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How NOT to Use LinkedIn

For people accustomed to a typically aggressive interruption style approaches, sales on social networking sites such as LinkedIn can be tricky. This is simply because online communities disdain overt commercial messages. I’ve taken the time, over the past several months, to collect some of the ineffective ways people have reached out to me through LinkedIn. I include 12 of them here, along with commentary on each one.

LinkedIn has a different mission than other social networks that people use to keep up friendships. LinkedIn exists to connect the professionals of the world in order to make them more successful and productive. It is a very effective way to network with others in your industry, and to meet potential buyers of your offerings.

It is unfortunate that many use LinkedIn to send SP*M messages, either through connecting to somebody first or by using InMail in LinkedIn Premium.

As long as someone appears to be human, I will generally accept connection requests on LinkedIn. I do have guidelines, however. If someone has a profile that’s in a company name I don’t accept the request. If someone doesn’t have a profile photo, I don’t respond. And, if their profile showcases a product or service over the individual, I won’t accept the request, either. Beyond those limitations, though, I will accept requests from just about anyone even if I don’t know them. I accept many requests from those who see me speak at an event or read one of my books, and we often develop a fun virtual friendship.

LinkedIn Approaches I Find Ineffective

I’ve redacted any information that would make the person recognizable. Note that when I receive messages such as these, I unfollow the person immediately.

1. Hello, David Meerman Scott Enter your email for a chance to win. [URL]

Seriously? A contest? And you’re not even telling me what kind of contest it is? I’d be very wary of even going to the link, and honestly I have better use of my time.

2. Ciao @FirstName, oggi lancio la landing page della mia nuova casa editrice e mai come oggi ho bisogno del supporto di chi ha creduto in me in questi anni ma anche di chi non mi conosce.

This language, which I’m guessing is Italian, isn’t one I can read.

3. Thanks for accepting! Do you have anytime to chat? Long story short, I’ve got this product [URL] which has grown decently well with little to no marketing. Starting literally last week I’ve gone heads down and am attempting to simply spread the word. I could really use your advice. I need to find affiliates/channel partners/influencers who would be willing to spread the word a bit.

Thank you, no–I’m not up for pimping your product.

4. I’m trying to get to know my local Boston Metro/New England connections on LinkedIn a little better so that we both might benefit from being connected. We’ve been crossing paths on LinkedIn for the past couple of weeks and I’d love to schedule a quick call. Would you have a few minutes to chat next week? Let me know what dates/times work best for you.

There’s no indication here what this “call” would be regarding, and I never schedule a call unless I know what it is about. If you don’t inform me of such right in the first message, I assume you’re out to sell me something.

5. Thanks for connecting. [Company name] wants to PARTNER with leaders like you. We have a proven model that I am sure you will love. Here it is in a nutshell. [Lots of bullet points] This is a way to really stand yourself further apart from those in your field. We have done this very successfully for many years and would love to work with you and take your brand to a new level. Send me your Skype address or connect with me on [Skype address] with a note saying: I want to be a Pied Piper, or simply Click through on the attached flyer.

Right off the bat, the phrase “stand yourself further apart from those in your field” shows me that this is a copy and paste that has probably been used thousands of times.

6. Greetings! Just wanted to share my new article with you. Do read it and give your remarks when you get time. [URL] See you around…

What is the article about? Why should I care? I’m not about to open it unless I know. But then saying “give your remarks” is really pushing it.

7. Hope you are doing well! Impressive profile to visit, Just want to know more about your company’s expertise, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn Let’s connect to explore business synergies.

I can tell that, even though they say they did, this person didn’t read my profile. My “company” has nothing to do with what my profile says I do.

8. Hi David, I know you’re a major influencer. Kindness is a theme that is so important. I have a new book out [book title] and I would like to ask if you’d be interested in including it to your or interview me perhaps. Looking forward to hearing from you. Warmly, [name]

Because I’m guilty of mistakes when writing quickly on social networks, I tend to be tolerant of bad grammar. But “including it to your or interview me perhaps” is really sloppy. It’s fine to share a new book, but what they’re asking is too forward for my taste. If I like a book I’m going to talk it up, and don’t need somebody to tell me to.

(And as if I missed it the first time, this came a week later.)

9. Hello David, I’m glad to connect with you here. Thought you might be interested in kindness. Kindness is a theme that is so important. I have a new book out [book name] and I would like to ask if you’d be interested to include me or interview me. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best, [name]

I appreciate kindness, also. Not, however, when it is part of a drip campaign on LinkedIn.

10. Hi, may I ask you for a little support? Thanks! [URL]

No, you may not.

11. I am acquiring information from elite realtors and brokers in North America to better serve the real estate community including yourself by providing solutions to the most frustration problems in the industry. 1. What are your top 3 daily frustrations in real estate? 2. What keeps you up at night in real estate? 3. What trends are occurring in real estate and will occur in their business or lives? 4. What do realtors or brokers secretly want or desire from their business or industry? Sincerely, [name]

Thank you very much, but I’m not in the real estate business.

12. Thanks for the connection. Free chapters of my award-winning book [book name & URL] Also attached the free chapters. I would appreciate if you could post your kind review on Amazon and share with your connections on social media platforms.

I’m actually surprised that this person didn’t ask me to donate ten grand to their favorite charity, too.

LinkedIn and other social networks are terrific ways to get noticed and establish relationships. But these approaches simply don’t work.

Effective selling on LinkedIn

I suggest that you approach LinkedIn and other social networks like you would a cocktail party.

  • Do you go into a large gathering filled with a few acquaintances and tons of people you do not know and shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”?
  • Do you go into a cocktail party and ask every single person you meet for a business card before you agree to speak with them?
  • Do you listen more than you speak?
  • Are you helpful, providing valuable information to people with no expectation of something tangible in return?

I recently joined the advisory board of Vengreso, a company that provides social selling services. If you want more information on selling via LinkedIn and other social selling tools, please do check them out.

Based on an original article by David Meerman Scott.

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