Haters gonna hate
When it comes to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook - in fact, every social media platform - it’s all too easy to be cynical.
Acquire more connections, collect more likes and attract more followers and you’re on a surefire path to successfully showcasing the power of your company and personal brand.
New to social media, my father recently asked me what LinkedIn was all about. I was tempted to give him the knee-jerk response of: “Well… it’s basically a way for recruiters to bombard you with job opportunities, Dad. And while I’m at it, Twitter is a corporate loudspeaker and Facebook is a place where people hope no-one will find their embarrassing photos!”
While there is some truth in this cheap shot, casting cynicism aside, I said he should actually think of LinkedIn as the world’s biggest conference room jammed to the rafters with over 360 million business people. Some are sitting in the corners feeling like they should be there, but not really doing anything, some are standing on soapboxes shouting out their corporate message, and most are just walking around staring at other people's name badges.
And herein lies the fundamental truth. The essence of LinkedIn, to connect the world's professionals and to make them more productive and successful, is pure and good. It is us who ruin it!
Every single one of us is trying to make our mark and carve out our own path in an increasingly competitive, ever-changing and “always on” world. This makes acquiring new business connections, winning new customers and finding top talent more important than it has ever been. This is inescapable and happening all around you ALL of the time … so don’t fight it and stop hating… if you can?
Look at the numbers
Firstly, before you write off LinkedIn altogether, take a look at the numbers. When I looked at the 67 sales enquiries I received last month (yes, I counted!) only four were through LinkedIn. All of the rest came through emails and cold calls. As we generally don’t directly communicate one-to-one through LinkedIn, I think we can find ourselves getting disproportionately annoyed when we get a recruitment or sales email of some sort. The solution is to take a deep breath and just remember you waste a lot more time sifting through your daily emails.
Learn how to use LinkedIn
The onus is really on us as users to understand that if we want the upsides of building a genuine and useful network of business contacts through LinkedIn, we have to take some time out to learn how to best use the platform. For example, if you go into the settings of your account, you can control everything about what people see, who can contact you and how.
Also, as a lot of LinkedIn activity is spent searching for people in certain roles and industries with particular interests, keep your profile up-to-date so that you are giving people the best chance of being relevant to you.
It’s a long game… give to get
Ultimately, you need to be giving good advice and insights, and generally helping your connections over a significant period of time to build trust and credibility with them.
Just like you wouldn’t dream of asking a stranger to buy you dinner the first time you met them, don’t expect people to give you anything if you haven't earned it. The same applies in leadership; you can’t ask for trust or for people to follow you; these need to be earned over time. As they say, you only get one chance for a first impression and you should make it a good one before flying in asking for the keys to the kingdom.
Depletion of social currency
Yes, the demands are on all of us to hit our marketing KPIs, sales targets and company goals, but let’s not forget that all businesses, like all relationships, are built on trust. So we all have a responsibility to give insight, answer the questions people have and ultimately demonstrate that through what you share and the content you produce.
Do this and the connections, top hires and new business acquisitions will take care of themselves!