Do You Suffer From LinkedIn Parapet Syndrome?

How to build your confidence when engaging with other LinkedIn users.

Have you ever found yourself thinking "I'd like to send that person a LinkedIn connection request" and instead, you hesitate and think better of it? Are there moments when you want to leave a comment on someone else's post but a mild level of stress builds up inside and you quickly move your fingers away from the keyboard? Do you have some great insight that you'd like to share with your LinkedIn network but the very thought of posting an update, let alone writing an article, fills you with dread? If you experience any of these traits, then welcome to Parapet Syndrome!

'Putting your head over the parapet' is a term with various definitions, some of which include: to do something that may cause people to criticise you; to be brave enough to state an opinion that might upset someone; to do or say something you think is important even though it may have bad results. Each of these examples involve taking a risk, where the outcome could be a level of physical or mental pain for person sticking their head over the parapet.

The origins of the phrase 'Putting your head over the parapet' can be traced back to medieval times, where a parapet was a thinner but solid wall at the top of the main wall, on the outer edge of a castle or fortress that sheltered soldiers from enemy fire. If a soldier stuck his head up to see over the parapet, perhaps to see what the enemy was doing, they would obviously risk being shot or possibly getting an arrow in their eye!

Jane's LinkedIn Terrors
Recently, I was delivering 1-to-1 LinkedIn social selling training to a client (I'll call her Jane - not her real name). We'd just undertaken an advanced search, which identified a LinkedIn member that appeared to fit her ideal target customer demographic perfectly. "Let's invite her to connect" I said breezily. I could see and feel the mild panic welling up inside Jane, as she looked at me and said "What now?".

A short while later, we discussed how Jane could raise her profile on LinkedIn by sharing posts and updates. She had created a content planner, which I'd provided her with during our first meeting, which meant she had plenty of content resources, from which to choose a number of really useful online articles to share with her network. "Let's post an update Jane". The slightly nervy chuckle let me know immediately that Jane was not at all comfortable with 'going live' on LinkedIn right there and then. However, having reassured her that if she posted an update, no one would be harmed and she would not experience any level of physical pain, she went ahead and shared her first considered LinkedIn update.

Jane emailed me, that evening, to let me know that after I'd left, she'd continued to send out more invitations and told me about a really positive lead response she'd received and thanked me (several times) for helping provide her with the confidence to break through her fear and put her head above the parapet.

What Is Your LinkedIn Fear?
What's holding you back from making LinkedIn work for you? Do you feel uncomfortable adding a profile photo of yourself or maybe you're worried about posting an update or leaving a comment that others might disagree with or you feel might make you look silly?

Understand this, no one cares enough to remember any faux pas you might make on LinkedIn. For a brief moment in time, they might disagree with you or chuckle at a comment you've left on another member's post, when you didn't intend for that post to be what?! Stop worrying what others think and instead, post more often and make them think about you and the benefit you can add to their businesses or their lives.

3 Tips To Break Through Your LinkedIn Blockers
•    Tip #1 - Recognise that success will not be found by hiding behind the parapet - be courageous and remember, as the saying goes, 'fortune favours the brave'!
•    Tip #2 - Know what you want to say, before you say it. Create a content planner, so you're never short of useful information to share and always check your facts before commenting on or posting an update.
•    Tip #3 - Always ensure you're relevant. Explain to anyone you invite to connect, what you both share in common (shared connections, same town, same industry etc.). Whenever you post an update or write an article, make sure it adds value to your network and helps them overcome a problem, improve a situation or makes them think, smile, laugh or cry. Always consider how what you say, on your profile or via an update, will be received by those you'd like to engage with you. But ultimately, whatever you do on LinkedIn, always come from a position of authenticity and a genuine regard for other people.

Visibility Equals Opportunity.
By not having a LinkedIn profile photograph, others are less likely to accept your connection request. When you decide not to invite people to connect, you fail to build a valuable network of useful partners and potential customers. By failing to regularly share posts and updates, your network doesn't know you exist and your brand remains unknown.
Be brave, don't worry what others might think - after all, those who might be your harshest critics, you will probably never meet or speak with ever.

Steve Phillip is Managing Director and founder of Linked2Success Limited. Since 2009, he has helped hundreds of individuals and businesses around the UK, in Europe and the USA, to manage their online reputation more effectively using online tools such as LinkedIn and other social media.