I hear this quite often in my coachings. And I sense a feeling of insecurity and fear that interactions might gobble up too much time from an already busy work day.
Interactions are important for deep networking. But it is not purely about frequency. You could be an “interaction monster“, “like“ and “share“ or “comment“ as much as possible. But really, what do you want to achieve with it?
So the first question you need to address is this:
Why do you want to interact with your contacts?
If you do not know and you don’t have a strategy, it might be a waste of time to interact at all. Seriously, calling your best clients and going for lunch might be your best investment ever. But you can’t go for lunch and dinner every day and eat four steaks in a row. Or your best contacts may live many miles away. It would be difficult having lunch in Paris and dinner back in Sydney, wouldn’t it?
So what is your digital match plan?
I don’t want to get into that too deep today but basically it is about two things: about mind share and influence.
- Mind share: You want to be top of mind of a specific contact or your bubble. So it is about popping up in their feed frequently regardless of the topic (it shouldn’t be too off-topic, though).
- Positioning/Influence: This is about content and branding. Interaction by interaction you want to train your network; to drill them what you are all about. This could be a specific topic or how you deal with things. This takes lots of time, preparation and grit to be reliably perceived as “someone who does/is x“ (hint: „x“ is what you stand for digitally).
Who do you want to resonate with?
Then you need to think about who you want to interact with. With your
a) best contacts,
b) high potentials,
c) new contacts or
d) other bubbles (unknown contact?)?
As in real life, your style of interaction adjusts to your relations with the target group: Always start building trust for a much longer time than expected and then keep up the mind share. New contacts need to see you often in their feeds (mind share), older contacts don’t miss you when you are inactive for a while. But they appreciate your professional and personal statements.
What is your interaction strategy?
You figured out the “why” and “who”. Missing is the what and when you do it.
And here we get to the “like“, “share“ and “comment“ - finally: Consider them as your strategic tools to either address mind share or gain influence.
Let’s have a look from the weakest to the strongest tool in your social media drawer:
Like: Do not overdo it
Well, I think there are way too many “likes“ around. Networks are just too crowded for another useless attention robber. Likes pollute our networks because you never know why people like something. So do us all a favour and never again click on “like“ lightheartedly. Do it strategically — a “like“ it is not about content but people. All you want is to increase mind share:
- Only like updates of good potential and new contacts for mind share reasons. Do not like too often. Reward relevant updates of your contacts. Repeat: Only like updates of your contacts you want to raise mind share with. No cat videos (forbidden on LinkedIn!). You post a kitten video and I unfollow you. :-)
- How often: a few times a day, not too often. It will not matter, If you forget to do this a few days or weeks.
Share: It is all about your topics
This is much stronger than a non-binding “like“. Since your contacts do not see that and what you shared your own network, use this tool for your own personal branding efforts. The “share“ is all about content (and it also raises mind share):
- Share only relevant updates to your bubble. Add something meaningful. Writing “great article“ is not enough. Add value. You want to emphasise or highlight a specific insight, state the essence, put into relation or maybe you want to suggest a connection to a different topic close to your heart of your network? See yourself as a respectful aggregator of information - this will make you more valuable to your contacts.
- Don’t share too much. Only share the most important things. Find something that surprises you and your peers on a professional level - something you would bring up offline. I would be happy to see something from you every day but don’t necessarily expect it from you.
- Share smart: Mention your contacts (#yourcontact) when you share something they posted first. Show kudos und build mind share.
Comment: Your path to influence
Comments are the sharpest tools in your communication drawers. Choose them wisely and keep messages sharp. You could comment every update in your feet with some useless blah. But you are not a troll, arent’t you?!
What you need to understand is that with comments you reach the bubbles (the ones your are not in) of your contacts. So depending on your comment, potential relevant contacts might find you. It is crucial to come up with something valuable and smart. In most cases the author of the update will appreciate your comment and will comment back. The result: high mind share with topical branding points for you.
- How to do it? Look for updates of your best and most important contacts. Share your best practices or experiences with that topic or add something from your perspective. It has to be to the point. I see too many comments such as “ good job, Bob“. Try to refrain from this. Prefer commenting on a professional business level (so others can relate to). That doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid your opinion. On the contrary: Your comment should ooze with personal experience. There is quite a Kung-Fu of how to comment correctly - something we can talk about in our individual coachings.
How often should you comment? Sure, it takes more time to come up with a good comment. So choose your battles. Sometimes it is easy to comment something (and then you should do it) and at other times you might need to do some research. See it as an investment: Is this interaction worth it? That’s the reason you really need to think about this strategically.
An advanced strategy would be to comment on LinkedIn articles of other influencers. This is a highly effective “piggyback“ strategy - and an entirely different beast to talk about on a different occasion.
Putting all together - like less, share more, comment wisely
If I had to distill it even more, I would suggest the following: - Like: Use for mind share purposes only (your entire network and to increase mind share with specific contacts)
- Share: Mindshare and some influencing. Here you address your network and connected bubbles - it is all about topics, agenda setting.
- Comment: Use for best (potential) contacts. It raises individual mind share but also defines you better as an influencer in your field of expertise / or your way of doing business.