Networking On LinkedIn: Are Conversation Prompts Stifling Your Progress?

LinkedIn Conversation prompts and starters; what do you think about them? Yes, we all need a prompt to kickstart action. But tell me, what is the point of sending generic, almost ‘spammy’ messages? Consider that for a moment.

My email feed is filled with ‘congrats on your work anniversary. Hope you’re doing well.’ Please forgive me if I sound ungrateful, but it just feels like people are going through the motions. I mean, what do I do with them exactly? Do I reply? Do I ignore? What action might such a message prompt?

Sorry, if I sound so miserable about these updates. But the reason for my misery is quite simple really. I believe that social media is a force for good, in the main. It’s about having the chance to meaningfully communicate and network. Certainly it gives me the opportunity to reach out to some pretty special people in a way that wouldn’t be possible without Twitter or LinkedIn.

For example, I have made real friends, conducted business, been offered jobs and found support through my varied and highly switched on Twitter community. But all this activity is predicated on genuine and meaningful interaction that adds value.

Isn’t it time to take networking on LinkedIn more seriously?

I know time is a very precious commodity and one which most of us lack but is it really better to send a ‘congrats’ notification rather than just doing nothing? That’s the answer I’m looking for.

I know this article makes me sound curmudgeonly and for that I apologise, but I always try and make my messaging bespoke. Why do I do this? It’s quite simple really; I believe in the power of strong communities. I also believe that if we reach out to others we should offer benefits and something valuable, whether that’s information or support.

Recently VKN Digital has published a blog about thought leaders and influencers. I am very humbled to say that some pretty big names have contributed to this article. The interesting thing is these big names continue to gain followers because they add tremendous value and are extremely generous with their time, their intelligence and their ideas. You can’t help but be impressed by their personal approach. This is what sets them apart. However, a quick note, that distresses me somewhat: no women replied to my call to arms so the article is dominated by the male perspective. Interesting…

Anyway, I digress. The differentiator with respect to these thought leaders is they take the time to be personal. I can’t imagine receiving a ‘congrats’ note from them. Surely there’s a moral in that, wouldn’t you say?

Therefore, before you think about hitting the ‘congrats’ button consider just what that says about you. Think about your own reaction to receiving such an automated response. How does it make you feel? Does it prompt an action or a sigh?

Things to say and do instead of hitting the ‘congrats’ message on LinkedIn

If we’re going to use social media successfully then it does take thought, effort and genuine desire to communicate meaningfully. That doesn’t mean you have to write a novel but what it does mean is that you should start a conversation that really matters. Who knows where such conversations might lead? So, in my opinion sending a generic ‘congrats’ is a dead-end and dare I say it ? Yes I do: it’s a total waste of effort.

Instead of hitting the congrats button, perhaps ask a question such as ‘ Great to see you have a new role as xxxx. What do you think your biggest challenge might be?

Make a heartfelt comment, like ‘I’ve been watching your progress and you’ve been doing really well. What’s your secret?’

Offer to collaborate: ‘Congrats on your new job. I’d love to know more about what you’re doing and would like to be able to interview you about your new role. Can we fix a time?’

Just a few more seconds helps the networking process feel more personable and potentially far more meaningful.

What do you think? Am I expecting too much? I’d like to know your thoughts.

Who is VKN Digital?

Vivienne Neale is a digital marketer and director of VKN Digital, which is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. If your website needs a refresh, new content, a rebrand, some general housekeeping – or perhaps you’re looking to build a new one from scratch – please get in touch via our contact page for a free Skype consultation. We can also help with SEO, design and social media.

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