I’ve always found it difficult to get the best out of LinkedIn. That’s all changed after I took some drastic action a couple of months ago.

    Back in June last year, I wrote about why I might have been wrong about LinkedIn.

    I was ignoring the possibilities LinkedIn offered because of the way some people used it. The unsolicited connection requests, sales messages and self-aggrandising posts were tedious and deterred me from spending time on there.

    Despite that, I knew LinkedIn could be useful.

    So, I resolved to ignore the noise and focus on the possibilities. For several months, I tried to turn good intentions into effective habits. But I failed. I just couldn’t get past the noise.

    If things were going to change, I needed to take drastic action.

    So, inspired by Holland Hahn & Wills partner Amyr Rocha-Lima’s approach to LinkedIn, and reminding myself of the power of niche, I developed a list of people I wanted to stay connected with:

    1) Existing and potential clients, because I want to engage with them and for them to see our content

    2) Fellow marketeers who I can learn from and with whom I can exchange ideas

    3) Potential recruits (because I don’t like paying recruitment consultants)

    I didn’t want to offend anyone, so I added a post explaining what I was doing.

    Then, I removed every connection who wasn’t in one of the three categories. I made one exception, my father - I couldn’t quite bring myself to disconnect with him!

    Eight long hours

    There’s no way of removing LinkedIn connections in bulk. The manual process took just over eight hours during which I disconnected with over 1,200 people.

    So, was it time well spent?

    Absolutely it was.

    • My timeline is now full of relevant posts
    • I get far fewer distracting notifications
    • The unsolicited sales messages have now been (almost) eliminated

    All that means I’m now happy to spend time on there, engaging with potential clients and recruits.

    That activity has led to enquiries from people who want to work with us and for us. If I hadn’t cleaned up my connections, I wouldn’t have spent more time on there, which resulted in these new enquiries.

    There’s other evidence to prove that the focus on niche and those eight hours were a worthwhile investment:

    • The number of people who’ve viewed my profile on LinkedIn has risen (despite having 1,200 fewer connections). What’s more, these people are now within our target audience
    • Traffic from LinkedIn to our website is up 148 per cent
    • The quality of visitor from LinkedIn has risen, as they are spending 91 per cent more time on our website.

    I’m not throwing that hard work away.

    I’m now far more discerning about the connection requests I accept. If a new connection follows up with a sales message, I’ll disconnect.

    It’s time to be selfish. I want my timeline to be full of interesting, engaging and relevant posts - not Sergei from Ukraine selling me dubious search engine optimisation services.

    What does this mean for you?

    Firstly, you still need to find the right social networks.

    Hang out online where your prospective clients do. As I proved, that’s often a different platform to the one you most enjoy using.

    Secondly, stay focused and have faith in your niche.

    If you work with the medical profession, connect with consultants, doctors and dentists. If professional connections are important to you, link to solicitors and accountants.

    Removing those obscure connections won’t harm your network and increases the chances of positive interactions.

    Finally, be useful:

    • Share interesting and relevant content, including your own and that of others
    • Comment on your connections' posts
    • Share their posts with your connections

    The payoff?

    When one of your connections has a trigger which requires expert advice, who are they more likely to contact?

    Someone who has built their credibility by demonstrating knowledge and added value, or the person who sent an unsolicited sales message?

    I think we all know the answer to that.

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