Notes from a Digital Marketer I

I recently read an article on LinkedIn by Kevin Williams, about his experience with his 27,000+ LinkedIn connections. In it, he explained that his overall experience with LinkedIn had been good, but that the number of connections he had gained had not necessarily correlated to meaningful actions.

Here are some thoughtful tips to establish human connections on LinkedIn (a.k.a. How to prove you are not a robot):

  • LinkedIn. Is. A. Tool (cue Buzz Lightyear soundtrack). Just like Facebook, LinkedIn is a platform where you need to genuinely engage with others – not just like or share other’s posts. How do you use Facebook? Do you friend someone you don’t know and then send them a direct message that says, “Hey, Sally Smith! Want to buy my Amway products?” No. Now Sally Smith thinks YOU are a tool.
  • Connect with people without ulterior motives. If you want to build the number of connections you have on LinkedIn, do so with people that you can help or people of interest to you. Ask yourself, “How can I be of service to them?” Then consider how they may be able to offer something of value to you in the future. Do I have connections with people that have absolutely nothing to do with my line of work? Yes. But, you never know who that person knows (a successful recruiter perhaps) and may be able to connect you with down-the-road.
  • Stop the sales pitches! If you connect with me, and then send me a sales pitch three minutes later, I will remove the connection. That’s just bad form people. I wouldn’t walk up to someone on the street and say, “Hi, I’m Rebecca. Would you hire me as your Digital Marketing Manager?”. It doesn’t work like that! I will then want to punt-kick you into the next county. Establish a connection, then a relationship. Ask how you can be of service to others.
  • You are more transparent than you know. I have watched the transparent activity of some that have connected with me or my client’s accounts that I manage. They go through all the actions to establish a pseudo-relationship, such as liking and sharing our posts, or commenting here and there. Then, after a mandatory few weeks, they will ask for the sale. Just because you wash my Aston Martin a few times doesn’t mean that I’m going to let you drive it! (No, I don’t have a Aston Martin, but the analogy seemed apropos). Dig in a bit!
  • How to dig in. To learn about a company, ask some questions, such as “Hey Joe, do you mind if I ask you about XYZ company’s target market? Are you guys nationwide, or do you tend to focus on a particular area of the country?” Maybe ask about the culture at the company, or the work environment. Leave meaningful comments, such as, “I follow Joe Schmoe’s articles and just wanted to let you guys know his last commentary on TechCrunch was spot-on!” These type of questions and comments aren’t invasive or offensive. They are exploratory and sometimes people just want to know more about a company because they want to work there, or invest in it. And most everyone appreciates compliments. After dialoguing like this for a period of time, the account owners will get to know you and be more receptive to what you have to say.
  • Be original. If you are going to reach out to connect with someone, try to be original. It’s hard today when every trick has been tried and every cute sales pitch has been pitched. But, instead of going for quantity, try to make your connection conversations worthwhile and of substance (or as I’ve just heard lately, “By the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s mighty hard”).
  • Everyone is a customer, but doesn’t like to feel like one. There is a product for everyone. But, if I receive one more sales pitch from an SEO company overseas, I’m going to stick pencils in my eyeballs. However, I guarantee you, that there is probably someone out there that runs an advertising company that could sell me through meaningful engagement and free consistent content. Larry Kim’s WordStream is one such company. They constantly publish great articles that are of help to me in my profession. Jon Loomer is another. His Facebook analysis is unlike any other. Don’t sell to me. Engage with me. Teach me. Point me to great stuff.

Whether you have 27 or 27,000 connections, it’s not the size of the audience that matters. It’s the connection that you make with each and every person that is listening. Use LinkedIn as it was intended to be used — to create a network (emphasis on “work”) of value, that needs to be nurtured to amount to anything of use.