You will?  Oh, I’ll wait.

If you are connecting, interacting and responding on a business social media site such as LinkedIn, what tense do you operate in?  What do I mean by that?  Well, unlike my podcast on Why Do You Live Here, I’m not talking about reliving a moment in time.  Instead I’m talking about how you operate and connect with others.

How many times has someone connected with you only to say that they are “going to check on that” or that they are “going to listen/read/investigate’ that?  In the olden days of social media forums (and even now) it’s a sort of running joke when someone would post “I’m going to check that out.”

Why?  Because they never do.  They post that to be part of the conversation.  And yes they may have the best of intentions, but almost no one posts “I’ll check on that” and then a couple hours later comes back with “Hey, I did check that out just like I promised, and I learned the following I’d like to discuss…”  It gets lost in the constant multiple streams going on.

Why not just do that the first time?  If someone posts an article, or a link, or a conversation, why not take the time to review it BEFORE you post?  If the answer is that you don’t have time at that moment, then make a note to yourself to check it out.  If you do indeed check it out, then when you do come back and post you will be able to add something.  If you never check it out you will do three positive things: a) you’ll get a better sense of priorities and what you really have time for, b) when you do post people will see that your posts are always meaningful and finally c) you’ll distance yourself from the 80% of the respondents who really don’t check stuff out.  Distancing yourself from them and standing out is a good thing.   When someone you consider to be ‘Thought Leader’ on LinkedIn posts a comment, how many of those comments are “I’m going to check that out?”  10%?  5% none?  Your expectation is that when they contribute it is from the standpoint of someone who is informed. So it’s probably closer to none.

You can be just as informed by reading the article, listening to the thing, etc.

So when you interact, interact from the present, not the future*.  If you read the article, do the research, visit the web site, check out the thingy first, when you post it will always be about your input now, in the present.

Think about a post that has a lot of comments and you will see exactly what I am referring to – you’ll see the vast majority are not from people who have read and are commenting, they are all living in the future.  In the end it will actually reduce how much time you spend (waste) vs meaningful time you use interacting and learning.

Connections will like you

If you do the research first, you are much more likely to make an impact on your possible connection.  Making an informed comment on a thread means people will see your words with more importance.  Connecting with someone after you’ve checked out their stuff makes them more likely to connect.  If someone connects with me with the opening line “I have to learn more about your stuff” then my mind thinks “Well then go right ahead,” and then I move onto the next connection.  I’m almost never surprised when they don’t follow up.

But aren’t you supposed to sell your stuff?  Well, no, and I’m going against the common wisdom here.  I think there is a time to educate a potential client, and a time for a potential connection to actually read over all that stuff you put effort into on your profile, your site, your media.  Hopefully you make it easy for them (and potential clients).

If everyone did this we would reduce the vast majority of noise, conflict and misunderstanding on LinkedIn – and other social media.



* Unrelated this is a great video by Bad Lip Reading.