LinkedIn is undoubtedly one of the greatest universal channels for forming and nurturing business relationships. When you think about it, it really is just one big business dating site. We all know LinkedIn is a business network and that, at the end of the day, we are on there to develop business, but … a relationship first needs to be developed. Take things too fast and there may be some regrets down the line, as we never really got to know each other properly. The trouble is that most people (and, more often than not, us men) see dating as a more akin to a “seek and conquer” mission, rather than a process that requires some patience and subtlety. Apply this blunt approach to LinkedIn and you get nowhere fast.
Let’s now redefine this online behavior as “The Big Sales Theory” and align ourselves with the characters in the ever-popular TV show, The Big Bang Theory. This is a show which follows the fortunes of four central male characters, with special focus on their pursuit of women.
Let’s draw a parallel between the effectiveness of sales behaviors and the success rates that each character has in getting the gal.
Firstly, we have Howard. Howard isn’t a guy who asks for sex on the first date. Oh, no… Howard is a guy who asks for sex before the first date! Guess what? It never works and most women find him totally repugnant. Unfortunately, this is exactly how the majority of people behave on LinkedIn and, as a result, experience similarly poor outcomes.
In being immediately pitched to, the other party is totally repulsed, pigeonholes you as “yet another pesky salesperson” and avoids engagement. Essentially, we men are inclined to be somewhat impatient and it sure does show. I have to put my hand up and admit to being guilty of this myself, on several occasions.
The solution? Before hitting that “Send” button, just re-read your carefully crafted connection invite or message, and be sure that you aren’t about to “do a Howard”.
Next we have Raj. Raj is so shy with girls that he can’t even speak to them! The prospective target may enjoy the peace and quiet, but it's not a good thing for Raj in this situation. No communication equals no sale.
You may be shy or intimidated sort, but there needs to be some kind of communication to get the business relationship moving. Raj doesn’t have communication problems with the men in his social circle, so the best solution for him – and for you – is to realise that (in his case) women (and in your case, LinkedIn connections) are just people, too. By simply engaging with them on simple, human terms, there’s a way to win them over.
The third ‘Big Bang Theory’ archetype is Sheldon. Dear Sheldon. He’s pretty quirky and interesting character, but totally oblivious to anyone else’s needs but his own. He’s self-interested, self-focused and unwilling or unable to accept or even consider the value of another person’s contribution to the world. The “market” for Sheldon, from a female perspective, is pretty limited… While I actively encourage everyone to be a little different and to embrace their inner “purple cow”, there has to be some focus on the end objective – a sale. Sales rely on two participants, and if there’s no ‘give and take’, there’s no sale.
Lastly, we have Leonard. In the early seasons of the show, Leonard has designs on Penny, a blonde wannabe actor who lives across the hall. She’s the kind of woman who he believes to be a little out of his league, and so he doesn’t think that he has much of a chance. Yet, despite Leonard’s abject clumsiness when it comes to wooing Penny, by being consistently genuine and patient, Leonard eventually wins her over.
And that’s who we all need to be on LinkedIn – Leonard. By being genuine, patient and somewhat endearing, relationships bloom and eventually lead to ‘business matrimony’.
We certainly don’t want to be Howard and drive potential prospects away with our full-frontal approach. Nor do we want to be Raj – he’s the guy that joins LinkedIn but never actively does anything to make any connections. Unfortunately, he thinks the fault lays with LinkedIn as he expects it to magically deliver, simply because he joined…
With Sheldon, there are certainly some aspects of him to admire, as he is the guy who posts like crazy on an array of quirky, yet interesting topics. The trouble is that his brand of out-and-out altruism never quite monetizes…
So, before you hit that Send button, take a moment to check your alignment with “The Big Sales Theory”. You know it makes sense. Bazinga!
About the Author
Andy Kyiet Managing Director, APAC Demand Flow Intelligence. He is known in the industry as “The Orang-utan Whisperer”, I help my clients to find their particular Orang-utans at the lowest possible cost. Prior to launching Demand Flow Intelligence in 2001, my background was running ventures that provided high-value technology solutions. My key frustration was a lack of affordable market intelligence that would enable me to do smarter marketing.