Linkedin, Uncategorized

Linking In, or Not: Modern Day Cold Calling on Linkedin

24 Comments 08 January 2010

Have you ever received this Linkedin invitation?

I receive about three of these a week. I do not know the person requesting, I’ve never met him or her, and I’ve never had an interaction with him or her in a Linkedin Group. In short, I have no idea why this person wants to connect with me. This is truly a terrible way to approach me.

Social networking is about leveraging connections, and the stronger the connection, the higher the ability to leverage it.

This is especially true with Linkedin. If I want to connect, I’ll need more information from you.

Here is a typical response: (note: my responses are never rote; I often will personalize the response after looking at a profile.)

Then I wait. If this person fails to answer my questions, I don’t connect. Why?

  • I want my Linkedin connections to count – I want to know what value they can offer me, and what value I can offer to them. I am not just a number, and and neither are my Linkedin connections to me.
  • I can’t effectively leverage this connection. How can he or she possibly make an effective introduction for me? And vice versa?
  • I don’t know why the individual wants to connect. Perhaps he has an ultimate reason for connection? (And wouldn’t it be helpful to know what that is?)

You can use social networks to connect to potential customers, donors, stakeholders, foundations, consultants and employees. But you have to do it right.

Chris Brogan wrote a blog post about how to reach out to bloggers. His advice is just as relevant for any of the modern day “cold calling” requests to connect with strangers on social networks. I highly recommend reading it. I can summarize my thoughts: Tell me why. That’s all I ask. Why do you want to connect? How can we help each other? Where is the potential return? Why would we both benefit? Make it personal.

What do you think about “cold calling” on Linkedin, or any other social network? How do you respond?

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  • Debra:

    I like that approach.

    I admit it, I’m guilty of doing exactly what you describe by asking to connect with people in groups that I’ve not met face-to-face. Why? I often forget they don’t know me. I feel as if I already know them because I’ve been reading their comments for a while. In my mind, they are old friends who I look to for a different perspective.

    I think I’ll change my tactic when I ask to friend someone in a group. I’ll let them know I’ve been reading their comments and want to get to know them better.

    For me, it is all about building relationships!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Jeff- I think it’s different if there has been a back-and-forth during a group discussion on Linkedin, but it’s always good to jog a person’s memory. The best cold Linkedin invite I received mentioned comments I had made during a group discussion, and why she thought we might have commonalities professionally. I instantly accepted. That was a great example (and I tried to find it to put into the post, but couldn’t) to me of someone who was interested in building a relationship. And of course, as you say, I agree 100% that it’s all about building relationships!

    [Reply]

  • Debra:

    I like that approach.

    I admit it, I’m guilty of doing exactly what you describe by asking to connect with people in groups that I’ve not met face-to-face. Why? I often forget they don’t know me. I feel as if I already know them because I’ve been reading their comments for a while. In my mind, they are old friends who I look to for a different perspective.

    I think I’ll change my tactic when I ask to friend someone in a group. I’ll let them know I’ve been reading their comments and want to get to know them better.

    For me, it is all about building relationships!

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Jeff- I think it’s different if there has been a back-and-forth during a group discussion on Linkedin, but it’s always good to jog a person’s memory. The best cold Linkedin invite I received mentioned comments I had made during a group discussion, and why she thought we might have commonalities professionally. I instantly accepted. That was a great example (and I tried to find it to put into the post, but couldn’t) to me of someone who was interested in building a relationship. And of course, as you say, I agree 100% that it’s all about building relationships!

    [Reply]

  • I have had this experience on Facebook more than on LinkedIn. I now send the person a Facebook message, suggesting they connect via my Facebook fan page or via Twitter so they can get to know me better. In some cases I get a great back and forth, so I do get to know the person a bit better. If they ignore my message, then they aren’t really trying to connect.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Leora – what a wonderful idea! I really like the idea of offering people a place to get to know me better first (not just via my photo or CV). I find it even more perplexing when a total stranger to me asks to friend me on Facebook. My information is completely private outside of friends, so I wonder – how would he/she even know about me? Why would he/she want to friend me? You have really inspired me and I’ll be referring them to Linkedin and Twitter to get to know me better. Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

  • I have had this experience on Facebook more than on LinkedIn. I now send the person a Facebook message, suggesting they connect via my Facebook fan page or via Twitter so they can get to know me better. In some cases I get a great back and forth, so I do get to know the person a bit better. If they ignore my message, then they aren’t really trying to connect.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Leora – what a wonderful idea! I really like the idea of offering people a place to get to know me better first (not just via my photo or CV). I find it even more perplexing when a total stranger to me asks to friend me on Facebook. My information is completely private outside of friends, so I wonder – how would he/she even know about me? Why would he/she want to friend me? You have really inspired me and I’ll be referring them to Linkedin and Twitter to get to know me better. Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

  • I agree completely with your simple, yet to the point strategy on making a connection with Linkedin. I do also think that this strategy would work very well on some of the other networks, such as twine and facebook.

    Very well written and thanks for the excellent information!

    [Reply]

  • I agree completely with your simple, yet to the point strategy on making a connection with Linkedin. I do also think that this strategy would work very well on some of the other networks, such as twine and facebook.

    Very well written and thanks for the excellent information!

    [Reply]

  • I think if you’re doing the cold call connect, you should always provide a reason. Otherwise you risk falling into the abyss of just another number in someone’s follower list.

    Debra, what an appropriate response in your post. Great way to open the door to communication and ensure the relationship is productive. I’ll have to apply that.

    [Reply]

  • Love it. So simple, but makes all the sense in the world. I like your approach to responding by asking questions.

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    [Reply]

  • I think if you’re doing the cold call connect, you should always provide a reason. Otherwise you risk falling into the abyss of just another number in someone’s follower list.

    Debra, what an appropriate response in your post. Great way to open the door to communication and ensure the relationship is productive. I’ll have to apply that.

    [Reply]

  • Love it. So simple, but makes all the sense in the world. I like your approach to responding by asking questions.

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    [Reply]

  • Debra – “I want my Linkedin connections to count” really struck me. I tend to accept almost any invite on LinkedIn, which I’m realizing now might be a mistake. If I accept anyone, the “value” of my network becomes an unknown quantity.

    And who needs to know the value of my network most of all? Me!

    Thanks – John

    [Reply]

  • Debra – “I want my Linkedin connections to count” really struck me. I tend to accept almost any invite on LinkedIn, which I’m realizing now might be a mistake. If I accept anyone, the “value” of my network becomes an unknown quantity.

    And who needs to know the value of my network most of all? Me!

    Thanks – John

    [Reply]

  • We need to ask ourselves first: what’s the main reason to setup a particular social media site? Is it solely for visibility or we plan to gain some results through it. Without a clear goal, all our efforts/time spent on it will worth nothing in the end, plain wasteful.

    I once attended a webinar and asked for opinions on ‘whether I should accept requests from strangers in LinkedIn’, majority voted ‘no’ as when it comes to business/career related account, we need to be extra cautious of who we’re connecting. I’m satisfied with their answers and ‘am glad you brought this up to refresh my memory regarding the importance of our networks. Thank you, Debra.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Ching Ya,
    Great question – and it really does speak to Linkedin. If you are a recruiter, I think it makes sense to be as open to accepting Linkedin connections as possible – they help you access more people from which you can recruit. However, for many others, Linkedin is about making meaningful professional connections which can work for you. The goal is definitely what one should keep in mind. Good point. Also, thanks for sharing your experience from the webinar, too!

    [Reply]

  • We need to ask ourselves first: what’s the main reason to setup a particular social media site? Is it solely for visibility or we plan to gain some results through it. Without a clear goal, all our efforts/time spent on it will worth nothing in the end, plain wasteful.

    I once attended a webinar and asked for opinions on ‘whether I should accept requests from strangers in LinkedIn’, majority voted ‘no’ as when it comes to business/career related account, we need to be extra cautious of who we’re connecting. I’m satisfied with their answers and ‘am glad you brought this up to refresh my memory regarding the importance of our networks. Thank you, Debra.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Ching Ya,
    Great question – and it really does speak to Linkedin. If you are a recruiter, I think it makes sense to be as open to accepting Linkedin connections as possible – they help you access more people from which you can recruit. However, for many others, Linkedin is about making meaningful professional connections which can work for you. The goal is definitely what one should keep in mind. Good point. Also, thanks for sharing your experience from the webinar, too!

    [Reply]

  • Good issue to raise Debra.

    For me, I’m happy to connect with almost anyone on twitter and facebook. I have a few basic criteria of who I’ll follow on twitter (you’re not a spammer, your tweet in a language I understand, and you’re focus area is somehow connected to mine), and on facebook (you’re not a spammer, your interested in similar things as I am, and bonus points for those who are friends of friends).

    However, on LinkedIn I will not connect with people I don’t know. I have to have met them either on or offline. We don’t have to have a deep relationship, but I need to know who you are so that I can really know what your needs are and refer you to others and help others get in touch with you. Every connection on LinkedIn is actually worth money, in my opinion, and that value is diluted if I connect with anyone and everyone.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Miriam,
    Thanks for commenting. I like the idea of the basic criteria – in tandem to Ching Ya’s point about defining one’s goals on the network. Together, they’re a pretty good screen for using social networks. Thanks for the wonderful point that every connection on Linkedin is actually worth money. It potentially could be on other social networks, but this is one of the few devoted exclusively to creating business connections.

    [Reply]

  • Good issue to raise Debra.

    For me, I’m happy to connect with almost anyone on twitter and facebook. I have a few basic criteria of who I’ll follow on twitter (you’re not a spammer, your tweet in a language I understand, and you’re focus area is somehow connected to mine), and on facebook (you’re not a spammer, your interested in similar things as I am, and bonus points for those who are friends of friends).

    However, on LinkedIn I will not connect with people I don’t know. I have to have met them either on or offline. We don’t have to have a deep relationship, but I need to know who you are so that I can really know what your needs are and refer you to others and help others get in touch with you. Every connection on LinkedIn is actually worth money, in my opinion, and that value is diluted if I connect with anyone and everyone.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Miriam,
    Thanks for commenting. I like the idea of the basic criteria – in tandem to Ching Ya’s point about defining one’s goals on the network. Together, they’re a pretty good screen for using social networks. Thanks for the wonderful point that every connection on Linkedin is actually worth money. It potentially could be on other social networks, but this is one of the few devoted exclusively to creating business connections.

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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