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I really value the connections in my network. I rarely add anyone that I haven’t met face-to-face or had ongoing dialogue with via social media, email or telephone.
I frequently respond to anonymous LinkedIn connection requests with a message that goes something like this…
Thank you for the invitation to connect.
I don’t think we have met in person (please forgive me if we have!).
I am open to connecting with people I have not yet met and who are willing to begin building a relationship, but I would like to know what it is about my profile that motivated you to invite me to your network.
I believe in having a network not built on numbers, but on the ability to refer other connections, which requires some sort of conversation in order to maintain credibility (on both our parts).
Could you please share with me a little bit about why you would like to connect, and how we might both benefit from the mutual connection?
Most of the time I get a great response; the reason is clear – we have people, groups, interests in common and the conversation has started. I’m happy to connect.
Other responses, quite frankly, just leave me in despair; here’s just a few:
“I read your profile and thought we might be able to refer each other”
“I am actively looking for connections with marketers in order to help spread the word about…”
CONNECTING IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY! IT’S TOO SOON.
You can follow me on LinkedIn, without being connected.
You can follow me on Twitter (@luanwise) and see what I’m up to.
You can get in front of me, make me aware, stimulate my interest – then contact me with your offer (if your intention really is just to sell).
A few words can make people smile and want to engage in conversation. Tell me your story – make a bit of effort so I can see the value in having a business relationship and I will reciprocate.
Relationships take time. Business relationships are no different. They need to be treated with the respect and care they deserve.
And just like family and friends, business connections are extremely valuable.
They are also a real indicator of credibility. I will not refer a stranger. I’m not a walking Yellow Pages – I can search for suppliers the same as everyone else; if you’re looking for a referral it has to be supported with evidence. A referral comes with implied trust that someone will do a good job.
At the heart of marketing is a consideration of your target audience, so before you try to connect, think about your recipient and how they will feel when they receive your message. Make it interesting, make it relevant, make it of value.