Breakthroughs, Kathy Caprino, social media, Uncategorized What I Learned From Writing about LinkedIn on Forbes.com Written by: Kathy Caprino

On September 13, I posted an article on Forbes.com about LinkedIn.  I covered what I felt were the 8 myths about what LinkedIn can (and can’t) do for your life and your career.  At that time, I was a contributor on ForbesWoman through the blog of my favorite women’s organization 85Broads (see their terrific ForbesWoman blog).

Here’s the piece:
LinkedIn: Busting 8 Damaging Myths about What It Can Do For Your Career.

This article truly struck a chord like no other piece I’ve written to date.  It became the most viewed piece on Forbes.com that day (more than 60,000 views!), and landed on the Forbes homepage.  Over 12,000 people shared it on LinkedIn, and the feedback I received was nothing short of astounding.  I was invited by over 300 folks to connect, and received 200+ emails, as well as speaking inquiries, blogging opportunities, consulting queries, requests for profile edits, and more. 

I was truly shocked that this little, informal piece about LinkedIn would be so hungrily consumed.  From the feedback I received in the days following the post, I now know the following about LinkedIn:

1) When over 100 million people engage in something, it’s a massive force of nature.

2) While so many of us use LinkedIn for hours each day, there is still rampant confusion and overwhelm about how to make it work most effectively.

3) Millions of people are hoping it’s some kind of a magic bullet – that it will fix things (like get you a job, or make your career better) that a professional networking tool simply cannot.

4) Rules of effective engaging (in life and on LinkedIn) are still a mystery to many.

5) Making the most of LinkedIn’s abilities is still out of reach for most.

6) As evolved as we are, humans still need a lot of help in learning how to meaningfully engage, connect and be in mutually beneficial community with each other.

I also learned a thing or two about writing.  Here’s what I gleaned:

1) When you write about something 100 million people care about (and happen to be a part of a large media platform), you get read.

2) When you share authentic views and aren’t afraid to be seen as a “contrarian” (and add to a national conversation), you get read.

3) When you aim to help people understand something important that’s hard to understand, you get read.

4) When you write something that just flows out of you quickly and easily (and don’t over-agonize or worry if it’s good), you write better.

I’m so grateful that this little piece just came pouring out, and that I didn’t over-analyze its merit.  I just offered it up to the editor, and hoped someone, someday might enjoy it.  From this, I got my own ForbesWoman blog (thank you, @ForbesWoman – here’s today’s piece).  And I was lucky enough to experience having a piece published that happened to be useful to good number of folks, and was a blast to create.

But I’m still scratching my head a bit about the appeal of this piece, and I’d love your feedback to help me understand it.  Can you please share…

1) Why do you think this piece struck such a chord?

2) What have you thought about the other information/pieces you’ve read about LinkedIn (have they been helpful to you?)

3) How have YOU felt when something you wrote or created surprisingly reached thousands of people?

Please SHARE your candid (and contrarian) views! I’d love to know…Thanks, my friends.

39 thoughts on “What I Learned From Writing about LinkedIn on Forbes.com”

  1. Kathy,

    Thank you so much for sharing this interesting piece about the unexpected success of an article. I think it’s one of the most frustrating parts of blogging. We agonize and write an amazing article that we think is innovative and unique and that everyone will want to read and it goes no where. Then another article that we didn’t put much thought into goes like wildfire and we don’t know why.

    As someone who specializes in, lives, eats and breathes LinkedIn, I’d like to offer my observations and feedback.

    To be honest, I didn’t see the Forbes article first – I saw this article (I just happened to look at my Google alerts today). Since I’m on LinkedIn 24/7, I would have thought I would have seen someone sharing it or see it on LinkedIn Today. Actually, I may have and chose to ignore it. There are so many articles written about LinkedIn that keep rehashing the same points over and over that I do sometimes tune them out. The sad part is that there is always something new and innovative happening on LinkedIn that it makes no sense for people to keep writing articles covering the same basic points and features.

    One of the reasons I think it got such great visibility is that Forbes is part of LinkedIn’s pay to play publishers in LinkedIn Today, so it didn’t take as many people sharing it to get listed as it would for this article sitting on your own website to get listed. I’m actually a bit disappointed in how LinkedIn has allowed the paid publishers to dominate LinkedIn Today. I’d really like to see more of what my network is sharing specifically and also learn about great articles on smaller venues like this. You’ll notice that very few “amateurs” ever make top listings.

    Additionally, since the visibility was likely higher on LinkedIn where those who have drunk the Kool Aid are already playing, they will be more likely to share it. Of course, that’s not to say it wasn’t a great article – because it was – you’re just preaching to the choir:-)

    The second main reason, in my opinion, you hit already and that is that most LinkedIn users still don’t know how to use the tool effectively so they are constantly seeking new resources to try and teach them. The sad part is that although they want to use it more effectively, many aren’t willing to actually invest in learning how to use it better. Because it’s a “free” service they think they should be trained on it for free. The even sadder part is that there are even many people who have paid for training and then never implemented. Using LinkedIn effectively requires both a change of habit and a change in thinking – both of which you know are very hard and most people resist.

    I think that your article really resonated with people because it was the common sense debunking of the snake oil sales people. Just like diet pills, people want to think that they can get the same results without the hard work. You came in and reminded everyone that the only true equation to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. In LinkedIn terms, I take that to mean: be fully engaged, be authentic, and be proactive. It’s the only way you will see true benefits from this amazingly powerful tool.

    Thanks again and I’m happy to have made your acquaintance!

  2. Kathy,

    Thank you so much for sharing this interesting piece about the unexpected success of an article. I think it’s one of the most frustrating parts of blogging. We agonize and write an amazing article that we think is innovative and unique and that everyone will want to read and it goes no where. Then another article that we didn’t put much thought into goes like wildfire and we don’t know why.

    As someone who specializes in, lives, eats and breathes LinkedIn, I’d like to offer my observations and feedback.

    To be honest, I didn’t see the Forbes article first – I saw this article (I just happened to look at my Google alerts today). Since I’m on LinkedIn 24/7, I would have thought I would have seen someone sharing it or see it on LinkedIn Today. Actually, I may have and chose to ignore it. There are so many articles written about LinkedIn that keep rehashing the same points over and over that I do sometimes tune them out. The sad part is that there is always something new and innovative happening on LinkedIn that it makes no sense for people to keep writing articles covering the same basic points and features.

    One of the reasons I think it got such great visibility is that Forbes is part of LinkedIn’s pay to play publishers in LinkedIn Today, so it didn’t take as many people sharing it to get listed as it would for this article sitting on your own website to get listed. I’m actually a bit disappointed in how LinkedIn has allowed the paid publishers to dominate LinkedIn Today. I’d really like to see more of what my network is sharing specifically and also learn about great articles on smaller venues like this. You’ll notice that very few "amateurs" ever make top listings.

    Additionally, since the visibility was likely higher on LinkedIn where those who have drunk the Kool Aid are already playing, they will be more likely to share it. Of course, that’s not to say it wasn’t a great article – because it was – you’re just preaching to the choir:-)

    The second main reason, in my opinion, you hit already and that is that most LinkedIn users still don’t know how to use the tool effectively so they are constantly seeking new resources to try and teach them. The sad part is that although they want to use it more effectively, many aren’t willing to actually invest in learning how to use it better. Because it’s a "free" service they think they should be trained on it for free. The even sadder part is that there are even many people who have paid for training and then never implemented. Using LinkedIn effectively requires both a change of habit and a change in thinking – both of which you know are very hard and most people resist.

    I think that your article really resonated with people because it was the common sense debunking of the snake oil sales people. Just like diet pills, people want to think that they can get the same results without the hard work. You came in and reminded everyone that the only true equation to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. In LinkedIn terms, I take that to mean: be fully engaged, be authentic, and be proactive. It’s the only way you will see true benefits from this amazingly powerful tool.

    Thanks again and I’m happy to have made your acquaintance!

  3. Thanks so much, Crystal, for your feedback. Very helpful and thought-provoking. I found that pieces of mine that debunk widespread myths often do strike a deep chord, because so many folks today are absolutely fed up with easy, false promises of fame, fortune, wealth and success (much like the promise that having a large LinkedIn community will magically create the career of your dreams). Appreciate your input, and happy to meet your acquintance too!

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