Imagine this scenario. You attend a business networking or similar event and get talking to a person whom you believe might be a potential future client of your business.
You get on well and after the event you send the person a friendly connection invitation on LinkedIn which they accept.
A few weeks go by and you decide that it would be a good idea to try and move the relationship forward. You decide to send a follow up message on LinkedIn suggesting a meeting.
Now imagine you are the potential client receiving the message. How do you respond? Here are some options:
1. Ignore the message
2. Immediately delete it without reading
3. Read and immediately delete because you never respond to ‘sales’ messages of any description
4. Read and respond saying you do not wish to receive further communications of this nature
5. Read and do nothing
6. Read and respond by saying that you would welcome a meeting
This list is reflective of the problem that faces those seeking to follow up beyond the acceptance of a LinkedIn connection invitation.
In many instances it is a shot in the dark – LinkedIn Russian Roulette. At one end of the spectrum it could be hugely damaging, even fatal to the relationship. At the other end, it could result a new relationship that might last for years and bring profitable new work.
There is likely to be/often some resistance to such messages and trying to second guess where your connection sits can be difficult to gauge.
One option if you do meet face to face is to ask then and there if they would be agreeable to a meeting in the future. In that instance a follow up message should be welcomed. If that had not happened, making the message as precise, friendly and personalised as possible will help.
However, the most important consideration is that you genuinely have an offering that matches the precise needs of your connection’s business.
Remember that there is a difference between ‘asking’ things of your contact and offering something without expecting anything in return. The latter is much more likely to elicit a response.
It is not always the fact of the receipt of such a follow up message on LinkedIn that offends. It is the fact that insufficient research into the requirements of your prospective client has been conducted. In short, your message is not relevant to them.
My advice – take some calculated risks but do so in the right way. As they say, a shot not taken never hits the target. But make sure you know what you’re shooting.