The 7 Deadly LinkedIn Sins.

LinkedIn is growing by leaps and bounds. No surprise -- it’s a perfect place for people to connect and do business online. Though along with the platform’s growth, there seems like an ever-growing divide between users who see huge returns on their investment and those who swear that LinkedIn just “doesn’t work.”

I get it. It’s easy to access people you want to connect and do business with, but doesn’t mean you’ll be successful, especially if you approach using the platform incorrectly. This may sound harsh, but someone has to say it: It’s not other people. It’s you. Hopefully, the below advice can help. Here are the seven deadly sins that will cause your LinkedIn outreach to go unanswered.

1. Spamming strangers. 

Have you been sending the same message to everyone you connect with? No wonder your message isn’t getting through. You’re sending spam. Does spamming ever work? No, and definitely not on LinkedIn. Neither does hard selling. No one signs up for any platform, let alone a social media platform, hoping to receive messages from strangers that have nothing to do with them or their interests.

I hesitate to even call this a tactic. Repeat after me: Thou shall not spam. Just don’t do it. Don’t do it on LinkedIn; don’t do it ever. I get a ton of these messages, and they’re always totally transparent and leave me scratching my head. The message is: You’re just trying to sell me something. Direct and simple queries that include one ask are infinitely more likely to get a response.

2. Expecting too much.

No one owes you their time, so don’t act like it. There are plenty of people who are willing to help those they don’t know, but that number greatly and quickly diminishes when you approach someone in a way that shows that you feel entitled to their time or expertise. Instead, try to spend some time building a relationship. Don’t make it all about you. Keep your inquiry to a short paragraph. Make your question the one they enjoy answering the most that day, and they’ll jump at the chance to respond.

3. Nonconsensual submissions.

Benjamin Harrison -- LinkedIn expert and the creator of Smart Pitch, a program that teaches inventors how to use LinkedIn to submit their ideas for products -- coined the term “nonconsensual submission.” In his view, “We all think our products and services are the best thing since sliced bread, but by shoving your marketing materials down someone’s throat rather than asking them for permission first, you are setting the opposite of an advantageous tone.”

Instead, Harrison recommends developing LinkedIn relationships by way of consensual submission. Remember, the healthiest relationships are built slowly.

4. Trolling.

It’s perfectly fine to comment on someone else’s thread, but please make sure you’re not simply using their post to advertise your own product or service. When people exclusively participate on LinkedIn in this way, it’s pretty obvious and looks desperate. Focus on adding to the conversation in a relevant way.

If you’re rude, abrasive or political, people won't want to do business with you. Be selective about what you share. There will be times when you disagree with someone, and sharing your opinion is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s encouraged. But remember to always be cordial and respectful.

5. Being needy.

Have a little confidence. Act like you belong at the table. Don’t immediately reach out to someone after they accept your connection request. Don’t message them a second time after just 24 hours have passed without a response. This is another way of being respectful of other people’s time and space. I promise you, it’s a more effective way of building a foundation for a productive business relationship.

6. Getting too personal. 

It’s okay to get personal at times, but remember, this is a place for business. You’re trying to connect with people professionally. LinkedIn content, especially video, has had amazing reach over the last few years, but just because you can post something doesn’t mean you should. LinkedIn is a tool for branding. What does your lunch or the fact that you have time to post about it say about your professional brand? There are plenty of other platforms to share your political beliefs, vacation shots and breakfast choices. 

7. Typos.

When you’re reaching out to someone, make sure to check your spelling. Grammar is important, like it or not. If you don’t take the time to spell check your work, it says a lot about you.

LinkedIn is a fantastic place to uncover potential new opportunities for your business, but only if you go about it the right way. If not, potential peers will avoid you like the plague.

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