Hitting connect or accept on LinkedIn, without a message of introduction, is like handing out or receiving a business card at a networking event without any conversation. Would you do that?
Can you think of a person that does behave that way? They are the ones trying to distribute as many business cards as possible, like dealing a deck of cards! They don’t understand that the value is in the relationship building which comes from conversations and asking questions. Being interested in other people is critical.
Dismissing the opportunity to start a relationships from the onset, could be a loss in the long-term.
Lets take a look at how we can connect with Bob, a lawyer we had a conversation with at a networking event. Each scenario shares how LinkedIn can be used. By the end of this article, you will understand why it is important to take a few moments to connect and accept connections with conversation.
Conversation, context and care can convert a connection into a client.
Let’s break down the connection process into 7 options. In this example the connection will be known as ‘Bob’.
Bob comes across my profile and sends a connection request. He makes a choice to send without a message (opening conversation). I hit accept. The end.
Result – Bob has handed me a business card without any conversation and walked away.
Bob sends a connection request with a personal message. I hit accept. The end.
Result – Bob has handed me a business card while starting a conversation with me, I have taken his business card but ignored him and walked away.
Bob sends a connection request, without a personal message. I hit accept. Then send a personal message of introduction. The end
Result – Bob has handed me a business card and walked away. Meanwhile I’m talking to him but he is no longer there.
Bob sends a connection request with a personal message, I read the message and respond, then hit accept. The end.
Result – Bob has handed me a business card while starting a conversation with me. I have taken his business card and responded, but he has walked away.
Bob sends a connection request, without a personal message. I hit accept. Then send a personal message of introduction. Bob replies. Conversation is underway.
Result – A potential relationship.
Bob sends a connection request with a personal message, I read the message and respond. Bob then replies. Conversation is underway.
Result – A relationship
Which scenario did I apply? Which would have been a better option?
Connection Best Practice
In general, I take scenario 5 or 6 with a connection request because a connection is the start not the end.
Never connect to collect or convert in the first instance. Connect to create a relationship through conversation and engagement.
Obviously, I have no control over what Bob does or says in his message, but by leading with positive action I can potentially influence Bob’s behaviour, which brings the social aspect to the social media activity. One thing not to do, is to jump into a sales message. This is the fastest way to damage a potential relationship or encourage an ‘ignore response.
Connect online as we do in person, with conversation. Be interested and add value, rather than trying to be interesting.
Now look at your LinkedIn process. Which scenarios relate to your LinkedIn process?
Do you have a connection strategy? Does it extend beyond the ‘connect’ or ‘accept’ button? Could you do better?
My upcoming book; “Get Good Or Get Off” is all about doing social media well and making strategic choices. Social media requires a certain element of being social.
What could missing the social aspect of social media, be costing you?
If you are unsure how to create your own best practice and need some technical guidance, or would like to develop your own strategy and processes, then I’m here to help. My passion is helping individuals and organisations use tools such as LinkedIn more effectively to increase brand awareness, build an engaged network, grow your authority and your business growth.