Yesterday, I disconnected from two people who had recently asked me to connect on LinkedIn. And this will be my policy moving forward. There seems to be a misunderstanding of how to best use LinkedIn to grow your business. These people are great examples of that misunderstanding.
Linked Out on LinkedIn: Here’s What Transpired. . .
I receive LinkedIn connection requests all the time from people I don’t know. And that’s okay with me. I figure they want to start a dialogue to see if a business relationship makes sense. And usually, that is the case.
Recently, two different people asked to connect. I accepted their connections only to then receive LinkedIn emails from each of them pitching to me.
I don’t even know these people and worse, they don’t know me. They have no idea if I have a need for their product/service. It seemed they made assumptions based on what they could see in my profile.
This is the worst kind of cold calling. It’s like dialing for dollars. What it seems these people did was search LinkedIn for people who meet certain criteria. Once found, they requested connections. And then, once connected, they sent their most salesy LinkedIn email to those people. You know the kind. It goes like this:
“Here’s my great product or service. You should want it. Call me if you do and we’ll talk about it.”
So, what exactly did that have to do with me as a prospect and what I might need? Nothing. It was all about what they wanted and needed.
The Result. . .
It’s like getting those solicitor calls or spam emails – only worse. It’s worse because I have access to much more information about them. I can see them, so to speak. They aren’t anonymous.
I have the opportunity to build a belief about them – a belief that does not instill trust. If I want to, I could even investigate their profile. I could see who they are connected to and build a belief system around those people as well.
When we understand that sales is about building relationships and trust, we can see how this policy is full of problems. You can’t go from introduction to marriage. You can’t go from connection to a sale. There is work that must be done in between to build a relationship, learn about the prospect, and identify whether they are qualified. Do they need what you have to sell? Can you help them solve a problem?
Once you know the answers to these questions and have developed a trusting relationship with the prospect you can do business with them – and not until then.
LinkedIn is a wonderful platform for building relationships and sharing your expertise. And there is a way to effectively prospect on LinkedIn. When you are looking for an introduction into a company or to an individual, you can see how you are connected to them by using the advanced search function on LinkedIn. When you see a shared connection you can then ask that connection to introduce you.
The key to the success of this tactic is to have really good relationships with the people you are linked to. When you already have their trust, they will be happy to introduce you to others. It is my opinion that this is the only way you should be using LinkedIn to prospect. It is not a cold calling platform.
Take an inventory of how you are using LinkedIn and how others are interacting with you. Make very clear and purposeful decisions about how you are going to build relationships with your contacts.
This is how you will realize the true benefit of the business development opportunities of LinkedIn – and won’t run the risk of being disconnected.
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