A fascinating debate recently took place on the pages of Anthill, the summary of which can be described as follows:
- Should you aim to get as many connections as possible?
- Is Linked In suitable for B2C Marketing or only B2B?
You can find the article and readers responses here:
Doesn’t the question of how you should connect and with whom all depend on your product or service offering?
Although I see merit in both arguments, I am partial to side with Jen Bishop. Obviously by definition, Linked In is more suitable to B2B, however “all of us” are consumers and now there are 80+ million on there who are a marketer’s dream demographic! Which raises the question of reward v effort and ROI of targeted ads in this medium versus building your personal network…but that’s a whole other debate.
To support Tom’s point, I know of a Marketing Consultant (Self Proclaimed Linked In Guru) who has 17,000+ connections. Although he is undoubtedly a very smart guy who seems to be very successful and have his heart in the right place providing a lot of free education, I do not agree with some of his tactics and “teachings”, in fact I have reported one of his tactics to Linked In as I see them akin to “black hat SEO” …
I digress…the point being he is selling “educational product”, CD’s, Pod/Video Casts, PDF’s etc…The more connections he has the better for his business! In that respect he is doing a great job – satisfying customer demand and making a profit without doing anything wrong!
SO LET”S ALL BE CLEAR ABOUT OBJECTIVES – HORSES FOR COURSES! We should not make sweeping statements but instead spend a little time working on our strategy, value proposition and then worry about evaluating the media channel, it’s advantages and limitations and the process with which you will maintain DIALOGUE in your chosen channel.
Success on Linked In and in fact in all Social Media channels, to be specific VIA NETWORKING & WORD OF MOUTH, NOT ADVERTISING, relies on the principle of leveraging and building your reputation with your existing professional (and personal) connections as well as building new connections that will also hold you in high regard. Now how you will do that is the big challenge and not one of technology but strategy! What will you offer them to make their lives/jobs easy and what do you need to do to attract people to your profile in the first pace?
Many Linked In users damage their reputations because they forget the simple rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with their existing and prospective audience online.
I received two Linked In invitations in as many weeks, from individuals that indicated they were friends and gave no specific reason as to why they wanted to connect with me and used standard “templated” invites. In fact, having searched my electronic databases as well as my “super computer” called the human brain; I could not remember how or where I MAY have met these two people. These two invites were great examples of what not to do on Linked In. This doesn’t mean that these individuals can’t add value to my network or I to theirs. It does mean that I will wait to accept their invitation until such time that they can illustrate the value in connecting with them, and either choose to be more honest or learn how to better use the technology!
My Linked In connection policy is based around either one or both parties being able to POTENTIALLY add value to another. It’s a decision process that most PROFESSIONAL Linked In members should be able to answer in a matter of 30 seconds (in this case deciding whether to connect or not):
- Has the person inviting me illustrated a clear reason for doing so?
- Is this reason of value to me?
- If there was no clear reason stated, they have one last chance. I look at their profile for 20 seconds and decide for myself, read between the lines how connecting with them may benefit either me or them:
– Are they a potential prospect or referrer for my business?
– Am I a potential prospect for theirs? Is what they sell so unique (are they a real expert in their field) so as to interest me, even though they may not have given me an initially strong reason to connect.
– Am I a potential referrer for their business?
- Finally, if the answers to most of those are negative, I will not connect with them, as they are likely to fill my inbox and those of my network with useless junk and be a time sucking vampire!
Your CONNECTION policy maybe vastly different, BASED ON YOUR SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES, but the bottom line is you NEED to have one, and the only way to do so is to have a well thought through strategy.