LinkedIn is a lot of things: a valuable business development platform, a great resource for thought leadership material, a convenient home for online resumes. It is a great platform for expanding your professional network, finding business opportunities and keeping abreast of industry trends. But one thing LinkedIn is not, is a dating site! A recent survey unveiled that increasing numbers of singles are looking to LinkedIn to find their soul-mates.
The Dating Site Approach
The familiar approach to finding a date online is to browse through a list of profiles, send the perfect pitch and strike up a conversation. That, with any luck, should lead to a meeting and perhaps a relationship. The approach works on dating sites because people who create profiles on there expect to solicitation in this manner.
While LinkedIn does have all the necessary tools to research and assess other people – honest profiles (mostly), a large pool of ambitious people, easy vetting – it is inappropriate to approach someone the same way you would on a dating site. The expectations are different.
If your aim is to grow your network, build brand awareness, and expand your reach, it is important to note that the approach to relationship building in business is somewhat different to that of a personal nature.
Relationships, But Not That Kind
Building relationships of any kind can be tricky. It can be even trickier if the message and outlet do not align. For example, swaggering into to a church with a cheesy chat up line and the offer to buy a drink will not be as effective as it might be in a bar. The same principle applies online.
Time must be spent ensuring that the message you are sending is appropriate for the platform you are using. Consider the following genuine message sent to woman named Charlotte Proudman on LinkedIn not too long ago:
While sweet and complimentary, this message did not have the desired effect that the sender was hoping for – unless the expectations was a reposting of the message on Twitter, an article in the Atlantic, and complete outrage on the internet. None of which would have happened if the message was posted to someone on an actual dating site. He had, potentially, the right message on the wrong platform.
The Right LinkedIn Approach
Relationship building is an important part of business development, and one of the great things about LinkedIn. It is a powerful platform for building strong business relationships. Your approach matters greatly, though. Spamming, constant sales requests, and creepy personal messages diminish the platform.
LinkedIn should be approached in the same manner as you would a physical business networking event. Take the time to talk to people, share relevant information, create relationships. This approach will ultimately lead to the creation of more customers, solid business partners, and a network of like-minded friends.
There might well be room for a little flattery on LinkedIn but use that approach cautiously. Keep in mind that people are there to do business or otherwise enhance their professional image, not to find a date!
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