Some of the clients I coach don’t like to connect within their own industry sphere – and that’s fine. Although I always point out that if it’s a reluctance to connect for fear of the competition poaching their clients, it might be worth reassessing their current client relationship strategy. Within most industries there’s enough work to go around, and a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.
So I accepted the LinkedIn invitation and started a discussion. This person specialises in handling the social media for clients in only one industry sector – we’ll pretend it’s liquorice manufacturers. (It’s not really, but I don’t like liquorice.)
Only, later that day, a problem sprang up. I received an email via LinkedIn from this person – trying to sell me social media services! And not only that – it rambled on and on about liquorice. My new LinkedIn connection started spamming me within 12 hours of discussing the beneficial crossovers and differences of our respective businesses!
The following day… guess what?! Another communication – this time a group message. When I received the third message in two days I emailed to remind him that I am not his target client and asked that he please stop emailing me. No reply.
On receiving the fourth email, I – very nicely – asked if his strategy when working with clients was to bombard their contacts in the hope that they may turn into future customers… Again, no reply. For the first time ever, I disconnected from someone on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a highly professional social network and, aside from its incredible power in the business world, there is an etiquette attached. So here are a few tips to keep out of people’s annoyance zone:
- Personalise your connection requests: Remind people how they know you or explain why you’d like to connect if you’ve never actually met.
- Respond promptly: If you receive a message, reply quickly. Set your notifications so that messages filter through to your email box; that way you won’t miss anything important.
- Send a welcome message: If someone adds you (and you accept them), drop them a note to thank them for connecting. It’s also a good opportunity to find out why they connected and what you may be able to do to help each other.
- Don’t send spam or irrelevant messages: Be mindful that not all your connections are potential clients – your target group probably accounts for only a small percentage of people. Just like networking off-line, the people you know on LinkedIn will be a complete mix – and not all need your services or products.
- Don’t add LinkedIn connections to your email list: With GDPR approaching, that’s not an acceptable way to build an email list – it was never ethical and, from May, it will be illegal.
- Never ask people to recommend or endorse you if they haven’t experienced your work. And even if they have, only ask for a recommendation if you know they were happy with you. Ideally, do this at the time of the job so it’s fresh in their minds.
Happy LinkedIn networking!