I know I’m a bit biased, but I believe that marketing is a big part of most people’s lives. Even if they aren’t marketers and even if they themselves don’t realize it.

There’s a doctor I know, a good friend, who doesn’t like marketing and tells me so. But she relies heavily on her existing clients to refer their friends to her. That’s word-of-mouth marketing.

I have a lawyer friend who is starting to blog. She tells me that it isn’t marketing, that she’s blogging to generate client leads. But in reality she’s practicing content marketing.

And then there’s LinkedIn. If you’re reaching out to a contact you know well to request a formal connection, I guess that’s not marketing. But if you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know and asking them to connect with you — that is a form of marketing. You are asking someone who doesn’t know you to take an action, one that will benefit you (otherwise why would you be reaching out), and may or may not benefit them.

So it surprises me when the copy around such a request doesn’t follow some basic principles of marketing. Or when there’s no copy/note at all.

I Need No Introduction…

First let’s conquer no copy at all. I realize that this is the default LinkedIn invitation. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty myself of sending these.

I send LinkedIn invites without a note when I’m in a meeting with people, assuming that since I’m sitting next to them at the table they’ll accept without the usual niceties. Lazy, I know. But it usually works; after all, you’ve introduced yourself and already shared a few niceties in-real-life (IRL), so the online invite is really a follow-up to that.

I’ve also sent invites with no note when I have 50 or more common connections with the recipient — in these cases I kind of feel like our joint connections speak for themselves. I’m breaking myself of this habit, but it has happened.

Everyone is different, but I typically don’t respond to blank, no note connection requests unless:

  • I’ve just met them at a conference or meeting (see the IRL example above)
  • We have a lot of connections in common (25 or more, or 3 to 5 key ones), or
  • They have a really, really great job and I think they are a high quality potential client.

So in those cases, I guess no note is required, but otherwise…

That said, even when I get notes with LinkedIn connection requests, I often find them lacking.

A Rose by Any Other Name…

The spelling of my name is a bit unusual. If you didn’t notice, it’s “Jeanne” — it’s a single syllable, not Jeanine, not Jeannie. Just Jeanne. And it’s spelled correctly on my LinkedIn profile.

In fact, it’s spelled correctly on my LinkedIn profile:

  • Twice in the image above my head shot
  • Below my picture, in a large font
  • Six times in the summary, which appears below just below the headline
  • You get the idea…

So it surprises me when I get a LinkedIn message with my name spelled wrong. It makes me feel like the sender didn’t really pay attention to my profile. I think I take extra care to spell people’s names correctly, since mine is often misspelled. No one is perfect, but when my name is spelled wrong, when the person reaching out hasn’t paid enough attention to my profile to know how to spell it correctly, I always question their sincerity. Especially if they proclaim themselves to be a long-time reader and fan.

And I don’t think I’m the only one… do us both a favor, double-check that you’ve spelled the person’s name correctly the next time you send a LinkedIn message.

The WIIFM Conundrum…

This one I feel a little guilty about.

On the one hand, when I get LinkedIn messages which are too exuberant and full of what’s-in-it-for-me (WIIFM), I shy away, Things like:

So good to hear from someone with some email marketing expertise. 😉

This falls into the ‘too good to be true’ category — I’ve never been one for “get rich quick’ schemes and this is akin to that for me. I don’t really know what his ‘angle’ on email marketing is and I don’t really care to. This isn’t the type of work I do and, based on this message, I don’t really see any way that we would work together. Wouldn’t you feel the same?

Then there are the messages that don’t talk at all about WIIFM. Like this one that I received:

This is personable. But there’s an ask in here — “I think you would add a lot of value to the group” – without any mention of WIIFM. I love what I do, and I actively give back — through this blog, as an Advisory Board Member of the Email Experience Council, as a blogger at Only Influencers, as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University (I get paid, but not much when you consider all the time spent) and in helping other email marketers when I can.

But this message concerned me; what are her expectations of me and how much time is involved? This is a marketing message, no question, but there’s no WIIFM, just an open-ended ask (flattering, but still).

So what’s the point of this blog post/rant? Just to remind you that almost every interaction you have is a marketing communication. If you’re applying for a job, or if you have a job and are trying to sell others on an idea you have, it’s a marketing communication. And if you think of it that way and act appropriately, you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting the response you want.


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