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Avoid the Common Mistakes Made on LinkedIn
If sharing and contributing is key to getting the most out of LinkedIn, it is also the trickiest thing to navigate. Here are some things you may want to avoid as you spend more time building a network and nurturing those connections.
1. Don’t Panhandle
One of the biggest complaints by people who are active on LinkedIn is that they are pitched a service or product immediately after connecting with someone for the first time. Or they are asked for help with services that consume a lot of time.
Here is a real example from last week of a sales pitch from a totally new contact with which there was zero previous communication. (Names were removed to spare any embarrassment):
Hi (contact’s name). I thought I would reach out to see if you have heard of [XYZ COMPANY] before? – software that can help you acquire sales ready leads from your anonymous website visitors. With the businesses that visit your company’s website, we have the ability to show you their business name, contact details, location, the exact web pages they viewed, how long they spent on each page and what referrer and keywords they used to find your website which can obviously help with sales, conversions, SEO, PPC and ultimately significantly improve your marketing ROI. I just wanted to see if you have 15 minutes spare at some point in the week to have a look at our software via an online demonstration? In turn we can prove the value to you by offering you a completely free no obligation trial. I’m curious to hear your thoughts, what’s the best direct dial or email to reach you? – are you available sometime this week? Tight on time? Don’t have time to talk? Book your demo online: (link removed) I look forward to speaking to you soon (contact’s name). Many thanks.
Grammar and punctuation errors aside, the inmail makes no attempt at personal connection. It is just a straight pitch. Cold In-mails are as pleasant as robo-calls. This is the social media equivalent of panhandling. Professional people do not like being panhandled on social media. Why? It is rude and superficial. Instead, the inmail sender should have worked at developing a relationship with the new contact The sender should have studied the contact’s profile and found a common interest. The sender should have tried to strike up a genuine rapport. Try to be of assistance. Give advice. Post information that could be of help. Engage on posts and offer insights. Over time, opportunities for reciprocity might have emerged.
Why would a sender resort to this type of message? It requires almost no effort. No research. No personalization. In short, it allows for quantity not quality sales pitches. This approach turns off more people than it sells.
Here is better example of a message from a new contact:
“Hi [contact’s name], Thanks for connecting with me! I look forward to learning more about you and your business. If you want to connect with anyone in my network, I am happy to help. Just for fun, tell me something interesting about you or your business. If you want to learn something interesting about me and my business, please click here: (link removed) Thanks again for connecting. If there is anything I can help you with, just ask! All the best,”
This person has expressed appreciation for the new connection and offered to help with connections. That’s a generous offer. The person also expressed a desire to get to know one another. It would have been even better if the person had bothered to look at the contact’s profile and expressed an interest in something or found something in common. And providing info about the business is good; that’s a soft sell. This says “Hey, I hope we can get to know one another and maybe help each other.” That’s the right approach.
2. Don’t SPAM
Technically, SPAM is a term reserved for sending blanket emails to people you don’t know, like the junk mail that arrives in your mailbox, but sending a message to hundreds of contacts at one time is a type of SPAM/Junk mail. Don’t send indiscriminate, self-promoting messages to hundreds or thousands of contacts at one time. Not to invite to an event or pitch a service or promote a post. This will irritate many contacts and might lead them to disconnect.
3. Don’t Post if you have Nothing to Say
That brings us to engagement. Engagement is the name of the game on LinkedIn. If you think no one is going to look at what you post, think again. There are 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed every week. That’s about 36 billion impressions per month and 468 billion per year. The opportunity to be seen most definitely exists if you share content consistently. More importantly, only 3 million users share content weekly. Of the 610 million total LinkedIn users and 200+ million monthly active users, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis – that’s just over 1% of users are getting those 9 billion impressions each week!!
So what kind of engagement is good? Writing posts. Publishing articles. Posting videos. Offering live streams with experts who can offer useful information. The key is to have something valuable to say. Empty self-promotion impresses no one.
Anyone who wants to benefit from all that exposure should think carefully about what type of content to provide – on a regular basis – that could add value in some way. Determine the topics for which there is mastery or deep experience or knowledge. It helps to come up with a list of topics before starting. Every person has some life experiences, skills, abilities, natural talents, or knowledge that they can share with others that adds value. Even a person who insists he really doesn’t have anything to say has something of value to share.
Case in point. Michael is a salesperson. He is not a particularly great writer. He is not naturally funny or well-traveled, and does not have a lot of work experience. If he wants to engage on LinkedIn, he might feel challenged to write a post about sales, given that his track-record is brief and not terribly impressive. He cannot really post about the people and places he has met in his travels. And, he might really struggle to post anything that at least would make people smile or chuckle. What would not be helpful is for Michael to post common clichés or just share other people’s posts. That might get a few likes. But, it isn’t going to build a major following or showcase his skills in any real way. Michael does have one thing going for him. Michael is athletic, and is great at sports and games. He could write posts about how to win at sales using chess or poker strategies. Or, he could write about building perseverance through practice, the way athletes do. He can takes his knowledge and experiences in sports, teamwork and strategy to show how those experiences can help people in sales. And, since he isn’t a good writer, he can video his posts instead. These posts would likely resonate with many and add value. It is also an area he could post about long-term.
4. Don’t Be Rude, Inappropriate or Unprofessional.
This may seem obvious but never forget that LinkedIn is a professional networking site. People on LinkedIn are there to highlight work life and career-related information. It is not a platform for personal sharing. It is not Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and it is not a dating site. It is for professionals, and the behavior should align accordingly.
Think about how you would behave with people at your office. People dress professionally for work, so do the same when posting a video or live stream on LinkedIn. People use appropriate language when emailing, messaging or texting coworkers or clients. Do the same when sending an inmail or message to someone on LinkedIn. In most workplaces, personal relationships among coworkers are frowned upon or violate company policy. The same should be assumed on LinkedIn. Language used and topics discussed should be professional, not casual or personal. There is a bright line separating what is okay and what isn’t okay on LinkedIn. Don’t cross it.
A Cacophony of Linked Professionals
Someone once likened the people on LinkedIn to a global orchestra of instruments. Some people are flutes, hitting high notes with their insights. Others are cellos, with deep and soulful business wisdom. Still others are sparkly and encouraging thoughts, like the tinkling of a baby grand piano. And some are bongos and snare drums, banging and thumping loudly with challenges and advice. There are also harps who share soothing and charming viewpoints. And there are trumpets who root-toot-toot loudly their take on everything from sales strategy to customer service. Trombones make a point to share the latest and greatest developments, while violins offer visionary leadership vibratos that help managers excel. Then there are cymbals and triangles who just contribute a note of affirmation at key moments. Indeed, just as different instruments contribute a host of sounds that combine to make great music, there are all kinds of people with all types of missions and messages on LinkedIn.
If the people on LinkedIn are instruments, then the goal is for instruments whose sounds align to connect and create something that is good and mutually beneficial. In the interaction of the ‘instruments’ is the music of connection…. the melody of engagement. Some instruments don’t work well together, like bongo drums and violins. But, with the right mix, professionals can make beautiful business together… like a great Aria. Being on LinkedIn is about not only listening and absorbing, but also participating in and becoming part of the music. And making sure to follow the rules of etiquette to ensure positive collaborations. That’s the key to LinkedIn.
Quote of the Week
“Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, ‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!’” Bobby Darnell
© 2019, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.