What are you doing to your brand on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is topical, some refer to it as Facebook for business and it is growing daily. What started off as a recruitment tool is now free for all, literally. Here is one way not to invite people on LinkedIn; it’s to do with random connections. And this weeks top tip is a  guide to LinkedIn etiquette.

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Why do you connect on LinkedIn?

Last week I responded to a connection request on LinkedIn. It was from someone who I had met at a networking event. They hadn’t offered me their card yet they had asked for mine. When I asked what they were going to do with it they told me they would contact me when they had some business for me. I thought that would be nice.

When I got the connection request I accepted and asked if there was any particular reason for connecting. There was no reply, so rather than miss an opportunity I gave them a call. When I mentioned the connection request they told me that they had someone that “does LinkedIn” for them so had no idea they had contacted me. I was a little surprised and asked how it was working for them. They said they didn’t know because they didn’t know anything about LinkedIn. It made me wonder how many other people are wandering about on LinkedIn. What drives you to connect with someone?

Why does this happen?

As soon as there are new ways of generating business our predatory instincts kick in. We learn how to keep this instinct in check yet it’s part of evolution. There are lot’s of people telling you that you will generate leads “up there”. There are many interested in how they can use the latest “thing” to make their life easier or generate profits. Learning new things can also have the opposite affect. It makes life harder when learning yet the dividends can be immense once the new skills are working for you.

With 60,000,000 users LinkedIn is going nowhere. Facebook is here to stay, topping 500 million members. Yet how many people have taken the time to learn about either in any detail? How many have learned about them in great detail? How many people generate income because of these platforms? How many people generate worthwhile profits? I’m afraid the answers to these questions are ever decreasing numbers.

Is there an alternative?

We have the opportunity to learn about things rather than get involved in strange behaviour or arguments (discussions often end that way “up here”). Yet what percentage of us do? Probably a smaller number than those in the previous paragraph.

You might be surprised to learn that I do not offer a LinkedIn course or have a LinkedIn book. I simply repeat the strategy that works best for me offline in online environments. Yet the fact that you’re reading this is probably because I went on a course and devoured a LinkedIn book. I’m not saying I know all about LinkedIn yet I can tell when people don’t.

Rather than cut them adrift it’s best to point them in the direction of various LinkedIn experts in the UK or elsewhere, they need to tell me where they’re stuck before I can judge who is most appropriate. I enjoy helping others progress. Meanwhile, those that want to know more can use Amazon or LinkedIn to search for a book. The ones I read are listed on my Amazon application on my profile. I learned how to use this on a course ;-)

Wrap up: What image are you presenting on LinkedIn? Don’t waste time in an environment until you’ve decided what results you want from it. Take a peek at what others are doing, ask some experts, read some posts, white papers or books. Then you are ready to get the results you deserve.

Top Tip: Keep your contacts open on LinkedIn. Having them closed will give people the impression that you are closed. If you are going to do that you may as well not join. Theories about people poaching your clients are unfounded. And here’s the link to help you understand how getting into an argument online is not going to help you one little bit http://bit.ly/bgIX3p

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10 Responses to What are you doing to your brand on LinkedIn?

  1. Agreed, I can’t believe how people really think that connecting to random strangers, who have NO interest in their business/product/service and without having established any kind of relationship will be of benefit to them.

    Network = Networth for sure, but having lots of random strangers connected to you on Linked In, Facebook etc does not a “Network” make!!

    My pet peeve is when someone requests to “link in” with me, by saying they’re a friend when I don’t even know who they are, or at best I’ve met them once at a networking event sometime in the last 3 years!!!!

    Yes use Linked In to build a relationship, if you want to get to know the person.

    But outsource managing Linked In to someone else? Can’t help but think that’s completely MISSING the point!!

    • Jason says:

      Thanks Claire, your pet hate is a common one. I’ve heard the term “card hoover” for someone who collects cards and adds them to a list. Let’s just say it’s not meant as a testament to their efficiency at sending newsletters. It’s a shame because their efficiency could be put to much better use by contributing to discussions and answering questions. Thus building credibility.

      Mutual mystification leaves a vacuum that is usually filled by perception. That’s not good for personal branding. I send invitations to people I’ve met and I make sure I let them know why I’m connecting. If there isn’t a reason, don’t send the invitation. Don’t feel compelled to accept every invitation, a polite response is better for your brand than an “I don’t know”.

  2. Thanks Jason, interesting to read about the person who has “LinkedIn done for them”.
    I am all for delegation and outsourcing where appropriate, but personal relationships are more successful when built personally, and so some balance is needed for me.
    In particular if I am delegating any networking tasks I believe I need to understand what it is I am delegating, so your connection who has someone “do LinkedIn” for them is missing out if they fail to appreciate what it is all for.
    In a free online training course I show people the 8 foundations of networking and how to develop your LinkedIn profile, this gets you started with making LinkedIn work for you. It also suggests that being Authentic is key in our relationships, and business comes from successful relationships.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks Phil. Authentic is so important. I read newsletters and blogs from key people in my industry. I am often impressed with the style and quality of a newsletter only to feel let down if I see them get into an online argument or their personal “tone” does not match the marketing output. If the individual and the marketing material are not congruent I find myself reaching for the unsubscribe link.

  3. Jason says:

    I love spanners Wayne and thanks for introducing this valid point. It still works and probably always will. If I receive something that’s really high quality I’ll take a look if I have time. Yet, that is very rare.

    The card collector can make the effort to find the right people whilst they are at events. There’s nothing wrong with compiling a list except that they are missing opportunities to meet the right people – as you say they may lack experience. I could be naivety. If so, we can help them out by asking them not to add us when we exchange cards. Then we all save time.

  4. I treat all of my contacts the way I treat anyone I know or have listened to at a seminar. If I like what they say I follow for a while, if we find we agree and share some thoughts then I suggest we link.
    Twitter seems a bit more fluid when it comes to following or not; it is a bigger party and there more strangers from all over the world just following me. I end up blocking far more Twitter followers than I turn down linking invitations from.
    If I have had a chat at a networking event and found we may be able to work together or share information in the future I am more likely to suggest a link to a comparitive stranger. A speed network chat of one minute still makes them a stranger to me even if we could work together.
    When it comes to hoovering business cards, it is actually embarrassing to to asked to link to someone I know I haven’t had any connection with other than being at the same event. It may be different in different cultures and countries because I find it is even different etiquette in different businesses.

    • Jason says:

      Hi Penelope, thanks so much for sharing. Etiquette is the key Worldwide yet networking etiquette seems to be remarkably similar everywhere I go.

  5. Jason Cobine says:

    It seems that brand damage can prove fatal. How else, about from networking, can we build a stong personal brand?

  6. Good morning Jason.

    My approach to online networking is to use it as a prelude to meeting offline (where practical) – sometimes distance means the face to face is unlikely but you can still find common interests to talk about online, it doesn’t all have to be business!

    I don’t use the “Friend” request to connect, but have stopped being irritated by those that do – have a look at their profile and react accordingly. I probably do this because I’m in the opposite camp to Claire as regards wide v. deep connections – you just don’t know who people are connected with – there may be a connection there for the asking that you really would like, you may never know if you don’t connect initially – and what’s the downside? to me it doesn’t matter if you have many contacts that you never develop, you’ll try to develop the ones you want to develop and leave the rest.

    As to “card hoovers”, I treat those in same fashion as the “Friend” requests.

    Kind regards,

    • Jason says:

      Good point David, LinkedIn is one of the few environments where you can connect with just about anybody. I’ve found a fantastic bridge between online networking and face to face meetings and am having great fun “meeting” people before I actually get to meet them.

      I always ask a random connector why they would like to connect with “little old me”. Most of them don’t reply.

      Keep connecting and building those key relationships.

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