Know your LinkedIn Audience

Blending the Personal and Professional on LinkedIn

The blurred lines between one’s personal and professional lives is not a new phenomenon. If your name is Baker or Smith, you know how closely an ancestor’s identity and profession intertwined.  But the age of social media brings new challenges and many users are failing. Effective communications shape a message based on the audience. While people connect for myriad reasons on LinkedIn, the audience that should really matter to you are those who can hire you or buy your products.  How can you best connect with them?

Be professional.

Scroll quickly through your LinkedIn feed and you will likely see an equal number of (1) posts that belong on Facebook and (2) posts complaining that LinkedIn is no place for posts that belong on Facebook.  LinkedIn originated as a business networking site.  Provocative photographs, pseudo-challenging math problems, and pictures of food are not promoting your professional image (unless you are a photographer, math tutor or chef).  If you are trying to promote your professional brand on LinkedIn, don’t tarnish that brand in a cheap attempt to generate clicks. 

Show personality.

There is room for personality on LinkedIn.  Most people want some personal connection with those with whom they do business.  Think of LinkedIn as the quarterly all-hands meeting where you are having lunch with colleagues who you only see occasionally.  If you were just married, became a parent, or sent a child off to college, you would likely share that with your colleagues. Most of your LinkedIn connections would be happy to hear of these life events as well.  Each of them tells your connections a little more about you. However, these posts should be reserved for big events and used sparingly. 

Use other channels

There is no dearth of options for expressing yourself in 2016. Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram all provide places for you to share the screen capture of your latest Pokemon Go capture or the selfie of you with your latest fishing victory. Facebook, in particular, provides options to segment your audience.  Want to share your vacation photos with business colleagues, but not your off-brand rant about the poor service at your favorite bar?  Facebook can do that.  So feel free to be “friends” with your close business colleagues, share some more of your personal life with them, hide the TMI posts that should only be shared with a handful of people anyway, and keep your personal stories off of LinkedIn.

Social media evolves. And fast.  With any post, you should ask yourself, “Why do the people who will see this want to know about it” and “Why do I want them to know it.”