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How LinkedIn can damage your brand
I like LinkedIn. I use it a lot—mainly to share opinions, articles of interest and discussing their content through comments and posts. I use LinkedIn to read, research, and learn from others; and to keep up with what people are doing professionally. Occasionally, this develops into deeper, more meaningful professional relationships and business opportunities with specific individuals in my network.
A lot of people use LinkedIn for new business development. This makes perfect sense because it’s a great professional platform to open a dialogue with individuals and organisations. The problem is, I find so many people are approaching it the wrong way.
Over recent years, I’ve received numerous invitation messages that read along the lines:
“I’d like to connect and discuss some synergies I have in mind with your business.”
Sometimes, invitations don’t contain any tailored message and simply use the default LinkedIn invitation message, which is fine.
Since LinkedIn is a professional platform, I often accept the invitation, depending on which network connections we share. However, shortly after—and sometimes almost immediately—I receive a message that reads like an automated generic pitch email; one that doesn’t waste time getting to the nub of the matter.
The message usually requests setting up a time to call or meet in person. That all sounds reasonable. Expect for the fact it’s a generic message and doesn’t reference any specific background knowledge of my business. When I reply requesting they first share what they have in mind, and what ‘synergies’ they’d like to discuss, the response usually sidesteps my question and doubles down on the invitation to speak in person.
Obviously, there were never any synergies in mind to discuss. It’s a simple, basic, business development tactic with the aim of securing an opportunity in the prospect pipeline; a means to procure a meeting to further elaborate on a generic pitch in person—oftentimes for a product or service that’s not even relevant or appropriate for my business. But that’s not surprising, considering the person has given me no indication that they’ve researched my business in any meaningful way.
You might think I’m naive. Perhaps you feel they’re simply pursuing an acceptable new business approach and that I’m overreacting. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s just me. And you might be wondering how all this is damaging for an individual, a business or brand—or their reputation.
Well, because it immediately sets a negative impression; a perception that’s informed by the fact the person didn’t respect the potential relationship; that they didn’t invest time to research their prospect and tailor a specific message that aligns their offer with their prospect’s perceived needs; and because they based their initial contact on a misleading offer of identified ‘synergies’. In short, they didn’t take the time to present a compelling value proposition that would warrant a call or a meeting in response. Instead, they’ve employed a generic, lazy shotgun approach in the hope it will connect with someone—anyone! To prove the point, once I challenge them about these ‘synergies’ I usually never hear back from them again.
This in itself speaks volumes about how a person does business, how they treat potential relationships, what culture their company fosters and the importance they place on respect for others. It’s also an insight into how they approach branding and communications in general.
All this leaves a lasting impression.