In his third LinkedIn article for start-ups Mark Lee explains how to use status updates; what works and what’s unlikely to do so.
This article is part of an extended series on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Future guides will look at things like endorsements, recommendations, groups, and lead generation on LinkedIn. Part 1 focused on why you would want to register on LinkedIn and how you can craft an effective profile to make it easy for people to find you. And in Part 2 I looked at connection requests.
This edition looks at status updates, the short messages that have become a common feature of so many social networking platforms.
The facility to post status updates on LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook and Twitter, but is also very different.
From your LinkedIn home page or your Edit My Profile page you can change your status update as frequently as you like.
Some marketing-obsessed LinkedIn users advocate daily status updates. And some people post updates even more frequently. I’m not a fan of this approach, even though I write as someone who has been active on LinkedIn for years, with more than 2,600 connections, many of them UK-based accountants and tax advisers.
Who sees your status updates?
Your latest status update will be seen by anyone who looks at your profile.
Every time you update your status, the home page of all of your network connections is pinged with your news. But don’t get too caught up by this. It doesn’t mean that all your connections will see all of your status updates.
I regularly look at my LinkedIn home page, but reckon I’m in a minority. How often do you look at yours?
On my home page I routinely choose to hide updates posted by certain people. They tend to be those I don’t know well, who regularly post uninteresting updates or who post too often for my taste. Once hidden, that’s it. I rarely go back and make them visible again.
Your most recent status updates are also distributed to your network via email when LinkedIn sends out updates – again, I don’t know how many people read these updates. I have tailored mine using the Settings facility I mentioned in part one of this series.
Status updates to avoid
Many people make the mistake of posting overtly self-promotional status updates. I doubt these often have the desired impact.
This is also probably NOT the place to share Facebook-style frivolous updates of where you are, what you’re doing or what you’ve done.
As a start-up practice you will probably also want to avoid highlighting your relative inexperience. This is unlikely to be an attractive quality so far as prospective clients are concerned.
Avoid any reference to specific clients. Even if you are careful to avoid breaching confidences, your connections might worry that you might do this.
Finally I encourage caution if you are inclined to follow any of the generic advice out there about what to post as status updates. Most such advice is quite simplistic and few of the ideas will be helpful for start-up accountancy practices.
Status updates that could work for you
Make your updates professional and support the positive impression you are seeking to create as a start-up practice.
Try searching the profiles of other accountants and see what they are posting (if anything). You may be inspired to try something similar.
More specifically quasi-promotional posts that also evidence your expertise, approach and success may be useful. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- “Just back from a great new client meeting with a local shopkeeper. Delighted to have showed him some tax planning opps at first meeting”.
- “Today I’m setting up 2 new clients with a great online bookkeeping system that will help them (and me) to keep on top of things”.
- “Writing a blog post containing 5 simple tax planning tips for buy to let landlords. It’s here: [link]”
- “Attending an update course today with hundreds of other accountants. It’s important to keep on top of recent tax changes”.
As with Twitter, you want to make it easy for anyone who sees your status updates to recognise you as someone who can help them. Your status updates should echo and reinforce rather than contradict your profile and stated experiences.
You may also find that some of your connections are posting interesting status updates. You can click the Share link beneath any such update. This will copy it and make clear who posted it originally and that you are sharing it as one of your updates.
It’s worth doing this with updates that may be of interest to your connections. It’s good to share useful information and links on LinkedIn just as it is on other social networks.
Your status update is limited to 140 characters – just like on Twitter – so keep that in mind, particularly when cutting and pasting information you intend to share.
Commenting on others’ status updates
Beyond sharing others’ updates you can alternatively simply Like them, add a comment or send a message to the person who posted them.
It’s a good idea to add thoughtful comments to the status updates of people in your network. You can do this simply by thanking them for sharing something you have found useful or perhaps by confirming their view or adding a further useful related insight.
Do be careful though that your comment is helpful and positive. There is nothing to be gained by posting negative or controversial comments here (if anywhere).
A key tip
The amazing thing is, the more you help others on LinkedIn, the more they are likely to have a positive view of you and your new practice. This will ultimately be more beneficial than any blatant self-promotion could be.
For now, if you have questions, ideas or views on anything above or in the earlier articles in this series, please post your comments below. And, by all means, connect with me on LinkedIn.
Mark Lee is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and writes the BookMarkLee blog. This is for accountants who want to overcome the boring stereotype and to be more successful in practice, online and in life. He is also chairman of the Tax Advice Network of independent tax experts.
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