As most professionals know, LinkedIn has become a massively powerful professional tool—for connecting with colleagues and mentors, building personal brands, sharing company’s stories, eliciting interest from potential customers, clients, recruiters and hiring managers, sharing thought leadership and more. And LinkedIn is growing. Some recent statistics from BusinessofApps.com reveal that LinkedIn generated $8 billion revenue in 2020, an increase of 19% year-on-year and:
- LinkedIn has 756 million members
- The U.S. has the most LinkedIn members, followed by India and China
- According to LinkedIn, over 100 million job applications are sent each month
- Over 57 million businesses and 120,000 schools have LinkedIn accounts
According to Hootsuite, LinkedIn is the most trusted social network in the U.S. And Microsoft has reported that LinkedIn topped $3 billion in ad revenue in the last year, surpassing Snap and Pinterest.
Clearly, LinkedIn’s impact is growing and for many professionals and businesses, it’s vitally important to get it right in terms of how they’re engaging with others there. A burned bridge on LinkedIn is often one that can’t be rebuilt. You have one chance to make a powerful and positive first impression, so it’s important to succeed at it.
From my perspective as one who is very active on LinkedIn and hears from hundreds of individuals each year who are making some sort of a request or pitch, I can say that the single biggest error I see professionals make on the platform is the manner in which they are reaching out to a complete stranger.
So often, they’re taking the wrong approach that ends up being off-putting and opportunity-crushing. For instance, people commonly now use LinkedIn as a avenue for the “cold-calling” approach, reaching out with a cold sales pitch or offer, without knowing anything relevant about the individual they’re pitching to or ascertaining in advance if what they’re selling would be of the slightest interest or value. And worse, they don’t expend any energy making their pitches engaging or helpful. The reality is that the majority of people on LinkedIn absolutely hate being pitched to, and are viewing the platform as a professional social network, not a place to be hawked and sold to. Whenever I’ve posted a comment or message on LinkedIn about this problem of being cold-pitched continually, I’ve received hundreds of comments and messages from members sharing their extreme frustration about this.
In my Forbes.com interview several years ago with Judy Robinett–startup funding expert, bestselling author and a super connector at the highest level—on her book How To Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Networking Into Profits. she shared what she viewed were the top 5 blunders networkers of all kinds make, and they are:
- They network in the wrong places for what they need
- They network at the wrong level for their goals
- They have no way to assess the relative value of the connections they make
- They have no system for optimizing their networking efforts
- They fail to network in the best way to create high-value, long-term connections
These 5 networking blunders sum up very well how these cold pitches and blind outreaches to strangers on LinkedIn (or to other LinkedIn members whom they barely know) are missing the mark, and also slamming doors that could have been very instrumental if they’d been opened creatively, wisely and respectfully in the first place.
Here’s what to avoid, when reaching out to a stranger on LinkedIn: ... read what to avoid and the complete Forbes article