About a year ago, I made the decision to become an open networker on LinkedIn after a fellow sales trainer and sales keynote speaker told me that it helped him connect with dozens of decision makers.
I registered for a service that added my name and LinkedIn profile to a database and within hours dozens of people were reaching out to connect.
A few months later I had added more than 1000 people to my contact list. Flash forward 10 months and my list of connections has grown to more than 3000 people.
Sounds great, right?
Uh, not so much…
What seemed like a good idea at the time has turned into a complete fiasco.
Since then I have been inundated with messages from people trying to sell me their “stuff” and every single email (with the odd exception) has been spam. What surprises me is the self-righteous attitude people exhibit when I politely request that they stop sending me these messages. Plus, dozens of people are now asking me to connect them with another person in my contact list. Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable connecting those people because I don’t really know either of them.
As a result, I am now in the process of deleting people who I don’t actually know from my contact list unless they sent me a personal note to connect (usually from a LinkedIn group, Twitter, my newsletter, etc).
I have long believed that active networking generates new sales leads and can help sales people increase their sales. However, I have quickly—well, obviously not that quickly—realized that there is a difference between real networking and social networking.
Don’t get me wrong.
There is merit in social networking. Lots of it.
In fact, I have some great friends as a result of my social networking efforts. However, these friendships were developed over time; they didn’t happen overnight. And, none of these friends asked for something without first getting to know me—and vice versa.
Social media is being touted as a powerful vehicle to generate new sales leads and opportunities. However, like anything else, you do need to exercise caution before you plunge it. Don’t expect it to cure your sales problems.