October 2012 Archives

This article covers 5 secret LinkedIn strategies that are so useful, you should keep them to yourself.

There's no magic circle, or weird handshake just keep them between you and me, ok?

Here are the 5 secret LinkedIn strategies:



(1) Identify your Semi-Anonymous Browser


(2) Spot if someone is job-hunting


(3) Connect with someone you don't know


(4) Find the best Group to join


(5) Drag 'n' Drop your Profile Sections



Identify your Semi-Anonymous Browser

I've already covered in a previous post the fact that some people on LinkedIn are truly anonymous (if they have a paid account) and some are semi-anonymous. Here's my trick to intelli-guessing the Semi-Anonymous variety. It works more often than not and you can test it for yourself.

Let me define Anonymous and Semi-Anonymous.

This person is truly Anonymous (it's greyed-out & cannot be clicked)





This person is Semi-Anonymous.




Logic dictates that the majority of people that come by and browse your profile do so because they have something in common with you. In LinkedIn terms that commonality breaks down into 2 major areas:

(a) Groups
(b) Connections

Example (i) Groups (Sales Manager at Sigma Aldrich):


Claudio Costantini is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we share the same Group.


Example (ii) Groups (Engineer at BMW):


Fabrice Badaroux is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we share the same Group.


Example (i) Connections (Lawyer at Lincoln House Chambers)





Richard English is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we have a shared connection.




Example (ii) Connections (Partner at MacRoberts)




Katy Wedderburn is more than likely my Semi-Anonymous browser, since we have 2 shared connections.




A few things to bear in mind with this technique of intelli-guessing: sometimes you will have double positives (connections AND groups in common) so highly likely that this person is the culprit.

Other times, you will have absolutely no commonality and can safely infer that whoever browsed you from the list of potential browsers, that person came across your Profile accidentally or via a route known only to themselves.

Also, bear in mind that after you subsequently connect with a former semi-Anonymous browser, it does not convert their tracks - in other words it still looks like they were Semi-Anonymous in the history of browsing.

I've noticed that the person who has browsed usually (more than 70% of the time) appears in the top half of the list. Perhaps this is LinkedIn trying to make the task of networking with Semi's slightly less arduous?

Spot if someone is Job-hunting


I share this secret because in my view everyone who is in the 'market' ought to understand just how easy it is to spot if someone is 'looking' for a new job.

In other words, you need to be extremely careful if you don't want your employer to become aware. LinkedIn loves to share information on what it's netizens are up to.

Activity Updates publicize the following information about you:

Adding a new current job position
Adding a new current school
Adding a new link to a website
Recommending someone
Following a company
Adding a connection

The good news is that you do retain ultimate control over the Activity Update Broadcast for the above areas. You can go submarine stealth mode on these activities by turning off the Activity Broadcast altogether (note the warning to job-seekers). This is a safer option than changing the "Activity Feed" to "Only you".

Note: Joining a group, adding an application to your profile, or updating your photo generates an update that cannot be prevented by turning your activity broadcasts off.

In other words, even if you turn off your Broadcast, LinkedIn will tell the world that you have engaged in the aforementioned activities. Good to know?

Here are the typical warning signs that someone is looking to jump ship. A rash of sudden activity, including:

(1) New Connections. New Recommendations/Endorsements. Joining Groups.
(2) Filling out a 100% complete Profile.
(3) Following a Company.

My advice: Even with your Broadcast turned off, if you launch into full-job-hunting mode, someone will surely notice. Loose lips sink ships. The smarter (and safer) approach would be to:

  • Avoid connecting with recruiters (they get more out of the connection than you do).
  • Fill out your Profile 6 months before you go looking.
  • Don't follow a company unless you have a great reason to follow it for your existing role.
  • Try to spread your connection pattern over a long period of time.
  • If you must do batch-connections be sure to include lots of 'red-herring' connections - folks that seem random and take the spotlight off those important (career-wise) connections.
  • Just be smart about the Groups that you join when you are job-hnuting. Remember - your activity related to Groups CAN NOT BE HIDDEN and is visible to everyone.
  • What do I mean about being smart with Groups? If you are currently located in New York, don't join a Group that is location based and focused on San Francisco. There's no better way to advertise that you are potentially heading west.

Above all - get familiar with your Settings panel, you need to understand what is public and how to go private.

Connect with someone you don't know


A favorite of mine. LinkedIn dictates that you can only connect with people you know and this rule can interfere with 'stranger networking strategies'. How do I overcome this pesky constraint?

Usually, I connect with people who have viewed my Profile, the theory here is that they have already opened the door (if, of course I can identify the Browser) to connecting.

The other signal I look for is if they have 500 or more connections. If they have 500+, experience tells me they are more likely than not to connect with me.

Here is an example with Terrance:


(i) A General Counsel browsed my Profile. Let's say for arguments' sake I feel sure it was Terrance.


 





(ii) Only 170 Connections but I hit "Connect".


(iii) I choose "We've Done Business Together" - Why this option and not the others? The first 2 ("Colleague", "Classmate") are patently false and force you to name the place of work or college you have in common. "Friend" is also untrue and seems out of place on a professional networking site. "Other" forces you to find and add an email address for Terrance as part of the connection request (if you don't share any Groups). The final option "I Don't Know Terrance" would seem perfect in the circumstances but actually results in a scolding when you try to send the connection request. It's a dead end, your hand has been smacked.

When I use option #3 ("We've Done Business Together") I have the opportunity to build on the theme of doing business together in my message that gets sent to Terrance. I would write something along these lines:

"Terrance,
We've actually not done business together yet but I am keen to connect to explore how we may help each other. If you are open, great. If not, feel free to ignore my connection request.
Sincerely,
Andy" (40 Words, 214 Characters)

This technique has helped me to connect with many strangers over the years but it's important to be very clear about your intentions and authentic in your message.

You also need to be succinct - there is a limit of 54 Words, 300 Characters on this Connection request. It's wise to add the "feel free the ignore" part when you reach out to people you don't know because 'Ignore' is one of the options they see accompanying the Connection Request.

The third option they see is 'Report Spam', which you've hopefully just nudged them away from. If several recipients of your Connection Request click on 'Report Spam' button this usually means your connecting ability is temporarily suspended until you make a promise to LinkedIn Customer Service to be a rule abiding networker again.

Find the best Group to join


Best in the sense that regardless of area, focus, subject matter, great Groups on LinkedIn all share the same 5 characteristics:

(i) They are well run: zero or minimal spam in the public Discussion area.
(ii) You are not marketed to constantly.
(iii) They grow at a decent clip.
(iv) They have a high Comment to Discussion ratio.
(v) People you know and respect are also members of the Group.

Characteristics (i) (ii) & (v) are self-explanatory, I think. Let's look at growth and activity related to Comments and Discussions.

How does one measure growth? About a year ago, LinkedIn introduced the Group Stats page and in doing so, made choosing Groups a tad more scientific. Here are examples of 2 Groups with very different growth curves:

 


Which one would you like to hitch your wagon to?


Comment to Discussion ratio is important because if you have more Discussions than Comments, chances are that the spammers have taken over. See if you can tell the difference (Discussions = GREEN, Comments = BLUE).

 


 

(I will cover Groups in more detail in a future post (I run 9 of them, 20,000+ members).)


Drag 'n' Drop you Profile Sections


The final secret and I'm not sure why it is a secret but LinkedIn have not advertised this option. Did you know that you can re-order any section in your Profile?

Well, you can and it's really easy to do, once you know how.

Simply go to "Profile" then "Edit Profile" hover your cursor over any section on your Profile (i.e Summary or Experience) and the cursor will change to a cross with arrows. Click and drag any section up or down and it will re-order your Profile for you.

This could come in really useful if you needed to highlight a particular section (or wanted to move one further down the list).

My thanks to Leonid for this tip.

 

Last Tuesday night, I watched a presentation about a brand that I have followed for over 30 years: Domino’s Pizza. Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications at Domino’s, spoke to a full house at the October meeting of the Michigan Franchise Business Network (FBN). re:group hosts the quarterly meetings as part of our participation in the International Franchise Association (IFA).

I learned that, as a mature franchise concept, Domino’s had lost their way. Research indicated that their product was not competitive, sales were down and something had to change. So, they began to revisit all of their product ingredients in search of a “new, improved” product. Once they created the new pizza, the challenges to launch were many: How do you get system buy-in? How do you communicate the change externally and prompt people to try a pizza they had come to know over decades? And how do you do this in an environment of social media?

Speaking of social media, it was a hoax on YouTube that began Domino’s journey on the the path to painfully open and totally honest corporate communications, first with Domino’s U.S. president, Patrick Doyle, responding to an unfortunate event. This occurred just as they were preparing for the new product launch.

 

Their agency explained that announcing a “new, improved” product was earth shattering in the restaurant business, and that only a fresh approach to breaking through the clutter of traditional advertising would do. Traditionally, advertising presents a polished and positive image and professionally-adjusted food photography. Their solution was to present what they refer to as “the turnaround” of the product in a completely open and authentic manner. In advertising and all communications, actual customers said they did not like the product, actual Dominos staff shared how they changed the product and expressed their ongoing commitment to quality, honesty and openness. It worked. And it was truly unheard of.

And it still works today. They use social media (Facebook, Twitter) at the national and local levels to engage with customers, rather than push out “deals.” The only screening they do is that they do delete profanity and pornography. Domino’s has even asked customers to open the box and take a photo of their pizza dinner for them to potentially use for national advertising.

It was a bold move that Domino’s leadership embraced and it has become integral to the company culture and the brand they nurture and protect. It is a great story, and I thank Tim for sharing it at FBN last week.

Note: Full disclosure; I worked with Domino’s in the early years, producing broadcast and print advertising while at Group 243.

Working this morning through my daily routine of reviewing some 300+ blogs, articles and newsletters  continue to see a trend that refers to what today’s customer wants, needs and commands. The trend touches on customers in all age groups, what brands need to do, and, of course, technology and its ever increasing role in business. But the common ground that everything centers around is customer experience and information access.

I believe the days of worrying about being too intrusive with consumers is behind us. The thing we must learn, and fast is that today’s consumer wants information and wants it now, in real-time. They are more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever before. Small business owners must follow suit and adapt accordingly. In the franchise space, franchisors must lead the charge and do so, in part by leading by example – embrace and adapt to change!

Below are three interesting articles that lend towards the common ground defined above and indicate major changes already taking place across many industry segments. Would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

Social Customer Expectations as published on Social Media Club

In a study from this year, Gartner predicts not responding to customers via social channels will be as harmful in 2014 as not answering the phone is today. The reason? Customers simply expect it.

Customers have long complained about the lack of attention via certain channels when dealing with companies. Ever stand in line at a store while they answer the phone and have a lengthy conversation? That’s the feeling customers get when they try to reach a brand via social media and are ignored.

Read more here.

All Eyes Turn To Boomers and How They Use The Internet as published on ReadWriteWeb.com

Eighty million Boomers live, work and spend in the United States, nearly a third of the population. If you add the previous generation, the number of 50-plus Americans is 98 million, a segment of the population that’s expected to grow 34% between now and 2030, when nearly half of the nation will be aged 50 or over, according to a recent study from The Nielsen Company.

That is a huge economic force, one that has been shaping the U.S. private sector for a long time. But unlike previous generations, where the members “age out” of active spending and societal influence, the sheer size of the Boomer generation means that it will continue to be a force for a long time to come. By the middle of the 21st century, Nielsen reckons, there could be around 161 million 50-plus citizens in the country.

Already, this is a generation heavily influencing technology, just from it’s buying power. 41% of Apple customers are Boomers, the Nielsen report states.

Read more here.

SoLoMo Update: Mobile-only Social Networks to Reach 1B Users by 2014... as published on TechCrunch.com

Crystal ball-gazing time from Gartner… The analysts, which last night published some stats on how PCs continue to reign as the woolly mammoth of the tech world, today followed up with a list of predictions for one of the areas still on a big upswing: mobile services, and specifically on smartphones and tablets (AKA the devices that are causing all that doom and gloom for PCs). Gartner predicts that we will see 1 billion smartphones sold in 2015, with a further 350 million media tablets sold by that time (as a point of comparison it looks like worldwide PC sales will be under 400 million units this year, using Gartner’s figures).

And it also wrapped those up with a list of suggestions of what services may still have some growing to do.

Read more here.

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