canstockphoto15862854Here are three ways NOT to get deleted on LinkedIn.

After being on the road for a few days, I’d gotten a little behind on responding to LinkedIn invitations. When I logged on, there were 32 requests to connect. I deleted 14 of them.

Of those 14, all but one sent the standard invitation supplied by LinkedIn. I had no idea who these people were or why they wanted to connect with me. A physician? A golfer? Still no clue. If it wasn’t worth their time to introduce themselves, I didn’t need them in my network.

I don’t mean to sound haughty or standoffish. But LinkedIn is a place to begin a conversation—to begin a relationship. Think about how you would interact if you were meeting someone in person. You’d smile, shake hands, ask about them, and start a discussion. Anything less would be rude.

The one person whose invitation explained why he wanted to connect wrote this:

Hi Joanne,
I wanted to reach out to introduce myself as we are both based in the Bay Area. I would like to share with you what my new startup is doing in the Sales area and learn more about No More Cold Calling. Are you available for coffee in the next few weeks?

Why would I take time to meet with this person? I don’t know, because he never said. His invitation was self-promotional and probably the exact message he sent to other local business owners he uncovered in his search.

Here are three lessons salespeople can learn from this failed attempt to connect:

  1. Strangers on social media don’t want to hear your sales pitch.

Please don’t invite people to connect on LinkedIn if you just want to sell them something.  Social media is a great tool for researching prospects and Referral Sources, and for positioning yourself as a thought leader. It’s also a great way to build new connections and strengthen existing ones (provided you eventually take those connections offline and have real conversations).

But social media is not the place for a sales pitch. If you’re sending sales offerings to strangers on social media, you’re pretty much cold calling. Why would you waste your valuables sales time chasing cold leads, or worse, alienating people with whom you might have been able to build strong relationships?

  1. The standard invite is boring and impersonal.

I love meeting new people. That’s why I’m in sales. So I’d be happy to connect with you on LinkedIn. But when you invite me, introduce yourself, just like you would in person. Tell me about yourself and why you’d like to connect.  Remember, the purpose of LinkedIn is to facilitate conversations, not transactions.

  1. Prove you actually know how to use LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of the most valuable social tools available to salespeople. Not only can we learn all about our prospects, but we can also find out how we’re connected to them through other people who could make referral introductions.

If you’re one of the people spamming me (or anyone else), then consider this: I don’t know who you are. The only way to change that is by making an effort to get to know me. Take a few minutes to check me out on LinkedIn, and you will likely find common connections. Cold calling or emailing won’t get you anywhere. But a referral introduction from one of our mutual contacts will.

I look forward to receiving your personal invitation to connect. And you can count on a personal response from me. We can begin a relationship by writing to each other. Then let’s pick up the damn phone and have a real conversation.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.