In recent years, I have gained more of an appreciation for LinkedIn than I have before, and I’ve been there 10+ years. Part of the reason has to do with the value of connections. That pandemic taught us that we need to maintain connections any way we can and that, though it may have been necessary for short times, we are social creatures and aren’t meant to be apart from others or isolated for long periods. LinkedIn embodies this so much that its even written into their “10 Core Values” which you should still be able to find on the site. That said, I have noticed several connections lately who you can almost see coming with sales pitch in hand. Please stop with that tactic, you are scaring the children!
Now, I understand that the very nature of LinkedIn is as a business-to-business, or business-to-education, etc., platform is to make connections with people. And if you have something to sell or a service to provide then this too can be a great opportunity to prospect using tools such as “Sales Navigator”. LinkedIn provides opportunities to reach people, and yes to pitch them, in ways that traditional methods and other social media platforms just can’t. These connect and pitch methods must work because they are preached by more than a few and practiced by far too many. Yet in real life, do you now, or did you then, walk up to a random person in business attire on a downtown street and start selling them on what you have? Street Preachers do and what’s your reaction to them?
LinkedIn values the connection above all things, and so should we. One of the habits of the late Stephen Covey was to “First seek to understand, then to be understood”. I have connections I have made on LinkedIn which I haven’t pitched yet but probably should. There is a right time and place to pitch someone in conversations online as well as offline but you should get to know them a little first. I am updating my strategy for connecting on LinkedIn and it will become a part of my prospecting very soon, but it’s the long game for sure. You should take a look at your LinkedIn connections, especially the 1st and 2nd level ones, and start conversations not to sell but to understand. You should also update your profile to reflect, among other things, what you are working on now and what is important to you and those conversations will flow.
I do check people’s profiles when they ask to connect and though I rarely turn anyone away I do get a little short when the pitch comes out in the first conversation. Not everyone is doing this wrong. In fact, there are connections I have which I try to learn from their tactics and will likely call on them when I need what they offer. There are connections I have made who turned the tables a little on me and stay in touch with me though we haven’t done business yet. I am reminded again and again at times of job change how poor my network of connections is so I am relying on LinkedIn to help me out of that pattern Hopefully it will do the same for you if you are willing to wait it out and reap the rewards of good long-term connections.