November 7, 2011
As a social media marketing professional, I’m an avid participant in LinkedIn groups and moderate copywriting and social media marketing groups. But there is one word missing from these groups lately: “help.”
I left LinkedIn groups because of the annoying sales pitches that flooded the discussion groups. I understand how competitive it is right now. However, business professionals are tackling LinkedIn the wrong way.
Would you go up to Mr. Joe Smith on the street and say, “Hi, Mr. Smith, you don’t know me or know anything about my company, but would you like to buy my latest and greatest product?”
You wouldn’t make that pitch to a complete stranger, so why do LinkedIn professionals use this SAME tactic?
The fastest way to lose your LinkedIn connections is to directly sell to them without FIRST knowing them and building trust. Back in my fundraising days, I couldn’t walk into a company and just ask them for a $10,000 sponsorship – not to mention, the big suits who wrote the checks would have been laughed me out of the room. These companies didn’t know me nor did they know anything about the cause I represented. Why should they invest in my organization? Why should they hand over their corporate dollars to ME and my organization? They shouldn’t. I had to build their trust and confidence first.
LinkedIn is about building solid, genuine relationships. It’s NOT about blatantly selling/advertising your products and services.
Yes, you can massage the “soft sell” pitch later AFTER you get to know your LinkedIn connections. But if you blast your groups with sales pitches 24/7 and don’t actively participate in groups and engage in conversation, I guarantee that people will become turned off and you might even be kicked out of groups. Who wants to be seen as “that spammy salesperson” on LinkedIn?
Do not treat LinkedIn as your personal virtual ad billboard. Think about sales basics; it always comes down to putting customers first. Why have LinkedIn users forgotten this simple fact? How can you sell to someone you don’t really know?
Research their profile and get to know more about them – ask questions, find common interests, etc.
What are the 3 easiest ways to HELP people on LinkedIn?
1. Answer questions. Offer your help and expertise to other LinkedIn members. Search for topics that are related to your area of expertise/professional industry. Don’t come across as egotistical or holier-than-thou. Be REAL and honest when answering questions – people can spot a fake a mile away.
2. Participate in groups and offer feedback and advice. If you link to content, link back to informative content on your blog (or other industry blogs, articles, etc.). People don’t want to read another sales pitch on your website, but they do want to read helpful articles, watch videos, etc. that will make their life easier and solve their problems. Always remember to be professional and courteous. Even if you disagree with another person’s opinion, put your best “face” forward.
3. Get to know people FIRST. After you build rapport and trust, offer them value first. Offer them a free download, report, etc. Think about the sales funnel. Even if people visit your blog, they won’t opt-in to your list unless you offer them valuable content FIRST. Don’t expect your LinkedIn connections to buy your product or service right off the bat. A valuable freebie allows them to learn more about your products and services. Give them value and they will come back for more (and you will probably make the sale the next time around).
If you use LinkedIn because you think it’s an easy way to sell your products and services to customers, then you have completely missed the point behind LinkedIn. You will also quickly lose out on building real, genuine relationships with potential prospects. You put your company brand in jeopardy by coming across as an in-your-face salesperson, and word spreads quickly on LinkedIn networks and groups.
Your first step to LinkedIn success? Change your sales philosophy. Replace the word “sales” with “help.” Offer your help first, and develop trustworthy, solid relationships with your LinkedIn connections.
Remember, LinkedIn is a B2B (business-to-business) social networking platform. Not all companies are a good match for LinkedIn. If you sell directly to the consumer, look for more suitable platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (and other niche-specific social media platforms).
Therese Pope is the owner of Zenful Communications, a boutique digital marketing communications company based in northern California. She helps small businesses and authors/writers create positive online buzz around their brand. Her areas of specialty include: copywriting, online reputation management, and internet and social media marketing campaign development. Ms. Pope has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism/public relations from California State University, Chico.