LinkedIn is a platform that connects people and businesses. Your potential customers and partners are there. When you try to contact them, you don’t have to be a master of digital or social selling to miss the chance for any cooperation and be banned as a sender once and for all. People have a well-developed nose for spotting artificial and unproductive business relationships. It is useful to know how you should, and absolutely should not, create long-term business relationships.
So here is my real-life story. My name is Edyta Kowal, and I’m a Brand & Marketing Communication Director at Displate.
While good business practices are one thing, it’s worth focusing on anti-examples on LinkedIn, how not to bury cool contacts and how not to get blacklisted. I share my experiences, the ones to avoid like the fire.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop talking with a colleague. We are discussing joint projects and setting the terms of collaboration for the next one. The distance between the tables is typical, not yet imposed by a coronavirus. Music plays in the background. Sometimes we lower our voices and do not mention names. Suddenly, as we get up from our table, the woman sitting next to us speaks up: “Ladies in business work, don’t they?” Silence. Consternation. The lady continues: “So I invite you to contact me, my company connects companies”. The colleague – clearly disgusted – lets her know in a few sentences what she thinks about this topic, and we leave.
Is LinkedIn so different from the real world that marketers and salespeople can make such glaring mistakes on it? Well, no. Now review some messages from my inbox that will better illustrate the problem. Here are a few categories:1
1. Do we know each other?
If I invite someone to my network, I assume that we know each other from somewhere: we established a relationship during an industry event, we met at one of my lectures, or maybe someone recommended me. There are many possibilities, but it would be ideal if you included such information in your invitation. Refer to what we have in common. If our professional paths have never crossed before, write briefly why this should change. The mere fact that we “work in a similar position” does not matter to me. Just like the fact that you find my profile interesting or that you “want to follow me”. That’s a little too little to feel “wanted” on LinkedIn.
2. Are you talking to me?
If you don’t know or haven’t bothered to find out who I am, don’t write! Research and personalization – without this, it’s not even worth trying to establish a relationship. Nothing repels and cuts off a relationship at the start like a mismatched message. We are all busy, so let’s respect our time. If I’m not in the real estate business or you’re not sure I’m in the real estate business, don’t send me a message like that.
3. Way too fast
Forgetting the research, introduce yourself, and send an offer immediately because time is money. That’s not a given on LinkedIn. Selling is important, that’s true, but why is it thrown in the first sentence? Even if your product is perfect for me, you won’t erase the impression of a pushy salesperson and that negative first impression will always remain in my mind.
4. Copy – paste
Don’t get me wrong, copy-paste is a very useful feature, but when you’re presuming a massive attack that involves all the salespeople in the company, but you don’t agree with them on who sends email to whom – and to top it off, you all make every one of the above mistakes – it comes off poorly. I know it’s faster that way. But don’t go that route, because several messages of the same content land in my inbox in one day. This is how I lose respect for your company and for each of the senders individually.
5. How are you doin?
LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s a business portal. While I have no problem communicating on a first-name basis, when a person I don’t know addresses me by my first name, even if it’s a diminutive, I feel strange and insecure.
Now for the balance of the golden rules:
Try a little harder – you only make a first impression once.
Show how you know the recipient.
If your professional paths have never crossed before, write briefly about why this should change.
Sell, but not right away.
If you want to sell, prove that you know the business, pains and needs of the recipient.
Patience pays off.
Gain knowledge about the recipient, and he or she notices your existence and appreciates that you don’t just leave empty likes, and thus begin to trust you.
Read twice before you post.
This applies to everything. If someone replies to your message, don’t leave it unanswered.