Blogmaster’s note: I met Todd a few years ago, introduced to me by a coopetor when she and I made a joint presentation. Todd and I stayed in touch on and off, lo and behold he moved to my town in the pandemic, furthered our friendship connection as book authors, thought leaders, bloggers, and the rest is history. He has a lot to say and it’s worth re-reading this blog piece frequently. I know I will.
So…this guy “Likes” and comments on one of my LinkedIn posts, and then sends me a connection invitation. I don’t know him, but we have a few mutual contacts and, from his profile, he seems like a legitimate business professional…so I accept.
And, then…here it comes: Without providing any reason or context, he sends me a LinkedIn message saying, “Would you be open to a quick chat?”
To which I respond: “Too busy these days, but perhaps sometime in the future. Thanks for reaching out. Best, Todd.
To which he replies, “No worries Scott…I just wanted to schedule a time to talk to you about how I can help you generate more leads…blah, blah, blah.
Not only did I not have any interest in learning how he could help me to generate more leads, and not only did I feel completely duped by his bait-and-switch, but he couldn’t even get my name right…even though it was RIGHT THERE in front of him – twice!
This botching of my name made me think about Dale Carnegie’s principle number 6 from his timeless 1936 classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Apparently, this guy did not seem to “remember” that…if he even knew it in the first place.
However, this incident got me thinking about Dale Carnegie’s nine “How to Win Friends…” principles, and how, by applying these principles in our LinkedIn interactions, they might help us to be more effective:
Principle #1: “Don’t Criticize, condemn, or complain.” Too many people online are too quick to do all three of these things. They use social media to lash out, and to vent – rather than to in-vent. It’s good to keep in mind that always being critical and cynical tends to reflect negatively on you. So, if you are going express discontent, it’s best to do so in a positive and productive way…and with a dose of humor if possible, and when appropriate.
Principle #2: “Give honest, sincere appreciation.” This is always a valuable thing to do. If someone does something you admire or appreciate, it’s great to express it. But it needs to be done genuinely and sincerely. If it’s just flattery or (even worse) manipulation, people will see right through that.
Principle #3: “Arouse in the other person an eager want.” In short, only do things that would make someone want to meet you, get to know you, refer you, and/or do business with you. Don’t do anything that might turn people off. For example, being too “salesy” or coming across as needy or desperate. Be the type of person that others will want to get to know.
Principle #4: “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Again, it’s not all about you, it’s about them. Being all “me, me, me” is a huge turnoff. Take some time to review people’s profiles to try to get to know them as a person, as opposed to as a means to an end. And instead of always thinking, “What can this person do for me?” approach each relationship in a spirit of generosity by thinking, “What can I do to help this person?”
Principle #5: “Smile.” Simple and straightforward. Take a look at your profile picture with fresh eyes to determine if you appear friendly, approachable, and welcoming. Your smile should – like you – be genuine. A fake smile comes across as inauthentic and may make others question your sincerity and trustworthiness. Be yourself. Unless you actually are insincere and untrustworthy; in which case, be someone else.
Principle #6: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” As previously mentioned at the start, be respectful of people’s names, as you would want them to be with yours. Tip: The little “speaker” icon next to people’s names on their profile is there to leave a very brief outgoing message including the pronunciation of their name. This is a great way for YOU to let people know how to pronounce your name and/or let them know what you’d like to be called.
Principle #7: “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” As Dale Carnegie wrote, the best way to appear interesting…is to BE interested! So – even in LinkedIn communications – always make an effort to ask questions, pay attention to responses, and get to know the person. Tagging someone on a post or forwarding it to them in a direct message with a personalized note saying, “Thought you might find this interesting… (and here’s why)” demonstrates attentiveness and caring, and makes the person feel special.
Principle #8: “Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.” Similar to the above tip, look for opportunities to get to know the other person better and meet them where THEY live rather than where YOU live. For a recent real-life example: PBS is currently running a new three-part series on “The Future of Work,” so I posted the details on LinkedIn… and then I forwarded that link with a personal message to a few people who I thought would be interested and benefit. Of course, they were appreciative that I cared enough to think of them.
Principle #9: “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.” If you hadn’t already noticed, Mr. Carnegie was very big on sincerity, genuineness, and authenticity. One way to put this principle into action is: Instead of just clicking the “Like” thumb or the “Love” heart symbol, take the extra two minutes to actually write a Comment on what you Liked or Loved. For example, instead of just clicking the green clapping “Celebration” hands, you could also Comment, “Hey, @Marc – congratulations on your new book…I can’t wait to read it!” This small extra gesture will “make the other person feel important”…with bonus points for addressing them by name (*as per Principle #6).
I first read How to Win Friends and Influence People when I stumbled upon it on my mother’s bookshelf when I was a teenager. And, to this day, I keep a copy of this classic book within arms reach at all times and refer back to it time and time again. For, even though it was written 85 years ago – and some of it might come across as a little dated – the Dale Carnegie principles are as timely – and as timeless – as if written yesterday. And they apply equally well to both the outside world…and the world of LinkedIn.
Now, if only EVERYONE actually practiced them.
Todd Cherches is the CEO and co-founder of BigBlueGumball LLC, an innovative New York City-based management and leadership consulting, training, and executive coaching firm.
He is also a Founding Partner of the Global Institute For Thought Leadership (“GIFT”); a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s “MG 100 Coaches”; and was recently nominated as a finalist for the Thinkers50 “Distinguished Achievement Award” for Leadership (2021), and is ranked number 35 on the Thinkers360 list of “Top 50 Global Thought Leaders in Management” (2021).
Cherches is also a three-time award-winning Adjunct Professor of leadership at the NYU School of Professional Studies, in their Division of Programs in Business, as well as a Lecturer on leadership at Columbia University.
A TEDx Speaker (“The Power of Visual Thinking”), and contributor to numerous books, Cherches is a popular blogger, keynote speaker, panelist, and contributor to Inc. magazine.
Cherches is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany from which he holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication, as well as a Bachelors’ Degree in English Literature (magna cum laude) with a concentration in Shakespeare and poetry.