Don’t play hide and seek with your LinkedIn profile

The girl spies through a hole in a paper.Lots of people hate networking. I’m one of them. The thought of entering a room full of strangers and starting conversations fills me with dread. But I do it for three reasons. Firstly, I need to meet new people that could be potential clients. Secondly, most people I meet want to talk about what I do – helping people get more out of LinkedIn. And thirdly, I know most of the people in the room hate networking just as much as me but think they are the only one. But even the most terrified of networkers doesn’t enter the room and hide.

Online networking

LinkedIn is online networking for professionals. It is the place to find and be found by the very people you need to speak to to grow your business, increase sales, find suppliers, build partnerships and alliances or develop your career. So why oh why do so many people hide themselves with their profile. Why do they put the scantest of details about themselves in their profile? Why do they hide much of their profile from public view?

Some people have said to me they only want to connect with people they have physically met. I don’t really get that. The whole point of being online is to broaden your horizons and open up opportunities. If there is a select group of connections you only want to share your most important stuff with then create a private group and invite them in. But be open to connecting with people that want to connect. It could lead to great things.

I have two groups of people that typically connect with me – those interested in project management and those interested in small business marketing in general and LinkedIn in particular. By inviting and accepting invites from people in both communities I have opened up business opportunities, reconnected with former colleagues and developed new friends in far flung places I could never hope to have met in the physical world alone. That has created a network for sharing, giving and receiving feedback, and developing business.

Checking out prospective connections

I’m continually updating my LinkedIn profile to attract new connections. And when I get a new connection request the first thing I do is look at their profile. Is this someone I should connect with? I almost always message new connections and typically I’m looking to find out why they wanted to connect. Then I ask how I can help them. I’m looking to engage and start a dialogue. The thing I definitely am not doing is selling. I look to identify ways I can help people.

My own profile is designed to make me interesting to other people. So if I find someone I want to connect with and send them a connection request, they can see from my profile who I am, what I do and the value I can add to their network. I’m encouraging them to connect.

Dealing with Cranks
Yes I get some cranky connections. I’ve had my share of African scammers wanting my bank details to ‘help’ them get funds out of their country. I simply dlete them or report them and get their profiles blocked. Most are easy to spot as the profiles have very little detail or have jobs that make them highly unlikely connections for me. For example, I had one request purporting to be from a Nato general. It had the correct photograph, but it had been taken off the internet. So always check out requests from people you haven’t met but keep an open mind to who you can connect with.

LinkedIn webinar bootcamp webinar screenIf you’d like to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and get yourself found by more of the right connections download my free guide “The 9 Key Points to Creating a Powerful Personal Profile“. Alternatively, sign up for my 3 part online bootcamp by clicking here or on the screen below.

There’s no money in being the same

Dilbert - Apple watchDILBERT © 2015 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved

Is it too late to bring out a competitor to the Apple Watch? Well there were already competitors in the market long before the Apple Watch arrived. So is Apple competing on price or features? That’s a categoric NO! Apple has its own style and following. It sells on that, not price or features.

Very few businesses establish the market position Apple has. But you can establish your own position on a smaller scale. You don’t need to be big to think ‘big picture’ but few small business do. What do I mean by ‘big picture’. I mean stepping back and looking at your business as a whole and answering some tough questions

Question 1 is always ‘Why are you in business’. Do you have a core passion, a core reason for doing what you do? Just making money or being good at something isn’t enough to make most people standout. Why? Because being good at something doesn’t mean you care about your client. I can be a great carpenter and make fantastic furniture but not give a damn about my clients so customer service could suffer. If I only care about money I’ll always be looking for the best deal – for me. To hell with win-win.

But if you are passionate about what you do AND who you do it for, you can build great client relationships. You can deliver real value to people rather than just products and services.

Is your ‘Why’ reflected in every aspect of your business? This includes:
• The quality of the product or service
• How you deal with clients
• Your communications – website, e-mails, letters, social media etc.
• How your telephones are answered
• How your staff are trained and managed
All of these things become part of your brand.

Are you talking about your clients or about yourself? So many small business focus on what they can do for their clients and how good they are. ‘We’ have years of experience, ‘we’ deliver great service, ‘we’ can turn water into wine etc etc. What about the client? What problem or pain are you solving for the client. Talk to your clients about their pains, their problems, and how you can help them. Then demonstrate your years of experience helping other clients with much the same pain and bring it to life with examples.

Talk to your clients, not at them. Show that you want to understand what there problems are before you try and solve them. As Stephen Covey wrote in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, “seek first to understand”.

There’s no money in being the same. If you understand you ‘Why’. If it is reflected in every aspect of your business, and you talk to your clients in the right way, you’re not in the middle, you’re not the same. You are way out ahead of the pack. You will not be competing on price. People will buy from you because it is you. Yes, some people will turn away because your competitors are cheaper. They are the bargain hunters who always want a deal, always complain at the least little thing, and suck time and energy out of your business. Just the sort of client you can do without.

Avoid buyers remorse – get the ‘win-win’

Dilbert - salesDILBERT © 2015 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved

I still regret it today – even after 15 years. I had my heart set on a new digital camera. A Sony. And I was in Hong Kong’s tech district where there were bargains to be had. I’d found the exact model I wanted and negotiated a good deal.

Then another salesman stepped in. He showed me a lot of technical stuff trying to convince me the camera he wanted to sell me was better than the one I wanted. He used a few sales techniques like making statements I couldn’t really disagree with to lead me towards the decision he wanted me to make. He could see I knew a little bit about the technology but not enough to challenge his ‘knowledge’. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing as a buyer! He took me to a place in my mind where I either followed his logic and bought his suggestion or I demonstrated to him my total stupidity and bought what I wanted. So of course I bought his suggestion.

And I regret it even now. I didn’t have the camera I wanted. I felt I’d been sold to. I felt I’d been pressured into buying something I didn’t want but I was also too ashamed of myself to admit it. Now I may be doing the salesman a huge dis-service. He might have been right about all the technical stuff and I might have had the better camera after all. But it didn’t feel like it. I might have used his technical speak to justify the purchase to others, but it didn’t work with me. I never went back to that store. Nor did I recommend it to anyone.

People buy on emotion
You see, for everything except day to day items, people buy for emotional reasons. They don’t buy because of features or even necessarily benefits, but because they have invested emotional capital in the decision. They use the features and benefits to justify the decision later. Ask any android phone user why he thinks people buy seemingly more expensive and lower spec Apple products. He wont be able to explain it rationally. People have emotional capital invested in their love of Apple tech. (Yes, I have an iPhone and an iPad – but Windows PC’s. sort that conundrum if you can).

So if you want to avoid buyers’ remorse and get more recommendations, you need to connect with your client’s emotions. Find out why they are looking to buy something and help them achieve the emotion reasons. If they have a problem, help take away the pain. Whatever you do, don’t leave them feeling like Dilbert – trapped, blackmailed and left with no option. Find a way to give the client what they need whilst getting what you need. The ‘win-win’ situation. Not only is it ethical, but you get loads of recommendations, and we all want that in business.