Contractors’ Questions: Can I head off getting LinkedIn connections I don't need?
Contractor’s Question: I have a lot of LinkedIn connections whose invitations I’ve obviously accepted but who don’t really contribute or do much. It’s mostly agents or agencies. Sometimes, it’s doubly-annoying because they just fill my LinkedIn feed with nonsense about their company/weekend/ favourite maxims. Can I head off having these connections that don’t do much?
Expert’s Answer: The short theoretical answer is ‘Yes’. LinkedIn even gives you an ‘ignore’ button for those people you don’t want to connect with. Once you have ‘ignored’ someone’s invitation, LinkedIn asks you if you know the person, which you can either click or bypass. Bear in mind that if you click the link that states you don’t know them, this affects the person trying to connect with you – if they get too many ‘I don’t know you’ clicks, LinkedIn will eventually restrict their account and only let them connect with people whose email address they know.
Even if you do connect with someone, you can still disconnect with them at a later date without them knowing – if they bothered to check through their list of connections they would find out, but LinkedIn doesn’t send them any kind of notification. It spares any blushes really, which is quite a nice touch!
The longer and non-technical answer to your question is (within reason) ‘Why wouldn’t you Connect’? This isn’t Facebook, this is LinkedIn i.e. a place where businesses do business and professionals network.
I’m assuming, as a contractor, you are a business?! Every day businesses receive approaches from people they don’t know – some of them might be sales calls (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I will add); some might be from job-seekers wanting work, some might be for a whole heap of random reasons. But many are from potential customers.
Part of running a business is being able to sort the wheat from the chaff. But until we have entered into dialogue with someone, we don’t know what category they fall into. The same applies to contractors! At the point at which you receive the connection request, you don’t know what the persons intentions are – it might be a potential customer or someone who holds the key to an amazing and lucrative opportunity.
Some connection requests might be an obvious waste of time. If so, feel free to hit the 'ignore' button, but the safe option is to accept most connection requests and see how it plays out. As mentioned earlier, you can always delete a connection at a later date.
Most successful businesses spend years building their database of prospects, channel partners and customers. If they communicate with their database in the right way, this usually results in generating business. The Beatles once famously said something akin to ‘Let’s write ourselves a new swimming pool.’ And what I think they meant was that they had such a large following that all they needed to do was write a song and their fans and followers would buy it. Think of your LinkedIn network as your followers, and work on the basis that if you communicate with them the right way, about the right things, this will result in business for you.
Your plan, if I may, should be to build a network of the right people and to use a thought-leadership strategy to turn these people into fans that want to buy from you. This isn’t as complicated as it may seem – becoming a thought-leader if you’re a contractor is all about defining your expertise, packaging and parcelling this expertise into what we call ‘blueprints. And then it’s just a case of talking about these at every opportunity through articles, whitepapers, posts, forums, podcasts, blogs, webinars and any other market facing communication channel you can find!
And for the avoidance of doubt, look at recruiters as a channel to market yourselves and your contractor business rather than an irritation to your day. Alright, some don’t exactly shower the recruitment industry in glory, but they are a source of business and it could be a mistake to spurn the advances of a recruiter – as we’ve already mentioned they might represent a potential customer and hold the key to an amazing and lucrative opportunity.
For more contract-winning work advice, check out my upcoming webinar via ContractorUK on ‘Advanced CV Writing for Contractors’ – but hurry, it’s this Thursday October 3rd, at 7.15pm: https://cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk/CUKOCT3
The expert was Matt Craven, founder and managing director of The CV & Interview Advisors.