Author: Benita Dua, CEO, Vanilla Skills

On the 29th September 2015, L&D Global featured me as the Expert in their monthly CHAT WITH EXPERT session. The theme of the session was HOW TO USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY. It was a highly interactive and engaging session. Please find below the transcript of my session:

Question: What are your top three tips to generate business leads on LinkedIn?

Answer: My top three tips are: 1. Be active by posting regularly 2. Engage with people 3. Showcase your strength by participating in group-discussions.

Question: How do I connect with more relevant people on LinkedIn?

Answer: I look at the connections of my connections and also those of my competitors and then send out a customized request

Question: How effective is LinkedIn for finding a position and vice versa in Indian context. How many Indian companies actually use this site as primary source for finding and offering talent?

Answer: LinkedIn in extremely useful. Most recruitment firms use LinkedIn more than the job search portals. Even the HR within organizations often crosschecks the CV received with the profiles on LinkedIn. So do ensure that the 2 are in sync.

Question: And the top people are there in linked in, but whether are they or not? And how to contact them?

Answer: That depends on person to person. e.g. Surya is extremely active on social media. That doesn’t mean his counterparts are as active too. The only way to find out is to try. Also, remember to have a professional looking profile photo. People with a profile pic get more acceptance that those without.

Question: How do we target a particular segment? Is there an option to post only to a specific group?

Answer: If you chose to accept people from only a segment, that would be possible. Another option is to post to groups that have the relevant interest. E.g. You could post about a training in a group where there are trainers, so yes there is an option to specific groups.

Question: I get more than more than average 200 invite per day and I decline 80 percent as they are not relevant. Is it good strategy?

Answer: There are 2 different schools of thoughts on this. 1. Open networkers think that the larger your network the more you can benefit. 2. Quality over quantity. My opinion is that it has to be a balance. After all, you wouldn’t know if someone connecting with you has relevant connections.

Question: How is LinkedIn better than FB in social networking? Many a times when I post a mass message I get a feedback not to do the same. Then how it is helpful?

Answer: Facebook is a social networking site where as LinkedIn is professional networking site. There are things you would share with a friend/ family member but not with a professional associate. Those go on FB. What you post on LinkedIn should enhance or reiterate your professional image. If it doesn’t, don’t share it on LinkedIn.

Question: With so many people publishing multiple posts, how can you make your post stand out???

Answer: A few things that I’ve learned are:

  1. Make your content very powerful. If it’s not powerful, don’t share it. People who speak less but offer valuable stuff get heard more than people who blabber.
  2. Keep it simple. Don’t throw in big words unless there’s a well thought out reason to it.
  3. Keep it brief. There’s too much reading matter available, so when u keep it short, people would go through it.
  4. Catchy headline. Enough said.
  5. Highlight using bullet points. Allow people to skim through and make sense of your article
  6. Encourage engagement by asking a relevant question in the end
  7. Share your articles in groups and over other social media platforms.

Question: Suppose I would like to know how many head HR of any co. are in this site ! Is it possible and how do I know?

Answer: Go to the search section, type the designation and filter by company name.

Question: How can we use LI effectively for a better growth in business/profession?

Answer: A few things to keep in mind: • Don’t be a pushy sales person.• Add value.• Connect n engage with people.

Question: How can one create proactive personal brand image on LI?

Answer: I’d recommend defining the image you want to create and then showcasing it through your profile as well as through the content you share on LI. Also, let it display in your interactions with people.

Question: Is LinkedIn more effective for the executive especially from IT than the business professionals?

Answer: It’s effective for everyone who used it effectively. I run a business and like I said in the audio-clip, 99 percent of my leads are generated using LinkedIn.

Question: What is the difference between paid service account and free service account on LinkedIn? Which is preferable to L&D Practitioners?Answer: The paid account gives a few additional features like wider access to people. The free account allows connecting only up to 3rd level connections where as the paid take it higher. Paid is fantastic for people in recruitment and in sales, as is evident from the packages offered by LinkedIn.

Question: Is LinkedIn the only tool for professional networking like FB for social networking?

Answer: It’s the most popular for sure. I also use Twitter for networking but the effectiveness is far more on LinkedIn.

Question: How can LinkedIn help trainers to generate more business beyond just networking and how we can decide pricing of training program, because every trainers offer different pricing strategy?

Answer: Networking leads to more business opportunities. Showcase your capabilities to the right people to get the right business leads. Also, you can use it to update yourself on what’s the latest happening in your industry, which in turn will be beneficial when you are in business meetings. Apropos the pricing, that’s up to the individual. The skillset, educational background, experience as well as value of ones own time collectively determine the price. I’ve said no to work though I was available on a date simply because I didn’t want to lower my price. However, that is each person’s prerogative. I could afford to it, so I did.

Question: How do we make an effective LinkedIn profile and how to draw attention of recruiters?

Answer: May I encourage you to see my profile ( I’m often told it is impressive. A few things that make it impressive:

  • The big oomph is a part of the opening paragraph.
  • The profile is easy on the eyes in that each paragraph is brief and covers one aspect in crisp words.
  • The profile clearly marks my strengths and states what it means for my clients.
  • People don’t need to hunt for my contact details as they’re clearly mentioned in the profile, as is a list of some of my esteemed clientele.

To draw the attention of recruiters:

  • Connect with them, but not just when you need them.
  • Use the ‘skills’ section of the profile so they can find you more easily.
  • Post regularly and stay visible.
  • Comment on things shared by recruiters. Just hitting ‘Like’ doesn’t work since you end up becoming a statistic. Say something relevant to the post and don’t toot your own horn in their shares.

Question: Is it okay to ask for recommendations or should we wait for people to recommend us? Which categories of people do you believe we can recommend?

Answer: It’s okay to ask once but if the person whom you asked hasn’t responded, don’t be pushy. I have even got recommendations by reminding people once after 6 months of asking. Turned out to gentleman meant to do it but forgot. I only recommend people who I’ve worked with and am truly impressed with. That way, my word is taken more seriously.

Question: What are the limitations of LinkedIn? What should LinkedIn do to become even better and stronger?

Answer: LinkedIn seems to be diluting itself by offering too many apps and they aren’t very good. Many people stopped using LI since the app was not friendly. On top of it, they now offer an app for connections, another for pulse, a third one to connect with one’s colleagues… It just gets too much for a person. Perhaps if LinkedIn stayed focused on their mission and offered it all via a single app, they would get better and stronger.

Question: What should we do on LinkedIn to increase our visibility on the site?

Answer: You may do the following:- 

  • Regularly post fantastic content relevant to the target audience, preferably twice a day.
  • Interact with the connections by commenting on their posts.
  • Participate in group-discussions. Be selective about the groups you join and once you join, ensure you comment on discussions, start new discussions or even create polls.

Question: Smiling Sunny- 3 critical mistakes people do on social media, LinkedIn.

Answer: The three common mistakes people make on social media are:

  • Treating all platforms alike
  • Not engaging with others
  • Irregular presence (some days posting thrice a day and then vanishing for a few days)

Question: Smiling Sunny- 3 best practices for us to follow to maximize leads, learning n spreading what God has given us… through LinkedIn.

Answer: Three Best practices to follow: • Share good articles/ videos/ images regularly• Participate in group-discussions • Engage with your audience. E.g. Thank someone for liking or commenting on content shared by you, suitably commenting on content shared by your target audience (avoid saying ‘nice.’ Instead say, ‘ that’s a really nice article. I particularly like…’)

Question: I have a situation.. I have great contacts …but as a trainer don’t want to SELL myself. Any strategic communication that can help me through this.

Answer: It is best not to hard sell oneself. Instead showcase your strengths n capabilities by participating in group discussions, writing blogposts, and sharing curated content relevant to your target audience.

Question: Is it preferable to post our daily learning and case studies we learnt recently on LinkedIn. Or only on subject or only topic/ material?

Answer: Sharing your learning is a good idea. The key is in framing it so that it is also beneficial to your target audience. After all you do want them to read what you write. If sharing in groups, stick to the topic the group is about. Don’t digress.

Question: Quality or Quantity- what works better in LI & why?

Answer: In my opinion, it is all about a balance. If the quality is good, but quantity is small, you may not reach enough people. On the other hand, having too many irrelevant connections without any quality will serve no purpose but will waste time n effort. Hence the aim should be to increase the quantity of the quality.

Question: I want to sell some insurance products and share my professional approach and thus help the society. Is it possible through this medium?

Answer: Unfortunately pushy salesmen have made insurance an ugly word. So rephrase it if possible. Educate people on the benefits and work on a pull system rather than the push system. Offer services that not many do. If you help people who have bought a policy mis-sold to them, next time they will trust you more and will buy from you. Use LinkedIn to reach out to such people as well as to educate people and warn them. You could write about things to keep in mind before buying a policy, explaining technical terms in simple words etc. These will establish your genuineness.

Question: How much time is right time to be spent on each of the Social media?

Answer: That’s subjective. However, I have found that if I spend about half an hour a day, twice a day and then may be an additional hour sometime in the week, it suffices. (That’s for LinkedIn). I spend another 15 minutes a day on Twitter and an hour a week on FB, sometimes less.

Question: Does paid services help on LinkedIn as its cost approximately Rs. 4000/- plus per month cost.. So 50K per year.

Answer: I’ve only used the free service and gained so much. The paid helps if you want connections beyond 3rd level. Recruiters and people in the sales function often find it useful.

Question: Who offers better features to start and run a group on a social media platform- FB or LinkedIn?

Answer: The number of active members is very high in Facebook. Having said that, it also depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and who your target audience is. A B2C is better off on FB whereas a B2B would benefit more from LinkedIn. The file-sharing feature of FB groups is highly desirable since it allows the files to stay searchable which is not the case with LI. However my experience is that LI sees more professional participation than FB.

Question: Is it considered a formal approach to recruit through LinkedIn? To what extent can we authenticate the endorsements in the website. Coz I have personally got endorsements as a trainer from people who I have not trained before.

Answer: It is an accepted norm to recruit using LinkedIn. The endorsement feature introduced by LinkedIn was highly misunderstood/ misused. So one cannot look at the endorsements to decide the skill set. However the recommendations feature is fairly reliable. With Indians lying habitually, background checks have also become a norm and it might be a good idea to invest in it if the business can afford it.

Question: What parameters should be kept in mind while making LinkedIn profile or updating it? Which helps to increase productivity of your profile or your profession, and can be more highlighted or kind of marketed, which helps to connect with the profile with the concerned people of the same field or same professions, in an easier way?

Answer: When making or updating your LI profile, decide what you want to showcase about yourself basis who your target audience is. Ensure those are well covered in your profile. Make your profile crisp and easy on the eye. Don’t write heavy word or long sentences. One thought per paragraph is a good mantra to go by.

Question: How much time do you allocate to LinkedIn vis-a-vis Facebook/ WhatsApp/ Twitter in a day?

Answer: I have found that if I spend about half an hour a day, twice a day and then may be an additional hour sometime in the week, it suffices. (That’s for LinkedIn). I’m not very active on FB but check my WhatsApp every hour or more frequently if possible. However I skim through most messages in other groups. The only exception is the LnD groups since the interactions here are far more professional.