J.D. Gershbein, CEO of Owlish Communications, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn. He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, and salespeople, and provides strategic direction to individuals, small to medium-sized businesses (SMB's) and Fortune 500 companies in leveraging LinkedIn to build brand and generate revenue. Dubbed "LinkedIn's #1 Brand Ambassador" and "The LinkedIn Black Belt," J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn education. He has been featured on FOX News, in the Chicago Tribune, has guested on prominent coast-to-coast talk radio programs, and contributed numerous articles to online publications.Follow JD: On the web | On Twitter | On Facebook
Posts by J.D. Gershbein
- Gershbein: What’s Your Next Move on LinkedIn?
The LinkedIn IPO on May 19, 2011, put the globe on notice that the business of social networking is alive and well. LinkedIn has broken the plane and has boldly gone where no other social media website has gone before. No longer viewed as a passing fad, LinkedIn has clawed its way into the collective awareness of the professional community.
Only one issue remains: What’s next?
As an independent LinkedIn business consultant, I am being asked this question with more frequency. My greatest challenge is keeping current with an ever-changing medium and communicating those changes to others in usable, relevant pieces of information. This is a responsibility that I embrace and carry out with due diligence and great reverence. I’m as excited to see what comes down the pike as anyone.
Those who operate on LinkedIn daily have undoubtedly noticed the company’s commitment to an enriching, empowering user experience. Despite the occasional glitch, the site has come a long way since its inception in 2002, regularly introducing new features for content management, and offering time-strapped professionals unprecedented opportunities to build brand. Click Here to Read More…
- Gershbein: Stand Behind your Brand Promise on LinkedIn
I regularly speak about personal brand as our greatest asset in business. In today’s wired world, clarifying, managing, and protecting it should be Priority One. There’s a fine line between credibility and damage control. As we advance on foot in the real world, we are also leaving a digital footprint that allows others to form their own opinions about our products and services—and our ability to provide them. These sentiments find their way into online conversations and, whether you’re actively involved or not, they’re taking place.
Internet Wars are raging, and the competition for mindshare is cutthroat. It all comes down to—somehow, anyhow—getting noticed, asserting your value, and making memories about you, your company, and your product or service. The search engines are congested. Content is in abundance. It can be a challenge—and an expensive one at that—to operate above the fray. More and more professionals are taking the leap of faith and exploring the upside of a robust LinkedIn presence, a Facebook company page, a Twitter following, a blog, video marketing, and a vehicle that integrates the content.
LinkedIn achievers are superb micro-managers of their brand. Knowing that the slightest nuance can influence the ways in which they are perceived, they carefully orchestrate every E-mail, blog post, tweet, phone call, and face-to-face meeting. As content marketers, they go to extremes to ensure that they are not compromising their value proposition and are living up to their brand promise every day. Click Here to Read More…
- Gershbein: Tell your Business Tale on LinkedIn
Developing a business communication style is not an outgrowth of happenstance; it evolves over time. The Internet has revolutionized the way that mankind communicates. The words we use, how we write and speak them, and the energy associated with their delivery dictate how we will be perceived and received in the world. In business, those skills are put under even greater magnification. And, in a politically-correct forum such as LinkedIn, each word and phrase must match its emotional counterpart in order to achieve the intended result.
On LinkedIn, our written communication becomes a permanent component of our branded content.
LinkedIn achievers know that effective LinkedIn communication is, in essence, digital storytelling. It is about making an impact and getting people to take notice. To that end, they structure their LinkedIn profiles as a story, weaving in any and all pertinent elements that will heighten their business persona, drive a positive impression, and fuel an engagement. But without the successful leveraging of the interactive space, your LinkedIn profile is merely a billboard sitting idle at its URL, only accessed serendipitously by others, and not attracting anyone of relevance. Good communication is the cornerstone of building a robust presence, catalyzing professional relationships, and establishing a thought leadership platform on LinkedIn. Without it, there is no hope of monetizing your efforts on the site.
Success Secret #8: Communicate with Purpose, Influence, and Integrity on LinkedIn
When participating on the interactive space on LinkedIn, you should:
• Obey the Laws of Etiquette
Much has been written about etiquette in social media, a trend that will surely continue. My esteemed colleague, the great Chris Brogan, blogs and speaks frequently on the ground rules of social media etiquette. Your conduct on LinkedIn is much like that in the office or boardroom—rooted in formality and steeped in protocol. Roll with professionalism CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
- Gershbein: Are You Living Up to Your LinkedIn Recommendations?
LinkedIn recommendations are the greatest measure we have for gauging the credibility of others online. They are highly specialized pieces of content that can drive the business decision-making process. If you are being vetted as a vendor, enterprise partner, service provider, or employee, you will surely be accessed on LinkedIn and recommendations written about you and your firm will be reviewed. Beyond how you present in the other sections of your LinkedIn profile, your recommendations weave a tapestry of your expertise and capabilities and position you as the logical choice for the order, the collaboration, or the job.
In the digital world, we are what others say we are. In the real world, we get the opportunity to prove them correct.
The perception of the LinkedIn recommendation vehicle varies greatly among LinkedIn users. Some feel that it is a contrived mechanism, that a gloating, over-the-top endorsement artificially inflates the value of a person. I take the writing and receiving of LinkedIn recommendations very seriously. In my world, endorsements from clients, colleagues, and centers of influence carry significant weight in the branded content mix. Moreover, I prefer to take people at their word on LinkedIn and encourage others to be authentic toward me in return.
Success Secret No. 7: Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Market your Credibility
This post will examine the range of the LinkedIn recommendation as a strategic tool in your overall LinkedIn marketing and branding plan. The writing of a LinkedIn recommendation is a three-part process that includes the request, the crafting, and the follow-up. The LinkedIn achiever views each maneuver as a means of deepening an engagement and cementing a relationship.
When requesting a LinkedIn recommendation you should:
♦ Be Cordial and Appreciative of Your Connection’s Time
By its very nature, recommendations on LinkedIn are staged—by the LinkedIn developers themselves—as a reciprocal act. Whereas your 1st degree connections would love nothing more than to sit down, incubate on you for hours, and deliver an unsolicited, well-crafted recommendation for your LinkedIn profile, that rarely happens. People are busy and focused on other things. Hence, requesting a contact to endorse you has become the convention. The approach is delicate and personal. That means lifting that default content in the request field that LinkedIn provides and adding your own. Then, as graciously and as respectfully as you can, acknowledge the person’s busy schedule and explain why having his/her endorsement is valuable to you.
♦ Create a Recommendable Basis
You need to be recommended for something. A proper testimonial should speak to your abilities, qualifications, acumen, character, and integrity. It is perfectly acceptable to give your connection a few talking points as to how you wish to be framed in the recommendation. Without a recommendable basis, you cannot, in good conscience, request a connection to endorse you.
♦ Promise to Reciprocate in Timely Fashion
People you ask to write LinkedIn recommendations will be more inclined to follow through for you if they know that there will be one for them, too. Not a selfish act, but certainly one that separates us from the animals. If the person from whom you’re requesting the endorsement is also deserving of one, then state in your request that, upon receipt, you will be delighted to return the favor.
When writing a quality LinkedIn recommendation for a connection, you should:
♦ Focus on Creating Value for Your Connection
LinkedIn achievers realize that incoming LinkedIn recommendation requests are important touch points that can create great relationship momentum. Rather than view them as drudgery, they take on each one as an experiential writing exercise, never losing sight of the fact that their words can help their subjects advance in the business world.
♦ Write in Orderly Fashion and from a Place of Honesty
Good LinkedIn recommendation writing is sequential and authentic. It tells a story and delivers a payoff. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. Start by outlining the initial interaction with your subject, move on to the recommendable basis, and finish by reinforcing a particular trait or quality that will stick in the mind of the reader (hey, that’s branding!). Drill down deep—cite talents, skills, and character—and explain why this person is perfect for the considered opportunity. Make it believable. Avoid unnecessary or excessive flattery.
♦ Proofread Before Posting
An eloquent LinkedIn recommendation, one showing skillful use of language and grammar, is impacting on both the emotional and visceral levels. A sloppy recommendation, one written in haste, bearing a fistful of typos, fragmented thought or hazy details, creates a problem. Above all else, it shows a lack of respect to the task at-hand. And how does it reflect upon the person who wrote it? LinkedIn achievers use a Word document or notepad to collect and carefully edit their thoughts. They don’t submit the endorsement until they’ve spell-checked it and can stand behind every word. They know that their name gets posted on the LinkedIn profile along with their endorsement.
When following up a LinkedIn recommendation that has been received, you should:
♦ Request a Replacement or Revision If It Is Not Right
If the recommendation you’ve received doesn’t hit the high note, is chock full of errors, or it simply doesn’t recommend you, there’s nothing wrong with gently requesting a second go-around. Isolate those areas that should be emphasized or extracted. Collaborate on this and show patience. Your connection wants to make this right for you. Conversely, if you are asked to revise a recommendation, respond with cordiality (another great touch point here!), and address the changes.
♦ Give Thanks
You’ve just posted a beautiful, sparkling recommendation from a connection on your LinkedIn profile. It’s only natural to bask in the glow of the warm words. LinkedIn achievers take the time to acknowledge the gesture and let a connection know how sincerely appreciative they are for their work. This follow-up piece is, arguably, the most valuable touch point of LinkedIn relationship marketing.
The why’s, how’s, when’s and what’s of recommendation writing are discretionary actions and carry forward their own rules of engagement.
So what’s your take on LinkedIn recommendations?
- Gershbein: Are You Active or Passive in Your LinkedIn Groups?
There’s a certain tribal quality to social media. Whether we’re connecting, befriending, or following, there’s a unifying element at work on these platforms that nourishes our wish to seek out like-minded people and become a part of a community. Whether we play an active or a passive role in this community (tribe) is a matter of personal preference. On LinkedIn, professionals are pulled from all sides of the globe, in all walks of business, and at all levels of social media commitment, into digital compartments that foster interaction and engagement. These LinkedIn groups are not glorified chat rooms; they have a unique dynamic, one that takes on the feel of an executive roundtable or networking event with varying degrees of participation.
Success Secret No. 6: Gain a Sense of Community via the LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn achievers build their networks organically (through their direct connections), but also externally through the LinkedIn groups. Sharing membership in groups automatically places you in proximity to scores of potential contacts. Just as you’ve defined your rules of engagement for building your LinkedIn network, so should you also for the LinkedIn groups. Which groups will you join and how many? How much time will you allocate to each of your groups? Will you communicate in the groups? What determines whether or not you will stay in a particular group? How receptive will you be to invitations from your fellow group members?
People join LinkedIn groups for various reasons. Whether aligned with business pursuits, personal interests, alumni organizations, or other affiliations, the goal is to build relationships. A world of possibility exists at your fingertips. The groups are where salespeople can qualify prospects and convert them into clients; where entrepreneurs can find their angel investors; where C-level executives can receive peer guidance and advance thought leadership; where recruiters can tap the talent pool and, reciprocally, where job seekers can connect with others who can propel them forward in their search.
To achieve on a high level in the LinkedIn groups, you should:
♦ Be Catalyzed, Not Paralyzed
The vast majority of people don’t play in the groups. They join a few, maybe check in a few times to explore, but never really dip their toes in the water. Many feel inclined to add their two cents to a discussion, but they choke up, under the impression that their input will not be well received. Thus, the group logos, nice little branding elements that they are, are just for show on their LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn achievers do something group-related every day. It is part of their LinkedIn business plan.
Go ahead—dive in—the water’s great!
♦ Commit to the Conversation
Conversation is the lifeblood of the LinkedIn groups. Without it, the platform becomes a bulletin board—a random array of names and faces out there amidst a sea of open-ended questions and hyperlinks. The LinkedIn group dynamic is akin to a mini-blog: a discussion topic is posted and submitted for all to review. If the question or comment hits your sweet spot, you are free (and encouraged) to weigh in. When you opt to participate and gain a voice, good things happen. LinkedIn achievers lost their group anxiety a long time ago. Buoyed by their stellar LinkedIn profile content, they take control of the interactive space. They have learned how to recognize opportunities in the groups. By driving the conversation, they drive traffic to their LinkedIn profile and—when it’s right—begin the process of converting those visitors to trusted first-degree connections.
Read more from The Divine 9 Success Secrets of LinkedIn Achievers
- Gershbein: Are You Connecting with Your LinkedIn Connections?
Our ability to thrive in business depends on the extent to which we can build, manage and leverage our professional relationships.
Once you have assembled compelling content on your LinkedIn profile and defined your personal rules of engagement on the site, you can embark on the journey of building, managing and leveraging a professional network. This is an ongoing challenge and one that requires diligence and vigilance. Throw in any architecture metaphor you wish: LinkedIn achievers are bridge builders. Their networks form strong pillars which, in turn, are supported by a solid infrastructure of professional resources. Conversely, neglecting or mismanaging a network, no matter how stable, can result in bridge burning, cracks in the foundation, or worse—implosion.
Success Secret No. 5: Build a Tightly Knit Professional Network on LinkedIn
As the cliché goes, we do business with those we know, like and trust. The better you become at relationship marketing, the quicker you will get to that level with others. The successful leveraging of your LinkedIn network involves creating a series of touch points, starting with an approach to connect, that advance mutual interests and objectives. As the communication becomes more meaningful, engagement deepens, and a true business dialog emerges that can give rise to opportunities. When you apply this information to real-world scenarios that culminate in a transaction, you have monetized LinkedIn…
- Gershbein: All Roads Lead to and from Your LinkedIn Profile
Our reliance on the Internet as a marketing tool and a research platform continues to escalate. These days, you must maintain a carefully structured company Web site and constantly assess its relevance, functionality and performance. In addition, your presence on LinkedIn plays a crucial role in the viability and sustainability of your business. Even if your Web site is bombproofed for an incredible, user-friendly experience, you still may not be reaching your target market and your messaging can get lost in the shuffle. This is where your LinkedIn profile can serve as your greatest ally.
Success Secret No. 4: Position your LinkedIn Profile as a Digital Marketing Hub.
These days, businesspeople are carrying out research initiatives on the Internet en masse and, more often than not, the searches are taking them to social media sites before a primary company Web site, landing page, or blog. The analytics bear this out, as content on LinkedIn is preferentially tagged and will always come up at or near the top in Google searches. Knowing the increased attention being paid to social media sites, coupled with people’s inclinations to click on the topmost listings, is it any wonder that LinkedIn achievers have populated their LinkedIn profiles with spectacular, spring-loaded content that is intended to carry the weight of these exploratory hits?
If your LinkedIn profile is going to be an initial point of access for those researching you on the Internet, you should:
♦ Create Personalized Inbound and Outbound Links Early in the process of creating a LinkedIn account, you were prompted to…
- Gershbein: Take Control of Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile content drives your actions on LinkedIn; your actions on LinkedIn drive your real-world outcomes. You can be an absolute master in navigating the site, exemplary in your approach to connect with others, and a sparkling conversationalist in the groups, but if you have poor, inaccurate, irrelevant, or underdeveloped content in your LinkedIn profile, it’s a deal-breaker. The highly professional environment of LinkedIn provides you with unique opportunities for name recognition and targeting specific audiences for the selling and marketing of products, services and enterprises. A LinkedIn profile that frames you as the subject matter expert (SME), broadcasts an openness to collaborate, and inspires others to take action relative to your service offering is your absolute best marketing in today’s digital world.
Success Secret No. 3: Construct a Remarkable LinkedIn Profile
- Gershbein: Are You a LION or a Lamb on LinkedIn?
Everything that we do in business today is predicated on our ability to establish a set of ground rules and operate within them. When we fail to set boundaries, we open ourselves up to confusion, indecisiveness and self-doubt that can paralyze us. What governs your activities on LinkedIn? LinkedIn achievers draft a blueprint for success and carry it out to the letter. By adhering to a personal code of ethics and setting realistic limits in using the site, you will stay on course in reaching your objectives.
Success Secret No. 2: Define Your Rules of Engagement on LinkedIn
How we circulate, connect and communicate on LinkedIn is a matter of personal preference. These are the core activities on the site and those for which LinkedIn achievers have defined their rules of engagement (ROE)…
- The Divine 9 Success Secrets of LinkedIn Achievers
Like anything else in the success realm, achieving on LinkedIn finds its point of origin with mindset training. By embracing a positive attitude and conditioning your mind for success, you can achieve anything you seek in business and in life. Such is the gospel of many great business leaders and sales trainers and the hallmark of the SUCCESS enterprise. These principles translate beautifully to LinkedIn. Once you take the leap of faith and begin to work LinkedIn with purpose and conviction, things will quickly gel and you can expect positive outcomes. You somehow—almost magically—gain the insight you need and, slowly but surely, you advance out of your comfort zone. You will develop a sixth sense for how people interact and communicate on LinkedIn and your own social networking style will emerge.
Success Secret No. 1: Develop an Empowering LinkedIn Mindset
To understand the role of mindset training, consider the barriers (whether real or perceived) that inhibit or prohibit many people from even getting started on LinkedIn—let alone using it productively—and how LinkedIn achievers break them down.
1). Fear of Technology. Well, you don’t have to be a Ph.D. from M.I.T. to maneuver around LinkedIn. You do, however, have to be comfortable at the computer and commit a few basic skills to memory. LinkedIn is very well laid-out and extremely easy to navigate. Any aversions to today’s technology that a LinkedIn achiever may have had prior to creating an account are quickly dispatched…
- Gershbein: Ask Yourself, Why Are You on LinkedIn?
At every speaking engagement, I usually ask the question of my audience, “Why are you on LinkedIn?” After a brief period of silent contemplation, I stroll about the room, meet their innocent stares and, after a bit of gentle prodding, they begin to shout out their answers:
“To connect with other people”
“To research companies in my target market”
“To share information in my industry”
“To become known in my field of expertise”
These are all valid reasons. Invariably, there is one response I’m looking for that is never offered (or is held back) until I drop a few hints. Ultimately, someone blurts it out: “To make money!”
Why are we so reluctant to admit that—on a social networking site devoted to business—we are looking for business? This is what Reid Hoffman and the founding fathers of LinkedIn envisioned when they spent their first venture capital dollars in 2002 and built the site. Since its launch in May 2003, an entire cottage industry has sprung up around LinkedIn training and consulting (as with all social media). The Internet is swollen with LinkedIn tutorials and blogs that take you through the how-to of social networking. There is so much content out there it will make your head spin. Everyone is quick to tell you what you should be doing and how to do it without shooting yourself in the foot. The key is to not get bogged down in minutiae…
- How Well Are You Using LinkedIn?
There is a resounding difference between saying, ‘I want to be successful’ and declaring with fist-thumping conviction, ‘I will do whatever it takes to become successful!’
Success in navigating the popular business networking site, LinkedIn, and using it to meet business objectives operates under the same premise. The road to becoming a LinkedIn achiever is paved with ongoing learning, constant observation, practice and application.
Since 2006, I have worked with thousands of top executives, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and job seekers to help create branded content for their LinkedIn profiles, designing customized LinkedIn sales and marketing strategies, and translating their efforts on the site into positive results. My greatest joy is taking someone new to LinkedIn under my wing and watching them grow and develop into a poised, confident communicator and social networker – in other words, a LinkedIn achiever.
Who is the LinkedIn achiever? What does he/she do that is different from the casual user? I can tell you that the LinkedIn achiever doesn’t log in sporadically. He/she has an action plan.
I define the LinkedIn achiever as one who attaches value to the time and energy spent on LinkedIn, presents well on the site, respects best practices in using it, and considers this work to be an integral component of daily business prospecting.
In my humble opinion, people who are on LinkedIn but claim they don’t have time to work on it, have not made the conscious decision to explore its possibilities. Perhaps there’s something else holding them back (e.g., fear of technology, lack of faith in the medium). The LinkedIn achiever has overcome these psychological barriers to success, sees the potential and is empowered by a positive mindset.
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