I like Linkedin. However, as an educator…I feel it might be doing more harm than good. The problem I see: Well meaning professionals want to teach others without a fully developed understanding of the sciences of management, marketing, or communication etc. The possible result: Readers implementing bad tactics in practice.
For example, I recently reviewed a post by a self-proclaimed “sales expert”. He excoriated a “rookie” sales professional for simply calling to “touch base” with a client. The author’s contention was that sales professionals should only call customers when they have something of value to provide. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. Lots of people liked this opinion, but some readers did not. Those who didn’t were correct.
Quick question: Have you ever called a friend or relative to “touch base”? Of course, you have. This is how we build and maintain relationships. Professional relationships are no different. The author resents such communication because he is “busy” and if there is no substance to the message…he deems it a waste of time. He refuses to return such calls or emails, and advises others to do the same.
Let’s dissect this argument scientifically. Lot’s of people are busy, but few are truly “productive”. In fact, many workers are busy and counter-productive. Do you know when online newspaper readership spikes? Monday-Friday between 9am-5pm. Studies show workers are operating at about 40-50% of their potential productivity across industries.
If you’re too busy to speak with a vendor who is making a good faith effort to communicate, you need to assess your priorities. How many buyers churn through vendors because they never take the time to build relationships? The result: Needless system changes, which employees universally tend to dislike. Plus, refusing to speak with people who honestly want to help your company is simply rude. Somehow, American business culture has evolved to the point where it’s acceptable to disrespect sales professionals. This phenomenon is further proof too many people in business simply don’t know what they’re doing.
Remember, management and marketing are inextricably linked. There is always a negative ripple effect within organizational behavior when vendors are treated rudely and/or without empathy. Readers who took that author’s advice will likely be hurting their companies and careers because they took myopic advice.
Here is what readers should remember: Case study findings are not generalizable. Case studies have some qualitative research and educational value, but never make the mistake of assuming what works in one culture will work in your culture. If you want to make better decisions….use research findings that are rooted in the business sciences. These approaches will — if properly assured of validity and reliability — help you predict the outcome with 95%+ probability.
What I often see in Linkedin posts is perspectives from people who’ve been in a particular silo for a long-time. They may be experts on particular aspects of marketing or management, but lack expertise in the areas that will be affected by their advice. That is, a sales expert probably doesn’t understand the effect on HR; an accountant doesn’t anticipate the effect on sales; an HR leader doesn’t anticipate the effect on consumer behavior etc.
For example, someone with 20-years experience in corporate cultures might not realize their suggestions are not applicable to a small business culture. Therefore, a small business owner (or employee) should take caution when taking advice from an author with corporate experience. Advising a small business owner not to call clients periodically to “touch base” is not good advice. It borders on moronic, actually. Yet, without a filter or method of assessment…this advice is read and, possibly, implemented. The legitimacy of content is somewhat validated by Linkedin’s brand, which is scary.
Social media is not college, and most posters are not professors. Be careful when applying advice from anyone isn’t familiar with your company’s culture; or who isn’t credentialed insofar as predicting the effects actions in one area of an organization will have on other areas of the business.
(Copyright 2016, Matthew G. Kenney. All Rights Reserved).