LinkedIn is one of the Big 5 social networks along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Its vast network of professionals makes it a valuable platform for people looking to make business connections.
But just like the first impression of a door to door salesperson, there is a risk that your communication could appear as spammy – and immediately turn people off to your advances.
There is a right way and a wrong way to approach people on LinkedIn, and the wrong way might lose your contact for life.
Making connections on LinkedIn is fairly simple if you are going after non-managerial professionals – but if you are going after the big guns there is a science behind it. To be quite honest, it is very similar to how you might do it in person, and that is to earn their trust.
Earning trust through a computer or mobile phone screen isn’t the easiest thing in the world, in fact, there are many people that go about connecting on LinkedIn in a manner that will most certainly backfire.
Below are the 3 biggest mistakes that a professional can make when attempting to connect on LinkedIn.
The absolute worst thing you can do is lie on your LinkedIn profile or to a contact on LinkedIn. To explain why let’s take a trip back a week ago. I was sitting in the office working on some Facebook and Google+ posts for the following week, and I get a text message on my phone that reads:
“Meeting tonight @ 6 pm at Camillus office for professionals looking to earn extra income. All are welcome – [undisclosed name]”
The number was not in my contacts and I did not recognize it. So I replied, “who is this?” The person then replied that he was a LinkedIn contact of mine named Jim [name is altered for purposes of this article]. I asked Jim how he happened to get my cell phone number, for which he replied that he got it off of my LinkedIn page. There was just one little hole in his response – I don’t have my cell phone number on my LinkedIn page.
Not only did I catch him in a lie, but he actually thought it was a good idea to spam my cell phone!
This leads me to number two.
Spam is defined as irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.
My new friend Jim successfully fulfilled that definition by not only sending a message that clearly shouldn’t have been sent to my cell phone, but I found out two days later that he had also sent it to a business associate of mine.
Spamming through LinkedIn’s messaging system happens much more than my cell phone example. I’m sure you have received a message from an Independent Energy Consultant or Happiness Counselor a few times that says something like, ‘I’m sorry for the mass message, but I want to tell you about a great opportunity to…(insert sales pitch here)’.
My guess is that as soon as you read the first few sentences of a message like that your mouse found its way to the delete button.
Lesson – don’t spam.
#3 Hard Selling or Hard Asking
This just flat out doesn’t work. People can sniff out a hard sell before you even hit the send button. And if you are asking them to give you something before you have even introduced yourself, that’s about as good as a slap in the face.
Imagine that someone walked up to you while you were having coffee with a friend or a business associate and said, “Excuse me but would you mind giving me a personal rating at www.mybizcard.com.”
A proper response to that might be “WTF did you say?” if you’re in a bad mood, or “I’m sorry who are you?” if you prefer to be polite.
Think of LinkedIn like a cold call – because that’s basically what it is if you have never met the person face to face before. Let’s be honest, you’re probably messaging them because you want something from them, whether you think so or not. You might want to tap into their network, you might want to get a job from them, you might want to get an introduction from them or maybe you just want to sell them your product. Whatever it is you cannot be impatient or selfish. You have to come in with the approach of I want to give this person some value so that we might share a productive relationship for life.
If you go in with a patient, honest, and giving attitude, you are much more likely to reap the benefits that you are seeking.