“Those who don’t know how to get people say ‘yes’ soon fall away. Those who do stay and flourish.” – Dr. Robert Cialdini
Benjamin Hardy, Josh Steimle, Neil Patel, Seth Godin, Jeff Weiner, Josh Hoffman. I don’t mean to drop names here. But their posts are the ones that I often ‘like’ or share on social media, sometimes even without thinking.
They are my top social media influencers, and I’m sure you have your own list of go-to experts. You’ve probably liked, shared or commented on their articles, as well, without giving it much thought.
How about liking or sharing their articles even without reading their entire articles yet? If you’ve been following Neil Patel, you know that he likes writing long-form content. Sometimes, I have to admit, I tweet or share his post even before I reached the end of the article (but yes, I always read his entire article).
The interesting part is that we don’t bother asking ourselves the question, “Why?”
Why do we favor one person over another? Perhaps at the back of our minds, we know the reason: Influence.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist who is also regarded as the “godfather of influence,” explains why people reject some requests but automatically comply with the others through the six principles of persuasion, which he discussed thoroughly in his classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Influence as Mental Shortcuts
People love mental shortcuts in making decisions, our brains are naturally wired to choose the easier paths when solving problems. Why not? With so much information to consume, and so many decisions we have to make, mental shortcuts can make our lives much easier.
Cialdini’s book got me thinking: If we’re not social media influencers like those on our list, can we still have some sort of ‘influence’? Can LinkedIn, as a professional networking site, help us to get people do what we want them to do – i.e., reach out to us?
With a highly optimized profile and a strong presence on LinkedIn, we can make our target clients or customers do business with us by using what Cialdini calls ‘weapons of influence’ as mental shortcuts.
Are You Ready to Power Up Your Influence on LinkedIn?
Principle #1: Reciprocation
“We are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like.”
When someone does us a favor, we feel obligated to return favors. It’s not unusual to see people giving each other gifts, and when one of them doesn’t “give something in return,” the other one starts wondering why. That’s because returning favors is so prevalent in many societies.
LinkedIn Tips (Reciprocation):
- Be the first to give. Add value to your connections.
Don’t start by asking. Begin with a thoughtful conversation. If you’re a salesperson, don’t invite a LinkedIn user to connect with you, and then send him a sales pitch once your connection request gets accepted.
LinkedIn is not a place to sell. It’s a place to build relationships, which, when nurtured, can eventually get that cash register ringing.
So, how can you add value to your connections?
- Answer questions from those who need help – LinkedIn groups are a good place to find questions to answer. Lately, though, many users start seeking help through their status updates. It won’t hurt to answer them if you think you can add value to the conversation.
- Share, like or comment on your connections’ posts – Sharing your connections’ posts means expanding their reach to your own network.
- Share your expertise by publishing original content on LinkedIn – But don’t publish just for the sake of publishing. Know your audience. Publish relevant content that will make them smarter or more successful.
- Endorse your connections for their skills – This will help them rank high in LinkedIn search and be discovered by recruiters or other users looking for their expertise or products.
- Respond to other LinkedIn users who reach out to you – When people approach you, they’re giving you a chance to add value to their lives, so it makes sense to respond to qualified messages that reach your inbox.
Again, add value first and you’ll see the favors being returned if not through sales, maybe through engagement that will lead to expanding your exposure, or probably through referrals. And who doesn’t want engagement and referrals?
Principle #2: Commitment and Consistency
People value consistency and commitment. If you say one thing and do another thing, people would likely ignore you the next time you say something.
“Psychologists have long understood the power of the consistency principle to direct human action… but is this tendency to be consistent really strong enough to compel us to do what we ordinarily would not want to do? There is no question about it.” – Robert Cialdini
This is a well-researched aspect of persuasion. In 1957, Leon Festinger discovered that when people sense a disconnect or inconsistency between their behaviors and beliefs, they feel uneasy.
The cognitive dissonance that happens when people are inconsistent is enough for them to either change their beliefs or change their behaviors.
In the professional world, your colleagues will trust you more and therefore comply to what you say – if your beliefs match your actions or if your actions are aligned with your beliefs.
It’s simple: If you do what you say you can, you’ll be highly valued.
LinkedIn Tips (Commitment and Consistency):
Be consistent. You can use consistency in at least two ways.
- First, ensure that your profile reflects your overall positioning or branding.
If you’re an editor, you must show your attention to detail on your profile. If you’re an award-winning author, include some photos or videos relevant to your awards. If you’re a graphic designer, make your profile stand out through visually appealing content.
What’s the catch here? If your profile doesn’t match your “positioning,” your visitors, a.k.a. your target customers, might just be discouraged to do business with you. On the other hand, Cialdini says:
“A high degree of consistency is normally associated with personal and intellectual strength. It is at the heart of logic, rationality, stability and honesty.”
- Second, use copywriting techniques, including ‘consistency tactics,’ in your profile summary. Your profile summary is a good place to “talk directly” to your target customers. Make it compelling.
- Show that your values align with your target customers’ values. Say something like: You want the best results. We have the best tools. Let’s talk.
- Try creating a mental discomfort that can make your target customers consider reaching out to you for a solution to their challenges. Say something like:
“Don’t leave money on the table. Use only the best tools that can generate the highest ROI.”
“Why be generic if you can be unique? Build your personal brand. Stand out from the crowd.”
Depending on your target customers and industry, you can use other copywriting techniques to make your profile summary more persuasive.
Principle #3: Social Proof
Let’s admit it. People view a behavior as correct depending on how many other people are doing the same thing.
Cialdini puts it this way:
“We assume that our actions are correct because others are doing it.”
This is the principle behind why referrals work. If we’re clueless about a person’s capability, the first thing we do is to look for a social proof.
LinkedIn Tips (Social Proof):
LinkedIn has several features which enable you to show off your achievements, abilities and skills. Note that highlighting your achievements doesn’t mean you’re ‘bragging’. You just need to make your achievements, skills or abilities visible because most LinkedIn users won’t spend their time digging on your profile.
If they can’t easily find in your profile what they’re looking for, they can always go to your competitors’ profiles. So, why make it difficult for them?
Here are a few ways to add social proof:
- Showcase your major achievements – If you’ve published a book, display it on your profile. Ensure that it appears above the fold. You can customize your LinkedIn banner to do this. Here’s what Chris Spurvey does:
- Highlight any popular and credible magazines, shows or events in which you were featured or mentioned – Include these on your headline, profile summary, and on the ‘Experience’ or ‘Accomplishment’ section. Don’t forget to add the links to the article or interview.
- Add your skills and manage your endorsements – Add skills that can help you win your target customers, then get as many endorsements as you can to “validate” them.
- Ask for recommendations – These are testimonials from other LinkedIn users, who could be your current or previous customers or colleagues. As with the endorsements, the more recommendations you have, the higher points you’ll gain on social proof.
To ask for a recommendation, you need to go to the person’s LinkedIn profile, then click on the three dots beside their profile photo and select ‘Request a recommendation’.
- Include client testimonials or customer feedback – If you have previous customers or former colleagues who are not on LinkedIn, but you feel that their recommendations will help you stand out, you may still ask for their testimonials. You can quote them on your profile summary or add their testimonials on the ‘Experience’ section.
One of the best practices here is to ask your previous customers to record a video testimonial and then publish it on your profile. Be creative with videos and share video testimonials with your connections in your status update to help build your reputation without your network visiting your profile.
- Highlight the famous clients you’ve worked with – Working with popular and highly respected brands and companies is considered a privilege that not everyone can have a chance to do. So, cite those brands on the ‘Experience’ section and highlight them on your profile summary.
Your LinkedIn profile is a powerful branding tool – it’s not a resume in which you can just dump all information about yourself.
To get the right people to reach out to you via your profile, you need to make things easy for them. Use mental shortcuts. Add value to your connections. Be consistent throughout your profile. Provide social proof.
When optimized and used the right way, your LinkedIn profile can be a ‘weapon of influence’ that can bring your career or business to the next level.