Ugh — people can be so annoying…

I’ve spent the last few months pretty much ignoring my LinkedIn invitations.  The notification comes in, I dismiss it.

It’s not that I don’t want to connect with new people.

It’s just that I’ve chosen where I want to put my time and attention, and building a network of fickle digital connections on someone else’s website isn’t really my highest priority right now.  (Because let’s be honest, fickle digital connections is mostly what your LinkedIn network really is, when you get down to it.  Also, Facebook, which I’ve mostly not touched in these last few months, too.)

I value real connection.  And real connection doesn’t come through friend requests on social media.

Real friendship isn’t in who likes or reacts to your posts, either.  And it’s only rarely represented by the comments and messages exchanged on these platforms.

(Incidentally, real friendship is in giving your focused attention to a person while they are themselves, and being radically accepting of them for who they are.)

So, like I said, I let a few LinkedIn connection requests build up.

Then, yesterday, for whatever reason, I decided to unleash the torrent.

Turned out I’d had something like 290 new connection requests that had built up.  I approved them all.

And for the most part, nothing happened.

A few people actually sent messages that I was interested in responding to, that stimulated at least a little friendly interaction.

But there were also the canned introductions.

The people who were clearly trying too hard.

The people who I’m sure spend all their time trying to connect with people on social media, but running into brick wall after brick wall.

The people with a “social media strategy.”

And I’m sure their lives are painful.  Because they’re doing exactly the wrong thing to get the response they want.

Here’s the “tries too hard” social media strategy that reveals you as a novice…

And I’ll note, when you actually deal with someone who is reasonably successful in life or in business, they will see right through this and run away.

You have an introduction.  It starts with something along the lines of, “Thanks for connecting…”

Then, you pay lip service to caring about the other person, “I’d love to know more about you and what you do.”

Then, you reveal your true intention, “Here’s an unsolicited breakdown of what I do, why I believe it’s valuable, and why you should pay attention to me (and probably send me money).”

It’s like a freaking wolf in sheep’s clothing.

All civility and relationship-building in that approach is a lie.

AND, because it’s so well-rehearsed, I can tell you’re playing the numbers game and it has NOTHING to do with me, my business, or any homework you’ve done to know that you’re truly able to serve me or solve my problems.

You put a ton of work into your introduction.

You may have even paid some self-proclaimed guru for their “Master LinkedIn Strategies.”

And you’re following their advice to the letter.

And because you’ve spammed 50,000 people the same thing on LinkedIn, it might have actually gotten you some results.

But let’s keep it real.

You’re not actually creating a CONNECTION and most conversions are the lucky consequence of mass volume…

Contrast this with a subtler, more casual approach.

“Hey, thanks for connecting, I read your latest post about XYZ and really liked it.  I thought you’d like to know people are finding your work valuable.”

Now, there’s no guarantee that’s going to get a response, if someone is being a hermit like me and just not responding to messages.  But if the person is actually responding to messages, do you think you’re going to get at least something back?

You bet!

Probably something like, “Hey thanks!”

And then, you have a tiny, little, minuscule bit of connection.  It’s not much, sure.  You’re not headed to the altar.

But I’ll tell you what.  You’ve got a lot more connection than you got by sending out the spam I detailed above.  You created the value of good feelings in the person you’re reaching out to.  And, you got a reply beyond mere courtesy.

Where you take this depends on a lot of things.

But no matter what you do, you probably want to take small steps.

So you could ask a quick question.  Something they can answer in a sentence or two.  Just to move the conversation forward, and establish conversation.

Do that, and when they engage perhaps you can reply to something they said.  Preferably without expectation of further reply.

Then, leave it at that, for the moment.

Don’t push too hard.

If there’s a specific request you have of them THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO GIVE THEM VALUE based on research you’ve done and what you know about them, you can give them that information a bit later.  Make sure you include a reason why it would be valuable to them, citing specific things you’ve learned about them from their public presence.

Then, treat it like a normal human conversation.  Respond when they’re interested.  And if they’re not, back off.

Now here’s an example of using this to get clients…

When you’re trying to get clients, you don’t necessarily have an article they wrote to reference.  But if you know that someone is the director of marketing for a company that you want to work for, you can reference their company’s work.

“Hey, thanks for connecting.  I just saw your campaign around XYZ.  I’m a copywriter and I’m curious if that was working well for you.”

They respond, probably really vaguely because they don’t want to give out too much detailed internal info.

But if they reply with more than a one-word answer, you can ask something along the lines of, “Do you work with freelancers at all?”   Or, “I write [describe the type of copy] — do you ever have any overflow work?”  Or, if you saw a copywriter job listed on their company website, “I just saw that post for a copywriting job — are you still accepting applications?”

Anything to engage them in a way that’s very noncommittal — because remember, you’re not trying to get married here.

Keep it low key.

Don’t try too hard.

Just start a freaking human-to-human conversation.

And if they ARE engaging with you, there comes a natural point to drop the, “You know, LinkedIn messages probably isn’t the best place to talk about this.  Does 15 minutes on the phone make sense?”

If you use a scheduler (I currently use Book Like A Boss), once they say they would have a 15-minute chat, send them a link.  Otherwise, propose 3 times, tell them you’re going to call them, and for goodness sakes, call on time.

All of this is totally natural.  Human.

And it’s not trying too hard.

But it’s what works.  It’s what creates connections.  And it’s the real way to get clients.

(It’s also 100% copacetic with what I’ve been using for a long time — including at networking events — as I taught in my Networking Secret training.  I put together that training immediately after attending AWAI’s Bootcamp and booking tens of thousands of dollars in new client work with that method.)

A hard lesson life will teach you over and over again…

Desperation is ugly.  You don’t want to appear desperate.  It makes people pull away from you.

The more desperate you appear, the less you’ll get what you want and need.

This applies in life.  It applies in business.

It applies offline.  And it applies in your social media interactions.

Act from a place of abundance, even when you’re not feeling it.  It’s funny how powerful this is, in attracting more of it.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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