Once upon a time, there was a CEO who was the essence of social; he wanted to connect with as many executives as he could at companies he wanted to serve. He made it a daily habit of reaching out and creating leads for his Sales team.
The Sales team rejoiced. How amazing was it that the CEO was leading the demand gen charge! It wasn’t long before the reps discovered these “leads” were originated via LinkedIn. One of the reps inquired, “Hey John, I got the lead on Judy, thanks so much! Would you share details on your relationship? How did you meet?” The CEO’s response, “I’ve not spoken with Judy, but she just accepted my invitation on LinkedIn so she must be interested.”
And thus began a new practice in prospecting: send your target a LinkedIn invitation and when they accept the invitation, bam! you’ve got another channel to access the prospect.
I’ve been surprised how often this approach works – at least the connecting part. Although it seems many a businessperson will accept a blind, generic LinkedIn request, the level of engagement after the connection is low.
Apparently LinkedIn’s proclamation on the “Connect” page is insufficient. Important: Only invite people you know well and who know you. Find out why.
This approach to lead generation on LinkedIn is one of the five reasons I believe LinkedIn will be a lot like Twitter in five years. Here are the others:
- Too many people are accepting random invites from people they don't know (see above)
- Weak connections reduce the credibility of being “connected” – the day will come when your more likely to get a response to a DM on Twitter than a message on LinkedIn
- User generated profiles are unreliable and incomplete – usually one needs to use Google to verify or fill in the blanks.
- Endorsements are the equivalent of a ReTweet – how many of you have received endorsements from people you’ve never worked with? What's the point of that?
- A caste system has formed on #Lin where celebrities and brands that pay dominate the news feed just like #Twitter.
Maybe I'm overreacting. I don't want LinkedIn to turn in to Twitter, but it seems inevitable! Is it "old school" thinking people should earn Linkedin in connections through building (real) relationships and experiencing mutual value and interest?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. What needs to happen for you to send an invitation or accept one?
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