“Hi Mitch. I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. We share similar services. Can we schedule a phone call…”
I get messages like this all the time. The wording might be slightly different but it’s pretty much always the same. A variation on this is when someone says they’ve seen my profile and wants to consult with me about something and also want to speak to me on the phone.
Me & Star Wars guy
What’s the problem you might be asking? If you’re on LinkedIn you already know. If not, the problem is that either these people didn’t actually read my profile, didn’t understand it or are only reaching out because I posted something that got a lot of views.
For those of you who don’t know, for my career I’m a health care finance consultant. I’m not going to go deeper here; if you want you can click on the link above and check me out… though there’s probably nothing for most of you there. lol
Anyway, I’ve been doing a bit of brand marketing lately on LinkedIn. In the post area, I’ve been sharing scenarios of things I’ve run into over all the years I’ve been in health care… which is 38 at this juncture. When you write posts there, you’re limited in how many characters you get to use, so you have to write your message tight.
If you want them to have a chance to succeed, you need to add specific hashtags to reach the people you want to see them, which means you have to tighten your message more. So far I’ve put out 11 of them; one of them had had almost 6,500 views; not so shabby!
This means I’ve been getting a lot of attention; that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What’s bad about it is the number of people who want to connect with me for all the wrong reasons… which leads me back to the opening sentence of this article.
Here’s where I get a bit more specific on what I do and don’t do, and why many of these people are reaching out to me improperly. I’ll take these one at a time; you don’t need to know what they are, just understand where I’m going with them.
First, I don’t do medical billing. I consult on processes and help them become better and be compliant with national and state laws, but I don’t sit down and bill, and I don’t offer those types of services. I don’t even mention it on my LinkedIn profile.
Second, I don’t do diagnosis coding; I do procedure coding. It’s a drastic difference between the two, but what I do as a consultant is review the listed procedures along with the codes associated with them, as well as validate the pricing and determine if there are things they should be charging for.
Third, I consult on charge capture for all departments in a hospital. This is a specific art form if you will; not a lot of people do this independently, and the skill set of the people doing it. For instance, many hospitals believe they need someone with a nursing background handling this, but if their hospital is in financial distress, they need someone like me who understands the monetary importance as well as the compliance aspect.
I’ll start with just those 3 things, which you probably don’t fully understand even with that brief description of those services. You’re in good company. You see, many of the people reaching out to me work in sales for companies that offer the services I don’t specifically provide, along with services that they automate, which isn’t a bad thing in general terms, but it’s not as deeply reviewing the things I look at, and in a way they’re competing against me.
Why are they reaching out to me? They all want my help… to market them! It doesn’t compute that if I’m marketing their business I can’t market my own. It also doesn’t compute that I don’t actually do what they do, and even if I did it’s a conflict of interest.
Here’s another thing that’s irritating. I’ve never heard of or seen any of these people on LinkedIn; why would I immediately want to talk to them? Don’t they realize I’m going to look at their profile, see what they do, realize they’re not a good fit and that I’m not only NOT going to talk to them on the phone, but I’m not connecting with them either? I’m obviously not the master of the hard sell, which pretty much means I don’t like it being done to me either.
Okay, the rant part is over. Now let’s talk about what they should do and what I do instead. It’s passive, but I think it’s better to make positive connections instead of immediately selling to people I don’t know.
One, the posts I’m writing. Many people think it’s a waste of time writing copy, but the truth is it only takes a couple of well viewed posts to help establish a sole entrepreneur or a company on LinkedIn. When I was writing articles it was tougher, but all it takes for a post to be seen by a lot of people is first reaching people you know, then having people those folks know seeing they’ve liked or commented on something you’ve put out… and you’re good to go. Sometimes those folk comment or ask questions; it’s always better when a potential client reaches out to you first.
Two, when you want to connect with someone, don’t immediately start selling to them. Find something in common with them based on their profile, or ask them if there’s something you can help them with. I tend to respond to those people better, and I’m more willing to talk to them on the phone. What’s strange about that is it’s never people in health care doing it that way (unless it’s me trying to connect with someone first); it’s mainly sales people in general, marketers who understand the rule that it’s best to learn more about the other person’s needs before you start selling to them, so you can find out if you’re a match.
Three, never immediately ask someone if you can talk to them on the phone. Instead, offer the opportunity to talk with them on the phone at their convenience, or even email you. Don’t give them the information; wait to see if they’re interested before you do so. Almost no one likes feeling pressured into doing something, but if they have a true need they’ll let you know. I know many sales people will say you’re missing out on an opportunity; I say you can always contact them at another time as a follow up.
That’s enough for now. However, I don’t want you leaving thinking I’m the only one with a gripe about this. My friend Scott Gardner wrote this article and posted it on LinkedIn titled “Collaborate” Doesn’t Mean “Screw Me Over”. Check it out and see if you agree with both of us. LinkedIn can be good for business, but it can also be irritating. Which one do you want to be considered as?