While recent social media conversations tend to be about Facebook and Twitter, I find that many professionals and businesses aren't maximizing their LinkedIn presence. There are many that simply don't know what else they can be doing on the platform, while others still believe in some of the many common fallacies about the social networking platform for professionals that exist. Social media is a tool, and you can only leverage the tool by thinking outside of the box and applying it to your situation. Believing in what you hear about any social media platform, without taking the initiative and experimenting in it for your own benefit, will only limit your ability to utilize all of the functionality that exists. Remember what they used to say about Twitter before you became a heavy user? In fact, if you go back in history, you will see that Jay Baer wrote almost two years ago about the dangerous fallacies of social media, and those who read and understood what he was saying at the time undoubtedly benefited from it. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the common LinkedIn fallacies floating around and why you shouldn't believe them.
1.) The Facts: LinkedIn is Not Just About Jobs
I hear it all the time: "LinkedIn is where you go to find a job, right?" LI began as, and still is, a professional networking site. Sure, there are lots of jobseekers as well as those from the "Staffing & Recruiting" industry on the site, but at my last check the facts indicated that industry was not in the top 10 of those represented (Information Technology, Computer Software, and Financial Services being the Top 3 if you were curious). There are business deals that were initiated by connecting and communicating on LinkedIn happening constantly, and I have personally found business just through the art of participating in a Group discussion. I have also given business to those I found in People Searches and even those I found from LinkedIn Answers! If you still think LI is just for jobs, you might be missing out on a lot of potential business.
2.) Intimidation is in the Eyes of the Beholder
Some say that, compared to Facebook and Twitter, the LinkedIn environment is stuffy. It is true that, in comparison, LI lacks a realtime and dynamic environment. There is obviously no chat functionality like you have on Facebook, and users don't respond in lightning speed to you like they do on Twitter. Add this to the fact that LinkedIn has an overwhelmingly professional demographic and you can see why some feel a little intimated to initiate or participate in discussions. Just like any other networking event, intimidation is in the eyes of the beholder. If you are intimidated nothing will happen. Just remember that many of the same people are also on Twitter if not on Facebook. The user interface and "atmosphere" may breed intimidation, but the people are the same that you will find on other social networks. Those that are intimidated will reap few benefits from being on any social media site.
3.) Too Many Emails? Get Control.
Every social media site seems to send you a lot of emails as a default setting when you sign up. LinkedIn is no different, and many complain about the numerous emails that you receive after signing on. You are in full control of which emails that you receive and which notifications you can see directly on the website by going to the Settings -> Email Notifications -> Receiving Notifications page. If you were curious, check out my default settings below and give it a try to see if it is appropriate for you:
For Groups, I recommend trying daily digests, but if you feel they are not relevant move on to weekly digests or even no digests at all. When you have time, visit those Groups that you don't receive digests for: there will never be a lack of discussions to engage on in any given Group!
4.) I Signed Up and Nothing Happened
LinkedIn itself is just a huge database of profiles with some additional functionality and applications thrown together. What is important about it is that key decision makers from any given industry or company are on the site. However, just like attending a networking event and standing in a corner waiting for people to come to you that never do, you need to go out and engage with others. There are many ways to engage with other professionals on LinkedIn, so for starters I recommend joining as many relevant Groups as you can find and participating in conversations that you find interesting or feel you can contribute to. Just like life itself, you need to make things happen. Read my post on "Which LinkedIn Groups Should I Join?" if you can't find any Groups worth joining.
5.) Isn't Social Media Marketing Just About Facebook?
LinkedIn is always the dark horse at social media conferences with Twitter and Facebook stealing most if not all of the conversations. But if you are a B2B company, LinkedIn can be much more effective for your social media marketing than Facebook or Twitter. The facts are that even B2C companies have B2B aspects (distributors, alliance partners, vendors, etc.) who can be better marketed to on LinkedIn. This is why I always say LinkedIn should be your hub for B2B social media marketing.
Since many of you have never had a chance to hear me speak, check out my video discussing this blog post topic at a recent presentation I did at UCLA:
Enough about what I think...what do you think? Any other fallacies out there that I should have added to the list? What's keeping you from spending more time on LinkedIn?