LinkedIn isn’t for racking up as many connections as possible and turning people into a pack of baseball trading cards. At its best, it’s a way for taking the next step in a business relationship, forging a strategic partnership, getting educated from a trustworthy resource and/or introducing two parties that could be a fit.
It can also be a great way to share blog posts, presentations, groups, associations and bolster your personal profile. Nothing wrong with that at all.
That should be at least enough to start with, right?
Good. So Don’t Do This:
A) Make a connection with someone
B) Spam them via private message with your self-promotional garbage as the first or only method of communicating.
It’s called relationship building. Getting to know someone. Even if I have a need for your product or service, you do not deserve to be called back by anyone if you send a blanket email as a first form of introduction that does not appear to address their needs. They just gave you permission to connect with them and you decide that that gives you license to push ad messages to them?
Just one question for anyone who makes practice of such a tactic: Are you kidding me with this?
We are entering a time that will only demand greater personalization.
One-on-one communication will rule the day even more.
Consequently, identifying the best targets in the interest of time will be in ever-greater demand.
And the companies that can leverage these tools to get to that more likely target to have a customized conversation will find themselves ahead of the game.
Meanwhile, their competitors will send one message to all of their LinkedIn followers all the time, pat themselves on the back for their supreme knowledge of social media and brag in networking settings about how they’re really utilizing LinkedIn to work their network.
You’re advertising your own stuff and not getting to know your audience. It’s easy. It’s also lazy and, for many, largely ineffective.
To be clear, I’m not saying to stop sending out e-newsletters or e-mails or other pieces of communication that go to many people at once. I’m saying if I never met you before in my life, that would not be an ideal way to first meet you. Agreed?
I’m working on an article with the help of Steve Fretzin from Sales Results on the best uses of LinkedIn, including methods that aren’t merely of the passive variety. I look forward to sharing it with you very shortly.
In the interim, when you make a connection with someone on LinkedIn, see if the possibility exists for you to have coffee, breakfast, lunch or a drink after work. If they’re remote, could it be a Skype call or phone call? I admittedly haven’t done this every time with every one of my connections, but I’m aiming to up the ratio to be far more personal. That way, when I do have something to invite them to, hopefully they’ll have had at least one touch where we understood more about one another.
Having 5000 connections means nothing if you don’t get to know them.