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).  They have installed a strict protocol based on their evaluation of the social networking process, their tolerance for connecting with those they don’t know, communication style, and how nimble they are in converting names on a computer screen into valued professional resources.

When defining your ROE, you should take the following elements into account:

♦ Self-Awareness

LinkedIn achievers know their place in their industry and their standing in LinkedIn Nation. They constantly study what is going on in their virtual environment and position themselves accordingly. They have outlined to what extent they want to participate in LinkedIn groups. They also know that LinkedIn recommendations carry a great deal of weight in personal branding. LinkedIn achievers exemplify that LinkedIn cannot be monetized through a muddled frame of reference.

♦ Connection Tolerance

When it comes to social networking, people are like fingerprints or snowflakes—no two are alike. I have conceptualized what I call the LinkedIn Connection Continuum to categorize connection tendencies:

On one side is the LION (LinkedIn Open Networkers). These folks will, in essence, connect with anyone with a heartbeat. They are what I call LinkedIn scorekeepers. They build huge networks rapidly, but don’t make much effort in leveraging them. On the other end are the Closed Networkers. These people are deliberate and methodical. They have strict criteria for building their networks and will only connect with those they know or have met. Typically, the majority of LinkedIn users fall somewhere in between. LinkedIn achievers know their place on the continuum, but they are also flexible and will frequently give others the benefit of the doubt.

♦ Communication Style

Sometimes we lose sight that there are actual people on the other side of the computer screen. How you interact with others on LinkedIn will dictate your success in leveraging it. Communicate well and everything falls into place. Communicate poorly, rarely, or out of ethics, and it will come back to haunt you. LinkedIn achievers are solid, real-world communicators. Finding your voice in social networking is an ongoing process. This topic will be discussed at greater length in upcoming posts.

♦ Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Not everything on the LinkedIn platform may be suited for your talent, temperament, or schedule. LinkedIn achievers don’t waste time or effort on what they perceive as unnecessary. They are confident in the image they project in their LinkedIn profiles and know what they can and can’t do on the site. They acknowledge LinkedIn’s immense research capabilities, its value as a marketing tool and potential in catalyzing business relationships.

Regardless of how you define your personal rules of engagement on LinkedIn, everything you do on LinkedIn must address best practices. Think of your activities as individual strategies contributing to a desired goal and move in that direction. Social networking isn’t an exact science; it is trial and error. When something isn’t working, change is good—or, at least, worth a try.

Have you defined your rules of engagement on LinkedIn? Share your questions here.


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