#SoMe, Brand, Uncategorized

Accepting (Or Rejecting) LinkedIn Invites

I love connecting with new people online. I often make connections through Twitter (especially Tweet Chats), conversations in groups on LinkedIn, via comments sections on websites/blogs, I’ve met people via Periscope and Blab and recently discovered HipChat (how cool is that!? Thanks Melissa!).

However one thing I don’t generally do is accept LinkedIn invites from people I don’t know or haven’t had a conversation with previously. There have been a couple of exceptions – when the request has come with a short message about why the person wants to connect I’ve accepted and then had some great conversations, both online and in real life (or IRL for those of you that remember MS Messenger).

My main reason for this is that I like my LinkedIn feed being relevant to me. I get a huge amount of my own professional development from seeing what my connections and groups share and I believe the platform would lose relevance to me if it became a feed of 1001 different irrelevant posts.

When I receive an invite from someone I know I always accept, and if I don’t know them I will go through a couple of steps before declining:

  1. Have they written a message about why they want to connect? If they have and it makes sense to me I’ll accept and send them a message to start a conversation.
  2. If there is no message I check out their LinkedIn profile – have I met them somewhere/worked with them in a past life? It can be easy to dismiss people too quickly, especially if they’ve change their surname or it’s been a few years.
  3. I also do a quick Twitter search – have I interacted with them on that platform?
  4. If something about their profile intrigues me I will send them a message (thanks Helen Blunden for this great LinkedIn email responses article, I’ve adapted the suggested messages and used these myself) asking what they’re looking to achieve out of the connection.
  5. If none of these things are true I will decline the invite.

LinkedIn is a professional network, not a popularity contest. LinkedIn groups (which have gone through a great facelift recently) provide an opportunity for open networking – my personal connections do not need to be that open network.

How do you judge who you accept connection requests from? I don’t believe there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use this platform – just the way that works best for you.

 

First published on LinkedIn

Personal brand

Hard Truth: I Would Judge You On Your Social Media Profile

Yup, let’s face it. We’ve all done it. Sussed out that new work contact on LinkedIn or Twitter (maybe Google Circles… or not) and judged them a little.

Unprofessional photo (Wearing tinsel in his hair? Really?!)

Mistakes in the description of the copywriter job she had… wouldn’t recommend her to anyone!

A bio written in overly formal wordy language that screams “I THINK I’M AWESOME!”

Yeah, I do it too.

So, like it or not, given that most people will make snap judgements of you, there are a few basic tenents that can translate into a more favourable initial impression online. My top four recommendations to get it right?

1. The profile picture

No, the one of you holding a glass of bubbly at your cousin’s wedding with your significant other chopped out will not do. Nor the picture from 15 years ago when you still got ID’d for alcohol.

Nothing flash is needed: just a semi-professional (or super-professional, depending on your industry) head shot.

The only people who shouldn’t follow this advice in my opinion are children’s party entertainers and spirit coaches (they can go for something a little kookier).

2. Proofread

It kills me how often I see LinkedIn bios with horrendous spelling errors. Just get a friend to read over it. Copy and paste into MS Word and see if anything is underlined red or green. And if it is, fix it.

3. Write in first person

Pop quiz: When someone describes their accomplishments to you at a party, do you sometimes think they come across as a bit of a blow-hard if they speak about themselves in the third person? I certainly do.

Same goes in your social media profiles. You are trying to connect with people, do that by speaking in your own voice, you will come across like a real person and I promise you that is a good thing.

4. Be authentic

Social media is an opportunity for you to make connections with people you might not ordinarily have the opportunity to connect with. It’s a way to tell people a little bit more about yourself and your world in an easily accessible environment.

Use it – but think about how you do it. Just as you are careful with your professional reputation, be careful with your online one. Be yourself, but don’t forget that these are professional mediums. While being true to yourself, your beliefs and your ethics, don’t sell yourself short by endorsing everyone you know for every skill they have listed (can you really endorse Jenny for Strategic Planning if you worked with her at McDonald’s on drive-through when you were teens?).

If you’re going to put your professional persona out online (and I think that is awesome – yay the internet!) just be wary of who is going to read it, and what message you’re sending. Will your future boss, co-worker or client see your online brand as an extension of real-life you? Or are you making choices that could lead to those relationships suffering?

Social Media & Learning

Rethinking Your Assumptions about Social Media & Learning

Does your organisation have a Social Media Policy? A Technology Policy? A BYOD (bring your own device) Policy? A Policy for Creating Policies Policy?

While (as someone who has worked in People & Culture for quite a while and is a bit of a Type A) I appreciate the value of a good policy which helps manage a business need, I think we have a tendency to sometimes get carried away with policies and use them in a reactive, rather than a productive manner.

An excellent example of this is having a Social Media Policy – so many organisations implement these in fear of social media and what employees may say about them online, they forget that anything that an employee says about them in a public forum (like in a town meeting, or on an open Facebook page) can be covered by the Code of Conduct. Why do we insist of having a separate rule book to outlaw/overly police social media?

More often than not it is because the decision makers are scared of what they don’t understand.

Unfortunately this has a negative impact on productive learning within organisations when one of the best tools is treated like it ran over the sheriff’s dog intentionally. Social media isn’t the enemy! It can be a wonderful way to (freely) encourage people to champion their own learning, to build networks, to find resources, to stay up to date in their field. Yes you have to manage its use; you don’t want everyone playing Farmville during work-time. But if you do it right, self-directed learning is such a great way to motivate your staff (and don’t think this is just a Millennial thing, everyone can get involved).

Just a few examples of where I’ve seen this work spectacularly;

– organisations running Facebook ‘Private Closed Groups’ as a way to give a positive ‘shout out’ to fellow staff members and engage in a professional forum – incidental learning and connections can be made within the organisation to promote self-development and informal coaching

– organisations encouraging employees to use professional networking tools such as LinkedIn (or the soon to be released Facebook equivalent) to generate leads, engage with stakeholders and join professional LinkedIn Groups to stay up to date on specific sector knowledge

– professionals using Twitter as both a networking tool and as a way to find out about the latest developments in their field.

Don’t be scared!

Encouraging your employees to network, widen their horizons and stay up to date with professional advances isn’t nearly as scary as losing them and their skills to a competitor who trusts them in managing their own learning. If you put a good framework in place, encourage sensible usage and get your organisation’s leaders on board with making the most of these tools then the returns you receive will far outweigh the effort  put in.