With nearly a billion members worldwide, LinkedIn is the most powerful professional platform for connecting with others, bar none. That fact is not lost on most people who use it for business development. With its sheer number of—and focus on—professionals, the platform is called “LinkedIn” in part because it presents the opportunity to identify and pitch to prospects. But there’s a large and growing community of members who are exploiting LinkedIn and creating a less-than-desirable experience for the rest of us.
The number of LinkedIn sales messages we get daily from The Exploiters is increasing tremendously. Along with it, the annoyance is increasing exponentially too, all because of those inappropriate, dishonest and mostly unwanted sales messages. So if you don’t want to be known by the brand attribute of “annoying,” and you seek to use LinkedIn to grow your business authentically, here’s what you need to do.
Actually, let’s focus on what not to do.
Don’t use trickery. Take some advice from Sir Walter Scott, who wrote the line “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” in his epic “Marmion.” Deception in a LinkedIn message sounds like this: “I always love to get to know my LinkedIn connections, so I would love to have a 30-minute call to learn about you.” “I see you’re in the coaching and training space. I’m doing research for a project I’m working on and wanted to ask you a question.” If those are your actual intentions, bravo. Sadly though, we have all learned it’s often not the case. If your true intention is to make a sale, don’t imply it’s about the joy of just getting to know and learn about people. This subterfuge is beyond annoying.
Don’t use templates of “proven sales letters.” There are a lot of people out there selling the supposedly perfect formula for converting prospects to sales. Those authors do seem to be good at selling something: selling their sales template models to many LinkedIn members. After we have read a hundred of them, they all start to blend together. Don’t copy.
Don’t make false promises. “Wouldn’t you like to grow your sales 200% with no investment?” This bait usually turns out to be as real as pixie dust.
Stop using the word Partner deceptively. If the full extent of your partnership is that someone gives you money for your wares, you’re not a partner, you’re a vendor or resource. Being upfront about the reason for your message—a pitch to inform someone about the value you can offer—feels less slimy because you’re stating your honest role in that authentic network connection.
Don’t use bots. Without doubt, the most pernicious practice for procuring prospects on LinkedIn is using technology to automate a process that’s supposed to be about human connection. It’s the antithesis of relationship building. The good news is that if you’re the recipient of one of these bot messages, it’s pretty easy to spot.