What NOT To Do On LinkedIn

What NOT to do on LinkedInThanks to guest blogger, Deb Krier.

LinkedIn is a fabulous networking tool, when used properly.

Unfortunately, sometimes people get a bit “off track” and end up annoying the very people they are connected with.

I am what LinkedIn considers a “LION” – a LinkedIn Open Networker. Basically, this means that I will connect with virtually anyone.

However, when I get a request to connect from someone I don’t know, I look at their Profile – especially if they didn’t tell me “why” they wanted to connect. Unless it’s clear that they are a spammer, I’ll connect.

Recently, I received a request to connect from a woman who didn’t give me a reason and used the default of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

When I viewed her Profile, it appeared that she was fairly new to LinkedIn. She has less than 200 connections and her Profile is extremely sparse. She only has her current (Consultant at Self Employed) and prior job, as well as one listing for education – none of which contained any information or detail.

She also didn’t have a Summary or any further information. But, I connected anyway because I often have “newbies” connect with me so they can learn more about LinkedIn.

Within three days, I received this message from her, via LinkedIn:

Did I hear right? Are you guys considering voice over ip? If so, make sure you read this:
Good luck

Not sure where she “heard” I was considering VOIP, as I’m not. I also didn’t click the link, for fear it was a virus, spam, or otherwise harmful.

The next day, I received another message:


I recently came across a vendor who has links to social media profiles! Instead of using lists as we have for years, we changed it up a little and started to do a little more research on the person so we can have more targeted campaigns, this has helped up tremendously! This is definitely a new way to market. If you ever need anything like this, I suggest you contact [name and email address]. She can also help you with any of your other marketing needs.


This time, I replied, stating that the power of LinkedIn lies in developing relationships with people, not in spamming them with unsolicited sales messages. I also pointed out that if she had read my Profile, she wouldn’t be suggesting I needed to learn about social media!

I’ll admit, I may have been a bit snarky, and she never responded.

I have several reasons to write about this:

1. Her Profile is so incomplete that it’s doing her more harm than good. Everyone is a “beginner” on LinkedIn at some point – but before really connecting with people, make sure your Profile is very robust and complete. (Debra offers some great tips for optimizing your Profile here.)

2. She made a crucial error in sending spammy messages. While I didn’t report her to LinkedIn, someone else may – and she could lose her account. Maybe it doesn’t mean that much to her, but why risk it?

3. As I told her, successfully using LinkedIn is all about developing relationships – not “sell, sell, sell.”

Do you agree? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear what you think about this situation. Thanks.

Deb Krier, The SociaLightAbout guest blogger, Deb Krier: The SociaLight, Deb is passionate about working with professionals to show them how to use social media to promote themselves and their businesses. You’ll find her at: http://debkrier.com

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.

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  1. These are great tips, Deb, thanks, and thanks Debra for having Deb guest-post. I follow the same steps Deb does before accepting a LinkedIn connection. Thanks to your post, I now understand why those steps are important. I haven’t been spammed, but I have declined to connect with people who are obviously selling financial services.
    Gail Storey recently posted…Goodreads Giveaway of I PROMISE NOT TO SUFFER!My Profile

    • Hi Gail,
      When I get an invite from someone I don’t know, first I visit their profile. Then, if it looks like an interesting connection worth pursuing, I click on the option to “reply but don’t accept” their invite and ask how they found me (i.e. were they referred or simply searching LinkedIn). And, when I speak on the topic of LinkedIn, I suggest these to my attendees as well.
      However, if that person doesn’t reply to my question, I don’t connect with them because – to me – it indicates that they weren’t really interested in starting a conversation.
      Glad you stopped by to share your thoughts. Thanks.

    • Thanks Gail! I’m honored that Debra had me provide a guest post – and I’m glad you liked it! I’m a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker), so I’ll connect with virtually anyone, but unless I truly know who they are, I always visit their profile first. One thing I look for is whether they’re fairly active in posting and if their information is current. The more active and current, the less likely they are to be a spammer. It’s just another good reminder for everyone to keep their profiles current and to post status updates fairly often.
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  2. Good points! I admit I don’t use LinkedIn as much as I probably should mostly because I haven’t yet figured out how to use it effectively. However, I do know enough not to spam the heck out of my connections! Thanks for sharing Deb! And thank you, Debra, for sharing Deb with the rest of us!
    Melodieann Whiteley recently posted…Mar 23, How To Use Trade AssociationsMy Profile

    • You’re welcome Melodieann. As with all things social media (well, with life in general), it’s about building relationships. Developing that KLT Factor (know, like, and trust) is so important to remember.

    • Melodieann – You’re doing it the right way! It’s better to dabble your toes until you feel comfortable with knowing what to do and how to use it effectively. My advice is to spend 10-15 minutes a day on LinkedIn to help familiarize yourself with the site. My “LinkedIn time” tends to be in the evening – I multitask and watch TV at the same time! But, it allows me the opportunity to spend more uninterrupted time looking at status updates, reading Pulse articles and building connections than if I do it during the day. Good luck!
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  3. I completely agree.

    I have this happen on Facebook a lot, too. If someone adds me and immediately starts messaging me with something that they’re selling, it’s not so much a “connection” as it is “junk mail.”

    I’m lucky in that I’ve had quite a few positive networking experiences on LinkedIn, but I have definitely come across the spam messages, as well. It’s important for LinkedIn users to realize that if they want people to treat them seriously, they need to have the same courtesy in treating others with respect.
    Beth recently posted…Connecting the Dots: From Conflict to ResolutionMy Profile

    • Hi Beth. I think it’s important for everyone to treat one another with respect and integrity. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
      I am fortunate that only twice (that I can recall) have I agreed to accept someone’s LinkedIn invitation only to have them reply immediately with a sales message. While we’re all in business to make money, I think it’s important to develop relationships first, develop the KLT Factor (know, like and trust) and then do business with those people we feel most connected to as a result.

    • Hi Beth! You’re absolutely right. It’s all about courtesy and respect. If someone walked up to you at a networking event, immediately inserted themselves into the conversation and basically said “BUY FROM ME”, we’d run (not walk!) away from them. It’s the same thing online. Thanks for commenting!
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  4. It’s easy to forget the one simple rule…don’t do anything to people you wouldn’t want done to you. Desperation for a sale makes people forget this. But when they come back to respect – and appropriate assertiveness – they get what they’re looking for. Cool post!
    Larry Hochman recently posted…Law of Attraction, Part Two. Religion, Science and Wishful ThinkingMy Profile

  5. Debra, Thanks for having Deb Krier as the guest blogger, as it certainly does give more insight into the use of LinkedIn. I am sure that most of us use facebook for most of our communications but after being reminded of LinkedIn again, I think it necessary to re-evaluate my relationship with LinkedIn. It is too easy to get lost in your own concentration of where “we are at” each day and forget about adding other areas of interest in the social media arena. Thanks again for the insight with LinkedIn.

  6. You have made some good points – and I agree. I don’t use LinkedIn as much as I should but have recently enlisted to learn more about its benefit. Social media should be about connecting and getting to know people. No-one likes to be spammed all the time.
    Liz Delaney recently posted…Do You have a Marketer’s Mindset?My Profile

    • You’re right Liz, social media is about being social. Hence, the name. No one likes to be spammed – ever – especially when you connected with someone thinking they had an interest in getting to know you first. I once had someone send me a LinkedIn invite. Curious about how he found me, I “replied but did not accept.” He said he was searching LinkedIn and was interested in learning more about me and my services. Alas, as soon as I accepted his invite, his first reply back to me was selling me something.

    • Liz – I hate it when I’m spammed on any of my social media sites, but it really annoys me when it’s on LinkedIn. The sad thing about the young woman I referenced is she really damaged her reputation. I’ll admit – I stay connected with her because she continues to spam me and I can use her as an example of “what not to do!” But, if it weren’t for that, I would have reported her and disconnected. Now, if she were to provide me with information I could use, I probably wouldn’t even read it. All it takes is one bad communication to make someone form a long-lasting impression.
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  7. Thanks to everyone for commenting and thanks to Debra for asking me to be a guest blogger! As I mentioned in my reply to Gail, I welcome LinkedIn Requests to Connect from virtually anyone. If you’re interested in connecting with me, please do so…and let me know you read this post! Thanks!
    Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  8. Social media, regardless of the network, is about connecting, building trust and looking at the long term, not the quick “kill” of a sale.

    Nice article. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. I don’t spend a lot of time on LinkedIn but I always double check before I accept an invitation to connect. It’s a shame that spammers are taking advantage of this network. Thanks for this info, I will be more aware!
    Kelly Cavanaugh recently posted…Grief is not always what it appears to be…My Profile

    • Hi Kelly, to tell you the truth I think some people don’t believe they’re spamming anyone. It’s my impression that they want to make a sale, they’re just “doing their job” and think their approach is the best way to do that. I don’t think they realize the value of first developing a relationship that could then lead to something beneficial. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Kelly – I’ll connect with almost anyone on LinkedIn, but I do always look at their profile first. I’ll never connect with a profile where someone used their business name instead of their personal name! And, once connected, I usually give someone “one” time to spam me. Twice and they’re gone and reported.

      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  10. Thank you for writing about this. It happens every day, people ask to connect and then proceed to “fake” connect with you. It’s annoying and a waste of time. I might open their email once but after that their email will go ignored.

    Thanks for the reminder to take the time to connect before trying to sell.
    Catherine Storing recently posted…Why Doing What You Love is NOT an Option But a MUST!My Profile

    • I don’t get requests like that daily Catherine. Fortunately, the majority of requests I receive are people who do want to connect. I get requests from people I don’t know, but might be worth connecting with. However, they don’t respond to my message when I hit “reply but don’t accept,” which says (to me) that they weren’t interested in starting a conversation.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    • It’s amazing how many people just don’t get it. Sadly, I think part of the problem is they just don’t realize they are spamming! I connected with someone last week who sent me a very nice “thank you for connecting” email, then proceeded to tell me why I needed to work with her – in GREAT detail. I didn’t make it past the first paragraph. So sad.
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

  11. Hi Debra & Deb

    I read this post as soon as it was published and then decided I needed cooling off time because I had a nightmare experience just a day before compared to the one Deb shared. 🙂

    It convinces me that some professionals really don’t know how to use LinkedIn. Here’s how my experience went. I got a default type invitation to connect from a professional with whom I share 3 other connections. The profile seemed okay and it was from someone in the Finance field – yes, I still keep that part of my previous life alive.

    So I wrote a thank you message for the invitation and received an acknowledgement. So far so good.

    Then the next day, I got a request for a recommendation. I politely wrote back saying it was not possible as I did not know the professional well enough having just connected a day earlier and being a nice person, gave some suggestions about who could give credible recommendations.

    Later that night, I received a recommendation from that person with the instruction that I should post it on my Profile.

    It was 3 words with no spell check – “Very nyce person” for a job that I had left over 7 years ago!

    Need I say I was horrified? I wrote another polite message saying I could not use the recommendation but appreciated the gesture(I am serious about recommendations and testimonials but not desperate).

    Then a day later, I disconnected and blocked the person.

    What was that saying, “they walk among us”? 🙂
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Do You Know All the Cool Uses of Amber?My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Vatsala. I’d say you handled it kindly and professionally.

    • Yoiks…but not uncommon. I have a very nice “statement” that I send to people who ask me for a Recommendation when I have no reason to actually give one. That usually nips it in the bud! Unfortunately, you found the person who is overly aggressive on LinkedIn and doesn’t understand the nuances – or is just very desperate for a job or business.
      Deb Krier recently posted…6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copywriting When You’re Working with a CopywriterMy Profile

      • A very valid point, Deb. God knows what was going on. Maybe the fact that I was polite created the aggression? I am a kindhearted person but when pushed too far, I can get tough enough to send the other person running to the nearest bomb shelter. 🙂

        A better approach with me or anyone with integrity is to be transparent. It allows us to help if we can and be honest if we cannot or dig into our network to help out.

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this Deb and Debra. Some of the comments are more valuable to me than the initial article (I so appreciate the two of you being so attentive here). I am opposite – I screen every request and if I don’t see something in a profile that lead them directly to me, I don’t approve. That idea of sending a note in response asking for more is a grand one, though. I’ll start implementing that immediately. Thanks so much for such a useful tip. Should have thought of it as it’s proved to be a great screening technique for a group I co-manage.

    I’ve found my greatest success with LI to be active participation in groups (mostly equine). It’s interesting that this hasn’t been mentioned in the article or the comments. Sadly (and ironically), the biggest spammers seem to be in the small business/sales/marketing groups. Have you two found any great groups where members are more about connecting than selling in the small business/marketing/entrepreneurial/copy writing/public speaking areas? I’d really appreciate any suggestions you may have here. Thanks!
    Nanette recently posted…Small business success stalls with wiggling and waggingMy Profile

    • Hi Nanette!

      It’s always great when readers get so involved and post terrific – and helpful – comments! Debra definitely has a great group of readers.

      I always look at someone’s profile when I get a request to connect – especially if they didn’t give a reason. I’ve only had two that I accepted who turned out to be spammers. But, reading someone’s profile is a great way to determine if there’s a synergy there and a reason to consider developing a business relationship. Sending a note if they didn’t give a reason to connect is a great way to “weed out” the spammers! Usually, they won’t respond – or if they do, it’s clearly with something that indicates they don’t understand why or how to use LinkedIn, so probably not a good contact.

      I agree that Groups are probably the best – and most underutilized – feature in LinkedIn. Before I join a Group, I look at some of the other posts. I also like Groups where membership has to be approved, as that means the manager is pretty active on the page and makes sure it’s a good fit. Finally, I like Groups where posts go into moderation before they are actually posted.

      I just discovered Professional Speakers, Seminar Leaders, Sales Professionals and Business Presenters so it will be interesting to see if it’s a good Group. Here in Atlanta, we have business associations, as well as chambers of commerce. I’ve found that those Groups are good sources of info. Some posts are a bit self-serving, but many provide great info. Finally, if you belong to business organizations, check to see if they have a LinkedIn Group.

      Let us know if you find great Groups because we might want to join, too!


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