I’m all for using LinkedIn to “sell myself” and understand that others will use it the same way.
But there’s a way to sell on social networks like this. And spam isn’t one of them.
What do I mean by ‘spam’? Let me take you through what happens …
- A person I have met briefly or not at all, sends me a LinkedIn connection request. If they live in Adelaide, I generally accept the request because there may be a chance that I work with them in the future, or they can recommend my expertise to someone else.
- Hours (sometimes minutes) later they send me a message saying they have a special 50% off fertiliser developed especially for that cactus that I’ll never grow because I kill all plants, even succulents and besides, cacti scare me. Or that they’re selling tickets to a breakfast next Friday and would I like the early bird deal (and I get disgruntled because I don’t find breakfast events easy and even if I did, your attendees aren’t in my target market and I don’t have two hours to spare to schmooze with them, eating rapidly-cooling bacon and drinking awful filtered coffee while everyone else there tries to sell their small business services to me).
So, bam! I’ve opened the door and without any relationship development or thought to my industry and the work I do, they’re talking about themselves … and asking me for money.
You wouldn’t do that in a face-to-face situation, would you? So why do it online?
I’ve said this again and again in public forums and to clients: social media works best when you focus on warm networking, on developing real relationships and respecting the people behind the accounts. And guess what? Warm networking takes time.
So how do you ‘sell yourself’ on LinkedIn?
- It begins with your profile of course. Ensure it looks all schmicko, you’ve got a professional photo, and you’ve succinctly explained what you do.
- Use the status update field to talk about what you’re working on, share articles of interest and – yes – share links to any events, special deals etc. That’s fine. At least you’re not intruding on our inboxes.
- Roam beyond your own profile. Look at what others are saying, congratulate people who have new jobs, comment, like (and all the other Facebook-like things which have crept into LinkedIn).
- Participate in LinkedIn Groups. Some are grand, some are bland. You might find a gem where you gain terrific information and make good friends. (Don’t forget to check your Group Settings or Email Settings to ensure you don’t get more email notifications than you’d like … which can quickly feel like spam!)
- Send a message to a connection and invite them to coffee. A genuine, friendly coffee invitation where you both talk about your work and get to know each other better.
You ‘sell yourself’ through your behaviour. Spamming your connections means you’re damaging your brand.
I’d love to hear about your LinkedIn experience in comments below.
Related reading: Don’t fret over your LinkedIn requests.