Connecting for Connection
“We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
I’ve written the last several weeks about communication and the Communication Cycle. Remember that when you communicate, you’re the sender of a message via a medium (or channel) to a receiver (your audience). The communication cycle isn’t complete until the receiver becomes the sender and provides feedback. That is really what a conversation is.
Because this week, I want to talk about communicating on LinkedIn, more specifically, how to communicate when you’re asking someone to connect. So please keep this in mind (what a conversation is) as I talk about how I connect with people on LinkedIn and my reasons behind that.
NOTE: Let me be very clear, this newsletter is called “All SELLING Is Social”- and is written to those in sales and business development. So, if you use are not using LinkedIn for sales, the advice I give in this article probably won’t suit you well.
Ever since I began helping people better understand how to use LinkedIn (2017) right up to the last call I was on, people always ask, “Should I send a note when I want to connect with someone?”
My answer has always been- “Yes, if you’re using LinkedIn for sales/bus dev then you should always send a note.” I’ll unpack that in a bit.
Although my advice hasn’t changed, some new data has come to light from a highly respected source that I think you should be made aware of.
Last week, a respected and renowned LinkedIn and Social Selling trainer, Richard von der Blom, produced some research that showed in most cases when tested, not sending a note had a higher acceptance rate than requests with a note.
What I like about their research is that they divided up the sample audience into three categories: Decision Makers (sales and marketing directors, CCO, CMO), Influencers (sales and account managers, marketers), and champions and mirrors (employees that share a lot of company content and employees in the same role as you).
Here are the numbers:
- Decision Makers: 63% acceptance with no note, 41% acceptance with a note
- Influencers: 38% acceptance with no note, 58% acceptance with a note
- Champions/Mirrors: 71% acceptance with no note, 62% acceptance with a note
I encourage you to read Richard’s full post HERE and draw your own conclusions.
DIGITAL SPACE = FACE-to-FACE
My opinion is that you should be treating potential clients and networking partners the same in the virtual world as in the real world.
Sending a connection request with no personalized note is like going to a networking event and grabbing someone’s business card and walking away.
Do you remember this from my article “What We Say & Why We Say It?”:
- For revenue to come in, a sale has to happen.
- For a sale to happen, a relationship has to be established.
- For a relationship to be established, a connection needs to be made.
- For a connection to be made, communication has to happen.
If our first goal is to communicate, I think that communication has to happen in the form of a conversation, not in information gathering. That’s what you’re doing if you just connect with no personalized note. You’re testing the waters to see if someone will connect.
But if you send a note, you don’t leave them guessing. But here’s the rub- what kind of note are you sending??? Some people don’t like getting a note because they think that all notes are automated and/or insincere. You have to make the note you send authentic and sincere with context as to why you’d like to connect.
Think of it this way- picture the person seeing the message that “Bill wants to join your network” and their response is “Why?” Can you answer that question??
ALL NOTES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
As I mentioned, some of the notes that we see are automated and use scraping technology (which violates the LinkedIn TOS) that doesn’t always get it right. I was in the pest control industry over 25 years ago and had that position on my profile. About 1-2 times a month I’d get a connection request that offered to help me build my pest control company. Really??
Comparing that to note that’s personalized is like lumping all standard mail together- that a personal, hand-written two-page letter from your mom is the same as piece of junk mail advertising the newest hearing aid. There’s no comparison!
Remember, if you’re looking to start a conversation to begin to construct a relationship in order to make a true connection, don’t you want to start off on the right foot?
AM I IN AN ECHO CHAMBER?
Now, lest I’m thought of as a hypocrite, I need to make sure I’m opening my mind to new ideas.
Remember back when I wrote about the echo chambers in our lives and challenged you to be open to new ideas, especially when there’s compelling evidence and data?
While I still think it makes sense to send a personal note, I want to be open to this new information.
I’m going to test it out on my unaccepted connection requests.
If you look in the “Manage invitations” section of your My Network tab on LinkedIn it is actually broken up into two sections: Sent and Received.
I currently have 50 outstanding connection requests, 40 of which are over two weeks old.
I’m going to withdraw those requests and then resend without a note and see what the reply rate is.
If you’re not sure how to do this, watch my page for a video post in the coming days where I’ll walk you through it. And of course, I’ll keep you posted.
SO DO YOU OR DON’T YOU?
As with everything in our lives, we have to make the decision based on what we think it right. I think you should always send a personal message telling someone why you want to connect on LinkedIn if you’re using LinkedIn for sales and bus dev- it’s just good manners!
But, if you’re doing that and not getting the results you want, study the three categories that Richard wrote about in his post and try a different tactic. Be open to new ideas!
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Originally published on Bill McCormick’s LinkedIn.