Please don’t spam me on LinkedIn

Coffee, not spam!
Coffee, not spam!

I’m all for using LinkedIn to “sell myself” and understand that others will use it the same way.

But there’s a way to sell  on social networks like this. And spam isn’t one of them.

What do I mean by ‘spam’? Let me take you through what happens …

  1. A person I have met briefly or not at all, sends me a LinkedIn connection request. If they live in Adelaide, I generally accept the request because there may be a chance that I work with them in the future, or they can recommend my expertise to someone else.
  2. Hours (sometimes minutes) later they send me a message saying they have a special 50% off fertiliser developed especially for that cactus that I’ll never grow because I kill all plants, even succulents and besides, cacti scare me. Or that they’re selling tickets to a breakfast next Friday and would I like the early bird deal (and I get disgruntled because I don’t find breakfast events easy and even if I did, your attendees aren’t in my target market and I don’t have two hours to spare to schmooze with them, eating rapidly-cooling bacon and drinking awful filtered coffee while everyone else there tries to sell their small business services to me).

So,  bam! I’ve opened the door and without any relationship development or thought to my industry and the work I do, they’re talking about themselves … and asking me for money.

You wouldn’t do that in a face-to-face situation, would you? So why do it online?

I’ve said this again and again in public forums and to clients: social media works best when you focus on warm networking, on developing real relationships and respecting the people behind the accounts.  And guess what? Warm networking takes time.

So how do you ‘sell yourself’ on LinkedIn?

  • It begins with your profile of course. Ensure it looks all schmicko, you’ve got a professional photo, and you’ve succinctly explained what you do.
  • Use the status update field to talk about what you’re working on, share articles of interest and – yes – share links to any events, special deals etc. That’s fine. At least you’re not intruding on our inboxes.
  • Roam beyond your own profile. Look at what others are saying, congratulate people who have new jobs, comment, like (and all the other Facebook-like things which have crept into LinkedIn).
  • Participate in LinkedIn Groups. Some are grand, some are bland. You might find a gem where you gain terrific information and make good friends. (Don’t forget to check your Group Settings or Email Settings to ensure you don’t get more email  notifications than you’d like … which can quickly feel like spam!)
  • Send a message to a connection and invite them to coffee. A genuine, friendly coffee invitation where you both talk about your work and get to know each other better.

You ‘sell yourself’ through your behaviour. Spamming your connections means you’re damaging your brand.

I’d love to hear about your LinkedIn experience in comments below.

Related reading: Don’t fret over your LinkedIn requests.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Gary Lum says:

    It happens all the time and it’s becoming annoying enough to reconsider LinkedIn as a tool.

    1. Prakky says:

      It definitely helps me to reconsider my LinkedIn connections, Gary! I disconnect from people who spam me.

    2. I agree Gary. The problem isn’t only limited to messages either unfortunately. Many of the groups are now full of spam which renders them useless and added to that is the awful new Endorsement feature. I have found myself using LinkedIn less and less lately.

  2. I tend not to accept connection requests unless I have worked with the person or at least interacted with them in some meaningful way online. My connections are primarily former work colleagues, clients and interesting bloggers and social media experts such as yourself.

    1. Prakky says:

      You might have a more positive experience then, Paul? I guess my approach to accepting requests might come with these risks.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I think you’ve got it right there, Michelle. I’ve had a much more positive experience too. I don’t accept any LinkedIn connections I’ve never spoken or met with unless they make the effort to write me a personalised email for me to consider making an exception. It’s in poor taste.

  3. robynverrall says:

    I agree, there is nothing worse it also happens a lot on twitter, I just expect linkedin is for professionals and as such connections should be treated with professional courtsey

    1. Prakky says:

      Sounds like commonsense, doesn’t it Robyn? Courtesy goes a long way to cementing good relationships.

  4. Kristy Copley says:

    Well said Prakky. It bothers me that people just seem to forget their manners when it comes to SM … because you’re dealing with the written word, often manners are more important.

    1. Prakky says:

      That’s a fantastic point, Kristy: if anything, we need to be even MORE polite online.

  5. I’m looking forward to coffee with you next month in Adelaide 🙂

    1. Prakky says:

      Me too, Nicole. Lots to talk about!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great piece Prakky. I have two contacts who are doing exactly 1. and 2. to me, so I am going to disconnect them now…so thanks for the tip.

  7. The Bandit says:

    This just happened to me today. I noticed a message from an unfamiliar name and read it out of curiosity. Luckily, this person was only concerned about students making healthier lifestyle choices with what they put in their bodies.

    He was so concerned in fact, that he offered me a chance to make money by selling his energy drink.

    I was flattered.

    1. Prakky says:

      Haha, how noble of him!

  8. Matt says:

    Hi Michelle,

    This is a really good conversation to have as LinkedIn is evolving so rapidly that the ‘rules of engagement’ are hard to define – this of course doesn’t remove the need for common courtesy!

    Do you see this differently if I use LinkedIn to reach and start up a conversation about what our company does and how this may be of value? This is not a random “spam” type approach which I agree is very transactional. it is a well researched and targeted at people with similar profiles to our current customers.

    1. Prakky says:

      Hi Matt, apologies for the delay in responding.

      That’s a great question. Yes, I do see it differently. As you’ve outlined, if you send a message that’s not so transactional, but contains some interesting insights or meaningful information, wrapped in a lot of courtesy and warmth, that could be of value.

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