I participate in a lot of LinkedIn groups and moderate industry groups. But there is one word missing from some of these groups lately: "help." I'm leaving LinkedIn groups because of how many annoying sales pitches that flood the discussion groups. Believe me, I understand how competitive it is right now. But people are going about 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 do it to a complete stranger, so why are LinkedIn professionals using 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 - the big suits who write the checks would have been laughed me out of the room. These companies didn't know me nor did they know anything about my cause/non-profit. Why should they invest in my cause? Why should they hand over their corporate dollars to ME and my organization? They shouldn't.
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 get 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. When was the last time you actually asked your LinkedIn connections how you could HELP them?
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, advice and if you link to content, link back to your blog and not your website. People don't want to read another sales pitch on your website, but they do want to read information, 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 site or blog, they won't opt-in 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/services. Give them value and they will come back for more (and you will probably make that big 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 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.
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.