Should I send a personal note to new LinkedIn connections? And some…

Social Leadership

Can we please have an honest conversation about the advice coming our way around LinkedIn, and more broadly, social media? Yes, even if it’s advice from the platforms themselves.

To set the context. No matter what I do, whether on social media or not, I am always thinking from the perspective of the audience – the person receiving what I’m sharing. I think about the impact it has on them and how it is going to enhance their life.

It is never about me. It is always about them and hopefully, I am consistently delivering value to my audience every time I show up. That’s my goal.

However, when it comes to much of what I’m seeing on social media, I have to say, most of the advice we are all happily following is having a negative impact. It’s about us, not them.

Look, I don’t follow rules. Never have, never will, unless they make absolute sense – as in, the rules are unequivocal! Most social media rules are not unequivocal.

Someone came up with them, for some reason, and the impact on audience was never factored into that discussion. It often feels the rule creators were thinking of technology possibilities versus the human experience…

Should I send a personal note to new LinkedIn connections?

Let’s start with the recommendation to send a personal note when you connect with people on LinkedIn. The result looks like this…

“Hi Andrea, how are you today?”

“Thanks for connecting. How’s your week going, Andrea?”

“A pleasure to be connected, how can I help you be more successful?”

And on it goes, for me, for you, for everyone. Filling up our inboxes and for what? Not only does it fill up our inboxes, it’s not genuine.

Do you know what senior executives say to me about this? It turns them off using LinkedIn full-stop. They tell me that if this is what social media is all about, they want nothing to do with it.

And I don’t blame them. I ain’t got time to tell you – someone I’ve just started a “relationship” with – how I’m doing, because I don’t even know you yet, and the reality is, you’re not interested anyway. You’re asking me to open a door to something deeper, but don’t you think I’ve got other priorities, usually involving people that I actually do know?

Every time it happens, I wonder: does it ever build into something meaningful for anyone? I’d love to know that! I have found very few eloquent in this approach to even remotely attract my interest. Very very few.

Besides, I think I share enough information, often enough, to provide some insight into those questions you’ve asked – if you bother to actually take the time and invest in what I’m putting out there – which is the whole purpose of my participation. Otherwise, it’s just more noise!

How you actually achieve this goal

If you want to get the hang of building relationships digitally, can I make a different recommendation?

Speak to them “out there” – on their feeds. Comment on their posts. Comment on their articles and videos. Show them you’re someone worth paying attention to.

I used to be proud of my ability to manage my communication channels. In the early days, it was one or two email addresses. Today, I have about 12 “inboxes” and guess what, I am inundated everywhere! I know I’m not alone.

One of the most powerful parts of social leadership is the digital relationships you can develop. BUT those relationships never start in your inbox. They start with intelligent engagements and conversations on the actual feed.

I am virtual friends with many people who have offered compelling views and we’ve started great discussions on the content we all share. Over time, we continue these conversations and sometimes we even have a chance to take it offline, but it starts “out there.” Give it a go. It works wonders.

Connect and pitch

Another pain is the connect and pitch approach. I’ve been talking about this for years, and I know writing about it today isn’t going to change anything.

But for the love of all you hold glorious, COLD CALLING on social media is not how it’s done, especially as most of the pitches are not even targeted. They’re not relevant.

It is lazy, ineffective, it makes you look bad, AND when you don’t even check out the profile of the person you’re pitching, well guess what? You are NOT going to succeed. So how about you try another path to success? See my comments above for some strategies that DO work!

Anyone who speaks to me on social media over a period of time, gets my attention when they’re finally ready to pitch me. Even if I’m not interested, I am always happy to help or pass it onto someone who can.

But if you do want to pitch me? Get to know me. Everything I do and say is out there, online. My blogs, my interests, my personality, etc… No excuse for pitching me blindly. You go straight into the trash if you do.

Why should I give you my time when you haven’t taken the time to know me?

This dirge must stop. It takes away the credibility of the awesome potential of social media and our amazing ability to do good in the world and for each other.

Automation and pitching

I recently got an inbox message offering to help me with my LinkedIn profile. I responded, “have you actually looked at my LinkedIn profile?”

Hey, I’m not arrogant, I can always learn new things, but surely I’m doing alright on that front???

The conversation went back and forth for a bit, then a human decided to respond, admitting they used a bot, and it was obviously a mismatch.

How does this help anyone grow their business? A random email, from someone I don’t know, that is completely misdirected… are people actually succeeding this way? If they are, WOW!!

Please know, you will never receive a message from me from a bot. I’d rather win less business than win this way. I don’t like it at all. For me, social leadership is personal, it’s not automated.

And the plague of tagging

I posted this on LinkedIn recently and want to elaborate, as well as include it in this blog…

Social media etiquette is an unspoken agreement between us, and obviously, it’s a little too subtle for some, but let’s discuss the art of “tagging” people on social media.

Tagging is when you use the @ sign, find a contact, click on their name and they’re tagged. This person gets a notification you’ve published, and the onus is on the ‘tagee’ to interact with the post.

For most people, there is a strong sense of obligation to respond. We’re human, that’s a lovely trait of humanity. BUT it can go too far.

Look, I don’t mind being tagged in posts sometimes. I ask the professionals who attend my social leadership courses to tag me when they blog – especially the first time. I don’t appreciate being tagged all the time, but for these professional connections and my broader friends/peer community, it gives me a chance to support them and the work they are doing.

BUT there is also a lot of nonsense going on. The first is the one-way-ness of it! People tagging you in everything they post, but worse than that, they NEVER once interact with what you’re sharing!!

If you want to draw people to you, you must also be drawn to others. That’s the social bit of social media. Interaction. Being social is about the collective versus the self.

So, if you insist on tagging people in your posts, do them the courtesy of interacting with their posts too – whether they tag you or not. I rarely tag anyone. It must be spot on when I do. I would hate to annoy my community with excessive tagging, because it IS annoying.

If it’s a commercial deal you’re promoting – i.e. running an event, selling something, etc… – why not drop your contacts a personal note and ask if they’d be willing to support you? That is always more appreciated.

And then the tagging of famous (or infamous) people – people like Bill Gates, who gets tagged all the time!! I’ve seen at least 10 people in my LinkedIn network do it in the last week. THINK!!

Think what it must be like for him? Think about this man and his day! Do you REALLY think he will see what you are sharing? I mean, have you watched his documentary? He’s trying to solve some of the biggest challenges the world faces. Is your post worthy of his attention?

All I am sure of is he must have a very busy assistant going through his accounts so he can respond to the ones that matter! As if he is going to be able to see and respond to everyone tagging him? I mean put yourself in his shoes!

And it’s not just famous people, this is a nightmare for executives too – both in being tagged and the mindless messages filling their inboxes!!! They are overwhelmed completely, and it means they are switching off from the platforms you’re trying to attract them on!

If you don’t have a VERY good reason to tag someone of this stature, please don’t do it. It makes you look silly.

Do less, be awesome

In my training, my message today has evolved and I suggest: do less but always be awesome when you show up.

Why? Because the feeds across social media have gotten frenetic. It’s relentless. There’s too bloody much!

When I watch my social media feeds, all I can say is there are so many people doing social media because they have to, but they have no real intention behind it. Intention is everything.

Intention = what change do you want to create?

Set your intention of what you want to create (or drive) with the audience you want to reach and put everything you have into creating a powerful message to share. This is a beautiful opportunity we all have and the gift of the digital age. We have an opportunity to make other’s lives better, richer, fuller. That’s the essence of it.

Most are missing this bit.

They think: I want to talk about ……

With intention it’s: This is why …… is going to change all of our lives and what you need to do right now to understand this opportunity for yourself/business

One is me, the other is us.

Most people are shouting into the storm of social media, but it is the gentle voices, full of deep insight, targeted to a very specific audience, where the real power lies. Yes, I know it doesn’t always appear that way, and that it can be hard to break through the dirge of noise if you are one of those gentle voices, but this is what matters ultimately.

People who participate in this way deserve millions of followers, but they rarely get them, because that’s not who they are. They’re not looking for stardom or big numbers, and they’re not going to work out the shortcuts to achieve that either.

Because what they’re focused on and committed to is delivering value to their audience every time they show up. And their audience loves them for it.

They might have a smaller digital footprint, but boy, it’s a meaningful one. Look for them. Support them. Help them succeed. Help them get a bigger stage. Because it is they who deserve it. People making a contribution to humanity.

It’s a fine distinction, but putting yourself in the shoes of your audience, and shaping what you share in a way that clearly helps a targeted audience, well that’s the magic. Simple and true. Ignore the nonsense. It’s not going to go away unfortunately. We just need to outshine it.

Social leadership success is long term. It requires commitment. It needs deep reflection. And then it requires mind, heart and soul combined. That’s when the power of being a social leader is truly felt. Take the opportunity seriously. Put the work in. It’s worth it.

Do you agree? What does your nut in?

Cheers

Andrea

Are you a Social CEO?

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I believe it’s time for all of us to embrace our voice and embrace the future. We do this by working and living ‘out loud’ with meaning, intention, integrity and by being true to ourselves. If you own your voice, you will own your future.

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