The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations and How to Get More of Them

Social proof is one of the big keys to any kind of marketing, on or offline. Businesses have been soliciting testimonials ever since the existence of commerce. On LinkedIn, recommendations are one form of social proof, and they are very, very important. Yet, most users have few if any of them! Let’s talk about how you can get more recommendations so that you can beef up your profile and start making LinkedIn work for you and your career or business interests.

In general, you need to first give what you want to get. My Dad used to tell me that if you want friends, you have to first be a friend! That was great advice to a young kid, and it’s great advice on social media, especially on LinkedIn. But, what does this mean? Well, it means the following: If you want more recommendations, you have to start recommending people!

Here’s the deal, though. Although LinkedIn might change this, at the moment you can only recommend people who are your first tier, or direct connections. To do this, just go to their profile page, and click the “More” button. You’ll see where to recommend them. So, if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to consistently start recommending other people.

I wouldn’t just recommend people you don’t know, though. Although that might be, since probably most of the people you’re connected with you don’t actually know that well, recommending someone out of the blue like that just isn’t, well, recommended! It looks fake, probably because it is fake. This means that you’re going to need to either sort through your connections and find people you actually know and can actually recommend, or you’re going to have to go back to step one and get more connections. Either way, if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to do this! That’s the bad news. The good news is this…it doesn’t take many outbound recommendations in order to receive one back. And, quite frankly, you don’t need a ton. Just a few good ones!

How to Market to Millennials on LinkedIn

So, it’s LinkedIn we’re talking about, right? I bet you might guess that all the users are over forty, mid-level execs, college educated—that sort of thing, right? And, if you sell products, run a business, or otherwise want to cater to a younger crowd, well you probably should go to either Instagram or Twitter. And, if you were to think such a thing…you’d be somewhat right and somewhat wrong.

Okay, you’re mainly right. But probably not in the percentages you think. Here’s a startling fact put out by Hootsuite. One quarter of LinkedIn users are ages 18 to 29. Under thirty! One quarter. One in four users are essentially millennials! Who knew, right?

Let’s say that you do run that company, or at least work for it, that caters to a younger crowd. One quarter of the half a billion users on LinkedIn are, as far as age is concerned, right in your target market. As, being that they’re on LinkedIn, they’re relatively easy to find, connect with, and message. One quarter of five hundred million (half a billion) is 125 million. That’s a lot of people under the ages of 30. Not only that, but if they’re on LinkedIn, they probably either have jobs or are at least looking for them. They’re serious about their careers. They might be exactly who you’re looking for. The only question now is how do you market to them on LinkedIn?

Well, to figure this out, let’s take a look at platforms that specifically cater to this group. How about Instagram? According to SmartInsights, about 60% of Instagram users are under thirty. So, how are businesses marketing on Instagram? It’s more than just showing pictures. Here are a few things that I see on Instagram that could easily translate to LinkedIn.

Idea #1: Make your marketing more “fun”

Idea #2: Break the rules, at least the ones that won’t get you put in LinkedIn “jail”

Idea #3: Cross promote to other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, drawing visitors back to LinkedIn

A Few Ways To Really Alienate People on LinkedIn

Alright, I’m going to just start out with my own pet peeve so you can see what I’m talking about here. Then I’ll show you some other ways to become really unpopular and annoying on LinkedIn. But to get the ball rolling in the right way, let me just unveil my number one annoyance.

Getting spammed with a five-paragraph message about something I don’t really care about!

There, I said it! And, if you’ve spent any time whatsoever on LinkedIn, I’m sure you know what I mean. (I get so much of this, I might hazard to say that a few of you reading this have been guilty of this practice! GRRRRR!)

Some days I go to LinkedIn, click on my messages and right there front and center is a huge, multi-paragraph thingy, usually about a biz op and full of meaningless hype. And, to boot, it’s from someone who’s connected with me but someone I don’t really know that well. I can just picture them sitting at their desk copying and pasting the same inane message over and over again to their entire network. Nothing screams Annoying Spammer quit like this practice!

Quit it!

Here’s another one, which is basically the same but done through email.

It’s getting an email from that same someone that I don’t even recognize saying that we’re connected on LinkedIn and that here’s the world’s most important, best offer for whatever it is, and that I can get in on the ground floor only if I act now, etc. Seriously, I get this stuff all the time. Well, not ALL the time, but enough to where it makes me cringe every time I see something like this.

My other pet peeve is the polar opposite of this. This next one happens less frequently, but it’s still hyper-annoying! It’s getting a message with the single word “Hi!” or perhaps something like “Hi, how are you?”. The problem with this is that I have to try to figure out who the person is and why they’re saying hello to me. I know what they’re doing. They think they’re getting my permission to message me and I appreciate that, but wow, just give me a short clue as to what this is all about.

So, bottom line here. If you’ve been guilty of any of the above, for Gosh sake, quit! You’re alienating and really annoying one of your greatest assets. Your network!

A Short Course in How to Use LinkedIn for Business

LinkedIn is the top business networking platform bar none! As of the writing of this article, there are over half a billion LinkedIn users. Unlike some other social media platforms, Twitter for instance, virtually all of these over five hundred million accounts on LinkedIn are real. They’re not fake accounts or bots, for instance. If you want more business for yourself or your company, LinkedIn is THE place to be! All you need now is to understand how to use it properly, and then you can, as they say, write your own check. So, in the rest of this article, let’s talk about how to go about using LinkedIn the right way for business.

The first thing you need to do is to get a significant number of connections. What’s my definition of “significant”? Well, it’s got to be at least over 500! 500 is the magic number on LinkedIn, because LinkedIn shows the number of direct connections you have up to 500 and then when you top that, it keeps showing 500. So, if one person has 498, it will show 498. If someone else has 6,000, it will only show 500. This is also important because the number of people you can reach via searches on LinkedIn grows the more connections you have! Bottom line, start connecting with people!

The next thing you need to do is to write your profile and especially your headline and your profile summary so that it brands you in the best light. So many people on LinkedIn have skimpy profiles! Don’t do that! Use all the space provided and fill out your profile as best you can. I’ve written several articles on the best practices when it comes to LinkedIn profiles. Use search to find them, or if you’re reading this on LinkedIn itself, just message me. I’ll point you to them.

Finally, message people consistently. LinkedIn is a person-to-person networking platform. Most people don’t realize this. It’s made to be used manually. Their API, for instance, allows of very little interfacing with the platform via software. The overall goal is to network with people the same way you would in a BNI or Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Get these three things rolling in your favor, and you’ll turn LinkedIn into a business prospecting machine the likes of which you’ve only dreamed of!

You Should Be Doing This Monthly on LinkedIn!

If you use LinkedIn actively, you need to be doing a few things monthly in order to maximize your benefits from the platform. These have to do with maintenance of your contacts and your profile, as well as making sure your profile shows you in the best light. In this article, I want to discuss this all in some detail. Don’t worry! This isn’t going to take long. A few minutes per month should do it!

Monthly Task #1: You should be exporting a list of your connections monthly. Look, if you’re spending time building up your connections, you surely don’t want to loose all this work if something should happen like you get your LinkedIn account shut down, even temporarily. Although, if you play by the rules, this shouldn’t happen, why let an asset you’ve spent time building up be in jeopardy?

Monthly Task #2: Another extremely important monthly task for you is to download your profile. Now you can do all of this at the same time. This is a handy changed LinkedIn has made recently. You especially want to download your profile summary. As you grow and change, your LinkedIn profile headline and profile summary will change as a reflection. You’ll naturally want to emphasize some aspects and deemphasize others. As you modify your headline and profile summary, though, it’s tempting to just delete the old ones. That’s probably a mistake. There’s often information or ways of saying things in an earlier profile summary that you might realize later are better than what you currently have. If the summary is deleted, you’ll have to try to reconstruct it. This is a less than ideal scenario!

Monthly Task #3: Finally, the third task I think is very important is to review your endorsements. Visitors to your profile scan your endorsements in order to quickly figure out who you are and what your skills are. Again, that changes over time. If you had a certain quality or skill four years ago and you were endorsed a lot for that skill, should it still weigh heavily in your current profile? Personally, I don’t think so. You might have changed jobs, changed rolls in your business or profession, or even changed professions totally!

Bottom line, you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects and brands who you are Right now. That it shows you in the best light for your current purposes.

What and What Not to Include in Your LinkedIn Profile

Every hear the phrase, “TMI” or “too much information”. Every now and then I’ll read someone’s profile where I feel like they’ve included too much. Now, frankly, it’s usually the reverse. Normally, if there’s a content problem with a profile, it’s that the user has not included enough information. Their profile summary isn’t long enough and complete enough. They haven’t included enough skills and endorsements. Or they don’t have enough recommendations. Or, given their age, their work history looks incomplete. But that’s what I usually see. Every now and then, however, I see the opposite.

When I see too much information on someone’s profile, it’s not the length that bothers me. After all a profile summary is limited to 2,000 characters including spaces. What I mean is what they’ve included shouldn’t be there. For instance, snide or defensive remarks about a former employer absolutely have no place on your LinkedIn profile! Okay, I get it. Your last boss or company you worked for were, how shall we say this, less than stellar. Call your sister, best friend or you mom up about it. Don’t spew that venom on social media. This is a sure way to never get hired for any but the lowest of the low jobs again.

Another “cardinal sin” I see vis-a-vis content in LinkedIn profiles has to do with changing careers. If you feel you were underutilized in your former career, you don’t need to say so. Just emphasize how your talents are being used in your new career and you should be fine!

The bottom line here is don’t be negative! It’s kind of like your grandmother might have said to you (I know mine did). If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it. Employers, and also potential clients, are allergic to negativity! It puts them on the defensive. Why spoil your chances at landing a new job or getting a new client just because you said a little too much on your LinkedIn profile?

Is LinkedIn Facing Competition from Facebook?

On the surface, it seems that LinkedIn and Facebook are polar opposites. LinkedIn is a professional, work-based app that people use to network and find jobs. You don’t post your pictures from your latest vacation on LinkedIn, as you do on Facebook, and you don’t post information about job openings or even about information about your profession hoping to secure a job on Facebook. At least up until recently you didn’t.

Recently, Facebook has decided to encroach on LinkedIn’s territory by allowing businesses to post job openings and for job seekers to apply for jobs right from Facebook. At firsts, this capability was rolled out only in the US and Canada, but recently, Facebook opened this all up to over forty countries worldwide. Businesses and job seekers alike can use this part of Facebook in order to find applicants and jobs respectively that are local to the business.

It’s too early to tell if this new direction that Facebook is moving in will impact LinkedIn or not. But it is kind of like watching an old Japanese horror movie where two city sized monsters battle each other over Tokyo. LinkedIn has over half a billion users, while Facebook is four times that size. Either platform is used by a significant portion of the global population.

Having said that, there are some differences in how Facebook is rolling out their job capability and LinkedIn. One important difference is the following. The unity of currency on LinkedIn, if you will, is the individual. Although LinkedIn has business pages, the main interaction that’s occurring is between individual people. By contrast, Facebook’s focusing on the business itself. Another difference is that the businesses that Facebook seems to want to cater to are small businesses that will be hiring people who are already local to the business.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn are free, although there again we have a slight difference, because LinkedIn has several paid tiers, which Microsoft seems to be intent on pushing people into. Competition is never a bad thing, however, and it’s going to be interesting over the next few years to watch this all unfold.

Three Ways To Boost Your Or Your Company’s LinkedIn Profile

Once you have your profile on LinkedIn all sorted out, you’ll want to use it to start getting business for yourself (or a job, if that’s what you want). There are several ways to do this, three of which I’m doing to talk about here. I’ll cover other methods in my other articles. So, check those out!
Tip #1: Understand Your Audience
Advertisers, copywriters, and salespeople of all types understand the necessity of really understanding who their target audience is. You need to too! You must understand what your target audience wants, why they’re there reading your profile, what their hot buttons are. Just like a professional sales letter writer, you need to get inside their proverbial heads and talk to them the way they’re already thinking. If you can do this, you’ll automatically mesh with your audience. They’ll not only like you, they’ll believe in you and frankly buy from you. If you alienate your audience, however, you might as well quit. This is that important!

Tip #2: Get Your Keywords Right
Keywords are the phrases that someone types into a search window in order to find web pages that match the keyword phrase. So, if you type in “restaurant Boise”, you should get a list of restaurants in Boise. Works the same way on LinkedIn. Someone might type in “accountant Dallas” in order to find accountants in Dallas, TX. I’m sure you can see how important having the right keywords in your profile are for people who want to do business on LinkedIn. So, couple of things. First off, you need to find what keywords people are using, or might use, to search for you on LinkedIn. You can ball park this by searching yourself and keeping track of what results you find. Second, you’ll need to use these keywords both in your headline and in your profile summary.

Tip #3: Make Use of LinkedIn’s Own Analytics
Although the amount of information you can get from LinkedIn varies according to whether you have a free or paid account, both types of accounts can glean a lot of useful information from your LinkedIn analytics page. You can see who’s searched for you. You can also get an albeit small list of keywords used. This isn’t a lot of information to go on, but it does help!

My Secret Marketing Weapon—LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups used to be hot! Then they sort of fell by the wayside. I think what happened is everyone discovered the power of groups and jumped on the group bandwagon. Virtually overnight, every group I was in got hammered by people trying to hawk something in the group. Eventually the group died, was deleted, or just became a pitch fest. A lot of marketers, me included, quit using groups as one of the main engines of our marketing efforts. Well, I’ve got something important to say about LinkedIn groups.

It’s time to come back!

You can join up to 50 groups. Given that each group might have, oh let’s say, one thousand members, fifty groups puts you in front of fifty thousand people potentially! That’s a lot of potential clients, or look at it this way, that’s a lot of people with whom you might want to connect.

There’s a lot you can do with groups. I love content marketing on LinkedIn. One of the big things I do to get more people into my world and my client’s world’s is to create and publish quality content. I publish this on LinkedIn pulse. After my content is published, I’ll write a short blurb about it and get the link to the article and then go to relevant groups and post my blurb there. I can triple the number of people who look at an article of mine just by doing that.

Another thing about groups that I love is that they’re very specific. If I want to focus my energies on a specific sub-niche, let’s use public speakers as an example, I can search for relevant groups, ask to join them, then when I’m in and can start the process of reaching out to the members and asking them to accept my connect request. By doing this, I can build a following in a very narrowly defined niche! Not only that, but I’m setting myself up to market to that niche through the group itself!

Four Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Excellent!

Your LinkedIn profile is the central core of any LinkedIn marketing strategy. LinkedIn, after all, is really not much more than a massive Chamber of Commerce meeting online. And, you can look at your profile as a combination of your five-minute elevator speech and your business card all rolled into one. Get your profile right, and you’re in business. Get it wrong, and you might as well take your ball and go home. In this article, I’d like to talk about four things you can do to make sure you have an exciting and dynamic LinkedIn profile.
One: Get a professional head shot. No, you don’t need a glamour shot like an actor needs. But you do need a really nice, professional looking head shot. If you’re serious about marketing yourself, either for a job or for business, on LinkedIn, your profile picture is worth investing a little money in.
Two: Sub part recommendations are almost as bad as bad recommendations. You get to choose whether to have a recommendation included in your profile. What I often see, though, is people who accept low quality recommendations, probably thinking a ho hum recommendation is better than nothing at all. No, it’s not! Yes, you need recommendations, but you don’t need limp, dishwater recommendations. You want your recommendations to be specific and exciting. How to get those? Well, if you know the person who wrote your recommendation, just ask them if they’d consider punching it up some with more specificity.
Three: Writing your profile summary in third person. This screams “dull, dull, dull!” It’s just weird to read someone’s profile summary in third person. It’s as if someone else wrote it, but we all know that the profile summary is written by the person whose face is on the account! Also, remember this. LinkedIn is a networking platform. What would you think if you want to a BNI meeting and someone started telling you about themselves but was talking in third person. He did this. She did that. Etc. Weird!
Four: You should know better than to do the following, but just in case—don’t leak out proprietary information about your former company! Just don’t do it. If you want to make something public, an example of your work, a case study, etc., run that by your former employer and get their okay first. You’ll save yourself at least a nasty phone call or maybe even more grief!