Originally shared on Forbes.com
A few years ago I was coaching a very successful young attorney about how to better use her LinkedIn account. As she scanned her LinkedIn inbox, she noticed that a message from a New York Times reporter. This reporter was looking for a comment on a major story about international trade, her specialty. The problem? The message was months old, and she was just now seeing it. My advice to her was this: delete your account.
Should everyone have a strong presence on social media? The answer is no. Of course, there are powerful reasons to have and maintain an online profile, but I've noticed some areas where social media usage becomes a detriment instead of a value for professionals. No matter how you choose to use your account, it's a good idea to take a look in the mirror and decide if you have the bandwidth to keep up with your account. If not, your LinkedIn account could be doing more harm than good for your business. If you fall into any of the following three categories, it may be time to consider whether to delete your account:
(1) You Won't Commit to Maintaining Your Account
In the first example I shared, the successful young attorney created an account, but had turned off email notifications and never checked the account. It was as if she built a brand new beautiful mailbox, with a tube connected that dropped all the letters she received right into the ocean. If you don't have the time to and check it on a regular basis, it's not worth having the account. It's difficult to maintain real relationships unless you make it a priority to interact regularly with them.
Katrina Najm, Senior Manager, External Communications at PwC recommends cultivating a relationship-based approach with LinkedIn connections. She says: "executives I've worked with have said they've seen success when they simply share an article with a client or prospective client saying "thought you'd enjoy this". It's worked wonders for relationship-building and has helped with their brand." Adding value while checking in every once in a while is a great way to maintain relationships.
(2) You Prefer the Status Quo
The second example is a successful senior tax and compliance consultant that I spoke with while running earlier this week. She bills over 2,000 hours per year, doesn't charge anywhere close to market rate, has all the business she can handle and isn't looking to work less or make more. She seriously asked me, "should I have a LinkedIn account?" Honestly, if she just wants to work like crazy until she dies, without ever raising her prices or improving the quality of clientele she works with, then it would be a waste of time.
Zvi Band, co-founder, and CEO of , a CRM platform for relationship-oriented businesses, recommends a more strategic approach:
"When it comes to identifying who is in our sphere of influence and who we should ensure we stay in touch with, a common folly is to sort our relationships by common traits. Past clients go here, potential clients over there, etc. It’s natural for us to try and bring order to the chaos, but we need to be focusing on prioritizing our relationships, not organizing them. What are our goals, and who are the types of people that can best help us achieve these goals? What is the value I provide, and who are the people who could most benefit from that? That may find us paying more attention to some past clients than others, activating parts of our network that previous lay fallow, attending events we might otherwise skip, and letting slip “important people” we come across. Try that exercise on your existing database, and you’ll find yourself with a very different set of relationships!"
(3) Social Media is Preventing You From Focusing on the Most Important Things
The third reason: you might just be better off avoiding social media marketing comes down to focus. The most successful entrepreneurs are famous for their deep focus. They choose one or two priorities and go all-in on them. They say "no" to everything else. Peter Drucker is famous for refusing interviews from the press or any distractions when he is head-down on a major project. You might decide to put all your business development efforts into daily lunches or networking. Consider saying no to social media if it doesn't fit into your strategic focus.
Ten years ago when social media for professionals burst onto the scene, it was hailed as a panacea and the simple way to bring in business with little effort. For very early users, there may have been some advantage to being first movers, but that time is past. It takes work and deliberate effort to be successful on LinkedIn and actually bring in business. The people that are successful on LinkedIn are going after it. If you aren't willing to put in the time, then you may want to follow the advice that Hillary gave Donald during the last Presidential election cycle and "delete your account."