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SPOILER ALERT: Stop connecting with everyone.

For years I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with LinkedIn. I hated almost every minute on the platform, and I hated that I felt it necessary to be there at all.

For the last 18 months, friends and colleagues have been telling me that LinkedIn is way better than it used to be. “You mean it’s not just a dumping ground for your resume? Isn’t it only good for recruiters and people looking for jobs?”

I finally decided to give it another chance. Guess what? It still sucked.

I’d get several connection requests a week from people I didn’t actually know. They’d say something like, “Hey Jerry, I noticed we have some mutual connections and thought we might be able to help people out.” #eyeroll

I’d accept the request, and about two days later I’d get a private message asking me to hire them to help with lead generation, SEO or to buy discount sunglasses.

Really!?! You sent me ONE message, and now you want me to give you money?

Sorry, I can’t help you right now, I’m still waiting to get my money back from a Nigerian prince.

So my “new” LinkedIn experience was exactly what it has always been. A feed full of content I didn’t care about and SPAM from strangers. What a thrill.

I was about to abandon LinkedIn for another 6+ months, but then I had a realization.

My friend BJ used to think everyone around him was a jerk. Then one day he thought, “everyone can’t be a jerk. Maybe I’m the jerk?”

Applying this same idea I thought, “LinkedIn sucks but most people around me are loving it. Maybe I’m the problem?”

At this moment I set out to find a way to make LinkedIn better for me. And I did it in 3 easy steps.

 

STEP ONE: CONNECTION CLEANUP

I was always afraid to reject a connection request. It seemed like a slap in the face to a total stranger.

My friend Neil finally put it into perspective. “Just reject anyone that you don’t know or don’t get an intriguing note from. Those people are usually reaching out to hundreds of accounts per week and probably won’t notice if you reject them.”

That was what I needed to hear.

What’s more important, that you have an account with a large number of connections? Or that you have meaningful connections with a smaller group of people? I’ve always believed the latter, so why hadn’t I done that on LinkedIn?

In the same way I’d done on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I started cleaning house.


Over the coming weeks I became ruthless. I went through my “connections” and disconnected from everyone unless:

  • I actually knew them
  • I had developed an online relationship with them, either on LinkedIn or another platform
  • I enjoyed their content even if they didn’t know who I was (companies, influencers)

When people I didn’t know sent a new connection request, a meaningful note needed to be included before I’d even consider accepting. I’ve created my tribe and now I’m out to protect it, only letting in certain people. If the note was generic, I started replying bluntly:

Blunt LinkedIn Reply

STEP TWO: FURTHER IMPROVE MY FEED

LinkedIn has a setting called Feed Preferences. I discovered this and it was that moment that made the social network enjoyable for me again.

As I’m sure you know, your feed is made up of posts from people and brands you are connected with. Under Feed Preferences, you can also choose topics you want to follow. I took a few minutes to go through and choose things I’m interested in, and immediately LinkedIn stopped filling my feed with crap!

I’m not sure when they added this setting – probably while I was protesting the platform.

To find it go to Settings & Privacy, then click on Feed Preferences.

 

STEP THREE: LAUNCH A CONTENT STRATEGY

Only 1% of the people on LinkedIn are posting original content. Lots of people share links, but almost nobody was posting original videos, images and blogs. That combined with the recently added ability to upload native video means there is huge potential for content creators on LinkedIn as it grows its active user base.

Hey, I’m a content creator!

I’m also a content creator with limited time. I believe content created for other platforms just thrown on LinkedIn won’t be very effective. However, I have a lot of content that can be repurposed and repackaged for LinkedIn.

The #10Tips10Days challenge was the perfect place for me to start. If you’re not familiar, it is a challenge created by Kira Day, Bobby Umar, Lila Smith and Jake Jordan. Be sure to follow the hashtag, there is some great value!

This gave people like me the ability to start giving advice without as much fear of rejection. A lot of my connections were relatively new, so they didn’t necessarily know my background.

I sat down and brainstormed 10 tips, then filmed all the videos in one setting. I added a little production value, but you can do these by simply filming them with your smartphone. Just make sure you can be seen and heard!

I opted not to post 10 videos in 10 days. Nobody needed to hear from me that frequently, plus I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain that content pace after the 10 videos.

If you’re interested, here are some of the videos I’ve posted so far:

Why Free Tools Might Be Ruining Your Business

Doing This One Time Task Will Help You Forever

How You Can Brainstorm Content, Even If You Say You’re NOT Creative

After the 10 videos are posted, I hope to continue creating original content for LinkedIn, posting at least once per week. One week I’ll post a video, the next a native blog (LinkedIn calls them articles). Around that I’ll also share links and other content.

IS LINKEDIN NOW MY FAVORITE SOCIAL NETWORK?

LinkedIn has not magically become my favorite social network. But it is also no longer a spam filled experience or dumping ground for my content.

I’m going to continue to only accept meaningful connections. I will continue to adjust my Feed Preferences. And I expect I’ll continue to like LinkedIn more and more.

If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn. Just make sure to send a non-generic note. 😏

BEAT THE ALGORITHM: Learn more about how LinkedIn’s algorithm works from our friends at Falcon.io.

Jerry Potter is the Creative Director and CMO for Mastodon Media, as well as the founder of Five Minute Social Media, a YouTube channel that teaches small business owners to maximize their social media marketing. Living in Seattle, he spends his time with his wife and two Tiny Humans, and is on a quest to prove Diet Coke is actually good for him.

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