5 Common LinkedIn Mistakes (and how you can fix them)
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business professional network. One that anyone involved in professional services should by now be using actively. The recent announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition came as a bit of shock even if in retrospect not entirely unexpected. The plummeting share price since last year was a clear indication of the challenges in growth that LinkedIn was facing. Although that didn’t stop Microsoft from making a pass at an acquisition.
Microsoft’s intentions are to integrate LinkedIn within its Office 365 suite. In doing so it will help diversify the professional experience within the software. Sure, it makes absolute sense. When you take into consideration daily usage of the Office 365 suite combined with professional network, it can definitely yield a higher sense of business potential. At least this is the way Microsoft is approaching it currently.
A lot of what I’ve seen recently, particularly on LinkedIn is a bit alarming. Especially with some of the so-called “thought leaders” or “experts”. Misuse of LinkedIn can cost you potential business opportunities. At the basis of things even the ability to forge new relationships.
Misuse of LinkedIn can be very costly, challenging, and aggravating. And I don’t mean that in good way either! So, here are a few things that I wanted to point out to you from personal experience. These are some of the most common mistakes that I tend to run across on LinkedIn daily. They are in no particular order of importance or occurrence.
#1 Connection Request Malpractices
There is a vast majority of LinkedIn users that proactively use the network for open networking purposes. I completely get that. Although in that case I firmly believe that you should make that clearly known. Especially to avoid any misconceptions by your new connections. That is one problematic aspect of sending bland connection request to complete strangers.
The other aspect of sending connection requests is to avoid cold calling intentions. Quite honestly, there is nothing more frustrating than receiving a cold calling attempt immediately after connecting with someone.
Here is a true story that I wanted to use as an example.
This particular individual bothered to send me a random connection request. Apparently the title CEO was enticing to him so he figured I’m a prime target. Then he proceeded to send me a basic connection request. You know, the one that goes along the lines of “Hi Ivan, I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Then after I hesitantly accepted, being skeptical about the situation, he proceeded towards sending me a cold call.
There was no inclination or interest expressed from me in any of the services offered. Apparently that was not clearly conveyed to him.
When sending someone a connection request especially out of the blue consider the following simple steps:
- Avoid sending a general connection request. It’s an absolute lack of professionalism. Customize your connection request message. Make it more specific and personalize it.
- Don’t seek out random individuals. Request an introduction from someone in your network if need be. It will mist definitely help your chances for forging a new relationship.
- Don’t cold call or sell new connections instantly. It’s not a very viable business approach that would entice anybody to do business with you. Consider the warm/softer business approach by offering something of value first.
- Ensure that your grammar and spelling are correct. Especially if you’re attempting to connect with someone at a C-level.
#2 Outline Your Messaging
This is quite similar to one of the bullets mentioned above. A vast majority of LinkedIn users tend to come across as extremely bland. You have to realize that LinkedIn is a business network with business focus in mind. A few simple mistakes can literally cost you a new relationship and a piece of business. Relevance plays a key factor when it comes to messaging on LinkedIn.
Let me explain a bit further below. Apologies if some of this is repeated, but it’s really important!
- DO NOT send a connection request to a random person. Maybe if you’re an open networker that might fly but even then be ready for rejection. Instead, go for a warmer approach.
- DO NOT send a general connection request to anyone. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the standard “Hi John Smith, I’d like to add you to my professional network.” message come across. It’s a huge turn-off. The resolution in that is to customize your message with relevance in mind. Think of something that might relate to that individual as an opening statement.
- DO NOT spam a new connection instantly or try to sell them. LinkedIn is about business relationships and the last thing you want to do is go in for a cold-call. There is nearly a 100% possibility of being rejected.
All in all you should always keep in mind relevance. That includes anyone you attempt connecting with on LinkedIn.
#3 Focus On Your Response
Another frustrating element about LinkedIn is the lack of response. A lot of LinkedIn users do not comprehend the fact that most leads these days go cold very quickly. The attention span of a human being is shorter than ever before. We are far more impatient than we have ever been. If someone takes the time to contact you, take the time to respond. And I don’t mean waiting days or weeks before doing so. Chances are by that time there might be a lack of interest.
The logical aspect of the above analogy is basic human mentality. Would you wait for someone to take their sweet time in responding back to you? It reminds of crappy customer service that takes forever to rectify a problem. Same analogy in a sense. As human beings we don’t like to wait. Don’t make your prospects or potential customers wait for you or vice versa you wait to them. Be proactive and responsive.
#4 Post Relevant Content
Even to this day I am a bit baffled at some of the randomness that flies across my news feed. In fact nearly daily I wonder how some of these connections and companies ended up in my feed. After all LinkedIn is a business-focused social network. Not all content is business-centric. So, STOP posting irrelevant content that nobody wants to read. It’s probably one reason that someone may decide to delete you from their connection list.
Here are a few tips though on how to remain relevant with your content:
- Perform a quick assessment of your connections and their industries. Identify content that pertains to their interest. After all, publishing that type of content will grasp their attention.
- Utilize the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time sharing other people’s content or companies and the other 20% your own. This is a good way to establish companionship.
- Stop with the random funny videos or “Oh my god that was so cool” YouTube videos. Seeing a video of an airplane landing that may have fascinated someone in your network is no ground for sharing that piece of content. It’s irrelevant.
#5 Leverage Plus Content Writing (without being self-promotional)
LinkedIn Pulse is a great avenue to share business thoughts. Let me repeat that one more time…business…thoughts. So many people in my LinkedIn network use this avenue for promotions and advertising. Pulse was not intended for that and many people are still missing the point. The purpose behind Pulse was to use it as means of thought leadership, education, connectivity, and community development.
Stop, again STOP the shameless self-promotion on LinkedIn Pulse. If it’s quite evident that you’re not gaining any traction then shift your strategy.
I would advise doing the following when it comes to writing posts on LinkedIn.
- Focus on added value proposition. Give your audience someone that can address a need.
- DO NOT shamelessly promote yourself, product, service, or event. It’s very unprofessional as it clearly comes across as a forceful way of promoting your business. The average consumer is intelligent enough to pinpoint that.
- Remain relevant with the market. What is it that your network is talking about? Identify some potential topics based on current interest that you can write about.
There is a very logical method to using LinkedIn. Sure, it’s a business social media platform. However it should not be treated as a cold-calling forum. Businesses and consumers equally are more intelligent than ever before. They can clearly detect bullshit from a mile away. Sending across random connection request, attempting to push a product or service, or in general invoke a forceful sales method, will yield nothing more than rejection. I want you to be successful in your LinkedIn endeavors.
Tell me in the comments below if there is any particular area that you are uncertain about. I look forward to great commentary.
Lead/featured image: http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-small-businesses-are-getting-linkedin-wrong-1453690978
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