If you had a dollar for every mistake that someone made using social media, you’d be a very wealthy person! In the meantime, the catalyst for this post was an email that I received from someone I am not well acquainted with, but who asked to connect with me on Linkedin.
The letter began with, “Im sorry to bother you but…”
For the record, I really like LinkedIn. It’s a resume online and also a living Rolodex (yes, I am dating myself), but the cool thing is that it enables me to keep up with my professional network despite years and distance and career hops and leaps and changes. I love the fact that each person updates their contact information so I can congratulate them on the promotions, or encourage them through the changes. It’s remarkable because it’s a tool for business relationships, unlike Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Instagram. In this respect, Linkedin is unique and I love that about this interface.
Common Linkedin Mistakes:
1. LinkedIn is a BUSINESS Social network platform
So, my first gripe with new users is a big mistake of not understanding the nature of Linked-in as a business platform. It’s fine to connect with friends and expand your relationship to include business. What is not fine is to undermine your professional account with a casual, non-business profile photo. That means the picture of your beautiful dog or amazing cat will not do – unless you want to give the impression of being less than credible. Also, the photo of you swinging a bat at the company softball game, not a good choice. You should pic a photo of you playing baseball if you are a pro baseball player, otherwise, it’s not the right image to project. Leave the sweatshirts, tank tops, cocktail hour, family vacation shots on Facebook – this is not the place for them.
2. Don’t spam the Linked in Connections
My second gripe – ok, so we are connected. Now is your chance! Develop a social media relationship, right? Send an email, get to know each other… or wait, try to sell me something? What? I don’t really know you, I connected because perhaps we met at an event and had a nice conversation… the reality is that you don’t know me, don’t know my company and you are sending me the same template email you sent to everyone else. Do you really think I am going to jump out of my seat now that I got your email and pick up the phone to buy what you are selling? I don’t think so. In fact, most sales take place after you have developed a relationship. Social media is “social” for a reason – to use it as a device to create more emails to send out letter to is a disservice to you, your organization and it’s disrespectful of the connection. If you use Linked in to attempt to sell to me, you risk being disconnected. If I like you, I may reach out to you first, to try to explain why what you did was a bad idea… if that doesn’t work, will disconnect. Part of the power of linkedin is the ability to potentially connect with the connections of the person you are connected to. Yes, that sounds complicated, but what it means is that my network is now open for you to peruse. Why would I open my network to someone who seems to be ignorant of the protocols? I don’t want to be associated with that behavior, nor would I do business with someone who utilizes a network that way, so it’s not a loss to disconnect.
3 Linkedin is about QUALITY not QUANTITY
My third gripe and a very common mistake, is the false belief that someone who has a lot of connections must be very important. There are some people on Linkedin who will connect with anyone and everyone – this is called an “Open Networker” To say that someone has the “most” connections on Linked in does not say the same thing as having the most relationships. There is greater power in having relationships where you can ask or share or tell and it has some influence. The relative amount of influence if directly correlated to the depth of the relationship and the mutual respect. If I met you once at a networking event, and you immediately stared spamming my inbox, there is no mutual respect, no relationship, and no reason to continue to stay ‘connected’.
Bottom line: I suppose if you start an email with “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” you already know it’s not a good idea to send the email, right?