An open letter to the Door to Door Sellers of LinkedIn

Hi

I hope you’re having a great day.

My day was going great until I got an invitation to connect from you. I admit I didn’t recognise your name so I went to your profile to see if I could find out anything helpful. It turns out we have various mutual connections, and for me, that provides you with a degree of legitimacy.

So, I accepted.

I’d barely clicked “accept” before I received another notification – you’d sent me an InMail.

Now, I’m a fairly realistic individual. I know I’m awesome to be around and am generally a good person, but even I know nobody is waiting with baited breath to get in direct contact with me. The speed with which that message comes through would give most people whiplash, which tells me one thing; you’re a salesperson.

Yes, I know we’re all “salespeople”, in the strictest sense of the word – why else be on LinkedIn in the first place? However, you’re one of those salespeople.

With trepidation I open the message and yes, there it is, the generic sales pitch.

Sigh.

Within 60 seconds of accepting your request I have already removed you as a contact. OK, so it’s a minor waste of my time, and a constant source of irritation but in all honesty, I just feel sorry for you.

Despite the fact you think you’re a hot shot with your 500+ connections, I assure you, you’re doing LinkedIn all wrong.

If you have to send a generic pitch to every single new contact without actually reaching out first, then there is something wrong.

This approach is exactly the same as the person who attends a physical networking event and spends the entire time collecting business cards and talking at other people. These people don’t get invited back for a second time, and people avoid their calls. The rest of us, who have mastered the art of conversation and relationship building talk about you when you’re not there, and warn other people to stay clear.

The simple truth is we should all treat our connections like gold. The people you spend time with, whether that be in real life or the virtual world, should be your tribe. They have your back, they cheer you on, they support you and you can learn from them. They are not simply people to sell to and then spit out once you’ve got your pound of flesh.

Spamming people on LinkedIn (and yes my friend, that is exactly what you are doing) is the modern day equivalent of traditional cold calling. I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t work, occasionally. For every 20 people that ignore you, one might bite and with your relentless enthusiasm you may well close a deal one day. However, I assure you there is so much more to gain by playing the long game and actually remembering to be social when using social media.

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to build relationships, whether that be from scratch or to enhance existing ones. The only way to do that is to take your time, be useful to others and always be considerate and respectful.

If you can’t manage that, be quiet. And stay the Hell out of my inbox!

5 examples of good LinkedIn etiquette

I’ve been doing this gig for a while now, yet it never fails to amaze me how bizarrely people act on social networks compared to how they would in real life.

It’s almost as though when you sit someone behind a screen and ask them to connect with a fellow human being, all rational thought and social etiquette goes out the window.

And it really gets my goat.

So here are my top 5 tips when it comes to LinkedIn etiquette.

# 1 – Be personal when connecting

If you’ve decided you want to connect with someone, take the time to send them a personalised connection request.

If you were in a face to face environment you wouldn’t just go up to someone and shove your business card in their face, hoping they’d get back in touch with you one day. That would be rude.

It kind of works the same way on LinkedIn.

Sending someone a generic message shows you can’t be bothered to explain to them why you’re reaching out. What is it about them that makes you want to connect?  What is it you think you can offer them that would be of benefit?

Yes, many people will accept your request regardless of how you ask them to connect, but they’re not going to be invested in you.  They’ll just ignore your posts, and ultimately might end up removing you as a connection anyway. So what’s the point?

Put the effort in now, and you have a much better chance of establishing a genuine networking relationship.

# 2 – Once you accept, send a message

Far too often when you accept a connection request from a random person they don’t actually get in touch.  That means there’s no interaction, which is kind of the whole point of LinkedIn. Isn’t it?

The best thing you can do is send someone a personalised message as soon as you accept their invitation.  This is a great way to get the conversation started, and also get a better feel for whether they’re genuine, or are just collecting names and bulking out their contacts list.

# 3 – Say thank you

No doubt your parents always taught you to say please and thank you – well that rule hasn’t gone out the window just because you’re on LinkedIn.

If someone has taken the time to endorse you for one of your skills, then you owe then a thank you.  After all, they’ve gone out of their way to do something that’s of no benefit to them, but could be of benefit to you.

They didn’t have to do that.

Don’t feel obligated to endorse them back, although, if you can genuinely recommended them for a skill they possess there’s no reason why you wouldn’t.  However, make sure you avoid the trap of trading endorsements when you have no idea what you’re really talking about.

# 4 – Keep it professional

Not all social networks are created equal, and nor do they have the same purpose.  LinkedIn is not the place for you to share photos of your kids, your dog or to moan about the weather.

LinkedIn is business focussed, which means anything you post should be business related.  You can post about what you’re up to, who you want to connect with, ask for information or assistance from your connections and discuss industry news.

But no one wants to see a picture of what you’re having for lunch.

# 5 – Introduce people

The whole point of networking is to increase your network. I know it sounds obvious, but apparently when it comes to LinkedIn many people seem to have forgotten this.

One of the best things you can do when it comes to using this amazing platform is take the time to introduce your contacts. If you know someone who’s looking for a web designer, and you happen to know a web designer, then take a minute to introduce them to each other.

Facilitate other people’s connections and you greatly increase your own social capital, as well as getting a warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

 

If you want more tips on Netiquette please email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or call 0161 883 2024 to find out when our next training session is.

Are you utilising the lead generation powers of this LinkedIn feature?

When we talk to people about LinkedIn most of them don’t see beyond their own profile.  As long as they have one, and they’re connecting with the latest people they’ve met at an event, they believe they’re doing well.

Of course, they’re not generating any leads, and not getting any business through LinkedIn, but that’s fine.

Others realise there’s a bit more to it, and might have set up a Company Page, and might even be doing searches for some specific key individuals they want to be introduced to. But that’s as far as it goes.

All of that’s fine, apart from most people will admit they’re not getting much out of the whole process, and don’t know why they’re bothering. To mis-quote Tom Lehrer, LinkedIn’s a lot like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put in to it.

If you want to stop getting rubbish out, you need to put a bit more effort in and start really thinking about your lead generation strategy.

One of the best ways to connect with new people, and strike up genuine conversations that can actually lead on to business is via LinkedIn groups.  So many people fail to understand the little gems that can lurk in these untapped resources, so there’s plenty for you to work with.

This all sounds wonderful, but how do you get started?

Step 1: Find a group

Quite obviously you need to join a group, but it needs to be the right one for what you’re hoping to achieve.

You could of course create your own group, but in order for this to work you have to be able to spend a lot of time on it.  If you haven’t already spent time in any other groups, I really don’t recommend this route.

Instead, look at what’s already available.  That way you will be able to access an already established audience.

When you’re searching for groups think about your buyer personas (which I’m sure you’re very familiar with and have worked out in detail).  What sort of things are they interested in?  Who are they? Where are they going to be hanging out online? Figure that out, and then go join the same groups.

Alternatively, think about your competitors, and see if they have already set up any groups themselves.  Not to poach their potential leads (there’s enough people on LinkedIn, you can find your own!) but to see what they’re doing, what works and what doesn’t.

You should also consider joining groups that are relevant to your industry.  This is a fantastic way to hit the ground running, get used to being involved in discussions, and you may even be able to pick up some tips along the way.

Step 2: Post

As a member of quite a few groups (one of which is an awesome shoe worshippers group on Facebook) I can assure you that the vast majority of people say nothing.  They’re lurkers.

Which is fine, but when it comes to LinkedIn, you need to make sure you’re out there and actively getting your point across.

Most groups have specific rules about what you can, and can’t post, so as long as you follow those, you’re not going to go too far wrong. The main key is not to be too self-promotional.  A LinkedIn group is there to serve its members, and that’s usually done by sharing information and educating.

Make sure that you don’t just get involved in posts that are asking for services you can provide, but that you engage with the whole group as much as possible. People really do notice if you’re just there to sell, and that doesn’t help to develop any relationships further.

Equally, when you are responding to anything, keep your content relevant.  Any help you can offer will be seen as helpful, and that will be remembered too.  It doesn’t take long for people to see you as the good go-to for that particular type of advice or assistance, which is precisely what you want.

Step 3: Monitor results

As with any lead generation tactic you need to keep track of how well it’s working.  You might find that some groups are more beneficial than others. Equally, you may see that you learn more from some than you might in another one, and that’s just as valuable as actually developing leads.

Only you know what you’re looking for, but LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic way to find it.

 

I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.

 

 

 

Why snooping on snoopers can improve your networking

A fair few weeks back I wrote a piece on LinkedIn Premium, and the advantages the paid for version had over the free one.  To be honest I focussed solely on the LinkedIn Learning feature, which I think does give you a bit more bang for your buck.  However, there’s a lot more you can do with Premium which makes it worthwhile.

Most of us are aware of the ability to see who has viewed your profile as it’s available as an option on free accounts. However, you can only go back and see the last five person, which means if more than five people view your profile in a day … well, you can do the math.

With a Premium account this isn’t an issue as you can see everyone who has viewed your profile (and a lot more information besides).

Now, you might be wondering what the big deal is.  After all, these people took the time to come across your page, had a snoop, and then disappeared in to the distance without saying howdy.

It’s true, but then how many times have you looked at a profile and just not bothered to make contact?  Why is that?  Perhaps you didn’t know how to make an introduction. Maybe you wanted to be connected by a mutual contact? Maybe you got distracted.

There’s a whole host of reasons (besides lack of interest) as to why someone might view a profile and then not reach out.  If there’s a genuine reason that took them away, but the interest remains, wouldn’t it make sense for you to try to initiate contact instead?

I will usually send a message to people who have viewed my profile to see if I can help with anything. Personally, I customise mine rather than sending a generic text, but that’s a personal call.

In my experience this is a great way to make new contacts, and to extend your network; however, again it all comes down to how you work your contact lists and actually network with the people you are now connected with.  Don’t allow LinkedIn to become the graveyard where potentials go to die.

 

LinkedIn Premium: Is it worth it?

One of our areas of expertise at Time Saving Heroes is LinkedIn management and training.  When people first approach me about doing any work with them on their LinkedIn profile it’s usually because they signed up forever ago, and haven’t touched it since.

Once we’ve gone through the basics, updated their information, and optimised their account we usually end up talking about the Premium version.  Ultimately they want to know whether paying for something they’re currently using for free is worth it.

Well, is it worth it?

To be honest, it’s a difficult question to answer, and I don’t say that to be awkward.

Think of it this way – is a gym membership worth it?  Well, if you go and actually use the facilities, then yes, it probably is.  If the membership card sits festering in your wallet for the next 10 months, not so much.

LinkedIn Premium is no different.  If you’re not going to use it to its full potential then no, paying for it is an utter waste of money.

Far be it for me to tell you what questions to ask, but a better one would be “what does LinkedIn Premium offer that could be beneficial to me?”

What’s new?

Over the last few years the Premium offering has changed quite significantly.  One of the best things, I think, that has come out of these changes is the introduction of LinkedIn Learning.

This new feature provides a wide variety of videos and PowerPoints to help you enhance your skills in a number of different areas.  There’s courses on writing killer headlines, Excel for Mac, talent sourcing and Facebook marketing to name just four.

The topic areas are by no means exhaustive, but there’s plenty in there for everyone to get something out of it.  If you do nothing else with your Premium account (and you should) it would still provide you with good value for money.

 

5 signs you’re using LinkedIn like Facebook

LinkedIn is, without doubt a fantastic business development, networking, educational and profile raising platform. Last time I checked, over 17m UK business professionals have a profile on the site. That’s a Hell of a lot of people for you to reach out to, engage with and maybe do business with.

Personally, the vast majority of our referrals come through LinkedIn, as we work with businesses and individuals up and down the country. We head here first thing for business news, to check up on contacts’ news and to see how we can help fellow group members.

Our Lu offers LinkedIn training, and as such knows a thing or two about using LinkedIn.  Like it or not, she gets to see the good and the bad of LinkedIn activities, and she’s decided she can’t keep her mouth shut any longer.

Caveat: Though we do offer LinkedIn training via Time Saving Heroes we are NOT trying to sell anything here.  Our sole purpose for writing and sharing this blog is to help people get the most from this potentially amazing platform, and ideally not look like they’ve just come from Facebook.  In the long run, it will hopefully make everyone else’s days just that little but happier when they are on LinkedIn!

#1 – A profile picture that won’t get you hired

When it comes to online interaction, what’s the most important and memorable brand asset you have at your disposal?  That’s right, your face!

If the image you’re using is a grainy selfie, holiday pic, a photo from a drunken night out or something from a family photo shoot you’re really not going to be making the best of impressions.

The same applies for avatars and pictures with someone else other than you in them. And let’s not get started on pets!

Get a profile picture of just your face, and nothing but the face.  OK, shoulders are allowed.

#2 – A professional headline that is anything but

Chief fixer? Director of customer love? Marketing extraordinaire? Social media guru? You are probably none of these things. Think about how it looks and how people search on LinkedIn.

When writing your headline, make sure you use a description that is both accurate and related to either the benefit you provide or your title within your company. Either way, this is guaranteed to return your profile in some searches.

Head of Beverage Operations, will not!

#3 – Shameless friend collecting

This is without doubt one of the biggest crimes on LinkedIn. You use one-click connect which sends generic messages rather than connecting through a person’s profile and personalising the message specifically for them.

Trust us, it’s a bad first impression. It says you can’t be bothered to take the time to genuinely reach out and connect.  It’s even worse if you’ve not been on their profile at all (and seriously, they’ll notice). Give people a reason to connect with you and start off on the right foot.

#4 – Not even really wanting to be friends

Once you’ve collected all these random connections, what do you actually do with them? Do you actively keep in touch? What do you do when you get a message from a contact about business? Do you tut, sigh and ignore them? Fly into a rant about people contacting you on LinkedIn to talk business opportunities?

How very dare they, indeed!

The whole point of networking is to make connections, NOT collect names. So change things around and start building relationships by having actual conversations with the people you asked to connect with.

#5 – Going all “selly sell” from the outset

If you send a message to someone the second they connect with you trying to sell something, then you’re spamming.  You might think it’s a warmer way to do it than cold calling, but it is absolutely no different.

It is far better to create rapport by asking questions, sharing content, joining the same group and showing your expertise. Once you’ve made contact via those methods, get in touch and start a discussion – it’s not all about you. In fact, in sales, it’s not about you at all!