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6 Best Practices for LinkedIn

I wrote this for an employee newsletter at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. Our team members use social media to connect with home buyers and real estate agents alike. I thought sharing LinkedIn tips with them would be helpful. 

6-Best-Practices-for-LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great place to connect with other professionals. Sure, it can be a place to go job hunting. But it’s also one of the best places to talk “industry” with business referral partners, possible employees and peers. It’s like going to business networking event…from the comfort of your home or office.

Since LinkedIn is a more professional atmosphere, it’s helpful to follow some best practices. Not only will this help you maintain a business profile, it will also help to grow your LinkedIn network – a goal of many of us in the referral-business world. Here are a few best practices for the LinkedIn crowd.

Use a professional-looking headshot.

Those of us using Facebook know the importance of using a picture. How many times have you received a friend request and wondered who the person is? That photo avatar helps us know faces. In Facebook, we often use photos from vacations, pictures of kids/pets or maybe a group photo with friends. That works fine for the personal crowd in general.

Think of LinkedIn as an office. We tend to dress in business attire at work. We have certain manners and ways of interacting. We’re sober. Your LinkedIn profile should mirror this. Not only should you include a photo of yourself, but it should look somewhat professional and the person looking at it should be able to recognize you in person. Below are some examples of what not to use as a LinkedIn avatar (from real-life examples I’ve seen).

  • No beach/swimming pool pictures
  • No couple pictures with a significant other
  • No pets/children
  • Make sure the photo is not a long-distance shot

In other words, use a photo of you in front of a fairly boring background like your office with a fichus tree behind you. Take the photo like a medium-close up (head to mid-chest or waist is good). Don’t pose like a police mugshot in front of a white or gray wall.

Write a summary that tells a story

The summary is where you tell a little of your story. Make this a first person narrative so the person reading it doesn’t feel like they’re reading an obituary. It’s up to you, but including a little about yourself personally is a nice addition. For instance, include something about a hobby.

Fill out “experience”

“Experience” is where you give your work history. Don’t be afraid to go way back in your history. You never know when a past experience will speak to a potential connection. For instance, someone I know will more likely hire a person who has experience in the food service industry, specifically as waitstaff. As you fill out your experience section, be sure to list facts like actual duties in the job, accomplishments and successes. Finally, include volunteer jobs and internships. Just because you didn’t get a paycheck, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real job.

Recommendations – be willing to give them

Recommendations are essentially references. Ask people with whom you’ve worked to write one for you. Ask for specifics, like a success story or hard numbers from a project you completed with or for them. Be sure to also recommend others. Not only does this create a “what goes around, comes around” situation, but your recommendation will live on through their profile. A couple of tips on recommendations:

  • Be honest, not overly flashy
  • Use factual, specific examples
  • Recommend only those people whom you know, and with whom you’ve worked
  • Take time and ask with a personal note, being specific about your request

Join groups – and be active

LinkedIn groups are a great place to make connections. Join a local group, and take the relationship offline with networking events. Be active on group discussions by “liking” and commenting when you can. Just remember, it doesn’t really count when you just say “I like this” or “Good article.” Actually add something to the conversation in a respectful way. Discussions and comments can prove to be a great way to connect with people. Just make sure you’re not spamming the group. Vary the content and sources you’re posting, and spread it out rather than post a bunch of stuff all at once.

When connecting, make it personal

6-Best-Practices-for-LinkedIn

Personalize your connection message.

LinkedIn allows us to connect with people all over the world. Keep it personal. Just because LinkedIn suggests you connect with someone in San Diego, California doesn’t mean you have to connect with them. However, if you think it would be an interesting connection and mutually beneficial, send a personal note on why you want to connect. Don’t send the generic message LinkedIn automatically sends. This means you’ll have to click on the person’s name, visit their profile and send an invitation from there. Expert tips:

  • Make a template for different connections
  • Use their first name as a greeting
  • If you don’t know them personally, explain why you’re connecting

Connecting with others is clearly the point of LinkedIn. Reach out to others in your area that might have something to share with you, and vice versa. Real estate agents, builders, home service professionals (decorating, plumbers, electricians) and other housing market professionals can be great connections.

LinkedIn can be a great place to make business connections, a powerful tool for recruiting, referral business and for learning industry news. Following some basic best practices will help you create a robust profile and a beneficial LinkedIn experience. Connect with me, too!  http://www.linkedin.com/in/danielmoyle

Download the book to find out how to go from the T-V newsroom into inbound marketing

(creative commons photo credit LinkedIn logo)

Boring Industry Content Can Still Kick Ass

screw sexy be helpful

Photo: @cerconebrown

At the HubSpot “Inbound” conference this year, I spoke to hundreds of marketers in businesses consider BORING. My theme: Screw Sexy. Be Helpful. This session resonated with so many marketers, I was asked to repeat the presentation twice more. Everyone thinks their industry is too boring to take on inbound marketing. It’s time to get beyond the boring, and be helpful to prospects, clients and evangelists.

My goal for this presentation: Teaching marketers about the link between creative, journalistic writing and marketing, and how this type of content can work for a business in a seemingly boring industry in the long term. The focus here is not necessarily on one-off offers that capture lead information, but rather the types of content in blog posts and podcasts that continually towards your inbound marketing strategy by creating a repository of useful information that’s helpful to your target audience.

I plan to write more on this, so keep an eye out. Meanwhile, several people asked for the deck and the presentation. You’ll see below is the Slideshare:

Here is a link to notes from Dia Dalsky on the subject.
Download the book to find out how to go from the T-V newsroom into inbound marketing

LinkedIn 101: Make Your Connection Message Personal

Photo: TheSeaFarer via Flickr

Photo: TheSeafarer via Flickr

I get several LinkedIn connection requests each week. Rarely do they explain who the person is, or why they want to connect. If I know you personally, I’ll click “accept.” However, if we’ve never met and you’re looking to build a bigger or better network, I understand where you’re coming from. Here’s the problem: too many people are using LinkedIn to spam people with sales pitches, so I often click “ignore.” Want to know how to ensure you won’t get ignored as you’re trying to connect with people on LinkedIn? I have one easy piece of advice and a couple other tips.

Personalize Your Connection Request

It doesn’t take long to write a sentence or two about connecting with someone. You can even write a couple of templates ahead of time, save them in a note and copy/paste them into a LinkedIn message.

As an example, I connect with people on LinkedIn for a few basic reasons. As the marketing specialist for a mortgage banker, I’m looking to make real estate connections. I like to share updates and information with real estate agents, Realtors®, builders and other professionals involved in the housing market.

  • Keep in mind: I’m not looking to spam these folks with unsolicited sales pitches. It’s all about the inbound approach of engaging, relevant content.

I also connect with marketing experts on LinkedIn. And finally, I love local connections. With that in mind, below is an example of a template message you could have on-hand for connecting with folks.

I’d like to add you to my network of marketing experts here on LinkedIn.
Cheers,
Dan Moyle
Inbound Marketing Specialist
AmeriFirst Home Mortgage

I also make sure I address their name to the beginning of the message, and add any relevant items I found in their profile we may have in common. An example of that may be a previous employer, a common town or connection or maybe an interest.

This simple gesture turns the canned message everyone else uses on LinkedIn into a personal message that stands out in their inbox.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you have a clear photo as an avatar or profile picture. It should be relatively professional, a medium-to-close shot and not a Facebook-like shot of you on the beach somewhere. This lets me know who you are visually, so I can place a face with the name.

Want to know more about using LinkedIn well? My friends at Inbound Marketing Agents have quite a few articles on the subject. A good one with some quick tips is Become a LinkedIn Power User in 10 Minutes or Less Give it a read. And connect with me on LinkedIn – but please make the message somewhat personal.

Download the book to find out how to go from the T-V newsroom into inbound marketing

41 Reasons Why You Should Not Date (or Marry) a Writer

41-reasons-you-should-not-date-or-marry-a-writerThanks to Hot Penguin for the inspiration – 41 Reasons Why You Should Not Date a Photographer. After reading this great post, I found myself agreeing with most of them – but for a writer. So I wanted to pay homage with a twist, and list reasons why you shouldn’t date (or marry) a writer. Hopefully the original writer sees imitation as the sincerest form of flattery. Thankfully my wife didn’t know these before we went to Vegas to get hitched!

1. THEY’RE WEIRD

Writers are word-artists. The rest should be self explanatory. You may find yourself sitting at a quiet dinner with a writer and think they’re thinking about you. They’re probably thinking about their next chapter and which character you remind them of.

2. THE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS WILL SURPRISE YOU

Think homemade poems, stories and cards, but from an adult. No, he didn’t forget your birthday. He just thought a poem was better than “any drivel from Hallmark.”

3. THEIR FAVORITE DAYS ARE NOT YOURS

Like most people, you probably enjoy a bright, sunny day. Writers like days that send you inside – they’re “good for writing.”

4. THEY’RE HOARDERS

Writers collect shelves of books, piles of poetry, newspapers or magazines, and generally anything they find inspiring, even for a short term.

5. YOUR VACATION (OR ANY PRIVATE MOMENT) WILL NOT BE PRIVATE

You think you’re enjoying a quiet moment alone on a beach. She’s thinking about turning it into a love scene in her next book.

6. WATCHING MOVIES TOGETHER WILL NOT BE AS EXPECTED

Movies, TV shows or any entertainment will have plot holes, character development problems and insincere dialogue.

7. EVERYONE ELSE SUCKS

Writers are very proud creatures. Therefore, no one else’s writing is as good as theirs, and, at best, it can only come close. And if it is better, they’re just insecure and you may want to keep it to yourself. Or the argument will go into a future story (see reason #5)

8. ENVY TAKES A NEW FORM

It’s a well known term among men: penis envy. However, among writers it’s called prose envy. Return to reason #7 for further explanation.

9. THEY SPEND TIME WITH COOL PEOPLE

You might be an interesting person with interesting friends, but writers spend time with musicians, poets novelists and other cool people.

10. THEIR MOVIE CHOICES ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOURS

A writer’s movie  choice likely includes dialogue-laden comedies or dramas most people never get.

11. THEY LIKE TO PLAY IT VINTAGE…IN EXCESS

They either use typewriters or dress like writers did forty years ago. Like hipsters, but before hipsters did it.

12. THEY ARE CONTROL FREAKS

They will rewrite your memories of events with them to better fit their novel/story/poem/film.

13. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR OPINIONS

Yet they always want to show you their latest chapter.

14. THEIR COMMUNICATIONS IS SPOTTY AT BEST

They might not return your phone calls or Facebook messages, but you can be sure that if you check their Tumblr or tweets, it will be active on a daily basis.

15. THEY ARE WAY TOO HONEST ABOUT YOUR VOCABULARY

Without even asking, you will know which words you use incorrectly and which words are just wrong.

16. THEY SPEND MOST OF THEIR TIME IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER

It’s not for Facebook or porn, but they can spend days in a row writing outlines, rough drafts or editing their stories.

17. ROMANTIC SUNSETS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

Unlike any other people, when you gaze at a beautiful sunset with a writer, instead of feeling the romantic mood, they’ll probably be thinking “this would be great as the denouement to my novel.”

18. THEY WON’T SPEND ANY SERIOUS MONEY ON YOU

If you go out with a writer and point out a certain pair of shoes that you really like, you should remove any expectations. They might cost $100 but they won’t get them for you. Instead, they will buy a new MacBook for themselves.

19. MEALS TOGETHER WILL BE QUITE DIFFERENT

Instead of actually enjoying their meal, writers will probably spend the first five minutes Instagraming the dish from every possible angle because they also think of themselves as photographers.

20. THEY HATE IT WHEN YOUR FRIENDS ASK WRITING QUESTIONS

One thing writers hate being asked by newbies, are questions about plot lines and story ideas. “I’m thinking of writing a movie where the girls and guy elope. What do you think?”

21. HOLDING HANDS WILL BE PRETTY RARE

That’s because they’ll have a phone or journal in their hands taking notes for their next story.

22. THEY NEVER SEND YOU THE POEMS THEY WRITE…ABOUT YOU

That little poem they scratched on that cocktail napkin? It’s going in his box of writings. Unless it’s your birthday.

23. THEY DON’T RUN AWAY FROM NATURAL DISASTERS

If you live in a hurricane active area and are dating a writer…good luck! Instead of running away, your love one will probably wait around for the action to happen, just to get some dramatic post-disaster interview or eyewitness account. (This is mostly true of journalist-writers.)

24. ANNIVERSARIES WILL BE MISSED

Think of it this way: if your anniversary and an interesting writers workshop happen on the same day, you might as well forget about the romantic dinner.

25. THEY STARE AT PEOPLE IN PUBLIC

If you catch your date staring at someone attractive or, just as well someone different, don’t worry, they’re not having any dirty thoughts. They’re probably just imagining the dialogue they would write for that person. It doesn’t make it any less awkward or embarrassing though.

26. THEY FIND INSPIRATION IN THE WEIRDEST PLACES

That includes bad memories, good memories, dangerous places and just about any other physical or mental location normal people would stay away from.

27. YOU’LL HAVE A HARD TIME PROVING THAT YOU WERE TOGETHER ON VACATION

Vacation is Latin for writing retreat. At least, that’s what a writer thinks it means.

28. THEY WON’T WRITE WHAT YOU ASK THEM TO WRITE

Think having a writer as your love will bring you advantages? Think again. Writers are very proud and stubborn creatures and they will rarely write anything anyone else suggests, unless it’s a paid gig or a published writer suggests it.

29. THEY’LL REMIND EVERYONE OF WHAT IT IS THEY DO

If you’re out socializing with friends and are having a normal conversation, don’t expect it to last too long. Your date will probably be jumping in with some “killer” stories about a character they just developed or a fight scene they just finished.

30. BIRTHDAY PRESENTS WILL BE EXPENSIVE

Anything under $500 will probably not buy them anything useful for their hobby, not something they already haven’t got anyway. Think MacBooks, vintage typewriters and fancy pens no one in their right mind would want to buy.

31. THEY WON’T HELP YOU REWRITE YOUR…ANYTHING

Your past poetry or a work project might need some improvement and your writer partner should be just the person for the job. Not likely. Their ego will prevent them from editing anything not written by them. (Unless it’s unsolicited, in which case their writing is just better)

32. THEY DON’T LIKE YOUR EMO AND ARTSY FRIENDS

That’s because unless it’s someone more famous than them, they’re not really worth spending time with.

33. THEY HARDLY PRINT ANY OF THEIR WORK

Yet the storage space on their computer is always low because of the massive numbers of poems, short stories, articles, outlines of stories, screenplays and unfinished novels.

34. YOU’LL TURN INTO A MUSE, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.

It might seem like fun in the beginning, but don’t be fooled. Whether you’re enjoying a loving kiss or a raging fight, your words, actions and looks will become fair game for their writing. Hopefully they change the names to protect the innocent. But don’t count on it.

35. THEY’RE A PAIN AT FAMILY EVENTS

Whether it’s your brother’s prepositions at the end of his sentences or the way your grandma says who instead of whom, you’ll see it your writer’s eyes. And you’ll read about it in his snarky Twitter stream.

36. YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS ARE FOREVER UNDER SCRUTINY

Your and you’re. They’re, there and their. Lightning or lightening. Anything you write – and anything your friends write – will drive your writer nuts and you’ll hear all about in the comments or at the dinner table.

37. NOTHING NATURAL IS GOOD

Every interaction your writer has will end up told as a heightened – basically edited – version of the event in a story.

38. WHEN STARING INTO YOUR EYES, IT USUALLY MEANS SOMETHING ELSE

You might find it to be a romantic moment, but it’s usually a process that goes on in their mind and has to do with how they would describe every details of your face, body and personality.

39. ANYTHING YOU WRITE IS FAIR GAME FOR “INSPIRATION”

Not only will your writer girlfriend or boyfriend, wife or husband, take something you wrote and write something similar, they’ll make little changes they say “gives the piece a fresh voice.”

40. GREETING CARDS WILL BECOME EXTINCT TO YOU

A writer rarely finds just the right card to express what they express so much better. Instead of wasting money on a card, you might get a handwritten poem or paragraph. And if you get a card, expect a novel added to the inside.

41. TAP TAP TAPPITY TAP

If your writer uses a laptop to write, expect the tap-tap-tappity-tap of the keys at weird times. No, you can’t really tune that out.