A couple days ago, I let it be known on LinkedIn that I had taken a new position as the Director, Information Security at Esterline Technologies. Then I got a bunch of private messages from sales folks trying to sell me stuff. So, I posted a quick response to that calling out the poor behavior. And finally, decided to write something longer. I wrote it as an article on LinkedIn, but thought I’d post it here, also. Everything below the line is the original LinkedIn article.
I know the other day I was somewhat flip, and absolutely critical, of a common social media behavior used by many in the sales, business development, and marketing professions. But, perhaps, I wasn’t clear on two things. First, why this behavior is so wrong and second, that I absolutely like, need, and want good sales folks in my ecosystem.
What has happened is that many folks in sales, marketing and business development have turned to using social media in the same way that they conduct direct email marketing. When I announced that I had a new job on LinkedIn a couple days ago, I immediately (within minutes) got hammered with private messages. And they said things like:
“Congratulations Eric!!! I would like to discuss <insert product here>”
And I know a bunch of you folks are scratching your head wondering why this upset me. After all, the point of social media is to give you a platform to connect with me. Well, yes, it is. But there is a reason why this social media behavior is a bad idea and misses the point of social media.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc are not email or phones. They are virtual meeting places. It’s sorta like a big gathering hall, with tons of people in it, and they are all slowly circulating, interacting, and making friends, talking trash, and much more. By trying to turn LinkedIn (and the others) into a more effective direct marketing tool, you are not just missing the point. You are upsetting the rest of us who view these forums as a big virtual social gathering space.
What you are missing is that you have done nothing to build a social relationship with me. You have not gained my trust, established that I want to talk to you, made a friend, etc. So, your message is going to get treated just like the email that you also sent me. It’s going to the bit bucket. And every message/email after that. Because you haven’t given me a reason to care.
To be clear, I need products, people, and processes to have a great Information Security program. Which means I need sales people to help connect me to those things. But you have to use your tools correctly. And social media is where you build relationships, friendships, and trust. If you do that right, when you do pitch me on your products/technology/services, I will be open to hearing what you have to say. And you will naturally enter into the selling phase of the relationship.