Imagine one of your sales reps receiving an invitation to a prestigious gathering of local c-level decision-makers. In this day-long conference, the executives would be sharing their best thinking on how to improve their businesses. Throughout the day there would be networking breaks where your rep could get to know these top-level decision makers. This would be a fantastic opportunity!
Now imagine that during one of the networking breaks your sales rep stands up on a chair and shouts to the noisy room: “Excuse me, can I have your attention please!” The noise of the crowd dulls to an awkward silence as eyes turn toward your salesperson standing high above the crowd on his chair. “I just want everyone to know that I work for ABC Dealership and we are at the end of our fiscal year. We have a lot of specials and this is a great time to buy a copier!”
How would that go over? No doubt, it would submarine the credibility of the salesperson. It would also harm the reputation of his employer.
You would never let a sales rep do this at a live event. Yet this goes on every day on LinkedIn.
Recently, LinkedIn launched the ability to write long-form posts—you’re reading one right now! This feature offers professionals the opportunity to go beyond a short update and share their ideas like they would on a blog. Every time you write a post the article not only shows up in your connections’ stream of updates, but it also shows up as an alert at the top right of the screen.
Here’s the problem. A few sales reps are starting to abuse long-form posts. Similar to the rep standing on their chair at the networking event, these reps are using a platform that was intended to share ideas to shout out their latest specials. This is a fast way to destroy your reputation on LinkedIn.
To prove my point, I offer two examples from my LinkedIn stream in the past 24 hours. These posts are 100% guaranteed to get followers to tune out. They also position the individual as a shark-in-a-suit rather than as a thought leader that decision-makers would want to follow.
Note: I’ve redacted the names to protect the guilty parties. These are just ones that I’ve seen in the last day. I could have picked dozens of these examples from the past month.
Exhibit A: The End of Year Special!
As a recovering copier sales rep, I know, I know, I know… It is almost irresistible to blast something like this out in as many places as possible. Please resist the urge. Here’s the problem with this: it gets you tuned out. You severely damage your ability to use LinkedIn going forward to connect with decision-makers.
Exhibit B: Summer Sizzler
How annoying. In the middle of my breakfast habit of reading helpful articles from thought leaders that I respect, I get this annoying promo for discount travel. Notice this “article” has 40 views, 0 likes, and 0 comments. It also caused me to unfollow this annoying person.
What Not to Post on LinkedIn Pulse
Here are some things not to post on LinkedIn Pulse and a few ideas that salespeople can use to accomplish their sales goals while also positioning themselves as experts.
Don’t be the person talking about specials. If you can’t resist talking about your specials, try this instead: Write a helpful article about how companies can use multifunction systems to scan documents into their workflow. Then, at the end of the article, put a link to a page on your website about multifunction systems that include information on current promotions. Or, ask a question to spur conversation in the comments section. You’ll be sharing helpful information that positions you as an expert. Then you’ll draw people into your website and/or a conversation.
- Event Announcements
LinkedIn is a great way to promote events. Put the event on your company page. Promote your event with regular “short” updates. But don’t use LinkedIn Pulse to promote your event. If you want to use LinkedIn Pulse to promote an event here is a tasteful way to do this. Write an article about a topic you’ll address in the event. Then at the end of the article, tell the reader they can learn more at the event. Here’s an example: Growth Opportunities in the Green Market
What Should Reps Post On LinkedIn Pulse?
- Helpful Ideas
When you get a good idea about how the technology you sell could be helpful to a business, write a LinkedIn Pulse article. It doesn’t have to be long. Just share the idea. It will position you as an expert.
- Answers to Questions
All-day long you get asked questions about technology. Many times, you answer these in an email. With a little bit of editing, you can transition that email into a great LinkedIn Pulse post.
- Your Philosophy of Business
Write articles that explain your philosophy of business. Our LinkedIn Coach, Larry Levine does a great job of this. Follow him to get some examples.
Please Don’t Salt the Earth
LinkedIn is a fantastic way to position yourself as a professional in the community of business leaders. Please do not salt the earth by being that salesperson standing on a chair shouting out details of the latest promotion.
- It hurts your reputation.
- It hurts the reputation of the company you work for.
- And, if enough people continue doing this, over time, decision-makers will tune out LinkedIn. (That would be a real shame!)
Let’s encourage our sales teams to use LinkedIn Pulse in the way it was intended: a place to share ideas, position ourselves as experts, and start meaningful conversations with potential clients.
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.