According to LinkedIn, my network consists of roughly 120 million people. In fact, other than six elderly denizens of a village in Uzbekistan, it appears I’m indirectly connected to every person on the planet. Setting aside the absurdity of Xth-degree connections, LinkedIn has become the most valuable social network for business building. But they’re doing their best to reduce their own value and chase away customers. Are you making the same mistake?
Knowing people is good for business, but being part of a group of like-minded individuals is even better. LinkedIn acknowledged that proposition by creating groups in 2004. There are now roughly a zillion groups, comprised of pretty much everyone except those six Uzbeks.
Some LinkedIn groups are terrific. The Solo Consultants Network, which I have the honor of managing, has extremely high engagement and zero promotion.
Unfortunately, most groups bite. They’re spamfests. Virtual billboards flashing an endless parade of promotional announcements that no one is watching. LinkedIn felt they had to respond to the explosion of low-value groups, but didn’t address the issue itself (or simply let the market determine what adds value). Instead, they made their service harder to use. Groups are now difficult to join and frustrating to manage.
My prediction is that LinkedIn’s groups will crash and burn. Users will flock to less cumbersome alternatives, at first just for groups, then for business networking in general.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: They overestimate their offering’s value to customers and underestimate the importance of being Easy to Do Business With (ETDBW).
ETDBW = Easy to Do Business With
ETDBW can trump virtually everything else.
For instance, you might think the average Josephine chooses which supermarket to shop in based on cleanliness, freshness of produce, selection or price. You’d think wrong. Studies show the #1 driver of choice of supermarkets, by far, is location.
As a consultant, low scores on ETDBW will knock you out of the consideration set regardless of how smart you are or how impressive your results. I personally witnessed a brilliant, well-known consultant lose a six-figure project because he gave the impression that a feudal warlord would be more responsive and cooperative.
Fortunately, you’re not a supermarket locked into a location or (I assume) unduly self-involved. You determine how ETDBW you are. Are you taking LinkedIn-ish steps that make you frustrating to engage, or is partnering with you as easy as stealing candy from a baby.
Challenge yourself. I bet you’re not as ETDBW as you think.
A handful of practices you can adopt:
- Offer a range of services at widely varied fees.
- Be easy to reach. (My phone number is at the top of this page.)
- Respond quickly. (I call back everyone within two hours.)
- Communicate clearly, directly and professionally.
- Don’t fight small battles with your clients.
- Make your information easily accessible.
By the way, if you’re not a 1st connection with me on LinkedIn, please invite me (linkedin.com/in/davidafields). In return I’ll invite you to the (suddenly invitation only) Solo Consultants Network.
What are you doing to make yourself easier to do business with?
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.