How to Use LinkedIn Responsibly

There is a difference between connecting with people on LinkedIn so you can pitch them whatever it is you sell and targeting your dream clients and engaging with them.

A Numbers Game

In the first case above, every contact that connects with you is as good as any other. This person who is indiscriminately connecting and pitching doesn’t even pretend that they are concerned about their effectiveness. Instead, they believe they are simply playing a numbers game. The approach is the same for those who make cold calls to lists of people and companies without any segmentation that might indicate they care about what the company sells.

The spray and pray approach is what people do when they don’t know how to help salespeople become more effective. It’s as true on LinkedIn as it is the telephone.

Targets Are Better Than Leads

The second approach, targeting your dream clients is different. You have some theory as to what might be challenging these companies or providing them with opportunities. You have a very high level of knowledge about their usage of what you sell, as well as the people there who would care about the outcomes you help improve.

Unlike the spray and pray approach of those who lack the chops—and the leadership to help them develop them—the targeted approach provides insights and ideas provide the salesperson something worth sharing and the prospective client something worth learning. Because these salespeople have something to share that benefits the client—whether they buy from this salesperson or not—they have an easier time engaging around something meaningful.

A Reason to Meet

Here’s the thing. Your product is not advice. Your services are not advice. Your solution, as good as it may be, is also not advice. When a pitch is nothing more than what one might find on your website, it isn’t a pitch at all. It doesn’t compel change, it doesn’t provide a reason to act, and it doesn’t create any desire on the part of the prospective client. Neither does piling on all the things that make your company the wonder that it is.

The rules of engagement in prospecting preclude one pitching without asking for an opportunity to speak with the person before launching into a pitch. If you want someone to engage with you, ask them for an opportunity to speak with them. If you want to improve the effectiveness of this ask, start with the phone, and use LinkedIn later, so share something of value without asking for anything.

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