As more businesses realize the potential for finding new business on LinkedIn, I am amazed as to how companies are starting to look at social media as if it gives them the right to cold call and send what I would consider spam to anyone and everyone in LinkedIn. I wanted to go through some bad examples of what a lot of people are doing before giving you my advice, as it is important to understand some fundamentals regarding social media.
- First of all, NO ONE LIKES BEING SOLD TO UNLESS THEY HAVE A PRESSING NEED AND YOU CONTACT THEM AT THE CORRECT TIME. And, needless to say, the person you contact must perceive value in what you are saying. Unless you are carefully analyzing a person’s profile, status updates and/or activities, and they indicate they have a pressing need, it is safe to say that no one wants to be contacted by someone if they don’t see value in what you have to say.
- LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. It is not some playground for you to advertise something on. Just as it may be easy for you to join a LinkedIn Group or connect with someone that you want to advertise to, you can be kicked out of these groups as well as blocked by these users. In fact, starting today, unless I receive what I feel is a personalized and relevant message, I will start reporting these spammers by sending an email to [email protected] I recommend that you do the same.
- If we are in the same group or are connected and you want to sell something to me, make sure you send me a personalized and relevant message. Yes, this will take time to create a database and personalize your messages, but what is the point of displaying my interests on my LinkedIn profile if you are ignoring it? To quote Scott Allen, the author of The Virtual Handshake, “I AM NOT A NUMBER.”
- Social media is about being real and genuine. Anyone who sends irrelevant, impersonal, and sometimes repetitive emails to members of LinkedIn Groups or connections is no better than anyone who has a fake LinkedIn profile.
So, in keeping with my thought process above, here is my advice for you to “sell” your service to your connections:
- Keep a database of who you contact and check it so that you do not send the same message twice. Very important to show that you are personalizing your approach.
- Make sure you utilize as much LinkedIn profile information as possible to personalize your message. At least, personalize your message for the location and/or industry that this person is in.
- Prove Your Value early in your message. What possible value does this person have in spending his or her precious time despite a busy day to read your message?
- Watch your frequency. I would argue that once-a-month is the most frequent timing you should have for your messages. Anything more frequent than that and you will be noticed. This could be good, but if your message is irrelevant, impersonal, and doesn’t have any value, that person will be more tempted to send your message to [email protected]
- Think twice before adding someone to an email database. Services like Constant Contact allow subscribers to unsubscribe AND report spam, and I for one am not afraid to do so. If you have the utmost confidence that the person has an interest in receiving your emails, fine, go for it. If not, allow people to opt-in first.
A lot of businesses think that social media gives them a new avenue for advertising, and they are right. But social media is “social” and you need to deal with people individually. Yes, I have signed up for webinars or contacted some people after receiving their targeted messages on LinkedIn. And, yes, some businesses and services provide tremendous value, so I am not opposed to being sold to as long as there is value in it. But remember: just as good things can spread rapidly on social media, bad press can as well. Spend the time to follow my advice. Your success rate will increase exponentially. And contact me if you would like more information on how I can help you and your business utilize social media in an intelligent way.