First, second, 45th most – to each, his or her own. We all have our way of using, doing, being social. Online and off. This be mine.
Like a robo-call from telemarketing hell, the LinkedIn Request from a total stranger
While they aren’t always a deal breaker for me, I really truly don’t care for the generic LinkedIn invite. [I know the mobile apps don't let you customize. Made that mistake, am now careful to go to the web for connecting as I'm in the camp that I customize my invites. Always.]
Generic, random LinkedIn requests are cold, impersonal, unprofessional, lazy, annoying.
I’m not so in-demand that I just block and ignore these. I reply. Some variation of a professional and courteous, “Thanks for asking. I prefer to connect with people I’ve worked with or know from online. Could you please tell me where and when we’ve crossed paths? Why you want to network? All the best.”
5 types of LinkedIn Responses I get back:
- Crickets. Seriously, think almost half my invite replies are ignored. Someone just racking up numbers, no desire to truly connect.
- The Offended Troll. More than a few times, I’ve had a poorly capitalized, terribly spelled rambling rant of a reply from someone hella pissed off at the notion that while I am on LinkedIn to network, I don’t treat it as a free for all.
- The Overly-Aggressive Power Networker. They’re scary serious. They want that connection, because they’d be great for you and ‘hey it’s all good.’ And while you’re already taking, follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, subscribe to their e-crap and buy everything they’ve shared on Pinterest like NOW.
- The Overly-Eager Flirt. Doesn’t happen that often, but I’ve gotten requests from those less interested in business than they are “meeting people” that are attractive and “couldn’t we just text or SnapChat?” My latest really didn’t know when to take NO for an answer.
- A Real Answer. Rare. Sometimes we have bumped into each other on a chat or a blog and I just don’t make the connection. Sometimes they just got a suggestion from someone else or shockingly, even read a post or tweet of mine. If there’s a legit reason to connect, I do. If I’m unsure, I invite them to follow me elsewhere and offer to do the same.
Who do I think I am to have a policy? Why am I networking?!
It’s not a competition, not about the vanity metrics. In the 3.5 years since I first blogged about not connecting with strangers on LinkedIn – and hot damn I. Am. Old. – I’ve seen people throw open the flood gates and I’ve watched people walk away all together.
I’ve also lived and learned. The few times I ignored my better angels and accepted, it’s inevitably opened my email and network to hard sales pitches, requests to buy or subscribe, and/or please ask everyone I’ve ever met to do something. Broadcast blasts. Job begging*. Hey, come out for a drink and why we’re meeting, BUY.
That’s not business. That’s not relationship building or networking. It’s spam. It’s bullshit.
If you’re reading this, odds are you have a similar LinkedIn policy. If not, why not?
*It’s coming. I’m gonna be reaching out to my network soon but when I do, believe me I’ll have something of value to offer you, not just another ‘hey, I need a job’ e-blast.
Photo credit: LOVE the Tumblr for Honest Slogans.
Along the lines of inspiration coming from anywhere, a post can come from a beer tasting and a movie. Kinda freeform ideas, FWIW:
1. Innovation. Went to the Red Brick Brewing for a beer tasting was a special night – the Employee brew off.
- This was open to all employees, not just the ‘beer’ guys, because this company is all about the love of beer, not just profit. Loves me some smart HR.
- The marketing manager explained that THIS was their focus, this is how they learn from their customers what to offer and sell, by giving folks an open invitation to come and try.
2. Competition. The night being young and all, I went to see the movie RUSH, based on a rivalry of two Formula One drivers.
- While I’m not a huge racing fan it goes to show what sports can do – tell a compelling story. (And not for nothing, the players in this had some smart, entertaining media savvy.)
- More importantly, it shows the power and NEED for healthy competition. Just like the rivalries we follow in sports, so too are they important in business. Easiest example of that now – the Tech Wars. Apple and Google, Apple and Samsung, Apple and Microsoft – yes, I overdose on the Apple, but it’s hard to miss my point: all these VS. of the tech giants against each other, they all DRIVE each other to do better, offer more, try harder. And we as the consumer tend to win.
3. Differentiation. Back to the brewery for this one.
- It’s not meaningless attempt to revolutionize a product or market sector. Cars have four wheels and probably will for some time hence; the beer was still a malt beverage, served in a glass. Evolutionary improvements can drive markets.
- There’s always a catch; last night’s: a lot of good beers didn’t win the competition. What really wowed the tasters? The ones that tried different things. The nights winner, Fiery Gizzard, – you gotta look at all the names, some great creativity there – was a love-or-hate it concoction where spicy met citrus.
You create and discover, learn and study and explore. It’s keeping your eyes on the prize, the leaders of the pack and the up-and-comers, helping you put together that dream team that can in fact build a better mouse trap or craft and market a crazy-but-it-works beer. Talking, listening and really hearing what others employees, investors, customers need and want and are willing to buy – that’s the brass ring territory right there.
These traits hardwired are into the strongest corporate cultures. Look past the win today or the sale tomorrow, look to the future you want and the plan it will take to get you there.
It’s not exactly a 3rd-grader’s goals for the year, but if a kid can get away with this, why not? A few things I figured out this summer.
Planning Pays Off *
I’m a planner, makes things easier (usually). When I go somewhere, I want to be there, enjoying that time – not surfing the web, not standing in lines, not hunting for dinner making that decision take too long.
Two ways to save money; either plan and pay in advance or wait for a last-minute deal. The Catch is that ‘deal’ may cost you more in the end, depending on other arrangements. Try getting a bargain flight for a holiday weekend sometime.
No last minute this time, things were set months ahead.
* Except when it doesn’t.
One nit to pick – and I’ve done it before (one of my first, terrible posts) – is when a company undercuts themselves, you call them on it, then they don’t honor their own sodding ‘price match’ guarantee.
Exceptions, conditions, fine print drafted by little devils using a micron laser, exclusions, hoops made me outside the deal – I get that. But when that’s the case, it makes me second-guess the brand, particularly when the “Low Price” Guarantee isn’t worth the website, links, ads, buttons, it’s PLASTERED on as the CORNERSTONE of the brand’s marketing UPS. Ahem.
I won’t necessarily take my business elsewhere – but I’ll rethink some planning and if caught outside the Early Bird window, that Wait and See prices will start looking mighty tempting.
Apps make the World Go ‘Round
- Kayak price alerts made the planning go smoother, saving me time and money not having to shop around for flight deal. When my fares dropped, I got an email and done, snagged a little credit on Southwest for next time.
- Priceline. Switched to desktop this time, but still a must for any deal hunter.
- It was so handy having my confirmations in TripIt. Hotels, car, flights, cruise and more – all organized in one place and my calendar.
- For the day at Disney, looking up show times and seeing ride wait times via their park apps was a plus.
- ScoutMob. Atlanta based, would love to see them expand. A deal could have easily wooed us as we walked around downtown Miami.
No wait, I totally knew that already. It’s true – we need breaks, we need to escape.
Whether it’s the freedom of being disconnected, the carefree mind shift of sipping a frozen beverage poolside, vacations and breaks help us recharge, reset, revive. (Need to stalk companies offering unlimited vacation time, see who’s hiring.)
Went to Key West, I confirmed that cruising much better than driving (and getting stuck in traffic). I ate too much on the cruise ship, learned the Thriller dance (again). Oh, and the water around Grand Turk is bloody gorgeous.
That is all.
New places, good food, different experiences mixed in with some comforting favorites – travel is just my thing. Have any favorite travel apps? Any vacation Do’s or Don’ts? Besides the rest and recharge, what do you get out of vacation?
The work-life balance brigade has been busy. This year I’ve seen:
Resorts and retreats dedicated to separating many a professional’s money from his or her wallet, by offering them an unplugged escape. No phones or Internet, “Pay more, get less” all part of the marketing ploy lest the Facebook or Pinterest toxic cooties take root. IDK.
Post after story after article, one person after another blathering about how they left the Interwebs or Social Media for a month or a year; maybe sold their iPhone and resorted to letters, carrier pigeons, even the dreaded landline phone call to communicate with other humans, used that cable/ISP money they saved to buy stamps and more booze. IDK.
Me. Rolling my eyes. Hard.
No really, it is. I’m busy, but don’t have crazy social followings or a constant barrage of texts and emails, pokes and replies. Even so, I use the technology to work faster, make my life easier. (Better, always subject for debate.)
I’m nowhere near as ‘hooked’ as my technology junkie self pretends to be. But how anyone finds going cold techno turkey easy or better, I have no idea.
One smarter-than-cutting-the-cord solution I read, kill the notifications. No more beeps, cheeps, chimes, pings. Almost makes too much sense: run your phone – don’t let it run you.
One of the first things I found when I got my iPhone, that ‘mute’ slider on the side. In the movies or at dinner, that little button does the trick.
IMHO: Throwing out your smartphone or unplugging from the Internet WON’T put the balance back in your work-life balance. Putting boundaries, limits, BALANCE back in will.
I’m gone for a week – iPhone and iPad in tow, having already turned of auto-posts and email subscriptions. Among my vacation activities will be:
- Pictures and updates. Posting a few here and there, just enough to make everyone almost hate me while wishing me nice time.
- Reading. I hope to read at least one or two e-books whilst lounging in a padded beach chair, sipping an umbrella cocktail. (See, you don’t have to wait for photos.. get your hate on now. )
- Making my travel go smoother, faster, easier via apps like TripIt and Kayak.
Sometimes my iToys do get the better of me, but I know my boundaries. Y’all keep an eye on the Interwebs for me and I’ll see you in September. FWIW.
That was me. Until I started Googling, hitting up Yelp and TripAdvisor, I hadn’t heard of the Porter Beer Bar - and it was top ranked all over the place. Mini review: Good service. Clever touches. Smart, value-driven pricing. Killer beer menu. Which goes to show:
- You don’t have to be a national chain.
- You don’t have to be the biggest.
- You don’t need to be the schmanciest. Not the highest priced, nor the lowest for that matter.
You absolutely DO need to be KNOWN.
The Porter Beer bar is a place I should have at least heard of. This is a place you recommend, you take friends, it’s worth the trip and the battle of traffic. Ok, maybe not the 6th circle of hell that is Atlanta on a Friday afternoon but worth the journey once in a while.
How did I not know a thing about this place?!
Restaurants are one of the hardest businesses to build into a success, and that starts with getting people to take note – then tell their friends.
How often do we take a wrong turn, get ‘lost’ – only to learn a different or better way to get from A to J? Bonus: we discover cool new places tucked along the way.
How often does a friend or family member share their secret (if poorly branded) shopping discovery – only to find that they’ve been going there for years?
How often do employees miss out on different programs, benefits, even required training – because HR did a crap job of making them aware? (Newsletter rant pending.)
Oh my, how often we tackle a need or a problem, a want or goal with a trip to Google. Then scratch heads not knowing what to search. And when we discuss it with others, they’ll offer suggestions and tips, brands and companies, solutions and extras that We. Never. Knew. Existed.
I’m a Communications consultant, consider myself a Public Relations integrator. I know that effective, cross-discipline communications with various key stakeholders is essential to developing and sustaining a successful organization, building a strong brand.
I also know that if your target audience isn’t even aware of you – or the solutions you can provide or desires you can meet – you’re going to go nowhere. Fast.
Is ‘awareness’ a dirty word or due some proper respect?