6 great ways to alienate people on LinkedIn

by Kirsten Hodgson

LinkedIn is a great tool, but there are some things people do that irk or that make it really hard to share their content – despite much of this content being really valuable. I thought I'd share six of my top-peeves.

This isn't a rant. It's easy to make some of these mistakes. I know I did when I was new to LinkedIn, and I no doubt continue to make lots of other mistakes (that I'm yet to learn from). Using LinkedIn positively can greatly benefit both you and your connections. Let's try to stamp out some of the more common mistakes so that we all create good first impressions and make it easy for others to converse with us.

The top 6 great ways to alienate people on LinkedIn are: 

  1. Inviting someone to connect by saying they're a friend when they've never met you nor heard of you – if someone is in one of your groups you can choose that option or, if you really don't know them, take the time to find out their email address. It's not that hard. They'll likely have a link to their website from their LinkedIn profile.
  2. Inviting someone you don't know to connect by using the standard LinkedIn text – at least tell them why you would like to connect with them. You'll have a much better chance of your invite being accepted. Using the standard text just makes you seem lazy and that you might be wanting to connect simply to collect contacts. It doesn't take long to say "I see from your profile we share an interest in X. I thought it would be a good idea to connect. I look forward to seeing your updates." That took about 30 seconds to draft. It's not time-consuming but can make the difference between making a good first impression and not doing so.
  3. Automatically feeding your Tweets through to LinkedIn – if you're like me, you tend to tweet a mixture of business and personal stuff and you probably share a lot more on Twitter than on LinkedIn. Many of your tweets will be irrelevant to your LinkedIn followers and, if Tweets feed through regularly, you could be seen as an over-sharer. Perhaps, more compellingly, those in your network can't like, share or comment on your Tweets within the LinkedIn platform. They can retweet or reply through Twitter (if they have a Twitter account) but you could be making it hard for a significant number of your connections to interact with you.
  4. Asking someone for a recommendation using the standard LinkedIn text – I've had a few of these recently and am happy to provide references for people I've worked with or for. But please set out a few bullets letting me know what you'd like me to cover. This makes it far easier and you end up with a better recommendation that does what you need it to. Other people are busy so you need to make it easy for them to endorse you.
  5. Spamming your connections or those connected to your contacts – I've received a number of calls from companies claiming they know someone in my network and want to do a product demo. Fine, if the product's of interest but if indeed they know my connection, why don't they ask him or her to make an introduction. Someone did this to a few of my connections and it got everyone's backs up. I had to apologise and say I knew nothing about it and it was embarassing. Equally, connecting with someone and then sending them an email asking them to buy your product when this is the first interaction you've had with them is not a great look.
  6. Linking to your blog, book or website in every single post – I'm not saying it's not okay to do this occasionally. It is. Especially when a discussion relates to something you've written or can offer. But I have noticed a few (luckily not too many) who seem to refer back to their material in every single post – often when there's only a tenuous (or non-existent) link. Focus on helping others first. If that means linking back to some material you've put together, go for it but don't find opportunities to do so where none exist.

We all make mistakes and we're all learning. The key thing is to treat others as you'd want to be treated. If someone told you they wanted to connect with you because they admire you or like what you share or you have a common interest in something, how would that make you feel? Pretty good? How about if someone asked for a recommendation and sent you a list of things they wanted you to cover – it would make the process really easy, wouldn't it?

The concept of 'give first and you shall receive' is so true on LinkedIn. It's incredible how generous people can be with their time and knowledge – aim to be one of those people and it will come back at you in spades. I bet you'll get more leads and opportunities than you would if you had constantly asked for things, spammed people or invited all and sundry to connect with you without giving them a reason why they should do so.

I've shared my pet-peeves. What are yours? 

Image courtesy @freedigitalphotos.net

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant