Keeping Your Network Engaged

8 minutes, 2 links

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Jonathan Javier,* the founder of Wonsulting and a LinkedIn influencer, says, “Put your community first because when you do, you’ll build a foundation of friends who will support you no matter what.”

Most of the posts made by Javier garner a huge, engaged audience, sometimes viewed by over 100,000 people. That is because he uses the platform to share his personal stories, mostly of his struggles, while ending each with a takeaway for the reader. Unlike many influencers, he also takes the time to respond to the comments on his posts and engage with his audience.

thinkThe advent of social media has given all of us a microphone through which we can broadcast even the most trivial thoughts we have to the entire world. Spend some time thinking about the kind of message you want to relay through this medium.

There are various kinds of posts you can create on LinkedIn (or any platform, really). We’ll highlight three types below.

Sharing resources: The best way to begin engaging with someone is to provide them value upfront. These are the kinds of posts where you can share resources that you’ve collected or created with careful care. It could be a powerful template for a resume, a framework you followed for choosing universities, or even a collection of flash cards you created for the GRE exam. Or hey, it can even be this book!

Think about areas where you have unique knowledge and resources, and overlap that with the kind of people in your connections. Will they find it valuable? If yes, go ahead and make a post. Here is a sample:

Hello LinkedIn,

I just spent three months preparing for my GRE exam and got a score of 328 (160 V 168 Q 5 AWA) after taking my exam today. I have compiled all the resources I used into the following:

  • A template of the 12-week plan I followed

  • A table containing the resources I used with feedback on how valuable they were

  • Most importantly, a personalized set of flashcards along with synonyms and sentence examples for 1,500 words

This isn’t of use to me anymore; but I’m sure it will be of use to you if you are beginning your preparation. Submit your email in this form [link] or comment it below and I will send it all to you in a neatly compiled folder.

Let’s help each other.

#gre #studyplan #studyabroad #exam #masters

A simple, straight-forward post.

Notice how the post begins with providing some context on why they should listen to you.

In an era where most products are free, the price you pay is your attention.

You need to give people a good reason to pay you with theirs.

Sharing observations: Think back to the last thought you had that made you go, “Wow. That was insightful!”

Shower thoughts are the eureka moments that come at you out of nowhere when you are engaged in a mentally and physically relaxing activity, like taking a shower. They are so popular that there is a subreddit on this topic with over 20 million members.* Shower thoughts arise because you let the prefrontal cortex of your brain run on autopilot. Your prefrontal cortex is valuable for a lot of things: it helps you plan, make complex decisions, and focus deeply on a task. However, it also impedes you from having spontaneous bursts of creativity that surface when you let your mind wander. When you’re showering or listening to music or walking in a park, unencumbered by distractions, your prefrontal cortex takes the back seat and lets the default mode of your brain take control of the wheel.* With the help of a little dopamine, new connections are formed in your brain that sometimes leads to a brilliant insight.

We aren’t saying you should take a pen and paper with you every time you go for a walk. Rather, when you have a thought that seems insightful, make a note of it after you return from the activity. And there you have it: the recipe for a post. Below is an example based on one of my posts on LinkedIn.*

What separates celebrities from the rest of us is not just money or fame; it’s something more powerful.

If you think about it, on a daily basis, we spend a significant amount of our time making schedules, responding to and sending messages related to our career, and wondering if we should be focusing on another opportunity out there.

A celebrity has a swarm of people whose only job is to work on those tasks: building out their schedule, responding to requests, and ensuring that at any point of time, what they spend their time on is the most efficient way to spend their time.

The good news is, even if we don’t have a personal assistant to filter out the information we see, we can still build our own using the tools we have. Use Google Calendar along with an extension like Clockwise that automatically blocks uninterrupted periods of time on your calendar using AI; unsubscribe constantly and use powerful spam filters like Proofpoint to only see the emails you want to; capture your thoughts on platforms like LinkedIn so you can always reference back when you need to.

We live in an era of information overload. Build your own attention filter.

This post is not sharing a ready-made resource, rather a powerful thought:

We can be our own assistants by using the tools we have effectively.

By sharing such insights, you can build a community around you who will look forward to your posts and remember you as the person who made them think.

Sharing stories: These are the most powerful of posts, as witnessed from Jon’s example. We all love reading and hearing stories. I grew up listening to strange tales told by my grandfather as we sat down on the verandah every evening for a few hours. It was wonderful. There’s a reason people fall in love with fictional characters such as Harry Potter and Calvin and Hobbes.

thinkWhat is even better, however, is listening to someone’s real-life story, as it helps us connect better with them, and remember them for longer. We aren’t going to share any examples here, because we want you to think about your own. Don’t limit it to success stories. Failures carry more power because they’re more relatable, and reassuring.

Those were some examples to kindle your mind. But sometimes, even something simple can be powerful.

Akosua Boadi-Agyemand,* now a Program Manager at Microsoft, made a post* on LinkedIn two years ago merely asking for help with her job search, which went viral and got the attention of Jeff Weiner himself, who was the then-CEO of the platform. That one post led to her internship at Microsoft, followed by a full-time offer, and the beginning of what she calls a “BOLD” journey.

So go ahead. Engage with your community, share your journey, your thoughts, and maybe, just maybe, you might strike up a conversation because of it.

Just one final piece of advice when it comes to networking: don’t lose track.

The Pavlov Dog Experiment

Ivan Pavlov* is a famous guy among physiologists. He is most known for his work in classical conditioning, which is described as* “learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response (i.e., a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response.”

Let’s decode that jargon with the famous Pavlov dog experiment. In the 1890s, Pavlov was researching the salivation in dogs in response to being fed. One day, he noticed that his dogs began salivating as soon as they heard the footsteps of the assistant approaching with the food. This instance, of watching the dogs display the same response even for objects or events associated with food as opposed to the food itself, changed the course of his research.

He spent the rest of his life working to refine this theory.

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