LinkedIn Turn-Offs You Should Avoid

We can probably agree that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for building your network and perhaps creating social capital, however, there are undoubtedly good and productive ways of doing this as well as turn-offs that you should avoid. Note, these are subject to interpretation and therefore based purely on my own preferences and perceptions.

Let’s look at a sample of what came in on my LinkedIn feed in the last few days and how I feel about it:

1) Have you ever hired a Virtual Assistant? [Excerpt]

At least this is a straight forward solicitation, though it can be construed as a bit condescending. VPAs are not exactly the stuff of science fiction. How did I respond: polite “no thank you.”

2) Are you looking to raise additional capital for your business? [Excerpt]

Although I get dozens of these per week, this one is relatively interesting because it is also quite straight forward, lists the services that the firm offers, and politely asks whether I would like to explore. I haven’t decided, but I’ll probably do some research and then I may schedule an exploratory appointment.

3) I imagine you are probably busy, but I wanted to get back on your radar… would you be available to chat sometime next week? [Excerpt]

This is yet another interminable coaching offer and, yes, I’m ignoring it because it presupposes my team and I need coaching… which might even be true, but I do not appreciate the presumption.

4) I’m finding this to be a great time to use LinkedIn with so many of us spending more time at home than usual. I noticed we have a few mutual connections and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to reach out. Would love to connect here if you are open to it.

This is an excellent approach. It asks for nothing but offers a connection and a chat, executive to executive. How refreshing not to be solicited! I’ll probably take him up on it.

5) I was looking for inspirational people to connect and came across your profile. I would be honored to have you as a connection. and would be happy to learn more about your journey. [Excerpt]

Ah! Flattery! Often a potent tool if used properly, but in this case I’m suspicious because it comes from a purveyor of brand consulting, and of all our opportunities to improve this is probably at the bottom of my list.

6) Hey Peter, I see you also went to [name of a university]. I love connecting with other alums!! Let’s Connect!

Hmmm. Well, yes, I did go to that school but I haven’t had any connection with it or its alumni in 38 years so perhaps this is not the most effective appeal he could make. Besides, he obviously wants to offer me financial services that I’m not in the market for.

7) Looks like we somehow missed each other. How about we connect for a quick call. I like what your organization is doing! What’s the best number to reach you on. Thanks.

I’m not sure what this person is offering and I respect his persistence, but if I wasn’t interested the first time he contacted me, then this reminder offers no particular enticements to connect now, so I am likely to continue to ignore it.

8) Peter, I know you get a lot of messages asking for your time.
The fact that I haven’t heard from you tells me you are either covered on this front…
Or you and your teams have different priorities, which I’m sure are critical for you.
At times small changes from our routine activities can make a big impact.
I know a lot of responsibility comes with managing your people Peter …
Let’s connect to discuss how we can help your leaders.

Here’s yet another business coach offering services, though it seems more convoluted than normal, since he seems to be offering me something while assuming I don’t want it. I cannot see any pressing reason to engage.

9) I hope this finds you well and safe! I know we are all trying to adjust with the new normal we are all experiencing globally. That being said, I reached out to you to see if there’s a good fit for us to work together. I want to mention that I work with businesses in providing them with a team that has an absolutely incredible work ethic, and helps them reduce their labor cost. Would you be open to discuss how we can help you increase your profit margin by outsourcing the right people for your team?

There are several aspects of this message that appeal to me. He was introduced to me by someone I know so I am positively inclined. It’s personal and expresses a decent interest in my well being up front. It also explains fairly directly the value proposition: outsourcing. There may be tasks he can help us with. I think I’ll follow up.

Well, that was cathartic… but what principles can we draw from the exercise?

In our view, your connections on LinkedIn should be precious and not necessarily abundant. Choose carefully. If you are serious about the connection, look for someone you already know to make the introduction. That is the whole beauty of the first, second, and even third level connections on LinkedIn. Introductions from people you know are simply more valuable.

Also, on LinkedIn as elsewhere in life, givers gain. Don’t begin your relationship with an “ask.” In other words, before you ask for something, pay it forward and offer something of value up front. It might be just a sincere expression of interest in what the other person is doing, or an article/blog post/or other item of value that you want to share. Perhaps you should like the individual’s posts or share them as a social gesture. You may also want to offer some input on an issue that you can reasonably expect may interest the other individual.

There are many other useful tidbits our clients learn as they begin to utilize LinkedIn as the powerful tool that it is for mobilizing connections to support your career. Let us know if you would like to learn more, and in the meantime, please always use LinkedIn wisely and deliberately.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

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