Has LinkedIn Turned a Corner?

I remember about 18 months ago the knives were quite clearly out for LinkedIn. It was at a point where it was often slow, it was full of little gremlins (press one button and something completely different happened), they’d tried to remove users’ ability for data exports which were then reinstated and all this was against the backdrop of rumblings about Facebook for Work.

Then, earlier this year the big changes happened on the layout of LinkedIn and it was as if the fires of hell had been unleashed for some people. Many were writing off LinkedIn as a ‘has been’ and asking what Microsoft had let themselves in for.

Fast forward to September 2017 and I don’t think LinkedIn has ever been better.

It feels now like Microsoft have given LinkedIn a good shake and said this needs to improve. Recently there have been so many small tweaks, but tweaks that add significantly value that it’s hard to keep up. Here’s just a few of my favourites.

So simple yet so effective. Who would have thought that adding a button labelled home would make navigation so much easier? It seems so basic but remember, there was a time where LinkedIn didn’t have that button, perfect for starters.

Again, a basic change but bringing in native video had to happen, LinkedIn was so behind the curve for something that is vital in a mobile world.

The dashboard gives some great individual analytics but when you use them in conjunction with one another you can really start to understand where and how you are being spoken about.

Using advanced search by searching for connections of connections. Great way to find those all-important intros.

The major improvements in post analytics help you to understand if the audience you’d like to see your content is actually getting it in their newsfeed.

Finally, the new format post searches might still be in their infancy but I think there’s lots of promise making it great for people to find new opportunities.

So, it really is looking up for LinkedIn and I think it’s well and truly got its swagger back. The LinkedIn Marketing solutions changes too are really exciting and I think it will drive a whole new generation of users forward on the platform ensuring it remains the world’s most important business networking tool.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the new changes? Are there others that you’ve seen that are good?

Case Study: LinkedIn Programme at Lancaster University Management School

Academics and support staff are really tuning in to the importance of LinkedIn for engaging a wide range of stakeholders and nowhere is that more so the case the Lancaster University Management School.

Over the last few months I’ve been leading on an employee advocacy programme to place key members of staff right at the front of the brand in this world leading Business School. The results have been fantastic.


It was evident that although LinkedIn was being used it was generally sporadic and lacking purpose. Like most institutions people had profiles but weren’t entirely sure what to do with them.

Some simple work up front allowed individuals to understand where and how LinkedIn could help support their roles. Alongside this we made introductions to departmental Marketing specialists which meant that all staff (academics, business engagement staff and marketing) were on the same page.

Whilst academics were keen to spread their own research, business engagement specialists required LinkedIn to help engage SME and corporate contacts for a number of business support programmes, executive level education and degree apprenticeships.


A through LinkedIn training programme was developed to upskill staff on their knowledge of the platform. Staff were also encouraged to post with little restriction. In business engagement alone we’ve had 4 members of staff take up blogging on LinkedIn, fiercely driving new engagement and reach of their various initiatives.

We also led an internal programme to enable further collaboration by encouraging staff to use Yammer. One of the key challenges with a university is breaking down communication silos, especially when everyone is so busy.


Individuals are already seeing the benefits of sharing and engaging on LinkedIn.

One post looking to attract SME owners for a funded ERDF project led to the recruitment of 10 new businesses.

To give individuals their own indication of performance we used LinkedIn SSI scores as a benchmark and gamification tool, which led to score increases averaging 20 points per person amongst the group.

The opening of communication channels between marketing and staff will have significant benefits in the longer term for reach and engagement relating to the brand whilst humanising the school.

Most importantly the initial confidence gained by everyone who took part will help drive brand messages both nationally and internationally.  Check out the feedback in the video above.

If you’d like to know how Dan Knowles can help your University or Further Education institution engage stakeholders on LinkedIn then get in touch

How do I sell on LinkedIn?

For the last couple of years now I’ve been selling on LinkedIn. I’ve been using LinkedIn to build up an audience of leads that I know use the services I provide, to nurture them over time using daily posts as a sales pitch and then convert when the time is right. Want to know more? Here’s how…..

We Don’t Properly Understand Social Media Yet

This is the problem for most people I speak to. They use social media because they think they should but they don’t think about how. I liken using LinkedIn to going to your best ever networking event where:

  • Everyone in the room is a lead
  • You have invited them there
  • You can choose the tone of the event.

Network with an AIM

When you use LinkedIn like this you’ll realise that your ability to network online is like networking in real life. The majority of your work isn’t about converting, it’s about relationship building. It’s about:

  • Focussing on the people you want to speak to
  • Engaging them in conversation that gets them to like you
  • Demonstrate to them that other people like you
  • Over time drop into the conversation that you are a subject matter expert
  • Listen out for their buying signals

Focus on The People You Want to Speak to

That’s right, get in the right conversations. So many people waste time on LinkedIn with conversations that have zero relevance, or build networks without considering who they want in the network. Tip – do an audit of your existing client base and then look to connect with similar people. If your existing customers are happy then chances are new similar contacts would be too.

Engage Them in Conversation That Encourages Likeability and Trust

The biggest mistake people make when posting on LinkedIn is thinking it’s all about Me! It’s not, it’s about them, your customers. Listen to what they speak about, share their insights with your audience, comment on their updates, show them that you are listening to what they are saying and care about what they are trying to achieve.

Demonstrate that Others Like You

We call this social proof. It comes in the form of recommendations, endorsements and all sorts of other conversations. Am I likely to buy from someone with 20 connections who never talks on LinkedIn with a partially filled profile or will I buy from an All-Star User with 30 recommendations and 99+ endorsement scores?

Be the Subject Matter Expert

It’s not true that all you should do is share industry insights. That’s robotic. You’d never go networking and just talk shop! However, you do want to be seen as knowing what you’re talking about. If there are big changes in your sector that will impact your audience let them know. Go one better and write a blog with your own opinion.

Listen Out for Buying Signals

A true social seller is always looking for those buying signals. It might be that people have been visiting your profiles. It might be from the news that is being shared from a company page. It might be that someone is moving role. Whatever it is the chances are a change in circumstances of some sort is presenting an opportunity. Are you ready? Will you be the first to take advantage?

Think of these rules like ingredients of a cake. In isolation, they won’t make much of a cake but when you start to use them all together you’ll start to see how LinkedIn can work to generate leads and make money.

If you want to know more then come and join me for my next Hidden Secrets of LinkedIn Masterclass on the 12th of July at the Borough in Lancaster. You can book your tickets here today.

Who Should I Connect with on LinkedIn?

This question is one that I frequently get asked when training, especially from those people that are still quite new to LinkedIn and social networking.

My answer is always the same. You’ve got to accept connections that you are comfortable with, otherwise you’ll stop before you start.

I accept most connection requests that look like they come from real people, I’ll check profiles and activity if i’m unsure. Do they post regularly and contribute to conversation? I also look for a degree of relevance such as industry similarity or shared connections.

What I don’t do is accept connections that only benefit me. LinkedIn is a two way street and sometimes my knowledge can benefit others too.

If you don’t want strangers in your network don’t accept. Likewise if you have concerns about competitors then don’t. Just be aware that if someonw wants to find out who you do business with they don’t necessarily need LinkedIn for that. If you have NDAs in place with clients and receive connection requests that you are uncomfortable with then raise the question offline. Also remember security implications when you accept connections, some dodgy people may want to steal information from your profile.

Remember though that if you are using LinkedIn to generate new leads and business develop your network and audience is vital. A larger network potentially means more access to 2nd Degree connections, more chance of referral and higher visibility. Over time you’ll find a way of connecting that you are comfortable with. Whilst I believe depth of engagement is the most important aspect of social media activity a large audience is also beneficial.

The Best Social Media Tip I Never Gave

A few weeks ago I was part of a panel discussing ROI on social media. After a lively conversation the final question was fairly straight forward, “What is the one tip you have for social media use in business?”

I’m afraid to say that although I gave a good answer it wasn’t my best (these things happen when you are on the spot). That said, I’ve since taken some time to think about what my answer would be. Here goes:

We all know that change is on the horizon. The problem is for most businesses they are waiting for the change to happen to them rather than driving the change through.

We cannot control the fact that most consumers use social media and digital as a fundamental part of their decision-making process when making purchase decisions. Online research, looking for social proof, getting referrals and much more are all part of that digital journey.

Whether you like it or not your business is a digital business. Does your operation reflect that? Can people find out what you do from your online footprint? If the answer is no then remember, Now is the time to start. Drive the change and make sure your business is fit for a digital world.

That my friends is my top tip.

A (few) Days out at The Borough

Over the last few weeks we’ve been really fortunate to have been working with the Borough Group of pubs to deliver social media training. For those of you that know the Borough you’ll know it’s one of the best loved pubs in the North of England. Alongside the Borough the group also includes The Lodge at Slyne, The Britannia in Lancaster and The Borough Brewery.

The Brief

As with many organisations Company Director Hannah Horner had taken full responsibility for social media delivery across all locations. This in itself can be incredibly time consuming. The challenge here was to empower other members of staff to take control for the respective venues, freeing Hannah to return to more strategic work on the business.

The Challenge

Empowering is a really keyword. In my experience, and generally, when people feel they are allowed to use social media to speak on behalf of the companies they work for there are immediate benefits. The first part of the challenge is creating an environment where people feel comfortable and safe posting on social media without fear of recrimination. There are also challenges around time and coming up with fresh content ideas. Finally it’s about maintaining consistency.

The Delivery

Our social media training and strategy sessions are action packed. From the very start the key is to create a situation where the staff feel like they are actually taking ownership of the social media. That means we facilitate and they create. We prompted conversations around good and bad social media, boundaries, tone of voice and buyer profiles. We looked in depth at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Hootsuite and some other useful social media apps. By spreading the training over a number of sessions staff also were given the opportunity to practice what they’ve learnt in between sessions and then feedback was collected amongst the group.


According to the team the training was not only insightful but also empowering. Staff feel confident they can post on behalf of the organisation and understand why they are doing so. Ultimately there activity will benefit brand awareness, reputation and lead generation so getting it right is vital.

* The video features Ben delivering a session on iPhone photography. You’ll notice the irony of this with the quality of the hyperlapse video coming from my Android phone.



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