In spite of the topics I scheduled on my editorial calendar, the theme of this week’s posts is rapidly becoming Communication. Communication between leadership, management and front line employees. As well as between clients and vendor partners.
Then again, how about social communication patterns between social connections.
My friend and colleague, Anthony Iannarino, recently posted an excellent article about the alarming trend on social media – especially LinkedIn – of connecting . Then immediately pitching or spamming. Or asking for a contribution of free content. Then again, requesting an endorsement.
Something I do. For you. In spite of our having no prior professional or social relationship. Whatsoever.
Often, the folks reaching out to connect on social media get our names off a list of thought-leaders or Top 50 or Top 100 “this” or “that’s”. The big thing is: the people requesting to connect with us do not realize that we all know each other. Pretty darn well. And, word does get around.
When I use social communication to request to connect, usually it is through referral.
I reach out to connect to folks on LinkedIn, in particular, because I’ve met them in person. We have looked each other in the eye and shared a meaningful conversation. Not just a networking hello or “here’s my business card.” Or a mutual colleague sends me an email about one of their friends or connections with complementary professional interests. Can she connect us up, so we can have a discovery conversation? And possibly connect on social media platforms, as well.
In either scenario, upon connecting on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, that individual implicitly understands that it is my pleasure to share my content with them. Not only that. Also, it is my pleasure to share my colleagues’ content with them. This strategy continues our social communication. However, my new connections understand that I respect their privacy. Their permission for me to connect with them is not permission to sell. No pitching. Or spamming. And no requests for favors or freebies.
When you use social communication to request to connect and then immediately ask me to provide free services to you, that is straight up out of order. Both socially and professionally.
Recently, I received the following request to connect on LinkedIn. This request is so similar to others that I’ve receive, it pushed me beyond the constraints of my tolerance for this type of social communication etiquette. Or lack thereof. Here it goes, verbatim (except for the company identity).
[1st LinkedIn message] Hi Babette, I understand you’re the author of Sales Aerobics for Engineers Blog. I’m working on groundbreaking XXX technology for B2B sales and marketing. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m looking to connect with thought leaders in the space.
[Immediate LinkedIn message after connecting] Hey thanks for connecting Babette! You seem like a thought leader interested in learning about ways to improve B2B sales and marketing and I’m trying to get the word out. XXX is a new approach to B2B selling by enabling buyers with a video-based demo that adapts on the fly to buyers’ unique interests. If I were to send you a link to a video-based demo of XXX you can customize to your own interests that is about 5-7 minutes long, would you watch it and provide some thoughts about potential use cases on the solution?
OK, I am no stranger to the startup space and enjoy collaborating with quite a few innovative entrepreneurs. However, new product evaluation takes up my time, because I take it seriously. Asking me to provide pro bono insights for your own benefit, without even taking the time to schedule a conference call to introduce yourself, is disrespectful. For starters.
Then, there are the folks who request to connect and then, immediately, ask for detailed career guidance and referrals to new employers. All via a series of emails. Without being available to speak to me in person or via conference call. And certainly no interest in retaining my professional services.
Social communication is not permission to sell, not that it is going to stop people from continuing to do so.
When you engage in social communication, you are communicating. Period. Engagement does not ever give the person requesting the connection the implied permission to start selling to the person they connect with.
However, the people who perpetuate this social habit create a negative customer experience. For themselves, their products and services.
Repeated infractions by social communication perpetrators, even under the excuse of “social selling,” have serious implications for the business growth of the companies they represent. When you misuse the privilege of social communication, your company’s brand equity is negatively impacted, as well.
Social experiences are created by the quality and quantity of social communication you generate. Either it is self-focused or connection-focused. Self-serving or not. Please rethink the impact of your strategy, before the next time you engage in social communication for the sole purpose of non-permission-based selling.
Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ speaking programs showcase how profitable collaboration catalyzes purposeful, innovative personal development and business growth. Develop Industry 4.0 leadership and communication skillsets, tools and strategies for today’s and tomorrow’s digitally transforming industries. Lead a more collaborative, engaged and profitable workforce relentlessly focused on customer success and customer retention. Babette Ten Haken is a STEM design thinker, Six Sigma Green Belt and Voice of the Customer facilitator, forged by her background in new product development, startups, market research and sales. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Her professional speaker profile appears on the espeakers platform. Babette’s Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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