Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

How often do you receive an invite to connect with someone on LinkedIn that you don’t know? Do you connect or ignore? That decision is more complicated when the invitation includes only the standard message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” But when it has no other information, what do you do? LinkedIn_Invite

When we meet someone in person, say at a networking event, we get to know the person a little before we ask for his or her business card. On LinkedIn, we’re asking more than the equivalent of a business card before we know them – we’re asking to be a part of each other’s network.

Because LinkedIn makes it so easy to send an invite to connect with contacts, we lose the opportunity to appropriately introduce ourselves before we make “the ask”. If we haven’t met yet, I have a greater chance of a contact accepting my request to invite if I’ve specified why I’d like to connect. In the past, a LinkedIn invite would come up, and you’d indicate how you know the person (colleague, classmate, “done business together”, friend, other, I don’t know), and then there is a section to include a personal note. It’s pre-filled with the standard message stated above but it is easy to edit and personalize the message. These days, LinkedIn has increased the options of where you can go to invite a connection and you can click to send off a generic invite. It’s too easy, in fact.

Just because you can easily invite contacts to connect on LinkedIn, it doesn’t mean you should.

Even if you’ve just met someone at a networking event or business meeting, it’s good business practice to refer to the meeting or event as a reminder in your customized LinkedIn invitation. If you’ve never met, it’s critical if you want your invites to be accepted.

And, if you do receive a LinkedIn invite from someone you don’t know, I hit “Reply but don’t accept” in the drop down near the word “accept” and thank the person for the invite and state “since we don’t know each other, I thought I’d reach out to find out how I can help you.” Sometimes there is no response (hit “ignore”) and often I learn more that helps me determine how I should act. This effort saves me from ignoring potentially beneficial new contacts and accepting non-relevant contacts.

In summary, personalizing your LinkedIn invites provides the following benefits:

  • Increased invite acceptance
  • Demonstrated professionalism (part of your brand)
  • “Contact-Centric” approach (also part of your brand)
  • Higher productivity and “networking ROI”

3 Easy Ways To Join the Conversation

Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it? Have you noticed your contacts sharing articles, commenting on posts, asking questions? You can join the conversation and become more visible as quick as typing in your update.

“What should I say?” you ask. You are an expert in whatever you do. If you are not, become one. Be a student of your occupation and share your knowledge. Don’t sell. Just share.

How to get started:

1. “Share Content” – if you see a business article that interests you, post it. Just copy and paste the article’s URL, then go to your Update Posting Box and paste the link. LinkedIn should automatically post a visual icon from the article and the first few lines. You can add a comment that highlights what you thought was most interesting or surprising to learn.

• “Share” an article that one of your contacts posted
• Post a link to an article you’ve written from your website, published source, etc.

2. “Join the Conversation” – to start out, you can “Like” a post that is in your activity feed – someone’s new picture, a new job posting, shared content. Be a thought leader on the business subject you are passionate about.
• Share a time management tip you just learned.
• Post an industry “trend” or new fact as you return from a conference or seminar

3. “Create the conversation” – To up your game, join a Group and answer a question or a Poll. And, of course if you want to jump in head first, start your own Group and manage the dialogue yourself!
• Post questions that give you insight to your customers
• Find out what tools people use to manage their business by using a Poll

How to measure:

Your activity and engagement ROI can be measured on LinkedIn. Be sure to check out your “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature on your LinkedIn home page. You’ll understand who is viewing from your contacts and new contacts you might be attracting. Additionally, you can use your Notifications feature (the flag at the top next to your mail icon) to easily track who is responding and engaging with you.

Are you LinkedIn?

So many questions, so little time. I started out where you may be with LinkedIn now–I knew I needed to have a profile, but didn’t quite know what for.  So I dug in and learned everything I could, and discovered that LinkedIn is one of the most powerful business tools around.  Over the years I helped colleagues and friends.  Last year I started providing LinkedIn Workshops because I realized how underutilized this incredible resource was for many professionals. And, because I love it. It’s true: The more you use it, the more it gives you. But how do you do that if you don’t know how to start?  That’s where I come in!

Endorsements & Recommendations – what should I do?

Should I accept invitations to connect with people I don’t know?

How can I grow my network and my business with this tool?

Is it worth my time? How will I know?

People do business with people they know. And like. Relationship selling has been around a long time. Now we have a great tool to make the task of building relationships and creating visibility that much easier. It’s not Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s a different animal. Learn how to use it and get the best of it. It’s not difficult, but it can be a mystery if you dive in without clarity.

Bring your laptop and your questions. I haven’t been able to not answer a question yet!

Rewriting the Formula: Groundhog Day

To the CFO it’s unnecessary and avoidable expense.

To the CEO it’s a quote in Forbes—or not.

To the VP of Sales it doesn’t help drive revenue fast enough (but things would be different if it only worked for him).

To the CIO it’s an incomprehensible bundle of mushy stuff that has no value (except for the occasional cool shirt or tchotke).

To everyone else it’s easy, so what’s the big deal?

To me it’s Groundhog Day.

“It” is Marketing. Yes, the department that, when things are going well, isn’t credited with any of the success, but when times are bad, is the accused source of misspending and unproductive activity.  Rome burned, Nero fiddled.  Company’s in a funk, Marketing’s eating shrimp at a conference.  OK, I’m exaggerating, but not by all that much.  What I want to put on the table for this blog is why this perception exists, and why it has persisted for so long.

While I am primarily a CMO, I have also run field and inside sales teams, channels organizations, and business development teams so I’m not a Marketing-ista (you may use that if you like).  I’ve been able to look at both sides, sometimes in the same job.  But even with that perspective it surprises me that around the executive table (and therefore across their respective departments) there is often a view of Marketing that I argue isn’t—or maybe more properly–doesn’t need to be true: there’s no accountability in marketing; there’s no measurement; everything’s a big deal—I just want a stupid brochure; can you run an event in Denver for me on Thursday—and invite 50 people? (And make sure they’re the right 50 people!)

Contrast that to, say, Product Development or Engineering, whether you’re making a software package, a Bluetooth headset or corn flakes.  The strategic plan is one thing, but resources, allocation of those resources, testing, rework, and a raft of variables complicate the path from idea to delivery.  That said, ask that same team to do something unplanned and the department head breathes fire and no more is said about the matter.

IT gets to say no.  Finance gets to say no.  There’s no time, there’s no budget, there’s no one to do what is asked.  You’ll have to wait until November or the next budget cycle—maybe.  But when was the last time you or your Marketing team got to say “we can’t fit it in this year’s budget” without some other part of the organization saying, “well, I’ll just go do it myself…”

Would it surprise you that I think it’s our own damned fault? Yes, as marketers we bring many of these things on ourselves. But before I share my solutions, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.  If you’re a marketer, kvetch away (or tell me what you’re doing to change that formula).  To my CxO readers (friends and strangers) what does your Marketing team do (or what do you wish it did do) to have a positive impact on your company?

Let’s keep the dialog going!

I’ll get to it eventually…

“I know I have a bunch of business cards I need to organize and contact. I’ll get to it eventually.”

“I’m not sure if everyone in my LinkedIn contacts are in my Outlook. I need to figure that out. I’ll get to it eventually.”

How much “low hanging fruit” is around you but you can’t “get to it”? Business tools that are important, such as using LinkedIn effectively and keeping up with the new contacts from last month’s networking events, are the secret formula to achieving goals without a lot of pain.

Is revenue hiding in your desk or in your briefcase? Maybe in the back of the car?

This week is your “eventually”. Contact Gold & Partners to help you uncover the revenue hiding in your desk!