Don’t Throw Away Your Million Dollar Jackpot Ticket, or Why You Should Continue Writing on LinkedIn

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Lotto

In July of 2011, Sharon Duncan bought a lottery ticket at a local store in Beebe, Arkansas. She thought the ticket had no chance of winning and tossed it into a trash bin right in the store.

Turned out it was a winner! Her neighbor Sharon Jones discovered the ticket in the trash bin, and knew exactly what she had found. Ms. Jones claimed the prize money…a million dollars!

That’s just luck, you say. But is it?

Consider another “lost ticket” story. In 1976, Ron Wayne, one of the three Apple co-founders, owned a 10 percent stake in the company. However, after just 12 days Wayne decided to quit and sold his shares for…$800! In his interview with Cult of Mac Wayne said, “They (Jobs and Wozniak) were whirlwinds — it was like having a tiger by the tail. If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”

Indeed, he’d be a billionaire today.

How many of us give up too easily when our chances of success seem slim?

Take LinkedIn Pulse authors. There has been a wave of changes on LinkedIn lately, some of which have made authors frustrated. I agree that LinkedIn Pulse has become less dynamic, and its algorithms are promoting a lot of cookie cutter articles while not catching all the quality articles out there. I also agree that with the growing amount of spam on LinkedIn, we are less optimistic even about communicating with new contacts.

But should we just stop writing and move to another platform? Can writing ever be easy?

No, writing is more of a lottery than a predictable sport. Ask Jack London, Emily Dickinson or Ernest Hemingway. Did they stop trying? Should we just forget about our winning ticket?

“Can one individual’s social media activities, meaningful and honest or pointless, impact a multitude of other minds significantly?” asks Milos Djukic, one of the most original writers on LinkedIn.

Comparing social media writing with the famous Butterfly Effect, he argues that every one of us can make a difference. “You are one in a million, equally unique, unrepeatable and unpredictable. A single flap of a butterfly’s wings may provoke a new Renaissance… It is your global social impact,” says Djukic.

So write to make this impact. Write, but don’t preach. Write to create positive thinking. Write to inspire. Write to make sense. Write to transform yourself.

Ray Bradbury, the king of science fiction, once said, “And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”

Or listen to the advice from Karthik Rajan, another successful LinkedIn blogger, who heard a perfect advice on writing from his mother – “Just share your experiences, trigger the reader’s curiosity and let the audience draw their own conclusions, respect them as individuals and they will in turn respect you.” And shared he did! Thanks to LinkedIn blogging, Karthik is now sharing his thoughts in his Huffington Post column. Not bad?

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
—Robert Benchley

But what should you do with all of your LinkedIn articles? What’s the ultimate goal?

For me personally, writing itself is a rewarding experience. Yet, when I started writing on LinkedIn back in May 2014, I had no idea that my 42 articles would help me find new business leads, meet inspiring social entrepreneurs and non-profits, and open many doors. Most importantly, I found a great diverse audience, fellow writers and readers, who constantly guide me and improve my writing one article at a time. Isn’t that a treasure?

There’s not one single goal in writing, because its ROI is more than just a monetary reward.

So instead of throwing your dream into a trash bin, think of compiling your articles into a non-fiction book.

This is advice that I got from Derek Sivers, a successful entrepreneur, musician and the bestselling author of Anything You Want. This book changed me. It inspired me so much that I wanted to speak with Derek and learn from him. So when I read on the book’s back cover that Derek’s “main act of public service is answering emails from strangers,” I emailed him asking whether I should write a non-fiction book based on the articles I wrote on LinkedIn. Here’s what he said:

“Yes! Absolutely. Share whatever you learned. We should all do that. It’s just the right thing to do.

Tell the tales the best you can.  Start by telling them to friends & strangers, before you write them down.  Watch feedback.

Don’t worry about it becoming an official book. First just start by making each experience into its own blog post like this: https://sivers.org/1idea.

Once the blog posts are well-received, look into making them a book.”

How about that? Want to know how to improve your LinkedIn articles before you venture into the book business?

Following Derek’s blog advice, begin by “presenting one little idea, something anyone can read in under two minutes, and shine a spotlight on it.” Watch for comments, and see if other social media channels pick up on your content.

Important – “don’t bury your brilliant idea on page 217”! “Stop the orchestra. Solo that motif. Repeat it. Let the other instruments build upon it.”

Once you’ve selected your top winners, you can plunge into the excitement of book writing. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose! Your own LinkedIn audience improved and approved your articles. And while you’re waiting to receive your first freshly minted book from a publishing house, hear out this advice on how you can actually get paid for what you write, by Jeff Haden, a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, and contributing editor for Inc. who authored over 50 non-fiction books.

But always remember your duty as a writer, which Theodora Goss said best: “If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe to yourself and your readers, and to your writing itself, is to become wonderful. To become the best writer you can possibly be.”

Isn’t that like winning the jackpot?

 

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Hooked: The Ultimate Blogger’s Guide to LinkedIn Fly-Fishing

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It’s early morning in Denver, and I have a half-day before my flight. I’m sitting at Peet’s Coffee & Tea with a local friend chatting about the best places in town to visit in the remaining half day, when he suddenly lights up and says: have you ever tried fly-fishing?

Over the next forty minutes he can’t stop talking. I hear about how to fly rod, reel and line, which stretches of the Blue River are best, and all his stories of trout splashing into the air.

Suddenly an interesting idea appears in my mind. This whole fly-fishing thing really reminds me of the LinkedIn blogging experience. Doesn’t it to you?

In fact, here in the wonderful LinkedIn world you can be both, a fisherman (blogger), and a fish (reader).

As I got the ultimate fly-fishing 101 from my friend, I decided to share my tongue-in-cheek advice for those who want to strive as an effective fly-fisher, that is a top performing LinkedIn blogger.

Ready? I am going to share some of my best advice for fly-fishing (publishing) on LinkedIn. In the next 6.5 minutes you will find tips on writing a great blog article, including how to cast your reel (article), which fly (content) to use, to locating the best fishing holes (audiences) in this essential guide to fly-fishing your blog on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Rivers and Streams

With millions and millions of LinkedIn users swimming in pristine online waters around the globe, you’re in a good position to cast your net.
 Yet fly-fishing on LinkedIn may not be as easy as you may think.

How To Catch Your Trout?

Reel the Big One:
 Begin with the best post you can master.

Grab the audience with your choice of words. Write from your experience. Hold your rod tight. Then toss your line into the water right in front of you. Make sure that you’re writing for the community around you, in your waters. These are your most loyal readers. 
Now lift up the tip of your rod, and then move the line quickly above your head. Make sure that it unfurls behind you.

Flies That Never Disappoint

When you’re fly-fishing, of course, you can’t go far without just the right fly (content) for the best trout of your life.

Here are some observations from the best out there in LinkedIn:

1. “Parachute Adams” Streamer 
– Content That Never Dies
(This fly is widely considered to be the most essential fishing fly)

The fly-fishermen call this fly one of the most exciting.  Why? Because a streamer or a dry fly is a type of fly that floats on the surface of the water, and easily attracts fish.

This content never dies. Why? Because it’s practical and useful. You can use it straight away. This content may be located in LinkedIn Tips, Marketing & Advertising, or Best Advice sections.  Do you want to learn how to polish your LinkedIn profile? Here you go. Would you like to learn a new marketing trick – voila! If you master this type of content, you will definitely attract a particular audience.

Another variation of a dry fly answers questions like “Are you a Leader or Manager?”, “Do You Want to Be Happy?”, “Change Your Habits Today” and similar topics. These are easily digestible topics with a universal appeal. Wouldn’t you want to learn how to be happy right now while reading a LinkedIn article? Or how about figuring out your leadership skills?

In my view, Gretchen Rubin and Katya Andresen are doing an excellent job covering these topics.

2. “Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear” – Popular Personal or Professional Development Advice in a List Format
(The defining characteristic of the fly is its sheer versatility)

This is the content that generates positive feelings and provides useful how-to advice. Authors usually are heavy on using keywords and key phrases in the title, such as “extraordinary”, “superb”,  “highly successful”, “remarkably polite”, “totally unselfish”, “advice that makes you remarkably successful”, “extraordinarily likeable”, “truly exceptional”, “genuinely charming,” etc.

LinkedIn authors Jeff HadenTravis Bradberry and Bernard Marr, among many others, like to use this approach, and clearly it creates traction. If you look at the hits and views – these are top performers.

3. “Salmon” Fly – Career Advice Columns:
Surprise, surprise – everyone looks at career advice! It’s like catching Atlantic Salmon. And here’s the catch – this could be the place where you can be seen as redundant and predictable, or you can come across as a powerful and experienced adviser with a strong message from the recruitment trenches. Of course, it’s best when it comes from experience.

For example, Liz Ryan’s posts are among the best here in LinkedIn. In her witty and engaging style, she covers pretty much everything – from job-hunting like a CEO to what to do when you hate your job.

By the way, I’ve seen a bunch of these “hate your job” and “now it’s time to quit” topics lately, and was wondering how extensive this problem is? Could it be that this is just a trendy topic?

Anyhow, if you want to get on the wave with this fly, you may want to use these types of keywords. Apparently, it works just like this bait.

4. “Crayfish” – Creative Diversions and 
Personal Advice (Crayfish fly adds a completely different type of prey species to your imitative capabilities)

James Altucher is probably the best example for this type of content. I started reading James’ blog about a year or two ago, and can’t stop reading.

Somehow, his counterintuitive, contradictory and rambling style of content captivates your attention, like a giant boa. Check out his posts and emulate, if you’d like. It will be hard, but is a good exercise.

5. American Pheasant Tale – “Deep Dive” Content
(This fly is designed to sink below the surface of the water)

This is one of the most underappreciated content types – thoughtful, deep and analytical. Usually, these articles attract someone who wants to learn beyond simple how-to advice.

Why dive into deep waters as a blogger?
To show your subject matter expertise, for one. Some brave authors, like Milos Djukic and Sramana Mitra are doing it. Not surprisingly, they do have a steady pool of followers. Sramana Mitra writes excellent articles on entrepreneurship, new start-up unicorns, and the like.
In a few short paragraphs she can get right to the heart of the matter.

Well, David Lynch, internationally acclaimed filmmaker and the author of Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, said it best:

“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

Swarming Ideas – Anglers’ Best Friends

 

Sometimes when you’re leisurely strolling past a lake or a riverbank, you may experience a swarm of chaotically flying bugs. These little creatures seem to be enjoying this sudden burst of activity. The reason is simple – they’ve just hatched out of the water, and the new fresh air seems magic, if only for a brief moment of their lives.

What’s interesting though is that fly-fishermen don’t run from these clouds, but fully embrace them. Do you know why? Because trout can’t wait for that moment to munch on these lively bugs.

What does it mean to you, writer? These “bugs” are headlines that you need to use to entice your audience. Identify your most relevant keywords to attract your readers, and experiment. The more you practice, the more readers you can attract.

In the end, you may discover which keywords will get your most desirable fish – Google crawler. Once it picks up your content and gulps it deep into its algorithm, your page will be validated for a long time.

The “Authority Blogger” recommends the following 6 types of headlines:

  1. Get What You Want (In health, wealth, relationships, time and lifestyle).

  2. Crystal Ball and History.

  3. Problems and Fears.

  4. Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies.

  5. How To Advice.

  6. Best and Worst.

Best Angling Advice:

 

Well, you can’t go too far without the advice of the best anglers out there. These are the masterminds and most successful fly-fishermen on LinkedIn. I recently interviewed two successful LinkedIn bloggers and here’s their best advice:

John White, a successful marketer and blogger:

1. What are the top 3 things every LinkedIn blogger needs to use to make his/her article a success?

 

A. Every blogger needs to work on developing their professional network on social media. Don’t limit your exposure to one platform. Experiment using a strategic combination of social platforms to find your target audience.

Not only is it beneficial to have a large number of followers, it is necessary to have a targeted and strategic following. Network with people on platforms that share common interests with the topics you write about. It is simply not enough to just put out a blog and expect readers to just begin flocking to it. There is some real work that needs to be put into networking.

B. Persistence is something that every successful blogger must have. Blogging is a marathon not a sprint. I see many people get into blogging with good intentions. Then, they write their first two or three posts and they don’t meet the writer’s performance expectations. So, they end of abandoning ship on their blog. To generate results with blogging it takes time and true dedication to build a following, develop thought leadership, and see a monetary ROI.

C. Every blogger needs to have a sense of humility and self-awareness. Developing an authentic voice is critical. LinkedIn Pulse has proven that you don’t need to be a celebrity or CEO of a multinational to have a successful blog. Don’t try to be someone you are not, just because you have started blogging. Write from the heart readers will become emotionally attached to what you have to say.

2. What are your preferred themes and why?

I tell my clients that they should write about what they are passionate about and what they want to be known for. Since my business is social marketing, I write a lot about social media in business. However, I am also passionate about sustainability, company culture, and sales. So, I write about those topics as well and more!

3. How do you write your content? Where do you get ideas and inspiration? Any hints for fellow writers?

 

The inspiration for my blog came while in my MBA program. Many of the topics we have discussed there have translated into very effective blog posts.

As a matter fact, I recently wrote a post on LinkedIn titled, An MBA Chronicled Via My Blog. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mba-chronicled-via-my-blog-john-white?trk=mp-reader-card‪)

‪Other inspirations come from the relevant stories from either what I am doing currently or what I’ve done in the past that I feel people can learn from at some level professionally. People love to read well told story in blogs. Especially if you can combine humor and a powerful takeaway or two for readers.

Milos Djukic is another blogger extraordinaire, who goes deep into his subject matter. My opinion is that he should be featured on the LinkedIn Pulse almost every time. Here are his answers:

1. What are the top 3 things every LinkedIn blogger needs to use to make his/her article a success?

To be inspired, true to own personal vision and persistent in self-expression.

2. What are your preferred themes and why?

The complexity and flirting with the chaos of modern society. Renaissance is on the horizon, firstly through our personal authentic expression, then the collective one

3. How do you write your content? Where do you get ideas and inspiration? Any hints for fellow writers?

I write out of my profession only when I have inspiration. It makes me feel extra fulfilled. I usually find inspiration in people, nature, complexity and science. It is not only professional collaboration what makes this network intoxicating and addictive. Unknowable is also addictive, even more.

(You can read more in Milos’ inspiring post – “The Five Lessons About Self-Expression“)

What’s My Biggest Fish? (4 Ideas on Making Your Content Compelling)

 

I’ve been writing on LinkedIn since the early days of the Pulse, and here is what has worked for me:

1) Write like you are writing a novel. Engage your reader with a surprise entrance or colorful story. Think movies – does Spiderman begin with a monotonous monologue about the effectiveness of a particular type of spider web material?

No, you’re bungee-jumping right in. Don’t let them catch their breath – engage, engage, engage. Add some cool characters along the way.

2) How do I find my themes? If I meet someone awesome, I try to find time to interview him or her on the spot. These are usually honest and fresh interviews. In fact, this could be a short but very useful interview for your audience. But guess what, you can let this person know that you wrote an interview about him and share it with his audience.

Sometimes you can write about what’s on your mind – what bothers you? Is there anything that your company can’t handle well? Write about it. Drama always works. What’s life after Twitter like? Are we ready for Apple’s iCar? iGum? iPlane? iBabysitter? etc. People love to hear about future trends.

3) It helps me to gauge what’s out there by reading a number of other blogs. I’ve always believed in a cross-exchange of ideas and borrowing from other industries and themes. No wonder the best magazines I love reading while traveling are the in-plane magazines or Golf, Gardening and other trade or specialty magazines. They’ve just got enough ideas to nurture and inspire my mind.

4) Authenticity is the key. Be you.

Best Ways to Target The Most Impatient Audience

According to Valley News, “scent, taste, color, size, position in the water — all contribute to a fish’s attraction to food. But in most cases, if the food isn’t moving, the game fish is moving on.” The very same happens with your content if it’s stale, boring and un-engaging.

And you know who’s the most impatient audience? Yes, millennials. So what can you do to make your content “live” and moving?

Kimbery Grimms suggests 11 best ways to attract younger readers, and especially Millennials:

  1. Segment your posts
  2. Make it relevant
  3. Go for practical value
  4. Rock their emotions
  5. Mind your length
  6. Don’t underestimate videos
  7. Go social
  8. Hashtag your way to success
  9. Fuel their creativity
  10. Give them a good deal
  11. Help them escape and dream

It’s Fishing Time!

As every fisherman tells you, the best time to fish depends upon the air temperature. According Jay Thurston, your fishing success awaits you in AM hours (6 am – 9am), if the temperature is between 71-89 °F. Translating this into bloggers’ terms, the higher temperature means the higher activity of the world wide web. In fact, that is what KissMetrcis research suggests as well:

1) Morning is the preferred time for most of the readers and bloggers

2) While some bloggers may disagree, Monday is when blogs get the most traction.

3) 7 am on Monday, June 15th is when I pushed the button to publish this blog, and that’s, according to KissMetrics, when the average blog usually gets the most inbound links:

It’s early AM. And the WWW temperature is rising. It’s time to go fishing.

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Andrey Gidaspov is a published author, creative fundraiser, and a passionate “dot connector.” He is passionate about connecting people and ideas, creating new social ventures and helping non-profits find new funding streams. 

Follow him on Twitter (@AndreyGidaspov) and check out his blog (www.gidaspov.com) for more useful tips on creativity, innovative marketing and fundraising.



Other articles by Andrey you might enjoy:

My Little LinkedIn Miracles And How You Can Create Your Own in 2015

One Skill Every Visionary Leader Needs to Master

Jumping Into The Unknown: Risky Business

3 Steps to Reignite Your Thinking

The Power of Asking

Attention Students: Learn 5 Key Skills to Get Your Career Started in International Business

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International was the word I grew up with.

Back in the late ‘70s in the midst of the Cold War, I always dreamt of seeing the other side of the globe, of visiting fascinating countries, of being different. Even when we learned how to hide under our school desks in case a nuclear explosion hit the city, I continued to dream of understanding other people through learning their cultures.

Skill #1: Learn English and/or another foreign language; it will be one of the best investments you make in your life.

I instinctively knew that the only key to success was learning a foreign language. English was my choice. And English alone helped me to get into the university of my choice, find my first job, travel around the world and pave my way to another language, Mandarin Chinese.

When I came to China as an exchange student in 1990, one of my new English friends told me: “practice, practice, practice.” Even if you sound ridiculous and feel totally embarrassed, go on and talk, he advised. And talked I did.

So if you are thinking of an international career, and if your native language is English, don’t let it stop you from learning another language. In fact, it is not a choice anymore; it is a must to building a successful international career. Look what Tim Ferris, author of bestselling The Four Hour Work Week is saying about effective language learning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hd_qmlWxxg

Skill #2: Study the history and cultures of countries you would like to work with.

The next element of success in your international career is your openness to other cultures and genuine interest in someone else’s life. Human beings are inherently social creatures.  So, you must learn about the world, immerse yourself in the history of other countries and study their cultural heritage.

This knowledge will serve you throughout your entire career.  You can use it to begin meaningful conversations. You can spark up stalled negotiations with a carefully thought-out story in another language. You can make peace by knowing cultural sensitivities.

See, for example, what Sheikha Al Mayassa, a supporter of cultural diversity in Qatar, says about how art and culture create a country’s identity at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nItwVO9stX8.

Skill #3: Master your public speaking skills.

With your foreign language mastered and embellished by knowing foreign cultures, you can do a lot.  Yet, to become successful, you will need advance the next skill – your ability to present yourself in public.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen so many young and promising graduates or young professionals who lost their perfect chance for a job or promotion just because they could not handle public speaking. Yes, for some people it is scarier than death itself. Yes, some people tremble and can’t open their mouths in front of a crowd of five high school students. Yet, I am absolutely convinced that everyone can master this skill.

If this is your stumbling block, find some help. Even kings need help. Do you remember the movie The King’s Speech? Come on, wouldn’t you say that poor King George had it worse than you?

The best advice I have for you is to join Toastmasters International. This group is known for its unique approach, working in small supportive groups providing constructive feedback to both neophytes and professional speakers.

And for inspiration, check this amazing speech by Ryan Avery, the winner of the Toastmasters International 2012 contest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReE7-X70iPU

And yes, you can do it too when you give it your all.

Skill #4: Improve Your Business English Writing Skills.

The fourth most important skill you need to enhance is writing. And if you object to this, perhaps the German philosopher Nietzsche will convince you.  He once said, the best author will be the one who is ashamed to become a writer.”

Now I am not saying that you must become an all-out writer. Absolutely not. What I am referring to is learning Business English. By learning how to write using active verbs and short sentences, you will be able to master  copy writing (which you must!), understand how to write grant proposals (if you are interested in fundraising) and make your pitch to capricious angel investors.

There are many good books on Business English writing skills. For example, check out these books:

Writing That Works; How to Communicate Effectively In Business, by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark (Jan 10, 2008)

And the final skill is…

The final skill that you must embrace is not that obvious. In fact, some among you might exclaim – oh, no, I don’t even want to hear about it. Me doing what?

You guessed it right.

Skill #5: Learn Sales and Marketing Skills.

This makes a lot of people cringe. You might think about car salesmen. Oh, how people dislike them, even though they are just doing their job!

Look what Jeff Gordon, NASCAR driver did with one of these people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q02BXGDSDkE

I don’t want you to become the victim of a prank of this magnitude. However, with all my respect to all my non-profit friends, if you don’t know how to sell, you are not going to reach your goals. Often, you’ll get nowhere (except to Starbucks).

Learn the best from the masters and I guarantee you that you will actually enjoy these lessons. You may venture into Zig Zigler’s talks, or see what sales means for writers like Daniel Pink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5b60eA8VNI.

Realize that selling skills can help you advance not only your career, but also make you a more persuasive and effective communicator in all aspects of your life.

So, whether it is international business, international development or education, you will always be on the right track with your perfect English and a second foreign language, cultural knowledge and diversity, excellent public speaking, sales and writing skills.

What was your skill that help you to advance your career in international business?