How to get social media wrong

by David Tovey

Just another way to cold call?

When it comes to social media, why do bright people sometimes not ‘get it’?

I was working with the board of an international semiconductor business recently. As often happens, a couple of the directors turned up early and of course the first thing they did was to fire up their lap tops.

Within a few moments I heard one of the directors shout out an *expletive* followed by ‘LinkedIn!” and a tirade of abuse about how social “bl**dy media was a pain in the neck”.

The last place I expected to hear social media being abused was in a high tech business! The meeting room itself is full of leading edge technology with every conceivable electronic gadget. It’s fair to say that my client has done rather well out of providing components that drive the tablet PC I use to tweet, blog and update LinkedIn.

This abuse towards social media deserved some investigation.

Stop being annoying

It transpired that what was infuriating this particular hi tech director was the many unsolicited CVs he receives from LinkedIn connections and the requests he receives to connect with complete strangers.

“I know all I’ll get is more CV’s that I won’t look at – it’s just another waste of time.”

The people trying to link to my director client must be bright people. Yet they don’t ‘get’ that they are using LinkedIn as just another way to mass market. They see their connections as an opportunity to market their CV in a direct way without attempting to build a relationship. In other words it’s just another form of cold calling – and we know how infuriating uninvited interruptions to our busy day can be.

Build relationships before you sell

Whether it is marketing a CV, or a product or service; real thought needs to go into segmenting the prospect base and then communicating messages that will resonate with the audience. You’ve got to build a relationship first, before you earn the right to ‘sell’.

Lovers of cold calling will of course be able to provide evidence that it works. Call, email or message enough people and you will get through to someone who will be interested.  It’s a numbers game, they tell me. The problem with that numbers game is that if it takes 100 calls to make one contact then imagine how the 99 that didn’t want to speak to you now feel about you!  They feel just like my client above. What if the dream job or dream client was one of the 99?

If the target for your message isn’t engaging with you, don’t blame them. On the CV front how many times do we hear people complain that unsolicited CVs have gone unacknowledged – as if that’s the fault of the recipient!

Social media is first and foremost about giving

Social media is a great way to build relationships and build a reputation for being credible, competent and compatible. It takes time to build that reputation with your connections – time that involves investment in giving before expecting a response.

It’s a mindset that it seems even the brightest seem to struggle with.

Any thoughts on why?


David Tovey

David Tovey is a professional speaker, coach and author of 'Principled Selling' published by Kogan Page.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Graham Bunting April 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Hi David – a very interesting article, the principle of which holds true for me in most networking groups too. My “take” is that most people (not all for sure), see LinkedIn and their local networking group as somewhere to sell their services and products, and whilst busy with customers or a job, rarely visit or use the aforementioned web or group. Therefore, too many people searching for customers in a relatively unsophisticated way, and few people looking for someone to recruit or buy from.
I agree that as more people become educated in using a different approach – one of giving – then we should see a reduction in the old habits and a forming of some refreshing new ones.
Good article


avatar Steve Nicholls May 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

Why don’t people get it?

I think (or feel?!) that EQ is high on the list of reasons why people can’t see past their own need to get the next client. All it takes on any LinkedIn group is for a person to raise their hand expressing a need for help, and consultants/sales people will be drawn to them like zombies smelling brains!

I stick to giving giving giving, and authenticity, as watch words and values. If business then comes to me, so be it.


avatar David Tovey May 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Thanks Steve and Graham

I agree it is taking some people a long time to ‘get’ the idea of sharing useful and interesting content. It seems too many are trying to shoehorn old marketings approaches into the new technologies. I guess while some are giving up because they won’t change their approach, others are doing it and gaining the advantage. Bet the nay sayers loved GM pulling out of Facebook!



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