I’ll start with a fairly obvious opening gambit – if anyone on LinkedIn sends me a connection request, followed within nanoseconds by a sales pitch, I turn all Shania Twain.

If someone sends a follow up to the message Ive acknowledged with a thanks but no thanks, Shania Twain morphs into Joe Pesci and they get removed and blocked as a connection.

No one, including me, as Twain or Pesci, likes a sales message.

LinkedIn is however my best platform for sales, followed by my website, Instagram and Facebook, with Twitter, for me, pissing around in the background.

LinkedIn, done properly, delivers and we all know that old saying people do business with people they like so a copy and pasted message offering you an app, a virtual PA is not going to get me inviting you for fondues in Norfolk.

No.

You have to find a tribe, a network of like minded followers – in my case, nice people who post interesting stuff and don’t gob off about Maseratis, Rolex watches and send canned messages.

I’ve just had a month on LinkedIn Premium and will be making it permanent next week as I did feel its search tools, its InMail facility and ability to send unlimited connection requests (without that sales message) was valuable.

But if you’re not Premium, I’ll give five salient points for using LinkedIn to engage, grow business and have a laugh along the way at the smattering of pompous bellends who pop up on your feed.

  1. Make it clear what you do in your LinkedIn headline with a decent headshot (mine goes from corporate to dogging in woods as the mood captures me). My headline and location is clear: Web Designer and Copywriter. Owner of Get Pro Copy Ltd. Norwich, UK. No one likes a smart arse (apart from Mike Winnet, who is worth being on LinkedIn for, on its own – a satirical genius) who posts riddles in a headline. I design WordPress sites and I write. I could clutter it with saying GCSE English exam marker, ex teacher who had a breakdown, keen shopper, snob, Nespresso lover, driver of a BMW – but you get my point? If you’re after someone to write and design a website, let me loose.
  2. Engage in conversations and be yourself. I know this is hard if you’re toeing a company line, with a bellend of a boss, who micro-manages and monitors your every interaction. That’s not living. That’s contributing more vapid white noise on a platform that has moved away from comatose self-congratulation. Be politically correct – because it is correct, I believe – but don’t be a drone, droning on about yourself and boring everyone to tears. If you work for a twat, consider something else – you get one life, you’re not a tree, so move.
  3. Write articles sparingly. They used to get reads of 400 to 500 within a week when I posted on here but the algorithm seems to have buggered it up. 7 likes and 17 reads is now the new reach on LinkedIn, which is fairly shit. Post a snippet of an article that leads to a website and you may add the link in the comment to improve reach and trick the LinkedIn police if you can be arsed.
  4. Block people. It’s your feed. It’s your place to promote you, your brand and engage. In the schools and companies I’ve worked in I never sat with bellends over breaks and lunches to chat – so why should I on LinkedIn? It’s my staffroom, my feed and I do block people who irritate me, politically or business wise.
  5. Groups. Like articles, a waste of time. I’m a member of LinkedIn groups, but do I see the posts in there on my feed? Never. So why bother?

The last point I’d make is that it is much easier to be ballsy when you’re in sole charge. No suit will tap me on the shoulder in my office and say “Stuart, have you got a minute?” It’s one of the reasons I left employment. Being self-employed as a writer and web designer means those “difficult conversations” (apart from with the wife) never occur.

I love LinkedIn, I love self employment, I love having no bellend bosses or colleagues. I’ve thrown off the chains and shackles. It’s great. I even love Mondays.

When are you going to become your own boss and yourself on LinkedIn?