Back in 2012, I had a discussion with a new member (let’s call him Nhoj) in one of the groups I belonged to on Linked In. He pointed out a worrying trend he had observed.
Specifically, he expressed concern that a rather unhealthy majority of people in that particular group were openly “hard selling” to other members, making little or no effort to add value by sharing ideas and contributing to discussions.
Nhoj had effectively spoken my mind. I told him so, adding that before joining the group he had complained about, I already belonged to three other groups on Linked In: One for speakers, another on speaker marketing, a third on book writing. Within days of joining the first group however, I discovered – just like he did – a massive difference in the quality of interaction amongst its members, compared to the other three.
It Is Important To FIRST Add Value, Build Relationships & Gain Trust
For instance in the other 3 groups I joined, aspiring and competent experts continually shared ideas and experiences/insight in a mutually rewarding – and collaborative – atmosphere. Very rarely was ANY hard selling done. There was so much sincerity. A win-win atmosphere.
In contrast, I found that the members of the group Nhoj referred to, relentlessly bombarded themselves with pushy sales messages, day in, day out. There was great activity (e.g. volume of posts), but very little quality interaction.
It was obvious that majority of the members of this group were “programmed” to TAKE from others. Most of them were just there to sell something.
Unfortunately, people with this kind of mindset are competitive minded about the WRONG things. The truth however, is that if they want to succeed, they’ll need to adopt a more collaborative approach in their interaction with other group members.
Being willing to collaborate with others does NOT mean you’re weak or less competent. Quite often, doing so can help you overcome limitations you’ve had while working alone.
Business persons who understand the ethical way to use social media, often appreciate the need to first of all establish a mutually beneficial (or as Nhoj put it – “symbiotic”) relationship with others, in order to make meaningful progress.
We have plenty of historical evidence that proves that it pays to follow this enlightened path. A high profile example is that of the late Steve Jobs, who partnered with competitors like Microsoft, to take the industry to the next level (as Richard Branson, another genius of similar temperament, recently recalled in one of his syndicated articles).
No One Says You Should NOT Try To Sell – Just Don’t “Hard Sell”!
Now, in case you’re reading this, and wondering, I’m NOT asking you to engage in some selfless altruistic gestures of helping others out, just for the sake of it. On the contrary, I actually believe it pays to focus on making money or building revenue through Linked In. After all, Guy Kawasaki, in a 2007 article, provided statistical proof, that Linked In was widely acknowledged to be the best no-nonsense medium to do just that, when compared to its peers.
The point I AM making, is that Linked In, being a professional networking environment, should NOT be abused by using it as a trading center (e.g. Google Trader), where people come with the primary motive of simply putting their stuff up for sale for others to buy.
In a place like Linked In, the culture is more refined – with emphasis on building trusting relationships via quality interactions.
There is emphasis on first offering useful value of some sort, with a twist or spin off that could yield potentially beneficial returns, to one or more of the participants.
Most important is the willingness of all members to contribute, with honesty and integrity, even when they KNOW there is a chance, that NO DIRECT benefits will accrue to them from doing so. In essence, I am saying each member should participate on Linked In, FIRST, with the intention of being of use/service to fellow members. In the course of doing so, s/he will become known, recognised and appreciated for the quality of his/her contributions. THAT would be one benefit.
Also in the process of serving in this manner, opportunities for showcasing what s/he offers, will present themselves (e.g. articles, reports).
As s/he continues to build credibility, “trusting” members would find it easy to “consider” his/her products/services or refer others. Even better, some may propose joint ventures, or partnerships of sorts, with attractive benefits.
The result would be that COMPETENT business people, with win-win dispositions, would continue to discover opportunities to progress together via groups that operate as described above. TRUST would be established, and this would ease the way for useful interactions to take place.
The first group Nohj referred to, did NOT seem to have many members who understood the need to operate in this manner. And THAT is the major difference between them and members of other groups. That shortcoming is very likely to deny many of its members, the long term benefits enjoyed by compliant groups.
Even though I’ve used Linked In as a case study, the point I’ve made in this piece actually applies to the use of other social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc) for business purposes.
PS: This article was first published online on Monday 6th February 2012 in my Self-Development Digest newsletter, via Spontaneousdevelopment.com (my 9 year old former domain – now defunct.
You’re reading Using LinkedIn – The Required Mindset For Best Results by Tayo Solagbade, originally posted on his Daily Self-Development (SD) Nuggets™ blog. If you loved reading this post, be sure to follow Tayo on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
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