Episode 91: Who To Connect With (and Who Not To) on LinkedIn
Our hosts Brynne Tillman and Bob Woods are back to give you the lowdown on who to connect with (and not to connect with) on LinkedIn.
Tune in as the LinkedIn Whisperer Brynne shares why it’s crucial to engage on your prospect’s content first before requesting to connect with them. You’ll also learn how to spot LinkedIn accounts using automation to reach out and the right way to respond.
Bob Woods 00:00
So greetings and welcome to Making Sales Social LIVE! I’m Bob Woods and with me today is Brynne Tillman. How are you doing today, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 00:09
I’m good, Bob. How are you?
Bob Woods 00:11
I’m doing great. Thank you, appreciate that.
Welcome to Making Sales Social Live as we share LinkedIn and social selling training strategies and tips that will have an immediate impact on your business. Join Brynne Tillman, and me, Bob Woods, every week, Making Sales Social Live!
Bob Woods 00:33
So if you were with us last time on Making Sales Social Live, we talked about following people on LinkedIn. So that’s, you know, it’s essentially the same type of thing. When you follow someone on Twitter, you follow someone on Instagram, like that type of thing. If you want to know more, go back and listen to that one.
Today, though, we’re going to take the next step and address who you should actually connect with and maybe just a little bit about who you may not want to connect with as well. So we kind of built here at Social Sales Link, three kind of general categories, or frames of mind, that most people have when it comes to connecting with people on LinkedIn. And the first one, which actually isn’t our phrase, this was created like a long, long, long time ago on LinkedIn. In fact, it’s not even used as much, but the mindset is still there. It’s called the LION. So LION stands for LinkedIn… (Brynne: Open Networker!) Open Networking. (cross talk)
Brynne Tillman 01:33
Yup. LinkedIn Open Networker. Actually, I had read somewhere that members really tried to push this early on in LinkedIn to make the LION mentality the way that LinkedIn should work but LinkedIn pushed back a little bit, which I’m glad about.
Bob Woods 01:49
Yes. So that’s actually why whenever you see on LinkedIn and they say, you know, only connect with people you know, with, and you always get that phrasing, basically, I believe that that’s like a push back on LIONs, because that was really, really prevalent, like, way back when especially you know, I know you have a phrase for it, Brynne, I call it baseball card collecting. Everybody just went “Oh, my God, I gotta connect with everyone because they just want to see their numbers in terms of connections count.”
Brynne Tillman 02:16
Yeah. So that’s the first one. Obviously, there’s two more, I’d love to just chat about these three real quick. The first thing before I kind of jump into all three, which Bob already talked about the first one but I’m gonna kind of rephrase this, in some of what we talked about here at Social Sales Link is about treating people on the other side of the message the same way you would if they were on the other side of the table.
So let’s think about how we would connect with new folks at a conference, a trade show, a business card exchange. So the first one is LinkedIn Open Networker. LIONs on LinkedIn is a mentality of connecting with everyone. It doesn’t matter, it’s just about collecting business cards, they walk into a meeting with a handful of business cards, and they walk around going if I do this, “Hi, I’m Brynne, take my card. I’ll take yours.” “Hi, I’m Brynne. Take my card, I’ll take yours.” And the mentality is how many business cards can I collect? The second one, which is polar opposite, is the purest. So this is, I walk into a trade show business card exchange conference, and I see Bob Woods at the other side of the room, I make a beeline for Bob and we talk the entire time and never meet new people. That’s a purist. And as fun as that would be, we talk all the time we could meet while we were there, we could meet for coffee afterward but ultimately, the idea of going to these trade shows conferences, business card exchange networking events is to meet new people.
So when you’re a purist on LinkedIn, that means you’re only accepting connections from people that you know. There really is a third and this is where we would love most people to fall, which is a true networker. This is someone who will have a conversation with most everyone that walks up to them, but they won’t necessarily take their business card, put it in their pocket to follow up with later.
So on LinkedIn, we have three options when we connect with someone. This is when someone asks us to connect. We can accept their connection, we can decline or ignore their connection, and we can message them. And so where we fall is to stop declining or ignoring people and stop accepting everyone and start replying to more people. So I could say “Steven, thanks so much for your connection request. Typically I only connect with people I know, may I ask how you found me?” Then I can ignore it and because I sent this message, they’re in the inbox. I can engage back and forth if they respond. Well, maybe I’ll, you know, end up connecting with them later down the road.
Bob Woods 04:58
Yeah, so first of all, it’s really important to note that when you reply, you’re not accepting them as a connection at that point, you’re just having that conversation back and forth. So in other words, it’s pretty similar to Brynne’s networking example to where you’re just talking back and forth but you haven’t accepted that business card yet from him or from that person and you haven’t given it to that person either. So just because you start something back and forth with someone who has asked you to connect when you reply, doesn’t mean that you have connected with them at that point. Because they’ve asked you to connect with them, you have the power to ultimately accept or ignore.
Brynne Tillman 05:39
Absolutely. I love that. So here’s the danger of having connected with everyone, because a lot of people say, well, what’s the difference? Well, there’s a few things. Number one, there is this level of using LinkedIn to see who in your network can help you gain access to decision-makers and influencers. And they may be asking you to help them gain access to influencers and decision-makers for them. If we don’t have a connection with those folks, it’s gonna take us so much more time, so much more energy, and we’ll be way less effective.
Now, the next question people ask is, well, should I just disconnect from all those people? And the answer right now is no. So it’s like, okay, so you maybe you took their business card, stuck it in a pocket, never looked at it again. Maybe you put rubber bands around them and stuff, let’s take them out. Some of them may be worthwhile having a conversation with. So take inventory, right, take inventory of those connections that you just accepted, boom, boom, boom, I’ve got all these people, and start conversations with people that it makes sense to have conversations with, which could be your clients, your prospects, or even referral partners over the years.
Bob Woods 06:48
So kind of think of it like this, your network is worth protecting, I think that’s what a lot of this comes down to, especially because you don’t want someone who may be sketchy or something like that, who you accepted a long time ago, going into your network because you’ve opened your network up to your first-degree connections, because you want to have those conversations, but if you have that conversation with someone you’re not sure about, you know, it gets awkward and everything else. So that’s why you want to make sure that the person who you ultimately accept that connection request from is someone that you really do want to be connected with.
But like Brynne said, don’t get rid of your old ones necessarily. That’s, that’s when you go in and you take inventory of your connections. And we’ve talked about that in previous episodes, to see if they’re worth reaching out to and you know, some of those old people, you may want to have new conversations with them, too. (Brynne: Absolutely. Yeah.) That’s entirely possible as well. Yep.
Brynne Tillman 07:48
So just one more thing I want to throw in. On the reverse side, when you’re asking someone to connect with you, make sure you’re including a message every single time. There’s three reasons. Number one, they’re more likely to accept your connection request when you have a message. Number two, when they do accept your connection request, you now go into their inbox with your message. So there’s a better shot for both you and for them in following up because it’s not just an accepted connection request, there’s an inbox message, right, there’s a message for us to respond to. And number three, and a couple of years from now when you want to reach out to them because maybe they’re connected to someone that you want to meet or you want to have a conversation with them, you can see what got you to connect.
So there are times when I’ll connect with someone because they simply engaged on my content and they’re someone I’d like to have in my network. So by saying “Thank you so much for engaging with my content, I had a chance to look at your profile and I’d love to invite you to be part of my network. If you’re open, please accept this invitation.” Now when I go back, I’m like, did I meet them in person? Did I… I have a record of how we connected and so when I go back out to have, you know, to start the conversation, I can almost remind them of why we connected.
Bob Woods 09:10
Exactly, exactly. That’s great. So speaking of those messaging and messages, I’ve got just a couple of short tips for people who, when you get those messages in from people wanting to connect with you, assuming that they’ve sent a message, obviously, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m not so sure.” There are two things that you can do. Number one, if they’ve said that they looked at your profile but they don’t give any details, go to Who’s Viewed Your Profile. See if they actually view your profile or not. If they haven’t, then they’re not really starting out the relationship on a solid footing, basically. So you know that that’s a good way to check to see if they’re— (Brynne: It’s not authentic.) Yeah, authentic, sincere, the whole thing. And speaking of authentic and authenticity, you have to watch out for automation. So this is when people feed your names into an automated system and the system goes out and just starts, you know, asking for connections, stuff like that.
Now people can send notes with that but what happens is, this automation will draw stuff out of your profile, and then put it into the note. The problem is and this happens to me a lot, I don’t know if it happens to you Brynne, but if you get a, a connection note and it refers to like an old job that you had, you know, like 5,10 15 years ago, or just something else, where it’s like, I did that so long ago, or that’s just weird. Why? Why is that in there? You may want to think twice about connecting with that person because that person is using automation and that’s not authentic.
Brynne Tillman 10:48
Yeah, sometimes I’ll get a message back. So I’ll reply without accepting. “Thanks so much for your connection request. May I ask how you found me?” And they’ll respond in like 30 seconds, that’s also a key— (cross talk)
Bob Woods 11:00
That’s also a key trigger. Yup.
Brynne Tillman 11:04
Yeah and they’ll say, “Thanks for the connection request. Typically, we work with clients just like you to do this, this, or this.” And just be aware, like there is no human being behind that. And the whole point of LinkedIn is to have this online networking opportunity. So don’t engage with those folks. And another thing that I saw and I responded to today was someone sent me a message that I ignored because it was a pitch. And then they said, “You know, I’m bringing this to the top of your feed, did you have a chance to read my email to my message?” It was automated, because when I did respond, it sent me a calendar link to set up a time with him but my response was, “I don’t typically respond to connect and pitch, I’m not interested” and they got a “Excellent, we’re really looking forward to having a conversation with you, here’s a link.” and I went, “Oh, my gosh, it’s so broken.”
So to Bob’s point, we want to make sure that what we are doing is authentic, it’s relationship building, and that we’re having conversations with people and not prejudging completely, (Bob: Right.) but not accepting them (Bob: Right.) completely either.
Bob Woods 12:10
Exactly. (Brynne: This was fun.) This was definitely a lot of fun. So just want to thank you again for joining us on Making Sales Social Live. If you’re with us live on LinkedIn right now, we do these every week. So keep an eye out for our live sessions. If you’re listening to us pre-recorded on our podcast and you haven’t subscribed already, go ahead and hit that Subscribe or Follow button. If you want more information about all of our podcasts because we have a separate one where we interview people in sales, marketing, business, and a lot more areas. Go to socialsaleslink.com/podcast Again, that’s socialsaleslink.com/podcast. And if you are listening via podcast, drop a like and a rating if you could please, we’d appreciate it. And when you’re out and about make sure that you’re making your sales— (Brynne: Social.) Exactly. And authentic too, dang it. Be authentic. Thanks, everyone. Have a great day. Bye-bye.
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