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LinkedIn has always been one of those social networks that, as a business owner, I feel like I should have a presence on, but never really put much care into it. Until recently that is.
To be fair, when Microsoft purchased the product, I thought it would die a slow and painful death at the hands of strange UI/UX and blatant monetisation (have you seen the re-design of Skype??).
Contrary to my judgment however, LinkedIn has blossomed. The new layout and feed is the perfect medium for sharing and discussing topics more central to my main passion (running a small business). It has the focus that Facebook lacks and is an ever increasingly powerful place to publish content. Just take a look at how well String’s recent video foray has taken in the once stuck up, white collar world of social media for business!
The best part about all of this is that people are actually actively using the platform and engaging with content. It is no longer just a ‘set and forget’ vault for people’s resumes.
This is great news for marketers. A targeted platform populated with engaged high value business connections! Enter the spam brigade.
LinkedIn is full of spam. Greasy snake oil salespeople with no manners, zero tact and a penchant for annoying the living hell out of their peers. My inbox is full, every day, with requests from all over the globe selling things I do not want and pushing ‘synergies’ on me that will never exist. I parse my ‘connect’ list and notifications with the same speed and cut-throat style I clean out my Hotmail account. Nobody (except perhaps Hawaiians) likes spam.
So how can I make tangible real world connections with other busy professionals, without pissing them off? Here are a few tips that have been serving me really well and opening up doors in the real world!
This is #1 on any social media list. Nobody likes people that take more than they give. You need to be doing the hard work and building a reputation both online and offline as a leader in your industry. You need to provide valuable insights, comments, articles, and/or videos on a regular basis. Why am I going to invest my time or energy in you, if you are not doing the same?
Treat people the way you want to be treated
Very simple. Very powerful. Do not insult my intelligence. Do not assume you know what I need. Do not send me an inMail addressed to Dear Sir – my name is Sam. My time is precious and your failure to appreciate that is going to get you blocked, banned, and forgotten.
Never use the word synergy
If you think you need to resort to ‘business speak’ to come off as professional, you are probably going to fail. If your approach is templated, we will pick up on it in a millisecond. You are a spammer. We DO NOT LIKE spammers.
Always write a personalised intro letter
Never use a template. Always use their first name. Would you paste a generic welcome paragraph into Tinder? Assume the person on the other end does not know you, does not like you, has every intention to remove you from their online world indefinitely and then find a way to get around that. If you met someone at a conference and exchanged cards and you are now connecting via LinkedIn, provide them with some value in your intro message. Recap an interesting point from one of the talks or share a link. Be memorable. Ask an interesting question. Stand out!
Know your audience
If, for example, you are looking at a new potential client and approaching their CMO via LinkedIn you are essentially cold calling a stranger. Nobody likes cold calls. What are you going to say or do to give them enough pause-for-thought to hit connect or better yet, reply. Find out something about them, perhaps they list their interests on their profile or publish a blog? If they used to be a chef, share a restaurant suggestion in their town. Sharing something in common is a base drive in all humans and showing that you care is a great way to soften the blow of a cold-mail.
Be a Human
You would think this is very obvious. My inbox tells a different story. I am not a robot (or at least I have been very well programmed to believe I am not.) I like to use humour when contacting people. This might not work for everyone and I know lots of ‘corporate’ people that think humour = unprofessional. I could not disagree more.
Here is an example of a recent cold email I sent to an executive from a large agency to see if they could spare 5 minutes to have a chat.
Hi______ , how are you?
My apologies for interrupting your day, I appreciate time is always our enemy!
I run a Digital Agency down in SA and am looking at attending this year’s Summit up in the GC. We are relatively small (11 people) but do work for some national brands and the Summit sounds quite interesting. I watched your testimonial but was interested to know if you think the outlay for the event is worth it for a smaller provider.
No stress at all if you do not have time to respond. My LinkedIn inbox is full of spam from India asking if I want web development done (that is what we bloody do, do your research spammers!)
This approach worked well and the executive ended up giving me 15 minutes of their time and sharing some invaluable insights. You don’t get if you don’t ask. But bloody hell, ask nicely!