Do You Accept LinkedIn Connections From People You Don’t Personally Know?

Connect with LinkedInNot long ago, most people’s advice was to ignore invitations from those you don’t know. However, recently I have been receiving a significant number of that type of invitation, which makes me want to revisit the following questions:

If you don’t, are you concerned that you may miss out on job or other opportunities?

If you do, has there ever been a downside?

This is a good question for us all to consider, especially as LinkedIn makes it easier to invite connections. (It’s also pretty clear that LinkedIn likes larger networks.)

It’s ok to accept a LinkedIn connection from someone you don’t know

It’s ok to accept a LinkedIn connection from someone you don’t knowI make a value judgement based on the contact if I don’t know them personally:

  • Who do they know in my network, 1 person, a bunch of people? Is that person or persons a recent contact or one I know well?
  • What is their profile like – fully filled out with lots of recommendations or something quick and slapped together?
  • What do they do – if they’re someone looking to farm contacts and spam me with sales messages I’m less likely to link them.
  • Did they look at my profile first – I can decide if people bothered to look at my profile before I link back to them.
  • Are they a potential customer or valuable networking contact?
  • How many other contacts do THEY have?
  • Are they active at blogging or posting or does everything in their feed look like an advertisement?
  • If they are active, do they engage?
  • Are they inside or outside the US?
  • Are they in the local area or someplace else in the US?
  • Are they in a competitive company to mine or one that might complement it?

In other words, their profile is key even if no contacts in common.

I also look at behavior:

  • Custom invite message vs canned one (not as good a predictor as some of the mobile invite workflows don’t allow you to customize the invite)
  • If they spam me right away – I block them right away.
  • Do they send me a thank you for the accept or just ignore me?

A strong LinkedIn network is built with strong connections

My main use of LinkedIn is to see who I know that knows someone I want to meetOriginally, I LinkedIn only with people I knew and could vouch for. But my main use of LinkedIn is to see who I know that knows someone I want to meet. So for that purpose, having a larger network is better.

I have met some really interesting people who initiated a friend request with me, and based on their background and LinkedIn profile, I decided it would be helpful to get to know them.

So to meet new and interesting people, and to have a big network that can help me to get a warm introduction to people I want to meet, I now accept some requests from people I don’t know. I especially accept them if they are interesting to me, or if we have several or many mutual connections consisting of people I know and respect.

The biggest downside for me is that every week I get connection requests from people who want to sell me something. If they abuse me with sales messages, most of the time I go back and remove those connections.

What’s your thoughts?

Good Selling!
Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

6 B2B Marketing Trends For Winning In 2016

6 Predictions for B2B MarketingWith 2015 nearly over, it’s time to get out the crystal ball and share what will be the big trends for B2B marketing in 2016.

There’s no end to posts predicting the next big thing in 2016. In fact, these are virtually the same predictions many made in 2015 – including me. And we all know those predictions are usually wrong – let’s make some, anyway!

Seeing marketing through the customer’s eyes

Seeing through the customer’s eyesMarketing and sales are starting to focus on adopting buyers’ perspectives with regards to selling. This “customer-based selling” is not selling in the traditional sense but more about helping customers to buy – a subtle but distinctive shift in mindset – and content is absolutely key to the success of this. Moving into 2016, content will become even more critical in the customer-based selling process, as marketing and salespeople look to share insights and engage customers based on what they need to make it easier for them to buy.

Content marketing is here to stay

Content marketing is here to stayContent, which is here to stay because brand building is storytelling and marketing is teaching, will continue to improve in quality instead of just quantity. The most successful content will be relevant, entertaining and informative based on where the customer is during their purchase journey. Content should build on itself, be aligned to your sales funnel and move with your customers in their purchase journey.

A picture is worth 1000 words

A picture is worth 1000 wordsVisual content is critical for brands to reach and engage their audiences. Infographics (especially with interactive graphics and embedded video) will continue to grow in popularity because of their value in education and thought leadership, all delivered in understandable sound bites. Expect short, graphically powerful slideshows to also gain popularity in delivering sales messaging.

Show and sell with video content

Show and sell with video contentWith Youtube’s popularity showing no signs of slowing down, video content will become the go to content resource for marketers. There may also be a shift from longer, consumable content like YouTube videos to shorter, snackable content like Instagram 15-second videos and Vine 6-second videos in B2B marketing.

Data will drive personalization

Data will drive personalizationIn 2016, data will continue to play a larger role in content marketing. Beyond just producing great content, marketers need to reach and engage the right audience. Marketers will use data to personalize and deliver content to their highly connected, always-on users helping to create a more informed decision that reduces the risk of being overlooked and increases purchase confidence.

Fostering brand advocates

Are You Your Customers Biggest Fan?Marketers have always known that users who love their products buy more. We’ll see B2B marketers using creative and varied tactics on multiple social media platforms to build sales and win more users by sharing that are visual, compelling buyer testimonials.

Trends are both threats and opportunities for B2B marketers

6 Trends in B2B MarketingCompanies that see social media as something for teenagers will miss the opportunity to connect and educate their customers in a compelling way. Ultimately, they risk becoming irrelevant.

Marketers who move forward with these trends have the opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, be seen as innovators and improve their odds of outperforming the competition.

What trends do you see for B2B marketers in 2016?

Good Selling in 2016!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

A New Way To Budget For Marketing In 2016

“I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted, but I don’t know which half”

make your marketing dollars work harderSound familiar?

For decades, companies have tried to make their marketing dollars work harder. They have used concepts such as target marketing, niche marketing and positioning to help build sales by generating leads, reaching decision-makers and even asking for the order. But a problem remains: marketing and sales have never been completely coordinated.

The result is that money is allocated to marketing because everyone knows marketing is necessary. And sales people are told go out and sell because most B2B products and services are sold that way.

This approach has worked in the past, but the changing business climate will continue to force companies to re-evaluate the entire process. To borrow a buzz-phrase, tomorrow’s marketing will have to work − not harder − but smarter.

Instead of basing the marketing budget on projected sales, the sales requirements can be used to establish a zero-based approach

In this way, the actual point when the sale is closed determines what materials and how much should be spent to make the direct selling effort as cost-effective as possible.

Cost Effectiveness of Direct Selling Worksheet

The first step is to determine the total cost for your entire sales force, and then the average cost-per-call and cost-per-sale. (At this stage, do not factor out individual salespeople). The chart to the left will help you calculate this.

The resulting numbers are a measure of your current marketing efficiency, arid will serve as a gauge of the cost-effectiveness of your total future program.

Next, using the chart below, break out your new accounts and those you have had for at least one re-order. Depending upon market factors, you may also want to break out the accounts by region, season, or some other criterion.

Cost Breakdown by Account TypeWhat you are measuring here is the cost-effectiveness of your existing direct-selling effort, looking for the types of accounts which are most profitable and those which are least profitable.
As a general rule, your marketing depends upon the profitability level of each category. Those categories where direct selling is very profitable should have programs designed to support the sales person, helping to either increase the dollar volume per account or lower the average cost-per-sale.

Those categories where the profitability level is low should have programs designed to replace the sales person as much as possible.  This can be accomplished effectively with programs such as automated marketing to lower the cost of pre-qualification inquiry fulfillment.

Once you have determined the coA New Way To Budget For Marketingst-per-sale for each category, you should establish sales objectives. The first is to maximize a sales person’s productivity and to do that requires establishing the prime job function:

  • Developing new business leads
  • Making presentations
  • Maintaining face-to–face contact at existing accounts
  • Trouble-shooting problem accounts

Obviously, some or all of these functions could be present in all categories, but by assigning the sales person a prime function, you are taking the first step in determining:

  1. Better way to budget marketingThe type of program (support vs. replacement) that will result in a lower overall cost-per-sale
  2. The message that each component in the program should carry
  3. The amount to be spent to deliver the message(s)

Given this information, you are now in a position to correlate all your marketing, advertising, promotion and direct selling expenses to sales.

Program effectiveness can now be tracked. And you can begin to consider your marketing spend in terms of its contribution to profits…instead of just cost of sales.

Good Selling!