Having spent the past 60 months studying every possible element of LinkedIn lead generation, I've discovered one conversion-killing mistake that keeps popping up over and over again.
Every single day, without fail, I wake up, turn on my computer, and scream out loud in frustration.
Every single day, without fail, doing so wakes up Rosie (our Wheaten Terrier) and sees her jump about three feet into the air as a result.
Are You Making This Massive LinkedIn Mistake?
Here's what is happening: People I've just connected to on LinkedIn have decided, without asking for my permission, to add me to their email autoresponders and/or mass email distribution lists.
As a result, I get home listings from real estate agents in Atlanta, Georgia. (I live in Minnesota.)
I also get offers to attend "local B2B networking events" in Sydney, Australia. (Again, I live in Minnesota, roughly 9,000 miles away.)
Finally, I get offers, pitches and content related to topics, industries and services I have no need for or interest in.
Do You Like This?
Let me ask you a question: Do you enjoy getting interrupted?
Do you love when someone knocks on your front door during a family dinner to try and sell you new windows or financial planning services?
Do you wait in eager anticipation every evening for a stranger to call you while dinner is burning and the kids are screaming to ask if your small business is looking for a loan at a competitive interest rate?
Of course not.
Nobody (and I mean nobody!) likes being interrupted with unsolicited, irrelevant marketing messages and sales offers in real life.
So why do people think it's a good idea to do online?
On behalf of all that is sacred, and (more important) on behalf of my sleeping dog, please stop adding your new and existing LinkedIn connections to your email lists!
What You Should Be Doing Instead
If you're guilty of this mistake, I want you to stop interrupting, aggravating and annoying people online in the hope that they will pay attention long enough to listen to your pitch.
Instead, I want you to try and earn their time and attention.
One simple way is to create free, valuable content that solves a problem or meets a specific need for your target audience.
You can create and then offer this content (it could be a webinar, a free eBook, a free video training, etc.) in exchange for a person opting into your email list.
And, in a logical fashion, if someone opts-in to get your free eBook or video series on Topic XYZ, he or she is likely open to hearing more about that topic, and thus he or she is going to be more open and receptive to further communication about it.
How To Market in Today's Online World
Instead of interrupting, you must "buy" the time and attention of your prospects online by creating high-quality, high-value and entertaining content that helps people solve their biggest professional or personal problems.
Also, instead of just "claiming" authority or expertise online (I'm looking at you, "Gurus," "Ninjas" and "Wizards"), we first demonstrate it via a blog post, podcast, webinar, YouTube video or other piece of content.
Again, we must earn the right to pitch someone our product or service!
And we can only do this after we've proven our value to that person, and after that person has indicated he or she is interested in hearing more about home listings in Atlanta or local B2B networking events in Sydney.
To do otherwise is to both waste your time and a surefire way to alienate prospects online.
Look At This Face
The next time you get tempted to take your hundreds (or thousands) of LinkedIn connections, export them and mass-add them to your email auto-responder, I want you to look at this face.
Think about Rosie, think about me screaming in frustration and think about her jumping into the air in terror as a result of being woken up yet again.
Instead of interrupting, go out, create great content for a specific, target audience using a medium you love (audio, video, written word, etc.), and make sure it brings legitimate and real value to that target audience.
If you do, you'll not only earn more customers on LinkedIn, you'll also let sleeping dogs lie!