People are misusing LinkedIn left and right. As with any tool you can be most effective when you use it properly and that usually requires some learning. Unfortunately we see people self-promoting and trying to sell overtly on LinkedIn and it is just as undesirable as someone going around at a networking event shoving cards at you and trying to sell to you on the spot without knowing if you are even a viable prospect.
Think of LinkedIn just like real life networking. It’s a two way conversation. It’s about acknowledging others. Asking questions, listening. Showing others you care. Your job is to get on LinkedIn and engage with others so they will get to know you, like you and trust you. Then you have the opportunity to find out if they are a prospect. At that point, get off of LinkedIn and make a call or meet in person. LinkedIn can help you with your sales process but it doesn’t replace the need for real human interaction and the fact that we need to give before we get.
Wayne Brietbarth has a great article on this LinkedIn Status Updates: The Rule Everyone Should Follow. He talks about the 6/3/1 Rule which simply means that for every 10 posts you make, six should be great content you enjoyed reading and thought worthy of sharing with your audience. Three should be informative content that you or your company produced and it can include blogs, videos, info graphics, case studies and other similar items. Then, one can be a shameless self-promotion of your offerings. This is a great guideline to follow. If you follow other experts and thought leaders you will always have plenty of great content to post. This is one of the reasons I love Twitter. It is an endless stream of great content.
People are getting themselves into trouble on LinkedIn by constantly self-promoting and trying to cold call. Constant self-promotion backfires in many ways. People un-connect with you. They ignore your messages and won’t answer your emails. Connecting with those you don’t know, like cold calling, can get you “hung up” on. If you get people marking you as spam or ignoring your requests your account can be frozen. Before taking my training, one of the financial planners I worked with told me his account was frozen. How did that happen I asked? He explained that he had 10,000 connections and would try to connect with anybody and everybody. Many who didn’t know him clicked the spam button and it happened one too many times. It took a while for him to convince LinkedIn to unfreeze it. LinkedIn states clearly to connect only to those you know. It’s very simple, once you do that, you can get an introduction through those you know to those you want to know. Of course, networking is about meeting those you don’t know and if you can’t get an introduction then send a note explaining briefly who you are an why you want to connect. Do not use the default connection message under any circumstance. Even if you know the person. This the main reason I don’t use the mobile app frequently. It doesn’t allow you to personalize a connection request message.
Another client who had taken my training, read this article LinkedIn Ruckus Continues As Victims Of Site-Wide Moderation Defect and got concerned. She sent me an email. I told her that as long as she followed what I taught her this probably wouldn’t happen. Here is exactly what I told her:
How to Stay Out of LinkedIn Jail
- Be genuine and connect with those you know. Always include a personal message.
- When there is someone you want to know, ask for an introduction.
- When sharing, follow Wayne’s advice 6/3/1.
- When posting in groups follow the group rules. Don’t self-promote. Post appropriately.
- Spend time in groups interacting with the posts of others. Click like and comment. Add your expertise.
Yes, as it says in the Forbes article, you could still randomly get flagged but it is unlikely. LinkedIn still has some kinks to work out of their system but it is still a great tool for building and maintaining your network.
Don’t use it to self-promote and don’t use it to cold call.
Do use it to connect with people and develop strong, leveragable relationships. Use it to share great content your followers will be interested in and do use it to share thought provoking content that you or your company prepares. By doing these things people will be open to the times when you do share a product or program you would like them to buy.
To learn more about LinkedIn, watch my 5 Secrets That Will Change Your Approach to LinkedIn Networking. For training schedules and other events, visit www.aliceheiman.com/events. Questions on selling, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.