There are two observations – shared with me in all social leadership courses – that need to be addressed and then we need to move on.

They are:

LinkedIn is a recruitment platform, you only go there when you’re looking for a job.

And

You should only connect with people you already know on LinkedIn.

Both statements were true in the old days of LinkedIn, but if you are still thinking this way now, it will severely impact your ability to build a powerhouse presence on the platform.

Let me explain why.

The first myth – LinkedIn as a recruitment platform

After a training session in Sydney recently, one of the attendees did something on LinkedIn and a friend said to him: so you’re looking for a job, yes? This is so common today, it’s scary. A huge number of professionals do not seem to understand that LinkedIn has moved on – a lot. By not understanding this evolution, they are missing out on the career tool of our time.

There is no question that LinkedIn started out as a platform predominantly focused on securing a job or finding talent, and while this is still a very big part of LinkedIn today (as well as the solutions it sells) it only accounts for 30 per cent of it’s focus.

The other 70 per cent is content. Valuable, inspirational, amazing content. Of course, we have to be creating valuable, inspirational, amazing content to make this the truth, but LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional content platform.

One observation I make all the time is that the quality of your news feed on LinkedIn is only as good as the people, companies, news channels, groups, and industry thought leaders you follow. If you are not gaining incredible educational value out of LinkedIn, the first thing you must do is improve who and what you’re following.

The next thing is un-follow anyone who is sending out information that drives you nuts. Yes, I know, there is an abundance of these sorts of people on LinkedIn.

I believe we are responsible for the quality of LinkedIn and if it’s is not good, get rid of those making it bad.

The second myth is only connect with people you know

Again, this used to be a strong message coming directly from LinkedIn, but again, it has changed.

To grow a powerful, personal brand, you need to get beyond your 1st degree network, to reach 2nd and 3rd tier connections. LinkedIn used to be more closed with this thinking, but I believe it is now understood. The ability to get to these connections is the true power of social media and how you become a powerhouse.

As an example, I am connected to everyone who is anyone in the world in my field. I know them and they know me. Did I do this on LinkedIn? No. I did it on Twitter. Now you can do it on LinkedIn too.

My advice is, create rules about who you connect with. Naturally everyone you know (unless they get dropped for being boring or doing too much self-promotion), as well as people in your industry around the world, your specific field, people you can learn from and people who might want to learn from you.

  1. People you don’t know, requesting to connect, might have heard you speak at an event and want to be connected to you
  2. They might be a future employer or employee
  3. They might be someone who can take your thought leadership content to a whole new audience you aren’t capable of reaching

A broad and powerful connection base is critical to grow your brand, but as I said, make your own rules.

For example:

  • They must have 10, 20 or even 50 connections in common.
  • They must be connected to someone you know and value.
  • They must be in your industry with a certain title.
  • They must have a profile photo.

There are bots, spam accounts and morons on LinkedIn who will ask you out on dates, connect and pitch something you don’t want (without reading your profile, where they’d understand that what they’re offering is irrelevant), etc… but the majority of professionals are excellent.

No question we must endure some nonsense on LinkedIn, but don’t let it turn you off the value of it.

LinkedIn is only as incredible as you make it. You really are responsible for that awesomeness. Ignore those who don’t get it and focus on those who do. Unfortunately, the way many participate is turning good people off getting involved, because they don’t want to participate that way. If you are turned off, you’re right to be, but we have to show everyone what makes it special by participating in a way that demonstrates it as truth.

That is my perspective. Many may disagree, but there is some legacy with LinkedIn that impacts its ability to grow and flourish into the powerhouse it’s capable of being. We are all responsible for making sure it happens.

Agree or disagree?

Cheers

Andrea

LinkedIn Myths image courtesy of Shutterstock

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I really appreciate it. If you like it, I’d love a comment, or perhaps you can tell me what turns you off about LinkedIn? Of course, please feel free to share with your communities, because that’s what this is all about today – sharing and giving to each other.

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