This a guest article from our TCMA Keynote Speaker Richard Tubb
Written by Richard Tubb
Picture the scenario. You’re at a business networking event in a bustling room full of people. There is the hum of enthusiastic conversations going on all around you. You’re excited by the possibilities of who you are going to meet! Then, without warning, a businessman walks up to you. Without saying a word he slips his business card into your top pocket and then turns and walks away.
How would you react? At best you might describe this as odd behaviour, at worst, creepy!
You wouldn’t dream of randomly giving out business cards to people you have never met before at in-person business events, yet bizarrely this exact same scenario is playing out every single day on-line in the world of LinkedIn.
Everyone who is in business is now on LinkedIn. If you’re not, why not? Why would you not be? LinkedIn is a great way to connect with business contacts, to stay up to date on what those contacts are up to and to provide opportunities to extend your network.
I get why people use LinkedIn. What I don’t get is why the vast majority of business people believe that the old rules of business etiquette don’t apply online.
I’d like to add you to my Professional Network on LinkedIn
Every week, I take a look at my LinkedIn inbox and without fail I receive not one, but dozens of invitations to connect from people who I’ve never met before, or who I might only vaguely know, all of whom are using the boilerplate “I’d like to add you to my Professional Network on LinkedIn”.
My response? Delete. Ignore. Don’t connect.
Why? In my mind, if that person can’t be bothered to take 30 seconds to write a proper introduction, reminding me who they are and giving me a good reason why we should connect, then I don’t believe that person will be committed to the sort of business relationship I want to build.
I get 25 or more of these type of connections every month. I used to respond to people to ask where we knew one another from. They never responded.
You might think ignoring these connection requests is short sighted. You might believe that a breadth of loose connections to people you don’t know is somehow valuable. I don’t — [Tweetable] we’ve had breadth of useless connections since I was a child and it was called the telephone directory. You’ll get as much value from cold calling somebody as you will from reaching out to a LinkedIn connection who can’t remember who you are or why you ever connected.
I’m not looking to build an empire of connections, I’m looking to build good quality connections.
How to connect on LinkedIn
So how might you request a connection on LinkedIn? Simple — the way you would do if you were following up with anybody after a in-person networking event.
Remind the person of where you met. “Hi Chris, it was lovely to meet you at the Content Marketing Academy event in Edinburgh last week.”. While you may believe you’re memorable, that person may not remember who you are amongst the throng of individuals they met.
Give that person a further memory hook to help recall you. Something memorable you discussed. “I enjoyed our conversation about beard styling. You’ve inspired me to seek out a local beard stylist myself!”.
By now the person may recall you, but even so, why should they connect with you? Give them a reason. “I would love to stay in touch so I can introduce you some of my clients.”.
So you’ve reminded the person of who you are, where you met, what you talked about and why you want to connect.
Simple. So simple that 99% of people don’t do this and instead send the bland, boring “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”.
Don’t be that person. Be in the 1%. Be remarkable. Be memorable. Demonstrate your value immediately.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can enhance your ability to build a network of valuable, relevant business contacts.
LinkedIn is not a tool to encourage people you don’t know to connect with you for reasons they don’t understand.
Stand out from the crowd by utilising some of the old fashioned methods of connecting — remind people of where you met, what you talked about and importantly, why they should connect.
Don’t be the person who uses the boilerplate LinkedIn connection request. I for one won’t be accepting your invite.
Introducing Richard Tubb
Richard Tubb is probably the most well-known face within the British Small Business IT community. His track record speaks for itself, as he launched and sold his own IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) business before creating a leading IT blog and consultancy practice.
The author of the book “The IT Business Owner’s Survival Guide” and writer of the award winning blog www.tubblog.co.uk aimed at putting IT Consultants back in control, you can find Richard on Twitter @tubblog.