LinkedIn, Networking, social media, Uncategorized

Identify the “Link” Before You Send a LinkedIn Invite to Connect

Because I’m a digital marketing expert, and advise clients on social media strategy and/or serve as their social media voice, I felt I owed it to the many individuals who use LinkedIn — both the right way and the wrong way — to call out a major user “faux pas” and how to fix it.

Given the fact no job or business is ever 100% secure — times and interest in products and services by current customers change rapidly, management comes and goes, new technology makes certain products or services obsolete, etc. — if you are of employment age, then you should be maintaining an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn and actively using it to connect with both individuals you do know, and individuals you don’t. This will ensure you are adequately connected when you find yourself in need of identifying your next permanent or contract gig.

So, now to the “faux pas”. If you’re going to reach out to someone via LinkedIn whom you don’t know well or don’t know at all, and it’s not totally obvious why you want to connect with them (for example, they are not a close friend, or former co-worker or manager), you should never, ever send an invite to connect without 1) devising a note of some sort  that goes beyond the standard one of “I’d like to connect on LinkedIn.”; and 2) including in your note some context around why you want to connect.

LinkedInInvite

As a marketer who understands “best practices” and the proper use of various forms of social media, for some time now, I haven’t accepted requests to connect from individuals I don’t know who haven’t taken the time to explain why we should “connect.” However, I’m kind enough to reach out to these “inviters” and ask them why they want to connect before I completely write them off as a possible LinkedIn connection. I hope by doing so, I’m teaching them how to better make connections going forward, so they they and all LinkedIn users will benefit.

A good salesperson knows you have to explain the value-add associated with any product or service you sell. In the case of LinkedIn, you are selling yourself, and you need to explain to your “invitee” why and how they would benefit from connecting with you. As the inviter, you have the responsibility to identify the “link” for your “invitee”. Hey you wouldn’t invite someone to a party or event without explaining what it’s all about, right? The “link” could be having careers in the same field, volunteering at the same organization or ones with similar interests, having attended the same college or graduate school, having a lot of mutual connections, having the same passions/interests, etc. The explanation you provide with your invite doesn’t have to be long. In fact, ideally it shouldn’t be (you can and should wait until your target “invitee” accepts before providing too much detail; you can use the LinkedIn “message” function later on to provide that greater detail). Sample explanations include:

  • “I’d love to connect with you because of our similar interests in healthcare technology”
  • I’d love to connect because I see we have quite a few mutual connections from our careers in community banking”
  • “I think we’d enjoy being connected because I see we are equally passionate about digital marketing”
  • “I’d welcome connecting because I really enjoyed your article, blog post, presentation, etc. about x,y, and z, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.”

So, the next time you go to send a LinkedIn invite to connect, give some good thought as to why you want to connect with the individual in-question, and why they’d want to connect with you. If all LinkedIn users employ this protocol, we can improve on the great tool that LinkedIn already is and make it an even more effective environment for ensuring interesting conversations and beneficial connections happen between the right people.

keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, staying current

My Hands-On Refresher Course

 

 

school girl

 

(image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

One of the many benefits of starting my own business is that, while I have a couple of individuals who are assisting me with research and lead generation, I am the one developing, researching, and launching any marketing activities to create awareness of and grow my consulting business.

As you would expect, like most strong marketing professionals, I worked my way up from more junior marketing positions to more senior ones.  Despite having earned an M.B.A. — where I focused on marketing electives such as marketing research, product strategy, advertising, and marketing operations — I hadn’t studied marketing as an undergrad or worked in marketing prior to my graduation from B.U.’s  Graduate School of Management; I had to pay my dues at the ground level.  But, I welcomed it and am glad I had the experience, so I could learn all the “ins and outs” of both traditional and digital marketing and communications.

There is definitely great value in being the one who has to do the hands-on work of using a web site content management system to launch new pages, of establishing a social media profile/page in Twitter or Facebook, or of writing ad copy for Google paid search/pay-for-click advertising.  While as Digital Marketing Manager at a health plan, I was very involved in all the details of digital/online activities, served as digital champion and sought senior leader buy-in to embrace the new and growing world of social and digital media, once I was promoted to director, I found myself more removed from all the intricacies of online presence and more involved in strategy/bigger picture decisions. While as Principal of Results, I’ll always need to determine and drive my business’ strategy, I’m glad to be back in the trenches getting my hands dirty implementing marketing tactics.

Having to launch and oversee Results’ day-to-day online activities myself has been a great hands-on refresher course. Constant Contact continues to improve its offerings and tools for small businesses, and things in the world of social media and online advertising are ever-evolving, so it’s been both interesting and educational to be involved in online activities from start-to-finish.  It’s been great to have to reacquaint myself with and consider just how does a company improve its rankings among search engine results (something I thought of all the time in the aforementioned Digital Marketing Manager position)?  It had been a while since I thought about SEO (search engine optimization), but thinking about it related to my own business and well as a commercial real estate firm client has been a fabulous reminder of all the many variables, such as social media presence, links to and from your web site, and key word tagging of web pages, that impact search ranking results on Google and Bing.

In addition, investigating advertising and business development opportunities to grow my own business has reminded me of all the collateral, information, and support tool needs of a sales force and the very hard, as well as creative work required, to develop and maintain customers.  And, it has caused me to revisit more traditional advertising opportunities available to smaller businesses that I employed in the years when I oversaw marketing activities for a community bank, such as local publication and movie theater advertising.

I am really enjoying the journey of both  learning what’s new and familiarizing myself with old tactics and tools, and I believe it will only enhance what I can bring to small business clients, and start-ups, in particular.  I’ll be up-to-speed on what it takes to launch a business, create awareness, generate sales, and eventually grow revenues because I’ll have built a house, renovated it along the way, and hopefully, if I’m successful, will be able to put on some additions. I look forward to helping small business owners see their dream home come to life!