LinkedIn: Mass Mailing List or Stack of Business Cards??

April 26th, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

I was checking MLPF messages this morning and saw this snippet:

…I don’t look at my LinkedIn network as a mass mailing list…

Very interesting statement. Sometimes I wonder if people think I do look at LinkedIn as a mass mailing list, based on my presentations on getting real value out of LinkedIn as a business or professional tool (some call it a social network).

In fact, in my LinkedIn summary I have this language:

********** If you want to connect with me then I will add you to my business newsletter. I send it out once a month and it lets you know what’s going on in my life (I spend from 10 – 14 hours a day working, so this is what’s going on. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET IT, DON’T CONNECT WITH ME. **********************

The problem with not communicating “appropriately” with your contacts is that … well, then your list of contacts ends up like that stack of business cards in your drawer. You know, the one you do nothing with? So there’s got to be some happy place inbetween not newslettering them all and not doing nothing with them.

Are you proactively working on nurturing “intimate relationships” with your professional contacts? Not superficial, not “gimme gimme gimme,” but really nurturing individual, intimate relationships?

  1. 6 Responses to “LinkedIn: Mass Mailing List or Stack of Business Cards??”

  2. By Vincent Wright on Apr 26, 2008 | Reply

    This is, indeed, the dilemma of dilemmas for many of the professionals I’ve talked to about Linkedin over the years.

    The immediately addictive factor about joining Linkedin is the incredible enhancement to the “size” of ones network reach.

    So, some who may enjoy the power of their new-found networking reach may ask: “What good is reaching 5, 10, 20 Million professionals if you can communicate with only 1 at a time?”

    The problem with that question is that not all 21 Million Linkedin members need to use Linked the same way.

    Some of us may need it to help us get the word out about a campaign, a new product, service, site, book launch, etc.

    Others of us may need it to find just one, singular person who “gets” what it is we’re trying to do.

    The latter can be just as invaluable as the former – depending upon the needs of the individual Linkedin member…

  3. By Bill Austin on Apr 26, 2008 | Reply


    When I had 10,000+ business cards sitting in a box, it did no one any good.

    I now have a list of 108 people who get a phone call a least once a month and e-mail a bit more frequently.

    I have a guy who comes over and beats me up for an hour a week on Fridays to make sure I am actually developing relationships, making phone calls, contacting key referral partners in my network and giving them business as well as asking them who they know or have met recently that really needs to be working with my team.

    Business has been growing quite well since we got the process down and began making those connections on a regular basis.

  4. By Jason Alba on Apr 26, 2008 | Reply

    Bill, great thoughts. Let me take your comment one step further, since I think some people will read it as “and now I get business and that’s what it’s all about!” I get this question all the time. People want to be hypersensitive to never “spamming” their contacts, so they err on the side of neglecting the contacts.

    Not only does this do nothing for your revenue, it does nothing for your personal brand (well, it brands you as a person who doesn’t follow-up), it does nothing to help you have a rich network (not just size, but strength of relationship), it does nothing to help you grow your network the right way.

    So, in addition to creating revenue growth from nurturing these relationships, there’s a whole lot more to get out of actually nurturing relationships.

    I know YOU already know this, I just wanted to clarify it for the sake of those who think “we” are just out to use our network for personal revenue growth :)

  5. By Bill Austin on Apr 26, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for clarifying Jason. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that you and I (and Vincent) are definitely not just in it for our own personal gain.

    Lately I have been telling a lot of people the following:

    “We make our own personal economy.”

    I said it on camera the other day for the Channel 3 news but that part got cut out in the final version.

    My point is that the economy is always as good as we make it for ourselves and for those with whom we make and have and nurture relationships.

    If we ignore the rumblings in the press that there is a recession or a depression coming and we build our business and the businesses of those we have relationships with – our personal economy and theirs’ will be just fine.

  6. By Bill Austin on Apr 26, 2008 | Reply

    In the distant past, when people from my LinkedIn network said – “How can I help?” I often took it as insincere and ignored it.

    After a discussion about that topic on MLPF, I began to respond with specific answers.

    I am fairly certain that no one who asked “How can I help?” and then got my reply has ever actually done anything requested in those answers.

    I did find the exercise fascinating and I wonder whether they simply don’t understand, don’t think they can help, or really never intended to help.

    The first time I sent that message as a reply, it was done kind of tongue in cheek but I got more serious and refined the message over time.

    It is very specific on how people can help … they simply don’t.

    Any idea why? I can post that message if it will add to the discussion.

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