Friday, September 13, 2013

Either you're IN or you're out!

I have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn for many reasons. I think it's an excellent tool and as a Lifestyle Manager to affluent clients, it's the best choice in the social media realm. My clients aren't hardly on Twitter and they use Facebook for keeping in touch with family. But, when it comes to matters of business, they're more likely to be found on LinkedIn.

Personally, I use LinkedIn as my search engine of choice when I want to learn more about someone I'm planning to do business with.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2011, I used LinkedIn as a way of connecting with people who also work with my target market so I could start establishing relationships and scheduling meetings to introduce myself to them. I think it's an excellent tool for this, especially if you're moving into a new field of work or a new city. You want to connect with the people who are already there.

I rarely use the canned message that comes with a LinkedIn invitation. Mainly because it's not authentic to who I am. I'm from Texas, so I'm friendly. I want to tell you why I am reaching out and why I want to connect with you. I did that for every invitation I sent out and the response was overwhelming. People accepted my requests, some people initiated further discussion and even offered to help me.

The other side is where the "hate" part of the relationship comes in. A good portion of people aren't interested in strategic alliances, they just want to talk about how you can help them. The message is the equivalent to "Thank you for connecting with me, now let's talk about what you can do for me."

I've been added to various newsletters and updates that I never signed up for and it's a violation of what's allowed on the internet. You're not supposed to randomly add people to your newsletter just because you have their email address (which is why I don't put my email address on my business cards).

Another issue I take is with the relatively new endorsement option. When you do business with people, LinkedIn gives you the option to ask these people for a recommendation letter, of sorts, that you can display on your profile. As one person put it, "In light of the fact that we're a generation that doesn't like to actually write anything anymore, LinkedIn created the endorsement option." This allows people to choose from a list of things you do and proclaim your proficiency in it.

As a result, I find myself being endorsed, quite frequently, by people who don't know anything about me and I've had numerous discussions with other colleagues who have the same experience. If you're interested in being true to yourself and your business, you find this to be odd. For other people, who are just happy to receive the accolades, it's not a big deal. But, remember, affiliation matters! I don't think you should go around giving out endorsements all willy-nilly because if something doesn't work out, it could come back to bite you and when you say you didn't really know the person that well, you'll look slightly foolish (just my 2 cents).

Just like anything else, LinkedIn is a great tool when you use it properly. When people find you interesting, they will want to talk to you. Don't make it all about you. Add value to the people who value you.