I thought I would start this week's tip with a little story...


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, before the existence of social media (actually, it was less than ten years ago), there was a businessperson who spent a good amount of his leisure time reading lots of newspapers and magazines. casual readingHe would read his local general newspaper, his local business newspaper, and would then branch out and devour his latest industry related magazines as well. 


He enjoyed this spare-time activity, or so he would say, but I think he was really just trying to justify having his feet up for an hour a day or a few hours on the weekend while still doing some sort of productive work activity. 


If you asked him, he would say he was having fun and this was his way of unwinding. But truth be told, he was trying to stay ahead of his competitors, look for new customers, find articles about his customers and competitors, and at the same time hopefully stumble upon articles that might help his customers or potential customers improve their business in some way. 


If he found an article that he wanted to share with some of his business friends, golfing buddies, or customers, he would rip the article out of the paper. If he was really good at this, he would grab his trusty scissors (which, of course, sat on the end table next to his easy chair) and start a pile that he would then take into the office the next day.  


The next day he arrived at the office, went to the copy machine, made the appropriate number of copies, grabbed envelopes, wrote personal notes on a separate sheet of paper (there were no post-it notes in those days), stuffed the articles and notes in envelopes, addressed the envelopes, and trudged off to the mail room to drop all the envelopes off.  


He would return to his office with a sense of satisfaction because he had helped a bunch of his business associates and continued to show all of them that he was the most helpful, smart, stay-on-top-of-the-best-news kind of networking business professional that they knew. He was a sharing and helping machine, and that is how he grew his business into what it was back then.


Now move ahead to 2011. Our smart, stay-on-top-of-it business professional is, of course, using LinkedIn on a daily basis and has executed all the steps outlined in my LinkedIn book. As he sits down in the evening for an hour of light reading online using his computer or iPad, he simply hits the LinkedIn "Share" button when he finds an article that he thinks an individual or a group of people in his network would appreciate. (This button is usually located somewhere on the perimeter of the article itself.) Up pops a box asking him whether he wants to share this article with:

  • his entire network in the form of a status update
  • his Twitter followers
  • his selected groups (this is not always available)
  • selected connections on LinkedIn
  • other individuals whom he is not connected with on LinkedIn (I know -- it's really hard to believe there are business professionals who are not on LinkedIn)
He can also send a personalized message to the audience by using the message box -- the modern-day version of the post-it note -- a nice green feature!


If the article you found does not have a LinkedIn "Share" button, you can still share it by copying and pasting the URL of the article into the "Attach a link" box in the Status Update section on your home page. You can then share your comments in the box that states "Share an update." After you have shared it with your network, it will then show up in your update feed. From your update feed, you can click the word "Share," which then allows you to share it on Twitter, groups, etc., as outlined above. 


This same "Share" feature is available for not only articles you have found yourself or authored but also other people's articles that you find in your status feed and group discussions. Thus you can continue to share great content with your audience, thereby continuing to be the clearinghouse of important information in your part of the sandbox. (The sandbox is the entire business world, and you play in a certain part of the sandbox, meaning your industry, region, important demographics, or a combination of those criteria).


I consider the "Like" feature to be the little brother of "Share." It allows you to indicate your approval of someone else's update, plus you can add a comment. By selecting "Like," you can share this with your entire network in the form of a status update from you, but the individual who originally shared the update will also show up in your feed. There is a comment box for you to share a personalized message with your audience. Though this is not as helpful as "Share," it is another way to quickly give some traction to something you think your network may benefit from.


Watch this tutorial to see details of how to perform the steps I discussed in this article. Then be a good Samaritan and help your network by "sharing" and "liking." 


Feel free to let me know what you are doing with your scissors, the money you're saving on stamps and envelopes, and all the time you are saving!