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By Denise M. Michaels
Ever since I took the time to actually learn how to use LinkedIn two years ago, I’ve been on an almost daily mission to build connections and relationships that matter and actually lead to business. It’s worked. Last year fully 70 to 80 percent of my business income came from LinkedIn leads and contacts.
Those results have been noticed in the business community here in Las Vegas where I live. Although I don’t consider it my expertise, I’ve been asked to speak at several groups and workshops. No, I’m not changing my business focus away from books to become “The LinkedIn Queen.” But I like to share what’s working for me if it helps other entrepreneurs who want to listen.
A surprise I’ve discovered both in groups and when sharing what I know with individuals is how little people seem to want to truly connect with others. Real networking and relationships have been replaced with a single click. Hey, why actually welcome people when you can just click “like?” Why reach out a hand in friendship and collaboration when you can just click the “connect” button?
Last month I was the speaker at a weekly breakfast networking group I attend almost every Wednesday. I was asked to talk about my LinkedIn strategies. One item I shared is when looking at people who view your profile, a potentially good source of leads, don’t click the “Connect” button beneath their picture and name. That’s impersonal and cold. Instead go to their profile page, look it over and send a personal invitation to connect.
A woman in the group turned up her nose at the suggestion and grumbled unhappily as if it took far too much time and energy. I know her as a woman with a great deal of heart and a lot of compassion, so I was surprised by her reaction. I shot back, “Hey Debbie – it’s social media not clicking media. We’re supposed to be social!”
This time I got an eye roll in response as if that notion was distasteful. Everyone else at the long table chuckled as they finished their breakfast.
Earlier this week I received a message from a LinkedIn connection I didn’t recognize. He was inviting me to what sounded like a very chi-chi, high-falutin’ business networking event. He described several of the outstanding business owners and leaders who’ll be in attendance. I was tempted.
Then I read over his message again. It said something like he was impressed with my great accomplishments and credentials on my LinkedIn profile. Nice ego stroke, I suppose. However there was nothing personal in it. Nothing to give me even an inkling he actually looked at my profile.
So I asked him, “What exactly were you impressed by?”
Many people would think it takes galloping chutzpah to ask that question. Well, I guess that’s just how I roll. I wanted to know:
- Was he authentically interested in building a professional relationship based on two people getting to know each other?
- Would I fit in at this event?
- Or was I part of a mass mailer and if I show up it’ll turn out to be a “business opportunity” meeting for the latest network marketing program?
Later that day I got a reply from him. It said something like he was impressed by the fact that I’m dynamic and want to make a difference.
Still absolutely nothing personal. Even when I called him out he skipped the opportunity look over my profile or my website. Apparently there’s no interest on his part. After the great recession with Wall Street tycoons who snookered us and all the lying, cheating politicians out there, trust has become huge on most people’s radar. Despite the kind invitation he did nothing to build trust and make me feel more comfortable. I’ve decided to skip this one.
No, I don’t pour my heart out to people I don’t know. That would be creepy. But when I acknowledge my contacts for taking a moment to view my profile I look at theirs and find something that resonates with me. I mention it in a thank you message to them. Then, I invite them to ask questions if they have an interest in what I do and how it might help them. According to Dr. Robert Chialdini author of “Influence,” that’s reciprocity in action, one of the strongest ways to create influence and stand out from the pack.
There are probably hundreds of ways we can acknowledge others and their individual humanity. Dale Carnegie said it almost a century ago. A sincere compliment is one of the best ways to start a business connection. When it’s smarmy and generic it comes off as phony. When it’s personal and genuine it makes the other person’s day. They can’t stop thinking about the compliment and who took the time to say it.
I see articles on LinkedIn and elsewhere about clever ways to differentiate yourself and your business from the pack. People spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to figure out how to make a difference and create the wow factor. It takes more than just an artistic logo and a clever tagline. How about starting by treating people like human beings all appreciative of true personal connection?
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, therapists, speakers and aspiring authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides – you can become the go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise about your book or book idea click here now.