Coffee, dinner, unwelcome advances and working for free…
No, this isn’t a story about Tinder. It’s just some of the suggestive LinkedIn messages I’ve received recently.
As someone who has built her business through LinkedIn and teaches others how to do the same, I get a lot of LinkedIn connection requests – thousands a year, in fact.
The sad truth is the majority are either bland and boring, or completely inappropriate.
And while I can laugh at them, it also makes my blood boil a little. Because if you can’t start a conversation professionally, how will you grow your network and build your business?
In general terms, yes, LinkedIn is social media, but it’s much more than that.
It’s where CEOs and decision-makers connect, seek information and news, and get deals done.
It’s NOT where you look for your next date…
I get it – spam is a problem on LinkedIn, and it’s rising.
Not a day goes by that I don’t get approached by an off-shore SEO, lead generation agency, or someone trying to get me to trust them with my money and “get in” on the ground floor of their latest cryptocurrency before it “blows up.”
Do you know why there’s so much spam on LinkedIn?
Because wherever there is real, legitimate, ethical money to be made, there will always be the sharks and hustlers.
So the following is a cautionary tale – and a tribute – to the sharks, hustlers, desperate and dateless, who spam us, legitimate business people, with their awful messaging.
How Not to Send LinkedIn Messages
How I responded: I didn’t. This guy came across way too sleazy and stalker-y for me to even dignify his message with a response. He started well enough and kept it work related, but then he devolved to pick-up lines, and my defences went up. You could get reported for such behavior.
Another thing: never, ever ask someone out for dinner on LinkedIn if you don’t know them. The same goes for coffee most of the time. I get that it’s an ice-breaker, but if you’d like to suggest coffee, wait until you’ve at least had a conversation with the person. Otherwise, it’s too much too soon.
What I wanted to say: It’s a big, fat NO from me, buddy. I reserve dinners for my friends and family. The only business we should be talking about is which one of my programs is the best fit for you to learn how to message people on LinkedIn. 😉
The lesson: Keep it courteous, and keep it strictly above the belt. Be professional at all times. LinkedIn is an extension of your workplace.
How I responded: Hi, I’m glad you enjoyed my book. The answers to all your questions are in my course, Cracking the LinkedIn Code 4.0. You can join at the link below. I hope to see you on the inside!
What I wanted to say: So glad you enjoyed my book! Not so glad you expect me to give you all my knowledge and tested, proven methods for free. I can see you work in SEO. Well, I need some help in that department, and the last quote I got was $5k/month, but I’m sure you’ll do it for me free, right? As you’ve read my book, I’m sure you understand the principle of being paid for your services. As such, you can join my course, Cracking the LinkedIn Code 4.0, for $997, or you can look at my done-for-you LinkedIn Domination service, which is $3,750. You get A TON of value from either one, and I get paid for doing my job. Everybody wins!
The lesson: Never ask anyone to work for free. It’s not fair or considerate. You wouldn’t do it, so why should they?
How I responded: Thanks for reaching out, but your product isn’t the right fit for me. Have a great day!
What I wanted to say: “Am I interested in learning more?” Umm, no! I absolutely do not train on psychological safety. In fact, I train organizations on social selling. What I’d like to know is why you don’t make sure you target the right people before spamming them with your impersonal sales pitch. And how effective has this method been for you? I’m tipping zero.
The lesson: Aside from targeting the right people, use messaging to start a dialogue and build relationships. Never jump into the sales pitch. You wouldn’t do that in real life, so why would you do it on LinkedIn? It’s a little like going straight in for the kiss two minutes into the first date. You just wouldn’t do that, would you? Get to know your prospect, build a rapport and save the sales discussion for further down the track.
How I responded: Thanks for getting in touch, but I’m just not interested. I have a pretty good track record with LinkedIn lead generation as it is. In fact, I even wrote a couple of #1 bestselling books on the topic. 😉
What I wanted to say: I don’t mean to be rude, but you REALLY need to take a look at whom you’re trying to speak with before you hit the “send” button. As a two-time #1 international best-selling author of books about how to win clients on LinkedIn, an in-demand public speaker, and sought-after social selling trainer who teaches individuals and companies how to grow their businesses through LinkedIn, I don’t think paying “$500 to inbox 5,000+ new highly targeted prospects on LinkedIn” is an offer I’ll be interested in. Also, if you give 5,000 people a hard sales pitch at the first point of contact, you will likely burn every single person on the list for good.
The lesson: Personalize every message. Research your prospect, and cool your jets when it comes to the sale. Nothing turns a prospect off more than hard, desperate sales pitch in the first message (or any message really).
How I responded: Hi there, I’m more than comfortable with my sales and CX strategy, but I wish you all the best.
What I wanted to say: Hey! I have a lot of questions about you because you haven’t really told me ANYTHING about you, and it feels like you’ve only asked questions about me – *eye roll*.
One piece of advice for you when you approach people: “interested is interesting.” If you really wanted to get my attention and connect, you would not have sent me your mini bio in the connection request, making it all about you.
The lesson: Writing about me, me, me is a no, no, no! If you want to build rapport with people, show an interest in them, making it about them. Let’s face it, a complete stranger doesn’t care about you or your track record.
How I responded: Thanks for reaching out. I don’t think our business interests align, but one tip I will pass on is to focus on the quality of your network, not the quantity. Have a great day!
What I wanted to say: So you want to use me to look “cool”? That in itself is so NOT COOL! At least don’t tell me that, lol. Oh, and by the way, maybe you should look for a new mentor. 😉
The lesson: Some things are better left unsaid. Asking for favors from strangers makes you look desperate and spammy.
There you have it … my LinkedIn messaging hall of shame.
Some of the errors of judgment I’ve covered here are pretty obvious; others – not so much.
But if you take away one thing to keep in mind when messaging people, let it be this…
Messaging is a key part of using LinkedIn for business, and if lead generation is a priority for you, a hard sell is not the way to do it.
Sales is about building relationships. You do that through starting conversations and showing interest in the other person.
Be engaged and knowledgeable about your prospects (but not in a creepy stalker way), and message them the way you would speak to them if they were standing in front of you. Basically, don’t send spammy LinkedIn messages and #BeGoodToPeople.
When you do that, building a relationship and taking it offline for a “warm” conversation becomes almost inevitable and effortless.
There is a way to generate leads on LinkedIn while never coming across as inappropriate or spammy. Check out my free LinkedIn Leads video series here.
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