I came home recently to discover my husband Steve glued to his smart phone, cheeks flushed with excitement.
“Whatcha doin?” I asked.
“LinkedIn is starting to make sense! It recommended these People You May Know so I started clicking the little blue guys next to people’s names. I clicked over 50 names, and my phone is blowing up now with people accepting my request!”
He peered up at me over his readers. “What? You look sick all of a sudden. I’m confused. Don’t you always say I should grow my network?”
“Yes! I didn’t realize how easy this is,” he said.
“Can I share a quickie LinkedIn lesson that’s easy to forget?”
“LinkedIn makes connecting easy, for sure. People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust, and LinkedIn is a perfect ecosystem for establishing your credibility. Here’s the thing: Clicking the little blue guy can mess with the “know, like, trust” factor.”
“Because when you click that blue guy, it sends a default message to the recipient which is, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. That’s it. It’s blah and impersonal. Think of it this way: If someone walked up to you at a networking event, handed you his business card without saying a word and then walked away, what would you do?”
“I’d probably put it in my pocket and forget about it,” he said.
“Exactly. His awkward networking move is the equivalent of clicking the little blue guy in the People You May Know area. You’ve “collected” a name in your network with someone you don’t know; the trail between you is cold.”
Steve says, “So it’s like having a can in your pantry with no label. The one that sits there unused for years, taking up space.”
“Bingo,” I said. “Here’s another risk: Let’s say now you’re connected to Jerry Smith through the little blue guy. In a couple weeks your friend Rick calls you and says, “Hey Steve—I see you’re connected to Jerry Smith on LinkedIn. I’d love it if you’d introduce us.” You have to tell Rick “Crap! I don’t really know Jerry. Sorry buddy.”
“Now your “know, like, trust factor” has diminished in Rick’s eyes. He can’t rely on you to provide referrals, like you can rely on him. See, Rick knows not to click the little blue guy. He personalizes each connection request, starting the relationship on warm, solid footing. In addition, he stays in touch with his network, providing value in all the ways he can through LinkedIn. As a result, Rick’s “know, like, trust” vibe is through the roof.”
I also tell Steve about the other down side to clicking the blue guy: If 5 people you invite that way respond with “I don’t know Steve,” your account will be restricted. You can get it unrestricted, but I suggest avoiding the hassle in the first place.
The good news is, this whole conversation gave me the chance to reveal how forgiving an ecosystem LinkedIn is. Steve can work on growing his relationships with these new “cold” connections in spite of a rocky start. He can:
- Message them privately, reviewing their profiles, finding like-mindedness and commonalities, laying the groundwork for information sharing
- He can provide status updates that his connections value
- He can write blogs that offer insights and information that benefit his network, boosting his “know, like, trust” factor
That said, it’s harder to turn a cold relationship warm than a warm relationship warmer.
Steve’s initial hunch was right: LinkedIn does make so much sense. It’s a rich online environment for finding prospects, earning their trust, and creating mutually beneficial professional relationships. But in relationship building there are no shortcuts, which is why we need to avoid being seduced by the little blue guy, who makes us think a real relationship is just a click away.
Are you wondering now how you turn a cold connection request you receive into a warm relationship? I have a way, and will write about that in my next blog!
Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, career coach, and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.
If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!