How to NOT Make A Fool out of Yourself on LinkedIn

It’s so simple, but it’s so true.

Whether you’re looking to send an InMail message, a connection request, comment on a post, share in a group, WHATEVER IT IS … the key is to focus on the mutual benefit of what you’re doing.

Will anyone else benefit from what you’re about to do or is it all about you?

It’s a message I share with my 7 1/2-year-old daughter all the time. She wants to go outside and ride her scooter. Our next-door neighbor wants to go to the park. My daughter is beside herself, not quite understanding why the next-door neighbor is not understanding the importance of scooter riding.

“But it’s what I want to do!”

Precisely. It’s what she wants to do. She’s not thinking of the next-door neighbor and what she wants to do. It’s simple, but it’s so important and it applies to sales.

What is “appropriate” sales behavior on LinkedIn?

So often, I see people posting advice about what to do and not to do on LinkedIn. I’m one of those people. It is action-oriented advice, looking at the method and not the intention.

“Don’t ever ask people to buy from you in the first message!”

“Don’t ever use a connection request for sales!”

“Don’t ever post an article link in a group!”

Here’s the thing: there are valid points to each of those arguments. I get that. But the intention behind the actions is more important than the actions themselves. If I reach out to someone and ask them to buy from me because I recognize a clear need that person has, my genuine desire to help will come through.

If, on the other hand, I reach out without reading someone’s profile — therefore knowing nothing about the person — and ask him or her to buy from me, I’m going to come off like a self-absorbed jerk.

The actions are the same, but the intention is different.

I truly believe this is the difference between success and failure in sales. If the intention is to form a working relationship with someone based on both parties receiving a clear benefit, the strategy will work.

Sometimes that means nurturing a relationship because reaching out to someone to be his or her business coach without ever having a conversation is a bit forward. On the other hand, it may not be.

Hear me out.

Let’s say you are a business coach for female entrepreneurs who have a podcast. That is a narrow scope and you can find those women without ever reaching out to them. This is so important in the LinkedIn lead generation game!

This provides the opportunity to conduct a thoughtful, relevant reach-out, but only if you think through the process and have a genuine desire for a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Example of a thoughtful reach-out:

Hi Sally! My name is Chrissie and I’m a business coach for female entrepreneurs who also have podcasts. I have a ton of experience in this segment and believe I can really help you leverage your podcast for your business. Are you interested in a quick call so I can learn more about you?

Now, this is a forward reach-out. You can change the final line to any variation of the following to “tone it down”:

  • Are you interested in this article I wrote that details how to do this?
  • Are you interested in connecting on LinkedIn to learn more about each other?

Example of a self-absorbed (and bait-and-switch) reach-out sequence:

Hi Sally, I’d like to connect with you to learn more about your business.

Once Sally accepts the message, the almost-immediate follow-up message includes a full sales page worth of services and a statement (not question) of, “Let me know when you’re available for a call next week.”

If you’ve ever received a bait-and-switch like this (and you probably have), you feel dirty for having experienced it. It’s low, intrusive, and not effective.

These types of interactions have turned people off from the idea of sales on LinkedIn, believing the platform should be solely for relationships. While I understand their post considering the tactics being employed on LinkedIn, I completely disagree.

The idea of being on LinkedIn is to form business relationships, yes, but that might mean services are exchanged. The key — as always — is to know your audience, recognize whether they need what you’re selling, and convey your mutually-beneficial relationship.

Whether that’s through inbound or outbound marketing is irrelevant. The key is recognizing the person you’re trying to sell to as a valued person and developing a relationships that will serve both of your interests.

About Chrissie Wywrot

Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her at chrissie@chrissiewywrot.com.

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