantee they will read through your entire profile, so you want to have everything in place so you don’t lose that messaging opportunity.

The real money level of your network is the 2nd degree; not the 1st  – because that’s the direct referral relationship. You’re going to vet all new people you meet as client material anyway, but the gold is in the people they are connected to who you don’t know yet. However, you’re not going to find good prospects in the 2nd degree if you don’t have a sizable and continuously growing 1st degree network.

It’s important to be smart about who you invite to connect. LinkedIn’s philosophy is that you should only invite people to connect who you know. The definition of “know” can vary. For me, if it’s someone I’ve engaged with outside of LinkedIn or inside LinkedIn, then that means that I “know” them. For others, “know” means that you’ve actually met them and had at least one in depth conversation. I’ve even met some people with very elaborate criteria. So, what should you do?

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself what your “networking philosophy” is going to be and it should line up with what you’re trying to accomplish by using LinkedIn. If you only connect with people you believe to be prospects already, then you’re limiting your prospect pool to your 1st degree and not focusing on the 2nd degree which I called the money level above. If you connect with anyone and everyone, then you don’t have a true relationship with most of your 1st degree meaning that they aren’t going to introduce you to their connections (your 2nd degree) or that introduction is not going to be very convincing and you’ll have a lower success rate.

I recommend inviting people to connect who you’ve met or engaged with online AND who would be willing and open to introducing you to their connections. The #1 criteria is, “Are they willing to help you?” This means that you need to temper any assumptions on how helpful they may be. You never know who someone is connected to and how strong their relationship is. So, if you meet someone who is less than your ideal target market – say a coffee shop barista – don’t assume that they can’t and won’t help you. People who buy $6 lattes on a daily basis have some money! If the barista will introduce you, then she’s a valuable connection.

Whenever you invite someone to connect, you should ALWAYS customize the message inviting them to connect. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate and LinkedIn only gives you 300 characters, so you can’t be very verbose anyway. Simply remind them of where you met or how you’re connected outside of LinkedIn. If it’s someone who may not recall you, I would also add a sentence about your intention or motivation behind wanting to connect – and it shouldn’t be because you want them as a client! Build a relationship first.

YES, you should connect to your clients. It will make asking for referrals much easier because you can tell them who you’d like to be referred to.

NEVER drop a connection’s name as a reason to connect without that person’s permission. Ideally, you want that person to introduce you via LinkedIn first before you invite a mutual connection to connect anyway.

ALWAYS invite the new people you’ve met or encountered to connect on a weekly basis. Block it into your calendar or add it into one of your processes – such as adding someone to your CRM. This will ensure that you continually have new prospects just an introduction away.

Feb 07

LinkedIn Endorsements – How to Manage their Visibility (especially for financial advisors)

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn and Financial Advisors , LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn just announced that we are nearing 1 billion endorsements given. While this new feature has launched much debate over it’s usefulness, U.S. financial and investment advisors have been dealing with the legal problems it has caused as a result of federal regulations forbidding the use of advertising with client testimonials.

This video will talk about the special settings that allow any LinkedIn user to control what appears on their profile in regards to endorsements that they have received for their Skills & Expertise. You can turn the visibility completely off. You can hide endorsements from specific people or hide endorsements for specific skills. You have much more control over this section than you may realize.


Title: LinkedIn Endorsements - How to Manage Visibility (especially for financial advisors)

Oct 25

Why Large Financial Services Companies Need to Empower Their Advisors to Join the Conversation on Social Media

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , Social Media for Financial Advisors

Excerpt from article written for European Financial Review

By Matthew Halloran and Crystal Thies

It is old news that the financial services industry is extremely behind the curve when it comes to the adoption of social media as a branding, marketing, and sales tool – particularly those involved in sales of securities and financial advisory services.  However, a wide disparity of social media use exists between independent financial advisors and those at the largest financial companies with independent advisors being active for quite some time.  While a level of caution and care is expected of the industry managing and guarding our wealth, if the biggest names in financial services do not take action soon, it may be too late.

Given the fluidity and impermanence of social networking activity and the requirement to capture, retain, and oversee the advertising and marketing activity of those selling financial products and services, the prohibition of the use of social media four years ago was logical.  The technology to retain such activity did not exist so the price of manual retention (by both individual advisors and the companies they represented) was cost prohibitive for an unproven method of business development.  That is not the case today.  Multiple cost effective methods exist to capture, monitor, and oversee social media activity, and data are now available verifying that significant client acquisition is occurring via social media. Further, there are also statistics affirming that mass affluent to ultra high net worth investors want to be interacting with their financial advisors via social media and that they “expect more relevant and timely updates, increased transparency, and real time interaction and conversations with ­financial companies that are on social media.”

Click Here to continue reading full article…

Oct 25

LinkedIn Endorsements: Jury is Still Out, but Financial Advisors Beware

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn and Financial Advisors , LinkedIn Profile

It’s been a month since LinkedIn launched the new Endorsements feature. There has been active discussion as to the value and usefulness of the new feature and many people have been trying to figure out LinkedIn’s motivation and big picture goal with introducing this easy, interactive feature. I’ve gotten several requests for my thoughts and interpretation, so now that some time has passed, I thought I’d share.

First, participating (if you’re not a professional with a regulatory body that monitors or forbids testimonials) can’t hurt. I agree with most that the endorsements section taken alone doesn’t mean much because it’s too easy to endorse calling into question the intentions and credibility of the people making the endorsements. There are people doing it specifically for quid pro quo and those who get endorsed are feeling compelled to reply in kind. It can become a numbers and popularity game.

However, it is only one part of a complex profile. When analyzed in combination with the other information on your profile, it could give people a deeper understanding. Think about the leaps that your mind makes in the following scenarios:

  • The person has many recommendations AND endorsements about the topics they profess to be expert in.
  • The person has some endorsements but no recommendations about the topics the profess to be expert in.
  • The person professes to be an expert and not only has no recommendations, but no endorsements (knowing how easy the endorsements are to give)

I don’t know about you, but I assume that the person in the first scenario is an expert, the person in the second is actively developing expertise but not quite there yet, and the third person doesn’t have the expertise they claim they do. Essentially, you’re going to have to decide if you want to participate so think about what the level of participation in this feature could be saying to your target market before making a final decision.

One thing to keep in mind is that the words that you enter in the Skills & Expertise section do affect where you show up in search results. So choosing to eliminate this section could have a negative impact on your visibility on LinkedIn if being found is important to you. Also, when people endorse you, the activity goes out into the news feed to your network. This helps keep you front of mind and it can increase your credibility if your network sees that you are regularly being endorsed by people – particularly if the people endorsing you are also in their network.

The Bigger Picture

So, How does this fit into LinkedIn’s bigger picture? First, many are claiming that it’s an attempt to “gamify” LinkedIn. I don’t know if I would classify the Endorsements as a “game” but I can say that it is only the second element that allows someone to post something to your profile that sticks and it does encourage activity. For the most part, LinkedIn profiles have been one-sided. Since status updates in the news feed drop off after about 2 weeks (sooner if you are very active), there is no permanence to two-way interaction on your profile (such as the Facebook Timeline) other than the Recommendations.

Second, we all know that LinkedIn is a huge database and LinkedIn loves data. If you hover over the skills, you can see that LinkedIn is monitoring the increase and decrease of the usage of the different skills. This will give them powerful knowledge of the changes in trends of skill usage and classification over time. Knowledge that they can sell to the ever thirsty staffing and recruiting industry.

Third, I’m hypothesizing that we could see the development of the Endorsements as a search filter for the recruiter premium packages. Since activity around the giving and receiving of recommendations is not very high and most enterprise corporations have policies against giving recommendations of employees for liability reasons, I can see the Endorsements feature lending some level of additional credibility in search results because at least there are some people willing to publicly vouch for you. I have no idea if this will come to be, but if I were LinkedIn, I’d use it that way.

It’s only been a month and with the rollout of the new LinkedIn profiles on the horizon, we will have to watch and see how it develops.

Endorsements and Financial Advisors

One of LinkedIn’s most valued industry verticals is financial services. It’s evident how important the vertical is given the amount of resources they have put into research to lay a foundation to get them more active on LinkedIn. However, I wonder how well they thought through the nightmare that this feature is unleashing on those companies regulated by FINRA and the SEC.

The Recommendations section was enough of a minefield, but at least you had to approve the recommendation before it appeared on your profile. With the endorsements, all you have to do is be using the Skills & Experience section and any connection can endorse you and it shows up immediately. The only approval you’re involved in is if someone wants to add a new skill to your list.

Since 1940, the federal government has forbidden anyone licensed to give investment advice from publicly advertising client testimonials. That is because it is impossible to duplicate performance from one client to the next due to the ever changing nature of the market and the individual’s own risk tolerances and goals.

So the issue with Endorsements lies in having CLIENTS endorse skills that are directly related to your work as a financial advisor. Technically, endorsements from people who aren’t clients for skills that do not pertain directly to your ability to invest shouldn’t be a problem.

The problem is that broker-dealers and RIAs are responsible for the oversight and monitoring. Most larger firms flat out prohibit the use of any Recommendations in LinkedIn whether or not it’s from a client or not. That’s because it’s too hard to monitor who is a client and who isn’t. For example, someone may give you a recommendation before they are a client, but what if they become a client? It’s simply too messy and too expensive for the larger firms to monitor. So, since the activity of Endorsements is exponentially greater than that of recommendations, I anticipate the Skills & Expertise section will be made off limits.

Removing the Skills & Expertise Section

You have too options. First, delete all of your skills in the Skills & Expertise section and the section won’t show up on your profile. Second, you can keep the Skills & Expertise section and actively monitor and hide Endorsements as soon as the come in.

To hide the Endorsements, go into the Edit Profile function and scroll down to the Skills & Endorsements section. You’ll see your endorsers. Click on the arrow at the far right of each skill that is endorsed and it will open up a window with everyone who has endorsed you. Next to their name is a button that says “Hide Endorsement.” Simply click on the button and the Endorsement will disappear. This action CANNOT BE UNDONE, so please be certain you’re ready to take it.

Just like any of the LinkedIn tools and features, you will have to decide for yourself what helps you share your brand and accomplish your goals. No one can make that decision for you.

May 09

How To Share Documents on LinkedIn

By LinkedIn Ninja | Latest Articles , LinkedIn , LinkedIn Profile , Marketing on LinkedIn

Update to this article 4/2016

Many people find this article via search and the method to share documents described in the original article is no longer valid on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn has since made it much easier to share documents.

Share Document via Status Update:Share a Photo or Document

LinkedIn recently had a paperclip that made it clear that you could share a document – such as a pdf, Word document, etc. – in a status update by directly uploading it. They have since removed that paperclip icon and only have the upload a photo icon. You CAN upload documents with the Upload a Photo function – you are not limited to only image files. Feel free to use that function for flyers and documents that are not stand alone photos.

Sharing Documents on the Profile:

LinkedIn has now embedded the ability to display work samples, marketing collateral and other documents, images, audio and video files directly in your LinkedIn profile. Add Media Icon This type of content can be added at the bottom of your Summary, below each Experience entry and each Education entry. Simply look for this icon when you are editing your profile.

 

Videos and audio/podcast files cannot be directly uploaded to LinkedIn, but you can share the link to the video or audio hosted somewhere else – such as YouTube, Vimeo, Broadcast News, iTunes, etc. Add Media - Get YouTube URL You need to use the actual link to the video – not the link to the web page is it embedded in. Look for the share icon in the media and get the shareable url. That is what you will need to paste into LinkedIn to embed the content in your profile.

Leveraging SlideShare for Sharing Content in Status Updates and on your Profile:

LinkedIn now owns SlideShare. Utilizing SlideShare to insert content into your profile or share in a status update is the method that will give you the biggest bang for your buck – though it takes a few more steps. SlideShare is a separate social network that was originally built for sharing PowerPoint Presentations. People search it for educational and informational content. It currently supports PowerPoints, Word Docs, Open Office Docs and Presentations, and pdfs. You can embed a YouTube video into a PowerPoint, but you cannot upload video directly. When you upload a file to SlideShare, it provides a simple interface to add to your LinkedIn profile. Each upload also has a unique url to share via status update.

The biggest benefit of SlideShare is that it provides analytics. If you want to know how many people are looking at your stuff, this is the only way to do it. LinkedIn provides NO analytics for content directly uploaded to the profile. A secondary benefit is that people may find you and your content directly in SlideShare and a tertiary benefit is that you can share the uploads on any social network and even embed them directly into websites and blogs.

SlideShare is free and your account can be built directly from your LinkedIn account. They also have a premium lead generation service to insert forms into your content to gather requests for more information from those who read them.

 

****The feature described below is no longer available on a LinkedIn Profile. Use the Updated Instructions Instead****

One thing that many people struggle with on LinkedIn is how to share content that doesn’t live on the web. By content, I mean documents, flyers, non-hosted audio files and the like. Much of small business still lives in the world of creating marketing collateral that results in a printed piece or a pdf file. Ideally, you would want to convert it to an html file and put it on your website which would give you a link that you could easily share on LinkedIn and with other social media. That can get a little tricky.

So, what do you do if you have a pdf flyer or newsletter that you want to share on  LinkedIn? You can’t attach documents to status updates. Heck! You can’t even attach documents to LinkedIn messages sent directly to your connections. So, does that mean that it’s just not possible to share documents and files? No! That’s where the partnership between  LinkedIn and Box comes in.

As long as you don’t mind who sees the document, you can share it on LinkedIn if you use the Box application on your LinkedIn profile.

To add the Box application to your profile, go to the More menu and scroll to the bottom and select Get More Applications. Find the application called Box and click on it. Click the Add Application button after making certain that the box next to “Display on my profile” is checked. You will have to set up a free account on Box before going any further. Once set up, you will be able to access your Box application from the More menu to add and remove files. You’ll see an Upload button that will walk you through uploading the document or file you want to share.

Once your file is uploaded, got to Edit Profile.  Scroll down to the Box application (if you haven’t used any applications on your profile yet, then it should be at the very bottom).  You’ll see the file that you uploaded and want to share.  If you see a big logo and a small file name, click on the Menu button in the upper right hand corner and select “List View” which will be the first item in the list. Your view will change to what you see in the image below.

If you hover your cursor over the file name, you will see a blue arrow appear at the end of the row.  Click on that arrow and you’ll get a drop down menu. Select “Get Web Link” and you’ll get a pop up with a web link that you can copy.

You can now use this link to share your document in social media status updates and via LinkedIn‘s messaging system. As you will see in the final image, when you use the “Attach a Link” feature, it treats your document just like any article. However, the description is the description of the Box application. To change that simply click on the blue Edit link at the end of the description and you can add your own description of what the document is that you’re sharing.

By the way, want to know the best part? Whenever anyone clicks on that link and downloads the document, Box will sent you an email notification. It can’t tell you who looked at it, but you’ll be able to track how many people do look at it.

A best practice is to always use a document format – like pdf or mp3- that is easily shared and used by all. If you leave your document in Word or other raw format, only those people who have that software will be able to open the document. Also, you would be giving a document that can be easily changed and manipulated allowing others to possibly steal your work.

Is this the first time you’ve ever heard this  LinkedIn tip? If so, please let me know in the comments.