Should you remove a LinkedIn connection?

Posted on August 17, 2017 at 3:17 PM Comments comments (8484)
The most effective networking relationships are reciprocal. Both individuals gain substantial benefits from the relationship. Unfortunately, some professionals view networking from one of two extremes, either they cynically ignore the effort, or they pursue their goal with Machiavellian tactics.

But what of the majority of us that fall between the extremes? We show up for the dance, but spend a fair amount of time observing from the sidelines. Of course there is nothing wrong with some observation. After all, we don’t feel compelled to be on the floor for every single song. You may even discover that some of your connections do not actually care for the same music as you do. What then? In most cases I let those connections linger. Who knows, perhaps circumstances will change and we’ll find a common beat in the future. But have you ever taken the step to remove a connection? I know, in today’s politically charged world it feels like unfriending, unfollowing or unlinking would be a dangerous move. It doesn’t happen often, but on occasion I have removed connections. I remove connections based on the following formula:

In short, I just don’t feel a high enough degree of trust to keep moving forward with the relationship. So, how could a person grow my trust?

I know it looks like some type of Pythagorean Theorem, but it’s not. For me, the key to creating a large trust number is to build rapport, build credibility, and reduce risk. If all three factors can be shifted in the right direction my trust is bound to grow. Let’s take a high-level look at each.
Rapport:  A relation of harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity.  We have a sense of shared understanding.
· Being contacted appropriately by the method that best suits the nature of our relationship.
· Being treated with respect.
· I actually like you.
Credibility:  You are worthy of belief or confidence.  Your actions and words are in congruence.
· Being offered services or products that are truly relevant to my desires.
· You are transparent in how you deal with me.
· You clearly answer my “What’s in it for me” question.
Risk:  Exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.  My safety, security and social capital (reputation) should not ever be at risk.
· What are you going to do with my personal information?
· How do you want to use my social capital?  How does that benefit me?
· How does our relationship impact my personal brand?
I’m guessing each of us approaches our networking connections from a different perspective, and that’s fine. But if you are taking time to increase rapport and credibility while decreasing risk I’m sure the strength of your network is growing like crazy.

Resistance to change is an old problem

Posted on August 3, 2017 at 1:02 PM Comments comments (155)
The warning signs were everywhere.  But like a bull facing a red flag I charged forward because I can’t resist a challenge, or revenue for that matter!  The small nonprofit organization, funded by city tax dollars, indicted that they were looking for a marketing change.  But I suspected the odds of success were a long shot.
Resistance to change, by executives and workers alike, is considered a central problem of most organizations.  And LinkedIn provided plenty of evidence on why a social change initiative would be difficult.  The CEO did not have a profile and neither did the head of HR.  A lead HR person without a social profile; I asked myself, how was that even possible in today’s networking economy?  In fact, he required me to provide references that weren’t on my LinkedIn profile.  I almost considered faxing them to him because his fax number was still displayed on his business card.  Finally, there were no social employee advocates I could look to for support.  It was as if their culture took pride in staying off the social grid.
Their LinkedIn company page, as well as their Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube channel and all other social platforms was actually still under control of individuals outside of their organization.  By that I mean the profile admin (owner) was either a former employee or former agency employee that had initially set up the profile for them.  It was obvious they did not think of their social capital as a strategic asset and that a social media policy and procedures process was the farthest thing from their mind.
In highly micromanaged organizations, were change agents are often considered a threat, the probability of new ideas or change initiatives thriving is not great.  In fact, I felt like a gym owner who had just sold a membership to someone who would never come in and would eventually churn.  You receive short-term revenue, but it crushes your spirit when you realize the client is in total disregard their own well-being.  And at this point I was only into the second day of my engagement.
There have not been any recent postings or activity.  Dead silence since my exit.  Here are my own observations from the experience:
1. Executives must lead by example. The surest way to kill a change initiative is for management to continue old behaviors.

2. Don’t waste your time and budget.  If you really don’t want to change, don’t.  No, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.  But the inconsistent behavior your employee’s are observing is destroying your credibility whether you want to admit it or not.

3. Learn to let go.  Chances are your resistance to change is grounded in fear and so you micromanage every detail.  You fear losing control of situations you were never really in control of.  Letting go is easier said than done.  But let go anyways.

Without rapport your content will not get attention.

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 12:57 PM Comments comments (3)

Free white papers and eBook’s, free seminars and webinars, free assessments, free consultations, free demonstrations, free software download, free, free, free.  It sounds great, after all, why pay for business advice and knowledge when you can get it for free?

But it’s not really free because every choice has cost.  What we don’t spend in dollars, we spend it time, attention, and effort.  There is also “opportunity cost” to consider.  When you pick one path you are losing the opportunity to explore another.  That means economically speaking, nothing is truly free.

Does that mean lead generation campaigns should be using the phrase “with our compliments” instead?  That phrase does more closely imply that something is being given as a courtesy, but that there still may be time, attention, an email address, or some other information required to get it.  While that phrase is a bit more transparent, it doesn’t have the catchy ring of “free” and isn’t favored by marketers.  I’m sure you don’t see it used very often.
This topic really is important for content producers to consider.  It takes both time and money to produce quality content for lead generation campaigns.  While most organizations insist on tracking the ROI of every marketing campaign I’m not confident they always include all the costs associated with the development of quality content.  In some ways the production of content is now a “sunk cost” because in today’s social media environment if you’re not investing in a steady stream of engaging content you’ll soon be forgotten by the influencers and targeted personas you’re trying to attract and nurture.  And let’s not forget; for every individual on this planet “attention” is a limited resource.  In fact, in most situations you’ll be lucky to snag “partial attention,” let alone your target audience’s full-attention.

If content producers charged would that change your perceived value of the exchange?  Can you really see yourself paying?  Yes, there is some content we all pay for. But in relation to most of the thought-leadership material produced for sales lead generation purposes that is not the case.
So content has a real cost, but is difficult to charge for it.  And attention is a limited resource meaning it’s technically not free either.  In order for some type of communication to begin you’re going to need to start building rapport.
Without rapport, you will not get what you want.
In Genie Z. Laborde’s book “Influencing with Integrity” she points out that when rapport is not present, it becomes top priority in communication.  In fact, rapport is like money: it increases in importance when you do not have it, and when you do have it, a lot of opportunities appear.  You’ll know you have it when you have a sense of shared understanding.  We have more attempts at communication today, that is, more attempts to talk to others than is imaginable.  Yet true communication often remains elusive because the data explosion and noise levels have gone up so fast that it feels like no one really takes time to listen any more.  Does your brand really listen to the voice of the customer? Or just broadcasting?  If you’re not listening, how do you know if you have a shared sense of understanding?

Coercion is about getting people to do what you want them to; persuasion is about getting them to want to do what you want them to do.  Persuasion takes time.  It requires rapport and understanding your target markets needs and desires.  You need to develop trust by building rapport and credibility, and minimizing their risk.  If you’re not getting what you want from your content it’s time to change your strategy.

Why your lead generation program is damaging your brand

Posted on May 3, 2017 at 6:37 PM Comments comments (22)

“Thanks for following! Let me know if I can help!”
It appears to be a friendly welcoming, offering help to the receiver of the message, but it’s not.  In fact, if you are using those ten words at the front end of your lead generation campaign then you are actually damaging your brand.  Here is why:
1. You delivered it through a direct message automation application didn’t you?  I thought that was the case.  Sorry, but most people delete those messages without ever reading them.  Many will even unfollow you based on your action.  Those types of messages are viewed much like email marketing spam.  So, unless you want your personal or corporate brand associated with that kind of activity you should turn it off.
2. Gratitude is a good thing.  It’s always polite to thank people when the situation calls for it.  But this is not one of those situations.  Perhaps ten years ago, when Twitter was new and the rules of engagement weren’t understood.  But thanking someone through an automated message (btw, that’s very impersonal) for following you, or in many cases they were actually following you back, now comes across as a rookie move.  Are you currently calling yourself a “social media guru?”  Too bad, because now they know you really aren’t.
3. “Let me know if I can help.”  We really appreciate that you are willing to jump in and solve our problems.  It’s very generous of you.  But you might as well as said the following; “Now, please take the time to go to my website and figure out exactly what I sell.  Then, think about your daily needs and problems and try to determine if you think my services or products can help you.  If they can, let me know.”  If you have spent any time at all carrying a quota then you know this is another rookie sales mistake.

Do you really think your audience is going to explore your website when you probably have less than eight seconds to make an impression and gain their attention?  I didn’t have to ask that question because you already know the answer.  Of course your audience is not going to take time to try to figure you or your company out.  Their attention is limited and they want you to figure them out.  So, turn off your direct message automation program and start over before it’s too late.

Is your company brave enough to hire overqualified job applicants?

Posted on May 3, 2017 at 5:52 AM Comments comments (33)

No, probably not.  In fact, I’m guessing your company doesn’t even interview them for fear of the following:
1. When more experience and skills are obvious from their LinkedIn profile or job application it naturally brings the perception of added value.  And added value brings the perception of higher pay, even if the salary range hasn’t been disclosed.  If that perceived higher salary is higher than your budget for the position the application goes into the “overqualified” file.
2. Recruitment is expensive and takes time, so of course every employer wants the most return on their HR investment.  If the applicant brings additional value it’s natural to conclude that they have lots of “options.”  Therefore the applicant probably wouldn’t stay very long.  Let’s file that one with the overqualified too.
3. Additional experience must mean they’ll get bored with a lower tasked job.  And who wants employees who are not motivated or refuse to be “engaged?”
4. Additional experience implies that they are older and set in their ways.  And the young manager the applicant would report to really views them as a potential internal competitor, not a potential mentor. 
5. Their additional skills and experience means the applicant has obviously applied for the wrong job.  That means there must be something wrong with them, or they have something to hide.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t take the time, or see the need to have a conversation.  No doubt your management has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done this way.  And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest.  They initiated first contact with your company.  If nothing else, don’t you wonder why?  For example, what if:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less, or more.
· Achieve greater work-life balance.
· They are just ready for a change.
It’s time to rethink this situation because on the positive side overqualified can also mean:
1. Well known and connected to your market.
2. Influential
3. Knowledgeable
4. Self-sufficient and easy to manage.
5. Motivated, enthusiastic, even passionate about their work. 
6. Able to provide fast results.
7. All of the above.
Look, regardless of how long an overqualified candidate stays, he or she is bound to add value to your employees and company.  You could do worse things than hire an amazing performer, even if he or she stays only six months.  So, make the time to find out what really motivated them to apply in order to validate additional process considerations.  Examine and evaluate their social capital and personal brand carefully.  The last thing you want to do is dismiss a relationship that could be useful to your sales, marketing or executive team.  Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization.  That action will help your current employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and keep doors open if hiring them is not an option at this time. 


Is your brand self-absorbed?

Posted on April 7, 2017 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (26)
It’s easy to spot self-absorbed brands on social media.  What do they look like?  It’s not what they look like; it has to do with how they communicate.

· Learn more about us at blah blah blah.
· Be sure to “Like” our Facebook page!
· Did you catch our latest post?
· Hope you enjoy our tweets and posts!
· Please RT!
· Don’t miss our latest blah blah blah.

In addition, they rarely follow-back their audience.  Which means it’s impossible to start a direct message conversation with them.  It’s obvious that they’re only interested in using their social channels for broadcasting purposes.

In defense of the self-absorbed brand we know you are spending a lot of time and money developing “thought-leadership” content because your strategy is to be our “go-to” source for everything related to what you do.  And that’s great, but your implementation of that strategy comes across like,  

well, I think you know.  We don’t care how smart you think you are.  If we don’t like you, and trust you, we’re not going to do business with you.

In order to gain our trust and affection you need to shift your focus.

· Say “We’d love you learn more about you!” Not, “learn more about us…”
· Say “We are looking forward to reading your tweets and posts!” Not, “Did you catch our latest post?”
· Stop begging for RT’s … if its good content and we think our audience would benefit from it we’ll pass it on.
· Don’t send automated direct messages or tweets asking us to “Like” your Facebook page.

· And for heaven sakes, follow-back your target market.  Did you know that social rejection activates the same part of the brain as physical pain does?

Your prime prospect is not showing interest – now what?

Posted on February 14, 2017 at 9:11 AM Comments comments (94)

My prime prospect is showing me their child pose.  That’s code speak for “I’m not paying attention now, so don’t bother me.”  The silence is deafening.  What are my options?

1. Get busy with some loud broadcasting activity? You know, blast them with all the channels including the phone, email, texting and social media.  Sure, I can wake them up and force them to engage with me!

2. Hoover over them and watch to see if their current position shifts in the slightest.  At that point I could quickly swoop in and hijack their attention before they nod off again.

3. Monitor and listen; wait for them to wake and regain their focus.  Use the downtime to reevaluate the environment and determine what type of content would be more relevant.

That last option is really hard for a sales and marketing person like me to consider.  It’s hard to wait, listen and reflect when you are action-oriented.  And what’s with the short attention span?  Prospects seem to enter the child pose so quickly!  Of course the idea of creating more content to build interest and keep the prospect engaged always feels childish and is exhausting.

So, under the banner of satisfying unmet needs, education and thought-leadership let the “do not call,” “unsubscribe” and “unfollow” risks be dammed.  After all, I need to pitch my solution by getting the word out because I have a sales funnel to fill.  And so the unsolicited pitches start to crank up the noise.

Except I’m not the only one pitching out there.  Everyone seems to think they are unique, but all the approaches follow the same old templates.

What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
Contact Alan See CMO Temps, LLC at [email protected]

When Ted Turner was asked for the secret to success, he said; “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.”  That’s not something that marketing people can bet their careers on anymore.  We live in a relationship-based economy.  Your prospect is looking for transparency, trust, relevance and engagement.  It’s time to step-back and listen.

“If you were going to start your business over again, what’s the one process, you’d put into place from day one?”

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 6:12 PM Comments comments (22)
The process, or more fitting, the mindset I recommend to individuals who want to start a business should actually be implemented long before they hang out their shingle.  Before starting a consulting firm or business that depends on your personal reputation it’s to your advantage to make sure your personal brand is already known, carries influence, and inspires trust.  That means building and nurturing your personal brand and network must be top-of-mind from the very beginning of your career, even while you are still working for someone else.  I know that may feel like a conflict of interest, but it’s really not.  At the end of the day “entrepreneur” is a term that really does describe all of us.  We are all basically lifelong freelancers with our own unique brand.  Our careers aren’t based on paths or ladders but are more like landscapes that have to be navigated because there are no lifetime employment guarantees.  Our financial security and social standing is determined by our ability to influence people.  And if you want to influence people you need to understand empathically the power of their point-of-view and feel the emotional force with which they believe it.  As you can imagine, building credibility, trust and a social audience that respects you takes time and knowledge.  So, in order to thrive in that type of mission you will need to adopt the mindset of a lifelong learner.  Lifelong learning is more than adult education or training; it is a habit for you to acquire.  Here are 3 important points to keep in mind that will help convince you to make lifelong learning habit forming:

1.  Professional activity has become so knowledge-intensive and fluid in content that learning has become an integral and irremovable part of most work activities. More and more knowledge, especially advanced knowledge, is acquired well past the age of formal schooling, and in many situations through educational processes that do not center on traditional type schools.

2. Self-directed learning, learning on demand, informal learning, and collaborative and organizational learning are all fundamentally different from the traditional classroom learning dominated by curricula and tests.  Your current employer may invest in making one of those forms of learning available to you.  But don’t count on it.  Be prepared to invest both time and money in your ongoing education.

3.  Lifelong learning can influence the creativity and innovation potential of individuals, groups, and organizations.  And creativity and innovation are considered essential capabilities for working smarter in knowledge societies [Drucker, 1994].

Don’t stop learning and growing your personal brand, ever.

Why the phrase “mutual benefit” never works with an influencer

Posted on January 17, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)
I’d like to connect and collaborate for mutual benefit.” Like many of you, I’m often approached with that line on many social platforms.  In truth, when that phrase is used within a LinkedIn connection request from someone I don’t know it makes me cringe because past experience has proven that they really mean one of two things:
1.       I’d like you to accept my connection request so I can immediately pitch you on the solution I’m peddling because I’m sure you are a qualified persona.
2.       I’d liked to be able to leverage you and pick your mind but not actually pay for your services, knowledge or social capital.
The second example of course refers to asking “who, what, when, where, why and how” strategy type questions that represents a consultants or other knowledge workers primary source of value.  I know, I know, I know, I sound very jaded.  But we all know that in today’s social media world I’m not off-base.  In the beginning LinkedIn was about connecting to people you actually knew.  Today, too many so-called “social networking experts” are merely trying to pile up connections and then making attempts to microwave the relationship with no intention of exploring the possibility of mutual benefits.
The challenge for those of you who are “reaching out” with a sincere heart is that the only way to know if there is going to be mutual benefit is when the connection and collaboration is actually accomplished.  And that process generally doesn’t start unless each party first “trusts” the other.
Look, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make a cold call or approach a stranger on LinkedIn, but why aren’t you working on building awareness and trust first? So, how do you build trust if you’re not connected and already engaging?
Be Found
1.        To be found during the “search” process usually refers to when a customer or prospect has a need or desire for a product or service that your organization is capable of delivering. But in this case that is not what I’m talking about. Initially you need to take steps to get on their radar screen.  You want them to notice you in a good way.  To be found, read their blogs and respond with thoughtful comments.  Read their updates on LinkedIn and hit the “Like” button.  Retweet and Like their Twitter posts.  Now, don’t go over-the-top with this strategy.  You don’t want to come across as some type of stalking crazy groupie.  But if you perform this task consistently over a medium-long period of time I can assure you that your targeted influencer will notice you.  Influencers take special note of their audience engagement and they live for it.
2.       To be able to find and approach prospects with characteristic’s that line up well with your organizations target markets.  For the record, sending a cold connection request using the LinkedIn standard template and expecting your target to instantly understand your background and trust you are not what you should be doing.  Of course, if you are already some well-known personality perhaps that will work for you.  I’m not well-known so I never send the standard template connection request.  Your potential new connection is only going to take a few seconds to scan your profile.  That means your profile and related content needs to be top quality.
3.       To engage generally means to be able to approach customers and prospects with relevant content that creates awareness and builds trust.  Also, to be able to communicate in a way that positively impacts the customer experience across sales, marketing, and customer service.  But here again that is not what I’m talking about.  You originally took the step to try and customize your request; you said “I’d like to connect and collaborate for mutual benefit.  But if you want to develop “trust” you need to already be thinking of ways to do something for your new potential influencer connection.  Now, I know what you are thinking:
A)     If they would just listen to my pitch they’d get it.  I’ll use my standard “our customers tell us that they are struggling with blah, blah, blah” and they’ll say “so am!! Please come to my rescue!”  Or you’ll send them your Nascar logo slide with your current customers implying that they would be stupid not to listen.  Look, you still need that type of content but you are breaking it out too early.  You haven’t touched me “emotionally” by letting me know “what’s in it for me?”
B)     So, “what’s in it for them?”  This is the most difficult part of the assignment because you are really going to need to think through your personal value-prop.  And you need to do it before you have the initial conversations.  Your potential influencer connection wants to know that you have given this a great deal of thought.  You cannot wimp out by saying “I’ll just ask them a question, like - what can I do for you?”  Remember, the customer often doesn’t know what they want until you tell them.  At this point they don’t really know you, or trust you, and they have no idea how you might be able to help them personally.  That means you are going to be dead-in-the-water because they will not be able to truthfully answer your question or understand you value-proposition.
Unless you’ve carefully considered the ramifications, use “I’d like to connect and collaborate for mutual benefit” with great caution.

Real-Time Talent Mismanagement in Action

Posted on November 17, 2016 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (2)

“We’re looking for a lighter version of you.”  In a business recruiting situation, they probably don’t mean that you’re overweight.  Odds are they’re telling you that they think you’re “overqualified.”  And overqualified is usually code speak for the following:
1. You are too old.
2. You are too expensive.
3. The hiring manager would be uncomfortable with your credentials.  Perhaps even intimidated.
4. They don’t have the forward thinking vision to consider expanding the position, or to anticipate their future talent needs.
5. All of the above.
Overqualified candidates are rarely invited to interview with the hiring manager.  Their resume or social profile is screened and the assumption made that the person would be bored and not motivated, so they would underperform or leave.  As a result, the standard template rejection email is sent letting them know they should feel free to apply for other jobs you have posted.  Of course you’ll feel they’re overqualified for those jobs too inviting the process to start over.  This is completely ludicrous when you think about it.  No doubt HR has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done that way.  And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest.  They initiated first contact with your company.  If nothing else, don’t you wonder why?  For example:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less or more.
· Achieve greater work/life balance.
· They just want to make a change.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t have the time or see the need to have a conversation.  And yet, your sales and marketing organizations may very well be spending large portions of their time and promotion budgets trying to meet those same personas.  Take note; overqualified is also code speak for:
1. Well known and connected.
2. Influential decision maker.
3. Knowledgeable
4. Motivated
5. All of the above.
Why you should be networking with the Overqualified
Are there unique factors you should consider in this situation?  Indeed and here are just a couple to start:
· Before you reject the candidate find out if there is room to expand the job role in order to take advantage of his/her background.  Also, think carefully about future needs.  This situation may present an opportunity to bring in areas of expertise that are not currently represented at your company but will eventually be needed.  Take time to find out what is really motivating them to make a change in order to validate additional consideration.
· If hiring is definitely not an option make sure you examine and evaluate their social capital carefully.  The last thing you want to do is to set fire to a bridge that your sales and/or marketing team has been trying to build.  Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization.  That action will help your employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and help keep doors open with the candidate should your needs change.

Are you still thinking about sending that overqualified candidate your standard rejection letter?