3 Challenges for Your LinkedIn Engagement

By Bob McIntosh

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At work we're involved in a citywide step challenge. Our organization, MassHire Lowell Career Center, is currently in first place with 10 days to go. One of my team members is in second place, 3,060 steps behind the city leader. I've taken it upon myself to coach her to the top. I'm pushing her to walk farther everyday.

Now consider me your coach. I'm going to push you to engage on LinkedIn. I'm going to provide guidelines for you. When you read the entirety of this article, you'll probably be relieved. It will make sense to you. It won't seem so daunting. My goal is to get you up to speed in a month. That's right, one month. Here's what you will do.

You'll increase your presence on LinkedIn

Of all the criteria, this is an important one. It's important because you'll increase your visibility and climb higher on the LinkedIn ladder (algorithm). Just so you know, it's important to have a kick-ass LinkedIn profile and a focused network; but to really make an impact, you have to be seen.

One source says the average time people spend on LinkedIn is an abysmal 17 minutes a month. My challenge to you is to almost double that...per day. That's right, I strongly suggest you spend seven days a week, 30 minutes per day, on LinkedIn. This might seem unrealistic, but if you break down your day to morning and night, morning, mid-day, night, or little segments all day, you can do it.

Here is something that will help you; the LinkedIn mobile app. Approximately 60% of LinkedIn members use the app. While the features are limited, you will still be able to perform most of the functions I explain below. Use the app while you're waiting for the train or your child to get out of school or just hanging out in the park.

You'll go from reacting to engaging

I'm glad you're reading to this point, after having read the proceeding section. This means you're serious about LinkedIn engagement. Let's look at some ways to be present on LinkedIn.* I'll start with the least amount of effort followed by the most.

Reacting—least amount of effort

If you're a beginner, reacting to what people share is a good place to start. This will help you with LinkedIn's algorithm but not as much as what follows. I have a feeling that after only reacting to what people share, you'll get bored.

1. Reacting with the five icons. You might want to begin with reacting to what people post or share. Reacting means you can Like their content or more. LinkedIn as recently added other types of reactions. They are Celebrate, Love, Insightful, and Curious. I react with Insightful in most cases. I have used Celebrate when a LinkedIn user has received good news. You'll never catch me Loving what people share.

2. Reading articles and sharing them. This is another way to react which takes little effort if that's all you do. My advice is to actually read the articles and then share them; not just share your favorite connections' articles unread. Clearly by reading the articles, you'll form an opinion of their content.

3. Give someone Kudos. This is as simple as going to someone's profile, choosing More, and clicking Give Kudos. Then you can choose why the person deserves Kudos. I rarely use this, but you might want to for people who've been helpful in your job search.

4. Endorse your connections' skills. While you're on someone's profile, why not endorse them for their skills. The debate here is that you might not have witnessed the person perform said skills. Read their profile carefully to see if they back up their skills. Maybe you've seen them share posts and articles on LinkedIn and have determined that they know what they're talking about.

Engaging—more effort

Now you've reached the point where your presence shows more value to your network. You've gone beyond simply reacting to a post or article, given Kudos, and endorsing your connections. This is what I call the breakthrough moment where you're noticed more by your connections, as well as by LinkedIn's algorithm. Let's break this down.

1. Comment on other's posts. Read someone's post and instead of just clicking Like, Celebrate, or the like; write a thoughtful comment reflecting on what the author wrote. Try to be as positive as you can; however, it's okay to disagree with someone. For example, I wrote a post about being sold to on LinkedIn. One of my connections opposed my opinion, which I respected. He wrote:

Bob, in my line of business, I am responsible for buying products and services. Therefore, I appreciate when people approach me on LinkedIn with a sales inquiry. I can say, "no" in a respectful manner and in most cases, the person respects my wishes. I enjoyed your post, nonetheless.

2. Write a comment for someone's article. After reading someone's article—either published with LinkedIn's Publisher or linked to their blog—you have the option to share it with your connections or directly comment on it. Do both. Of course you can react to it, as well. After reading an article titled Five Steps to A Winning CV Structure, I wrote:

Andrew, I agree with so much of your article. I really try to drive home with my clients the importance of keeping the CV structuring their roles for ease of reading. I'm glad you mentioned this because it is important, especially if someone is reading a ton of resumes. Another point you make which resonates with me is keeping it brief. I can't stand reading paragraphs that at 10-lines long. Three lines, four at most, are my idea of a good paragraph length.

Note: Be sure to tag the author with @Andrew Fennell; he'll be notified that you commented on his article.

3. Write your own post sharing your expertise. This, for some, is difficult because they feel unsure of their writing or believe they're not worthy of sharing their thoughts. This second point, I find, applies to job seekers who see their unemployment as a scourge. One of my clients, a director of communications, once told me that because he's out of work, he doesn't have the right to share a post. Nonsense.

I don't care if you're unemployed; you're still an expert in your field. You wrote whitepapers, proposals, press releases, web content, etc. up to three months ago. You still have the ability to write relevant content for your network.

4. Create a video. I'll admit that this is not in my comfort zone. Some people excel at this, while others make it painful to watch. I feel that I fall in the later category. So I'll leave this up to you. Some believe the LinkedIn algorithm ranks videos higher than other forms of content. If this is true, it's probably because LinkedIn wants to encourage people to share more video.

On the flip side you might feel more comfortable producing video because you have confidence in your ability to speak versus writing. The easiest way to create video is by using your phone, where the segment will be stored. Then you can upload it directly to LinkedIn. Like Facebook, LinkedIn has a live version of video production; but you better be able to do it right the first time.

You'll rinse and repeat

As I mentioned earlier in this article, dedication is required if you want to successfully create a presence on LinkedIn. Engaging with your network once a week will not accomplish this. As your coach, I expect you to share a post at least four times a week. If writing articles is your thing, shoot for one a month and gradually increase that number to twice a month. I personally attempt writing a new article once a week, but you don't have to follow my lead.

Consistency is key. You won't appear on your connections' and  hiring authorities' radar unless you are seen. Are recruiters paying attention? Sure they are. Your posts might not be directly shared with them, but they'll be notified of likes, comments, and shared from their first degree connections.

I've given you a few ideas on how to react and graduate to engaging on LinkedIn. My colleague, Hannah Morgan, provides 24 ideas of the actions you can take on LinkedIn.* Take a look at her infographic (something else you can share or create for LinkedIn). This will give you some ideas that you might implement in your communications with your network.

24 Ideas Share On LinkedIn

About the Author

Bob McIntoshBob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 25 job search workshops and webinars at MassHire Lowell Career Center, Lowell, MA. He also meets with high-level job seekers on an individual basis, where he critiques their résumés and LinkedIn profiles, conducts mock interviews and provides salary negotiating advice.

One of Bob’s proudest accomplishments is creating the first LinkedIn program at MassHire Career Center (then Career Center of Lowell) and developing workshops to support the program. Job seekers from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops.

Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He offers LinkedIn profile and strategy services to private clients.

Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related. Follow Bob on LinkedIn.

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