How To Turn Strangers Into Friends On LinkedIn… and Elsewhere

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‘Strangers are what friends are made of’ this is a sentence that caught my attention and is extracted from Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins’s book entitled ‘The Like Switch’. Winning people over ain’t easy. Especially on social media where the next friend is one click away from the previous one. Ever asked for a recommendation on LinkedIn and got the answer ‘I really don’t know him/her’ back? That’s the sad truth: we are friends on professional networks but barely know each other.

Picture yourself as an FBI agent and you have to interview a suspect who don’t want to talk to you -he let you know this fact upfront-. What will you do? The author just went in the interrogation room everyday, opened his newspaper in front of him, without saying a single word. One day, the guy asked him ’why you come here everyday and read that paper?’ he answered ‘because I want to talk to you’.. et voila! They finally had this conversation.

In the virtual world, we don’t have newspapers. We can’t be invasive like that (i.e send messages to someone until we get an answer).

Here are some tricks I use everyday when I wear my networking cap

Ask genuine -sales free- questions
The question have to be open-ended. You only need to based them on those 5: ‘How…’, ‘Tell me more about…’, ‘What..’, ‘Why..’ Where..’ The rest is about your own creativity.

Show a genuine interest
Your friends are posting content that matters to them, trust me, you should read it and give an honest feedback. You can’t expect people to comment on your blog if you don’t show the example. LinkedIn is not very good at showing people’s interests, but Facebook..that’s another game to play. Try to add your LinkedIn connections to your Facebook (not all of them!) and follow them there (wait some time before doing this, build better rapport first). I noticed that people are acting more friendly on Facebook. LinkedIn is for business matters.

The hobbies finder
Work is boring, stress is everywhere people like to get entertained. They go to remote places on weekends for hiking, fishing, horse riding. What’s your poison? They like the same things you do? Let’s find out using great questions.

Give…more!
Put your content out there and post it regularly, on every social media venue you care about. Use the ‘Update’ feature on LinkedIn and provide a link that leads to your blog. Giving brings you more conversations, that’s what you are here for, to discuss over things. Not to sell your services/products to strangers. I use my blog to express my ideas and feelings and give free tips based on my experience. Can’t wait to open a YouTube channel soon!

Get on Skype/YouTube!
We need to see you to: know you, agree/disagree with, laugh with and trust you. Distance has never been an issue and shouldn’t be an excuse nowadays. I’m always asking for a permission to have a Skype gig whenever my friends got some time on their hands.
What about YouTube? Marques Brownlee loves technology: he’s a geek. He got 2 millions -and counting- viewers on his YouTube channel, post videos mostly shot in his room. Looking at Marques, you can tell that he’s easy going, not using complicated words, always ready to smile and gives his frank opinion in every of his reviews.
This success doesn’t happen overnight, you need to rehearse and feel comfortable in front of a camera, say things that are relevant and resonate with your audience. Some video editing skills would be a plus.

It’s not about you!
I met this guy once who told me -point blank- that my content was pointless, irrelevant and bored him to death and he didn’t want to me to reach him out any longer. That’s TOTALLY fine by me! Don’t waste your time trying so hard to please someone when others are craving to know you better! Be polite, keep your integrity and move on with elegance. It’s your best solution.

One last thing, you’ll notice that people are very slow to answer on LinkedIn. That’s normal, using these principles will allow you to take the discussion further and on other medium like Facebook, Whatsapp, or Instagram who knows.

Your turn! What are your tricks to win friends in a virtual world? How do you approach strangers on social media and professional networks?

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