It drives me bananas when I see huge brands and individuals marketing on LinkedIn like it's 1984 instead of 2018.
I mean, seriously, if you think I'm still running around pulling up my tube socks and cheering on Mary Lou Retton in the 1984 Summer Olympics ... well, to quote John McEnroe (from a famous 1980's sports outburst, no less), you cannot be serious!
Bringing a Bullhorn to a Cocktail Party
The single biggest mistake brands, businesses and individuals are making right now on LinkedIn is bringing a bullhorn to a cocktail party.
What I mean is this: Instead of leveraging LinkedIn's unique ability to create personalized, 1-on-1 relationships at scale, too often people instead just connect with a prospect and then start spamming the person with sales offers or other "asks" that rate as immediate turn-offs.
It reminds me of the mid-1980's era of sales and marketing I grew up in, when brands "shouted" at us via billboards, television, print and radio advertisements.
For some reason, people continue to communicate and market to other human beings on LinkedIn and other digital platforms by "shouting" instead of engaging.
The Digital Mistake People Make
Think about it: When you meet someone for the first time in real life, you don't immediately launch into a sales pitch moments after you're introduced, do you?
Instead, you build some rapport, asking your prospect questions about his or her work (and non-work) life. You break the ice, building up a comfort level as the prospect gets to know, like and trust you. Next, you demonstrate your expertise, authority and value by helping the person get some quick wins or answering questions they have without charging them a dime.
With all that said, it's easy to forget these rules of real-life engagement when you dive into a digital platform like LinkedIn.
And therein lies the big mistake people make.
How To Win Business on LinkedIn
Just like you would if you were at a coffee shop or together inside a conference room, you must slow your roll on LinkedIn and get to know people before you ask for anything in return.
Best of all, LinkedIn marketing is made easy when you take a few moments to look at someone's profile before you start "talking" to them on the platform.
Right there on your LinkedIn profile page is a treasure trove of conversational ice breakers - where you live, where you work, the schools you went to, organizations and causes you care about and so on.
Working one (or more) of those into a personalized LinkedIn invitation to connect will do wonders for your engagement efforts on the platform.
In fact, LinkedIn wants you to replicate real-life interaction on the network, even upgrading its 1-on-1 messaging system to feel more like real-time text messaging than boring business emails.
Context + Conversation = Connection
If you don't bring context ("here's how I found you on LinkedIn") or a sense of connection ("I'd like to connect with you for reason XYZ"), it's hard to spark a meaningful conversation with someone on LinkedIn.
Even more, you'll sink yourself immediately if, after connecting, you try and ask for someone's time on the phone, a coffee meeting or a similar "ask."
Remember, in today's online marketplace, you have to earn the right to ask someone for his or her time and attention.
You can do this in a variety of ways, but one of the most effective is to create free, valuable content that helps someone solve a pressing problem or land a quick win right after they "meet" you on LinkedIn.
As an example, I offer a free, copy-and-paste LinkedIn profile template people can use to update and improve their LinkedIn profiles.
Once someone utilizes that free piece of content to polish up their LinkedIn profile with little effort, I've earned the right to invite them to a free webinar where I dive deeper into my LinkedIn lead generation strategies.
Stop Marketing Like You Live in the 1980's
So, before we finish this post, I implore you to leave those "bullhorn" marketing messages back where they belong - among the tube socks and cassette tapes of the 1980's.
Instead, take the 1-on-1, personalized approach I've outlined above over to LinkedIn, and start having real conversations with your ideal prospects on the platform.
With a searchable database of more than 500 million members in more than 200 countries, your ideal customers are easily found on LinkedIn.
The key is knowing how to engage with them!