LinkedIn Message Emoticons: Strengthening Connections Or Lowering The Bar?

A few days ago, I noticed that while writing a LinkedIn message to a new connection, something was different.LinkedIn Coffee Stickers

 

I now have the option of adding a variety of emoticons to my messages. I can choose from a series of cartoon coffee cups conveying a variety of emotions, statements, and states of mind. And then there is a series of kitty cat emojis—which this dog lover will never, ever use. I can also select from an assortment of GIFs (from movies like Anchor Man and TV shows like The Office).

 

According to a posting in LinkedIn’s Help Center on September 17, the new features aren’t yet available to all users. LinkedIn will gradually roll the new messaging capabilities to all members.

 

Word of warning if you do have access to the new features: I discovered by clicking on one of the stickers to get a closer look at it, it was sent to the recipient immediately. I found no way to retract it, and therefore found myself apologizing to my connection for sending what was an out-of-character and odd reply. Surely, he would have wondered why on earth I had sent him a cute little sticker depicting a sweaty coffee cup, holding an MP3 player and apparently moving to the music.

 

Now back to the topic at hand…

 

Emoticons? Really, LinkedIn?

I’ve searched the LinkedIn blog for some explanation of why they’ve made this and other changes to their messaging platform. Here’s what I found in a post on September 1:

 

“Starting today, we are rolling out a new messaging experience on LinkedIn that offers an easier and more lightweight way to have professional conversations with your connections. We know many of you have been asking for this ability and we’ve taken a thoughtful approach to reflect the evolving ways professionals are communicating with one another today…”

 

Regarding the stickers, emojis, and GIFs, the post says…

 

“In addition to being able to attach photos and documents to your messages, now you can also add stickers, emojis and GIFs to insert a little extra personality into the conversations you’re having 1:1 or with a group on the new messaging experience.”

 

 

Perception of Professionalism

Aside from the other bugs that people have found when using the updated version of LinkedIn messaging, I have to wonder how “professional” connections will perceive people who actively use these personality enhancers in their messages. I find them a bit juvenile, but I realize my opinion won’t be the same as that of others. Appropriateness and professionalism are in the eye of the beholder.

 

I should fully disclose that I occasionally (OK, regularly) add a traditional smiley face into a message. You know…the colon + dash + right parenthesis,  variety. Yes, I insert an occasional semicolon + dash + right parenthesis, too.

 

According to a study shared on allacademic.com, smiley faces in work-related emails can cause recipients to find the senders more likable and credible.

 

I imagine that might be the case with LinkedIn messages, too. But the question remains whether the premade LinkedIn emoticons will have the same effect as adding emotion the old-fashioned way.

 

I’d love to hear what you think about it. Are these new stickers, emojis, and GIFs a good idea? Or are they lowering the bar for professionalism?

Two LinkedIn Messages That Might Mess Up Your First Impression

Linkedin-Inbox-screenshot

Within the past week, I received two LinkedIn messages that irritated me.

 

Why?

 

They didn’t respect my time.

 

Both senders required me to take time out of my packed schedule to help them accomplish their objectives when they could have easily taken action to accomplish them on their own.

 

I’ve gotten similar sorts of messages from other LinkedIn users in the past. I’m writing about this not to shame you or anyone else who has sent messages like these—I assume most are sent with good intentions. But if you’re sending messages like the two I’ll share in this post, you might not make that all-important best first impression.

 

Two Types Of LinkedIn Messages That Might Be A Turn-Off

 

1. We should connect, so here’s what you need to do to connect with me.

 

It goes something like this:

 

“Hi Dawn, My name is [fill in the blank] and I would like to add you to my LinkedIn Network. We are in the [fill in the blank] group together. Since we are a 2nd or 3rd connection, send me an invitation to connect ([the sender’s email address here]) so that we can stay in touch regarding future opportunities.”

 

The problem with this message: If the sender really wants to stay in touch with me, she could view my LinkedIn profile or my website to find my email address—and she could send me an invitation to connect.

 

Messages like this imply your time is expendable, but the sender’s needs to be protected.

 

The moral of the story: When you want to connect with people on LinkedIn, don’t make them do the work. Ask for an introduction from someone else who is already connected with them or find the information you need to initiate the invitation.

 

2. Repeat what you’ve already shared about yourself in your LinkedIn profile summary.

 

It goes something like this:

 

“Tell me more about what you do.”

 

The problem with this message:

At face value, the message is innocent enough; it’s an effort to engage and interact.

 

BUT, messages like this fail to mention why the sender would like to know more. If the job title and type of work of the sender don’t indicate any type of synergy between us, there doesn’t seem much point in me taking ten minutes out of my day to respond. And even if there is synergy, I’d like to know the reason and purpose for sharing more information about what I do.

 

If, like me, you provide a good amount of detail in your LinkedIn summary and experience fields, you might wonder if the sender looked at your profile at all. This general question would have us rewriting much of what’s already in our LinkedIn profiles. Who has time for that?

 

The moral of the story: Always read someone’s profile first and then ask specific questions about what they do—if you really want to know. And always share why you’re asking for more information. While most professionals are happy to respond to legitimate, purposeful requests for information, most don’t have time to spend 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to reply to inquiries that have no apparent purpose.

 

Minutes Matter

Although neither of the pet peeves I’ve shared would individually squander hours of your time, minutes matter—and they add up. Just like you and me, our connections and prospective connections are busy professionals. Respecting their time is the first step to making a positive first impression.

 

Have any LinkedIn pet peeves? What types of messages irritate you?

LinkedIn Tip for Solopreneurs: Go Light on your “Skills & Expertise”

More isn’t always better – especially when posting your “Skills & Expertise” on LinkedIn.Scale

LinkedIn recently introduced a “Skills & Expertise” feature to enable us to enhance our profiles by adding single words or phrases that represent our specific talents, organizational and interpersonal skills, software aptitude, sales and marketing prowess, technical abilities, industry knowledge, etc. It’s nice in that it adds keywords to your profile to help others find you via the Skills & Expertise page of the LinkedIn site. But resist the urge to splurge!

LinkedIn lets you add up to 50 skills and areas of expertise to your profile. Fantastic, right? Great in theory, because it seems logical that the more you have, the more impressive you’ll appear to prospects. Unfortunately, that can backfire as your connections seek to help you by endorsing your specific capabilities.

I discovered quickly, that if you have too many options listed under “Skills & Expertise,” people might very well endorse those that really aren’t what you want front and center on your profile. Not that any particular skills or areas of expertise are bad (unless bank robbery or money-laundering happen to be among them!), but they could pull attention away from the talents that truly matter to prospects. If your connections endorse your “lesser” or “in the past” skills more prolifically than those that are pertinent to your current status as a solopreneur, potential clients might not feel as confident about your ability to meet their needs.

How can you ensure that your top traits get the spotlight?

Keep these things in mind as you set up or review your LinkedIn “Skills & Expertise” list…

  • 50 is overkill. I have 22 on my list and need to whittle it down even further.
    1. Check your own list to see if you duplicated any skills.For example, if you’ve listed “Marketing,” “Marketing Strategy,” “Product Marketing,” and “Marketing Management,” you might eliminate one or two of them so only those that you’d like emphasized on your profile remain.
    2. Remove skills that are implied in other skills.I axed “Microsoft Word” from my list. As a freelance writer, I believe people will correctly assume that I have proficiency in using Word or some equivalent word processing software. If a skill naturally “goes with the territory,” you probably don’t need to list it.
  • LinkedIn prioritizes and puts your skills and areas of expertise with the most endorsements at the top of your list.
    If you have any that you would rather not highlight, remove them so your connections don’t have the option to endorse them.
  • Don’t feel obliged to keep endorsed skills and expertise in your profile.
    Even if others endorsed you on them, pull the plug if they are diluting your professional focus.

Of course, there is the double-edged sword effect of not being found if someone searches on the LinkedIn Skills & Expertise page for a capability that you removed from your profile. However, if you’ve got a comparable skill there instead, users will see it among the list of “Related Skills” provided. And if they’re seriously looking for professionals with your specific abilities, they’ll continue their research to view profiles (yours included) that have the related skill. No guarantees, of course, so the choice is yours! My preference is to work toward a profile that displays a meaningful Skills and Expertise list with appropriate endorsements, rather than bulk load for the sake of search. Your thoughts?

 

Image courtesy of John Kawasa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Using Linkedin for Local, Face-to-Face Connections Leads to More Business

Linkedin is what I consider the unsung hero of social media. I’ve met business owners who push it aside becauseLinkedin Logo  Linkedin users don’t appear to engage with one another as actively as folks on other social networks. There’s less tolerance for “noise” (i.e. status update after status update). There are less “likes”, comments and shares. I suspect that’s why so many people don’t put forth the effort to complete their Linkedin profiles; they don’t think anyone really notices or cares.

But don’t underestimate the potential of your Linkedin presence. Just because other people aren’t putting any time or energy into the network (Please don’t tell me you’ve still got the shadowy silhouette as your profile pic!), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You won’t realize any benefits if you ignore it. The only way to reap rewards from being there is to acknowledge and interact with other professionals on Linkedin.

Fortunately, most Linkedin users don’t expect – or appreciate – status updates at  the  frequency or pace anticipated on Facebook or Twitter. That means you can use the network effectively under far less performance pressure.

What’s been working really well for me is simple and not at all time-consuming.  Whenever I receive or send an invitation to connect with someone on Linkedin, I take an extra step that most people don’t. After I review a new connection’s profile, I send the person a personal message to say “thank you”  for connecting, and I reference something interesting about his/her profile or things that we have in common. When connections are local to me and there’s some synergy between our industries or professional positions, I invite them to meet me for coffee to learn more about each other’s businesses and capabilities.

That little extra step (which takes an entire 5 – 10 minutes of my time) has more often than not led to face-to-face meetings – some of which have turned into business opportunities right there on the spot! Even when the potential for a signed proposal doesn’t materialize immediately, the approach has led to business down the road with those connections – or through referrals that they’ve sent my way. Sure, sometimes nothing comes from the effort, but overall it’s been well worth my time. I wouldn’t continue to do it if it wasn’t!

It seems the intent to embrace the opportunity to get to know other professionals and their businesses one-on-one is the magic bullet when it comes to starting and building business relationships via Linkedin. Don’t make the mistake that so many others are making by dismissing the powerful potential of the professional network.

How attentive are you to your Linkedin presence? Please share your success stories and best practices with the network! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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