When An Annoyance Becomes A Social Selling Opportunity

May 17, 2015

Changing an Annoyance Into A Social Selling OpportunityAs a society, we are inundated with all kinds of sales, marketing and advertising messages. It’s really not much of an exaggeration to say we are on the receiving end of these messages every waking minute of the day.

While most of them can be pushed away, there’s times when we actually want to turn the tables and use them to our advantage.

Don’t Unsubscribe

I’m writing this as a reaction to a published post I read last week on LinkedIn. Basically, the author was bellyaching about all of the published-post updates he was receiving from his 1st-degree connections (what I call “directs”) in his notifications feed. He didn’t understand why he was receiving them, and just wanted to end all of them at once. He even showed his readers how to unsubscribe from those notifications.

After reading it, I just shook my head and thought, “Man, the people who are doing this are wasting opportunities to reconnect and have solid conversations with their directs.”

His unsubscribing ways are actually hurting his business, too. He’s an account manager for some company in the Midwest. As a salesperson, shouldn’t he be actually looking to expand his influence on LinkedIn through his 1st-connection network? As my Magic 8 Ball would say, “Signs Point to Yes.”

Instead, “Subscribe” To Connecting

The last thing anyone should think of these alerts is “annoying.” Instead, think of these updates as ways to “subscribe” to connect—or reconnect—with your directs. Social Selling can help.

I’ve already written about the importance of reconnecting with your 1st degrees. Sometimes, you might even need to initially connect with them, because you had blindly sent them an/accepted their invite (years ago, I’d guess).

No matter how long it’s been since you’ve communicated with them (if ever), I recommend against unsubscribing to these types of updates, because they actually represent a great reason to reconnect.

So… How?

I could write an entire White Paper on all of the steps in using published-post notifications to strengthen one’s network… and I probably will at some point. For now, though, here’s how to re-start a relationship with a direct after receiving a published-post notification:

  1. Go to the article from the notification and read it. Don’t just plan on clicking through to it and “liking” it; part of Social Selling is about really listening to what your connections (and those in your industry vertical, if applicable) are saying. You “listen” through reading what they’re writing. So “listen,” because you’ll want to enhance the article or the discussion with your opinion.
  2. Then comment on it. Don’t just write “Nice article, Joe,” as that’s not interesting, and it doesn’t add anything to the article or discussion.
  3. Somewhere in your comment, you can start typing the person’s name and it’ll come up as a link. Click on the full name, and then backspace over the last name (it should only take one backspace to eliminate the entire last name).
  4. Replying to someone else’s comment works well, too, as you’re furthering the discussion.
  5. Feel free to informally “invite” other 1st connections of yours who might be interested in the article, by using the same method in Step 3. Don’t use this to spam; “send” it only to those who you think would be interested.

I especially like #5, because you’re actually reconnecting with two people: the article author and the person (or people) you’re inviting to read the article.

As I’ve alluded to above, you ideally shouldn’t just “like” the article. While you don’t need to spend a ton of time on reading and formulating a response, you should be able to grab hold of something from the article and comment on it.

From there, you might want to build on this opportunity by inviting the article’s author to coffee or lunch, or to have a phone conversation with them. They’re your 1st-degree connections, after all… they should be willing to at least have a phone call with you. If they blow you off or turn you down, they might not be deserving of their 1st-degree connection status with you.

Just like any other strategy, this won’t work 100% of the time. Let’s face it — sometimes you just won’t have an opinion on what someone posts. If that’s the case, go ahead and “like” it. Then watch for their next post, as you may be interested in what they have to say.

As an added bonus, whenever you comment or like an article, it appears as a status update to all of your 1st degrees in their update feed. That’s another impression for you across your entire network!

Agree to Disagree

Now let’s address the pink elephant in the room: What if you don’t like the article, or you disagree with it so much that blood is shooting of of your eyes? I don’t mind people disagreeing with my articles and writing about their disagreements in the Comments section, as it spurs discussion and can get some really interesting follow-up comments going.

If I see a long-form post I disagree with from one of my 1st degrees, I’ll normally message the author ahead of time and ask if it’s okay if I post a disagreement (with a good, respectful explanation as to why I disagree). If they say yes, then I’ll do so (and ask about reconnecting, too). If they say no, I’ll see if they’re willing to have a phone conversation to reconnect. Here’s a quick script that also subtly lets them know I only want to reconnect, and not argue about the article:

[FIRSTNAME], I appreciate your position on [THE TOPIC]. Thanks for reading mine, too. While I was reading your post, I realized it’s been a while since we’ve talked. Would you like to [GRAB COFFEE, GET LUNCH, HAVE A PHONE CONVERSATION, ETC.] …

I try as often as possible to not look at a wide variety of things not as annoyances, but as opportunities. What do you think of this opportunistic conversion?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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