A LinkedIn interaction from some time ago still sticks with me today. Why? He and I hooked up, then he immediately asked to review my personal finances so he could do for me what he had supposedly done for so many other “delighted clients.” I said “No thanks”. He responded by asking me why. Being the blunt guy that I am, I told him that he thought he was insincere in connecting with me and immediately he wanted to review my personal finances and try to sell me on his service. He said that he never asked me to submit my personal finances through LinkedIn. At this point, the discussion was no longer about him trying to sell me a service; instead, he wanted to provide her with a teachable moment. I told him that sending personal finances through LinkedIn was not the problem, but that he didn’t want to divulge my personal finances to someone he didn’t even know who connected with me just 30 minutes ago. After another couple of interactions, he told me that “good people” would agree to meet him (I guess I’m not a good person) and that he would rescind his offer to meet (although I already told him no). I don’t want to meet him). It was like “you can’t break up with me because I’m going to break up with you first”. Then he wished me the best. Sure he impressed me, but not the one he wanted.
As of this writing, LinkedIn has over 600 million users and has become a dominant force in connecting people for business with one another. It has broken down geographic barriers so that someone in their basement in Cleveland can do business with someone in Los Angeles, Paris, or Bangalore. It’s also incredibly cheap and easy to set up a platform and reach potential customers that 20 years ago would have been out of reach. This low barrier to entry and huge audience potential is fertile ground for ambitious entrepreneurs (which I refer to as LinkPitchers) to seek out deals in large towns. Now, I am in no way telling the ambitious not to do business using LinkedIn with all their passion and energy. But there are right and wrong ways to do it.
My years of LinkedIn experience have led me to seven fatal mistakes LinkPitchers make:
- not understand my profile – I know this may sound like “no duh”, but I’m surprised by the number of people who send me canned messages that prove they didn’t even look at my profile. My LinkedIn banner has my name followed by “Author” next to my published books. However, I regularly get messages asking me if I ever considered becoming an author. Before you apply, make sure you take a few minutes to understand what the person really does.
- Do not put a space between a connection request and a trace – A request to connect followed immediately by a tone tells me that you are not interested in me; you’re just trolling for business. Putting space between the two at least creates the illusion that you’ve taken the time to investigate me.
- Don’t show that you know anything about me. – Some of the most effective LinkedIn messages I’ve received make some kind of connection to the topics I write about. I write a lot about autism and disability inclusion, so when I get a message asking about autism or telling me they have a child on the spectrum, I’m more likely to respond.
- Do not ask personal questions before establishing a good relationship. – I’m sorry, but just because I connected with you on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that in the next breath I’m going to tell you about my financial goals. It takes time to develop trust in a relationship. Even if you’re a hookup of a hookup, it doesn’t mean I’m willing to reveal anything beyond my profile to you.
- Not being honest about why you’re following – An insincere and repetitive compliment such as “I’m really impressed with and I can generate 20,000 leads a month for you,” shouts a drooling salesperson. I’d feel so much better if I got a message like “Thanks for connecting with me. I am interested in what you have to say and look forward to reading your posts to see if there are common ground for us to do business together.”
- Not having the stripes to do what you’re selling – If you send me a request to connect, I will discuss your business, education and experience. If you present yourself as a financial advisor but have a relevant education or minimal professional experience, they probably don’t want to do business with you.
- not take a hint – If you don’t get a response, don’t keep sending “I’m sure you’re very busy and you may not have seen my previous message to you.” I saw the message and decided not to follow it. Sending additional messages will not make my opinion of you more favorable.
By all means, use LinkedIn and the powerful tools it can bring to your business. Just keep these seven fatal mistakes in mind during your next LinkPitching expedition.