Beth Granger on LinkedIn and Social Etiquette
Consultant and speaker Beth Granger discusses how the LinkedIn networking platform, and the business people who use it, have evolved.
Beth Granger: Hi, great to be here.
Charlie: Thanks, thanks. Beth, we talk about LinkedIn and anybody who thinks about LinkedIn, I think they go back to their original first interaction with LinkedIn and what that is I think was this is a job hunting site, a job referral site, things like that. But those were back in the olden days of LinkedIn, because I think it is so much more today. And I would like to talk to you about LinkedIn because I do use LinkedIn as a professional tool in my industry in IT, but I think there are many points that are worth sharing for any industry, and then we’ll talk about more about IT in particular as well. But tell me about the history of LinkedIn, or maybe what you’ve seen, how it has grown through the years, how we got to where we are today.
Beth: Sure. Well yes, you’re right. When I first got on—I think it was 2007—I thought of it as just a place you put your resume up there and use it as a site to look for jobs or get jobs, and it’s changed in two ways. So it’s changed because of things that LinkedIn has done, and it’s changed because the users in many ways get to decide how they use it. So that has changed and I really like both of those things. So LinkedIn will offer new features and people will use them or they won’t. And then especially in the past two years for instance, the world has become more—I won’t say casual, but we’ve allowed our lives to blur into our working lives a little bit, and so there’s more conversation happening on the platform.
Charlie: So LinkedIn really had to do that to keep up with the current environment of life, I guess.
Beth: I don’t know if they did it, but the users did it. In terms of the features, yes. Like offering LinkedIn Audio, where you can have audio conversations, and LinkedIn Live and features that they have, and even Sales Navigator, which is a version of LinkedIn that people can use as a sales tool. So really it works as a sales tool, a networking tool, yes, still a job search tool or finding people to hire and it’s amazing because it’s global. So I like to think of it as a 24/7 networking opportunity.
Charlie: Why do you think networking is so—I mean I think I know why, but I would like to hear your perspective on it. Why is networking so important? Why should we not be living in a silo?
Beth: Well I can only speak from my experience, but almost 13 years ago I thought I was looking for a new job. My life insurance agent said "oh, come to my networking group" and at the time I said, "what’s a networking group?" At the same time I started to get heavily involved in social media. At the time it was really more Twitter than LinkedIn, but that opened up worlds and communities of people that I didn’t know. You know yes, I live in the New York City area, and so there are people with my interest practically on every street kind of thing, but imagine being somebody in the middle of a small town in wherever and you can find your community, people who are interested in the same things as you, people who care about the same things as you. It’s a wonderful thing and it can lead to jobs and friendships and honestly even save a life, which is a story for another day.
Charlie: Well actually what you say right there as far as people in your community, you know interestingly how you and I became friends. I never would have known that we only live 15 miles or less from each other, yet we met together at a professional networking organization in Manhattan, and through that we’ve become friends, and that’s how I learned about what you do and things like that. But it just goes to show you the power of these tools that are out there for us today.
Beth: Absolutely. Absolutely, and it’s global so it’s wonderful. I was just on the phone the other day with a friend of mine from Australia. How wonderful is that you can expand your life and your career because of these tools that we have.
Charlie: This—which really in my view has truly lowered the barriers of communication between anybody. You know a term I like to think about all the time is how egalitarian this really has made the world, in that it gives us access without a lot of barriers, access to some of the top experts in the world—people who we would never even know how to reach out to these people. If they’re on LinkedIn, we can send them a message and here we go. They may or may not respond obviously, but how the walls of the world have just come down.
Charlie: You’ve seen that happen time and time again?
Beth: Yes. Yes, it’s amazing. You never know the conversations that you’ll be part of and the people that you’ll meet and people that will meet you.
Charlie: You know one thing I’d like you to talk about this is one thing that I find a lot of value using LinkedIn is professional groups. Now in my industry—and IBM i specifically, there are several IBM i professional groups—but I imagine every industry has its own. Tell me about that—how you see people getting real value out of those.
Beth: Yeah, groups are a little tricky on LinkedIn and I’ll tell you why. Some of them are kind of dead to the world if you will. They’re just not very active. People share posts but they never go there and engage in the posts that people have. When you get a group that is very active, it can be amazing. I’m involved in some that are very active and those conversations are happening, people are collaborating, and it’s just a place to meet if you will.
Charlie: You know we started our conversation Beth with some of the things like LinkedIn is so much more than just a job-posting site, and we threw a couple of terms out like LinkedIn Live and LinkedIn Audio events. What are they and how can I use them to help learn about my own self maybe and my career and my industry? How would I use some of these tools on LinkedIn?
Beth: Oh they’re—well they’re wonderful, first of all. There’s so many and I would say the top three that people may or may not know about are LinkedIn Live, LinkedIn Audio, and newsletters. So LinkedIn Live is—imagine a Zoom meeting, but live on LinkedIn. It’s where you can interview someone. You can talk live on camera about anything you want. When I started using it, I used it as an interview platform—so kind of what you’re doing here with your podcast. I would have people on and interview them about what they do. But people use it all different ways, so it’s just a wonderful way to get in front of your network and people you don’t know. So by default all LinkedIn Lives and LinkedIn Audios are open to the public, so you can’t have a private one—anybody can join these conversations. LinkedIn Audio is newer—clubhouse on LinkedIn is the best way to describe it. So it’s an audio-only conversation, and they’re fun. The power of conversation is so real. You really get to know people and even if you’re not hosting the event, if you’re just part of the event, you’re part of the conversation, you can get to know the other people who are there participating. So it has a lot of potential. Newsletters, it’s kind of like a blog that you have on LinkedIn and people can subscribe to it. What’s great about that is they get notified every time you publish a new one.
Charlie: I think once you’re in these groups, I think you can derive real benefit from these. But I guess my question then is how do I know somebody is publishing a newsletter? How do I know there’s going to be a LinkedIn Audio event?
Beth: Yeah, and that is a little tricky. The invite feature is not what it could be—I’ll say that—for the audio events and the lives, but the way to find it is you can either be invited, or sometimes you’ll see it on the My Network page underneath where incoming invites come in. It will show you some suggested LinkedIn Lives or audio events. With newsletters what’s really wonderful is on your very first publish, it will invite all of your connections and all of your followers to subscribe.
Charlie: So just to clarify then, is there a difference between a post and a newsletter? Are they the same thing?
Beth: No, they’re different. So a post has a character limit for one thing, and then there’s algorithm that will decide what percent of your network will see if in their feed. A newsletter is longer. It’s more like an article. You know the article feature on LinkedIn, but that people can subscribe too. So it’s like blogging, and on the very first one that you publish it will invite your entire network—anyone who is connected with you and anyone who follows you—to subscribe, and then they will be notified each subsequent time that you write a newsletter.
Charlie: So does it behoove me to look at some of my existing connections to see who might be pushing out content like that to see if they’re pushing out articles or newsletters?
Beth: Absolutely, and you can feature your newsletter. I’m not sure—everybody might not be aware of it. It’s a section that kind of allows you to pin things you want people to see towards the top of your profile. If you have a newsletter, you can essentially pin it there and people who visit your profile can just click on subscribe and see that you have that.
Charlie: So the terms to me, newsletter and article, have two different meanings. To me I think—and I could be wrong—but to me an article is maybe a one off, a one time thing vs. a newsletter, which to me suggests to me some kind of recurring thing. Is that true?
Beth: Correct. When you sign up to do a newsletter, you put in whether you’re going to do it monthly or weekly or biweekly—although I think I put I’m going to do it monthly and I haven’t done it monthly. I do it whenever I feel like it. One thing to note though: Some of these features are only accessible if you have Creator Mode turned on. Some people don’t know what Creator Mode is—so that’s a different version of your profile if you will, and if you turn it on, you immediately have access to newsletters and LinkedIn Live. But there are pros and cons. So if you’re looking to grow your network, you might not want to turn that on. If you already have a really strong network and you’re looking to build an audience, then you might want to turn it on.
Charlie: Yeah there have been a couple of times when a window has popped up while I was using LinkedIn and says do you want to go into Creator Mode? I think that’s what it said, something to that effect, and I think I’ve always said no. But maybe I should actually revisit this.
Beth: Well the key thing—so yes, it gives you access to these features if you turn it on. It changes your profile slightly where it brings your activity section up so people see your content more. The one thing that it does, that is a reason people might not want to do it is it forces the button on your profile—for someone who doesn’t know you yet or isn’t connected with you yet—to follow and not connect. So if somebody wants to connect with you, they have to know how to do that, and not everybody does.
Charlie: Oh, that’s interesting. Okay and it also suggests to me that if you’re going to be in Creator Mode that you need to be a creator. You need to push out more content. So is there a commitment expectation at that point?
Beth: So not from [LinkedIn] but yes, it is designed for people who share a lot of content.
Charlie: Right, so your connections have at that point. They have increased expectations of what they’re going to be getting from you, I would think.
Beth: No. Well because they don’t know. It’s not like they get a notification you’re in Creator Mode, and some people don’t even know what it is. If you go to somebody’s profile for instance and you see up to five hashtags under their headline, what’s under their name, they’re in Creator Mode. But some people might not even realize that. It’s not different enough that people would realize.
Charlie: I wanted to get your opinion on this, Beth. One thing I see often on LinkedIn specifically is posts that seem or might have seemed in the past may be inappropriate. I don’t mean in a negative way, but just things that seem more social and maybe you know, less professional. I mean the lines to me have kind of gotten blurred between what’s professional and social. Then many times you’ll see somebody put a comment on that same post saying hey, I thought this was more a professional site. What are your thoughts on that? Are those appropriate things to put on LinkedIn?
Beth: So I think they are, but the key is the authenticity of it. If somebody is doing a post trying to show something emotional or their softer side in an effort to get attention, that’s going to come through and people are going to realize that. If somebody is sharing something—and what I like to say is you can share personal but not private. So a personal story, something you observed, something that happened in your life—and the way I choose to do it is connect it typically to something in business. But you don’t have to and that is part of what I think the pandemic has taught us, that you can’t separate your life from your working life 100%. Imagine LinkedIn is like a networking meeting, right? Imagine you’re in a group of people live and when you first meet somebody, what are you talking about? You’re talking about oh, where do you live? How many kids do you have? You know, what do you do in your free time? So that’s the personal part. You’re not going to necessarily start by saying "this is what I do for a living."
Charlie: So it really is a reflection on how professional lives have changed maybe over the pandemic. Perhaps that might have accelerated this, but I think it’s a reflection of just where our culture has gone perhaps.
Beth: I agree 100%.
Charlie: Interesting. One of the things that we talked about Beth was the Exactly What to Say certified guide. Am I saying that correctly? What is that? Tell me more about that.
Beth: Yes, yes. That’s something new that I am now one of those, an Exactly What to Say certified guide. It’s based on the work of Phil M. Jones, who is a brilliant speaker, business person, and he has a book, "Exactly What to Say." And he has invited a number of people to become guides, and what that means is we can use this work in our—what we already do. We can use it in new ways and it’s all about magic words for influence and impact in critical conversations. So those conversations might be in business, in sales, in leadership, and in life, and different guides are using it in different ways.
Charlie: So by having the certification it means that you’ve come into the proper level of training or certification, that you’ve reached a level of expertise in this philosophy or this—what is it exactly? Tell me more about it.
Beth: Oh, how to describe it. It’s a way of thinking, a set of words and a set of ways to communicate more impactfully. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert yet because I’m just starting with this, but I am a guide. I can guide people through a workshop, through using these phrases in their lives, and the way I’m starting is I’ve already talked to people about how to say things on LinkedIn. So I’m just going to be doing more of that.
Charlie: Okay so I want to now put a real pointed question to you, and that is about reputation on LinkedIn. Because I have read peers connections and people who I might have wanted to connect to, and after I read some of their posts I have decided that I don’t want to connect with them. So what are some of the dangers or pitfalls I suppose of things you should think about before you just put it out into the ether of the world?
Beth: Yeah, and just like I said, imagine you’re at a networking meeting or some kind of event. It’s the same thing for behavior on LinkedIn. So any behavior you’re going to take or anything you’re going to say, think about if I was with somebody in person. Would I do that same thing? So for instance the most frustrating thing, the thing people hate the most on LinkedIn is the dreaded connect and pitch, and that’s where you connect with somebody typically that you don’t know well, and the next thing that happens is you get a sales pitch in your inbox. People hate that, so those kinds of things can damage your reputation if you do that. Being too pushy, too salesy—nobody likes that.
Charlie: Right. Taking advantage of a situation. Because otherwise the opportunity may not have been there to begin with, and now you’re taking advantage of that relationship.
Charlie: I have also some pretty heated conversations going around in the comments. What would the worst thing or the worst time to think about putting something out on LinkedIn? Is there a let 24 hours pass before you post anything or-? What should I do? Do I quickly engage into a conversation that might be heated and may be divisive? You know, what have you seen and what do you think about that?
Beth: Well it’s funny because the first part of an Exactly What to Say workshop is taking about that the worst time to think about you’re saying is when you’re saying it. So yes, there are certainly less heated conversations on LinkedIn than on other social media platforms, because it’s your business and your business reputation at stake. Whereas you might immediately say whatever you think on Twitter, people do tend to think a little bit more before they post or respond on LinkedIn. I do think in some of those heated conversations—first of all I can’t imagine that some of these people don’t care who sees what they’re saying, but it could also be fake accounts. There are fake accounts on LinkedIn—nowhere near as many as on other social media platforms, but you know I almost wonder are there people looking for those conversations to try to stir up trouble?
Charlie: Okay. Well I’ve got to tell you, Beth. I’ve been using LinkedIn—well, I’ve been participating. I’ve been on the platform for many, many years now, and one thing that I’m very proud of actually on my recommendations that I give out and also that I received. Is it rude for me to broadcast my recommendations that I’ve received or even given to other people? Does that cross the lines on social—
Charlie: Social etiquette, of course.
Beth: No, I don’t think it is. In fact I got one, an unsolicited recommendation from someone in my world who does what I do but slightly differently. And I was so honored that I’m thinking of sharing that. Maybe not today, maybe another day. But I don’t do it all the time. What I’ll do is maybe, because I like alliteration, maybe on Tuesday or a Thursday I’ll do something like testimonial Tuesday and I’ll share how honored I was to receive this recommendation. Plus it lives on your profile, so people can see it if they happen to visit.
Charlie: That’s completely true. So let’s start wrapping this up, Beth, but before I do, I want to give you the floor just for a minute or a small amount of time. What are your final thoughts as somebody who is an expert on this platform. What’s a good takeaway for us?
Beth: A good takeaway is really what I’ve said before. Think of it as if you’re at a live meeting, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to join conversations that are already happening, to start conversations, to share your thought leadership, to support your network. It’s worth spending some time there.
Charlie: That’s good advice. That’s a world of advice. You know that short, succinct message you just gave us really packs a lot of good meaning into it. For anybody else, if you want to learn more about Beth, I encourage you to visit her site, BethGranger.com, [[ LINK: https://www.bethgranger.com/ ]] and I can tell you that just to repeat what I said at the very beginning. Beth is a friend and somebody who I trust and really has taken LinkedIn, all facets of it, to a new level. I encourage you to reach out to her, connect with her, and I think you’ll be highly rewarded for doing that. LinkedIn for me is a great educational tool. It’s a great community that I belong to. We’ve been saying it over and over again: It has really made the world such a small place to be in. Is that a good summation?
Beth: I love it. Yes. I love it.
Charlie: So Beth I want to thank you so much for your time today. It really was such a great treat to speak to you again and to see you and all that and I want to thank everybody for your time today in joining our podcast, listening to this. Do visit other things at TechChannel.com. You will see that they have a whole selection of other podcasts and great articles and great content as well so I encourage you to do that as well. Beth, I will see either in person or virtually once again down the road.
Beth: Absolutely. Thank you.
Charlie: Thank you so much. Bye now.
About the author
Charlie Guarino // President, Central Park Data Systems
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