Success stories are being written every day on LinkedIn. Professionals all over the world are leveraging the site to win new business, step into new careers, and advance as thought leaders. The common thread for those who have realized a desired outcome on LinkedIn is the dedication and sense of personal obligation that they brought to the work. They invested the time and effort into priming their LinkedIn profiles for opportunity, as well as learning and applying best practices in social networking. What separates the achiever from the dabbler is the commitment to excellence.
Commitment is the necessary first step in any undertaking where a goal is clearly defined or mastery of a skill is desired. The rate at which a desired outcome is achieved is directly proportional to the level of commitment required to produce it. Enthusiasm, dedication, patience, and the right mindset are essential to creating sustainable excellence in any endeavor. So, too, on LinkedIn.
I believe that all professionals have the qualities to excel at LinkedIn. Yet most make the conscious choice to abstain from the effort. Fear of failure, no time, no inclination, or no faith in the system—these are all wonderful excuses coughed up by well-meaning people. Self-handicapping is the antithesis of commitment. It is easy to say that you want to master LinkedIn; the challenge lies in taking the necessary steps. Intention equals results. Anything short of that is wasted breath.
As attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.” A commitment to excellence is a pledge, a pact you make with yourself to be the best. In order to reap the benefits that come with regular LinkedIn use, you must bind yourself intellectually and emotionally to the work. Continuous learning is at the core of a successful LinkedIn regimen. When you commit, you open up yourself—and your business—to a world of possibilities.
What defines a LinkedIn user’s commitment to excellence, and how does it manifest in the real world?
1). The Abolition of the Comfort Zone
Nothing happens on LinkedIn until you migrate out of your comfort zone. A commitment requires a change of perspective and behavior, the stretching of one’s limits. Many users perceive LinkedIn to be a mysterious place, too complicated, or simply not worth their time. Rather than expose themselves to potential risk, they detach and insulate. They default to their reptilian brains to keep them safe. The shedding of inhibition is the first step in converting potential energy to kinetic energy. Without constraints, the mind opens, authenticity is liberated, and learning occurs.
2). The Cultivation of an Opportunity Mindset
LinkedIn success is a self-fulfilling prophecy once you create the right mindset. A commitment is less burdening if you enter into it with positive thoughts. Approach LinkedIn with the attitude of ‘this will work,’ and it will. Visualize the outcome and it will come into focus. Optimism promotes constructive behaviors that create opportunities. A defeatist attitude or seeing the worst in situations is counterproductive to any professional seeking to accomplish any goal. Do not suffocate your ambition with negative self-talk. Activating on the site will enable you to see possibilities on LinkedIn. Once you see the door, you will figure out a way to open it.
3). The Assignment of Value to the Work
LinkedIn is an ongoing appraisal process. When deemed useful, activities performed on the site take on context and can effect positive real-world change. Unless you consign yourself in thought and action, your progress will be limited. Once you attach value to each piece of the work, and gain clarity on its underlying strategy, you will see the big picture. You will understand how the content in your LinkedIn profile drives decision-making. You will view your LinkedIn network as an economy with social capital as its currency. Those who consider LinkedIn to be useless or value-neutral cannot expect to achieve even a modicum of success.
4). The Assuming of Personal Accountability
Involvement on LinkedIn without being accountable (to oneself and others) is limiting. When you hold yourself personally accountable, you stay on track and in alignment with your goals. Raising the bar, even incrementally, will up-level your performance on the site and foster growth. Failing to take responsibility for your actions (both online and offline) is the kiss of death in business today. Stare down the person in your LinkedIn profile. Can you substantiate your self-belief and live up to your claims? Will you carry yourself on LinkedIn in a manner commensurate with the strength of your commitment? Will you do what is necessary?
5). The Drive to Engage an Online Community
LinkedIn is a springboard for brand recognition and thought leadership. Those who seek the spotlight in business must understand that they compete every day for eyes, minds, and hearts. Desirous of greater attention, more clients, or better outcomes, they will ramp up their LinkedIn activity and create original written content. Your unwavering commitment to excellence is reflected in the care with which you tend to your LinkedIn profile, and the width and depth of your LinkedIn footprint. An energized presence on the site molds a thought leader persona, builds brand awareness, increases network strength, and drives positive change.
6). The Desire to Advance Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Interactions
LinkedIn is a communication platform for focused, one-on-one exchange. The site has been revamped to help users keep important professional relationships front and center. Personal productivity on LinkedIn comes down to managing conversations well. So much opportunity goes by the wayside because people go silent after connecting. When you show a genuine desire to collaborate, people will be more inclined to explore potential synergies with you.
7). The Transfer of Trust to the Virtual World
LinkedIn is a global community in which those who trust will thrive. In order to prosper on LinkedIn, you must believe that there is an interested and supportive community available to you. Once placed in confidence, LinkedIn becomes an extension of the just-world hypothesis, an environment in which people get what they deserve. Believe that you will find those individuals who see your value, that you are worthy of high regard, and that you do benefit those you serve, and LinkedIn will provide. I am living proof of this.
♦ The psychology of commitment is closely tied to the study of human motivation. When you perceive the possibility of reward, you respond by mobilizing toward it. You will do whatever it takes to improve, achieve, and sustain. On that level, failure is impossible.
♦ LinkedIn does not work itself. The assembly of a marketable LinkedIn profile and cohesive professional network requires ongoing assessment and sound decision making. View your LinkedIn activities in terms of performance and you will understand what is necessary to produce a desired result.
♦ You can own vast amounts of practical knowledge. You may be the most skilled site navigator in the LinkedIn universe. But without the requisite dedication, discipline, and steadfastness of purpose, your work on LinkedIn will be all for naught.
Since 2006, JD Gershbein, CEO of Owlish Communications, has helped advance the collective awareness of LinkedIn and inspired opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business to step up and achieve on the site. His ability to spark others to action has earned him the moniker of “The LinkedIn Catalyst.” JD is considered one of the world’s top thought leaders on LinkedIn, and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn education. He is also a globally acclaimed social business psychologist, keynote speaker, and frequent broadcast media expert on LinkedIn for business. Additionally, JD is adjunct professor of marketing communications at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business, where he is advancing social media marketing as an academic discipline. In addition to his blog, The Wisdom Zone, JD is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Forbes.
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