In this guest blog series, JD Gershbein will discuss the role that luck plays in social business and how people can shape their own positive outcomes on LinkedIn.
Feeling lucky (or unlucky) is a behavior that drives people in many aspects of their lives. Luck operates in mysterious ways, that variety evidenced in a seemingly endless array of popular quotes that run the gamut from humor to inspiration and from tragedy to discouragement. Some musings pack a motivational wallop; others deflate ambition.
Luck has also been personified (Lady Luck), symbolized (rabbit’s foot) and allegorized (the luck of the Irish).
In business, people often talk about “getting a lucky break” or “the luck of the draw.” Some people at the top of the mountain will tell you that there is no luck involved in how they got there and attribute their success to hard work, long hours and focused study. Yet no amount of preparation, discipline, or wisdom can unseat the game plan of being in the right place at the right time. The great pitcher, Lefty Gomez, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, often stated that he’d “rather be lucky than good.” No argument here. When it comes to good luck, especially in the pursuit of success, we all could use some.
In social networking, luck is the point at which effort and chance converge, and there are many examples of how this works on LinkedIn. Skill sets notwithstanding, one might feel that landing the dream position, closing the prospect, or getting introduced in to a new, lucrative enterprise has an element of good luck attached to it. Conversely, failing to meet a recruiter’s criteria, losing the order, or not being perceived as credible by a buyer, can be written off by some as just bad luck. Given the vagaries of human relationships, there are many factors that lie outside our control and, therefore, I choose not to downplay the role of luck on LinkedIn.
So how do (can) you get lucky on LinkedIn?
Input Equals Output
Understand that there is no magic bullet on LinkedIn and that positive outcomes occur only through conscious and ongoing effort. The more hours you spend on the site, the more nimble and agile you will become on it, period. The more you give of yourself to others in your network, the tighter your relationships become. The more attention you pay to developing a powerful LinkedIn profile with a galvanizing call to action, the more favorably you will be perceived by potential clients. The more visible and approachable you are on LinkedIn, the more meaningful conversations you will generate. To be a beneficiary of luck, you cannot skirt the time commitment. You’ve got to do the work. In the LinkedIn space, with apologies to Lennon and McCartney, the luck you take is equal to the luck you make.
The Law of Social Probability
Social networking has its own probability matrix. On LinkedIn, you can create experiences that can increase your likelihood of a positive outcome. A LinkedIn profile that is fully visible to LinkedIn Nation, and strategically laden with keywords, enhances your chances of getting found. Frequent posts in LinkedIn group discussions draw even more attention to your LinkedIn profile (providing that you are bringing value to the exchange) and enable you to connect with influencers. As your professional network builds, you are better positioned for opportunities and—once you reach a certain level of proficiency and sophistication on the site—you begin to recognize them. By moving in a direction that is aligned with your LinkedIn objectives, critical thinking kicks in and you gain a sense of clarity and meaning. All of these scenarios are skill-based and can set you up for good luck.
LinkedIn Network Building is a Numbers Game
Many people believe that amassing first-degree connections will increase their probability of finding qualified leads. True, a large network can pay dividends, but only if it is managed and leveraged properly. Vast networks comprise a great many connections that have fallen between the cracks of a user’s awareness and have lost relevance due to the passage of time. The probability model implodes when network size becomes unmanageable and focus diminishes. Who has the bandwidth to stay on top of a five-figure network? I favor building a professional network methodically and organically—that is, from within your existing sphere of influence. A smaller, tightly-knit community of well-vetted connections can ease the communication burden and give rise to a bounty of opportunities.
As you develop and fortify your LinkedIn profile content, your probability of success increases. As you communicate with authenticity and purpose on the site, your personal brand begins to flourish and you will (ideally) be in front of more economic buyers. But if your LinkedIn profile content is scant, ill-conceived, or poorly rendered, you simply won’t be seen and won’t be taken seriously. Fortune truly does favor the well-prepared, but it’s nice to have Lady Luck riding in the sidecar every once in a while.
J.D. Gershbein, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn. He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople, and those involved in the search for their next great opportunity. Dubbed “The Oracle of LinkedIn,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn educational programs. A highly sought-after global speaker, J.D. draws upon his background in marketing communications, industrial psychology, neuroscience, broadcast media, and improvisational comedy to inspire opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business.
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