LinkedIn etiquette: If you must cold call (don’t), at least do it well.
LinkedIn is an amazing resource! Use it to find people who are selling what you want. Use it to offer or find jobs. But don’t use it for outbound sales.
It’s been open season for people spamming my inbox with unsolicited sales pitches. While I’m sometimes open to sales pitches, not on LinkedIn. It’s a platform where we go to showcase ourselves to anyone interested in what we have to offer. No one goes there to be sold to; everyone goes there to sell.
This is a really great system! If someone wants an executive coach, they search for “executive coach.” Then they reach out. Everyone wins: the customer finds a coach, and the coach deals only with prospects who are already a good match.
Outbound cold emails ruin all that. People reach out with a generic form-letter pitch. “Hi! Buy my product.” The worst thing about these form letters is that they’re so obviously form letters. I’ve even had people ask what I do. What I do? WHAT I DO? Other than pages of description, links to videos, a website with 400 articles on it, and two books, that question betrays the person as a rank amateur.
Think about it. This is LinkedIn! There are pages of information right there. All it takes is a single click, then some reading. And they choose to send a one-size-fits-all form letter. The message is loud and clear: “I don’t bother to put a modicum of thought into my approach.” If they can’t be bothered to read your profile before spamming you, what does that say about the kind of work they’re likely to do?
If that’s you, and you use LinkedIn for outbound marketing (please don’t), customize your pitch. Not by inserting some cut-and-pasted text (“I read your article [ARTICLE_TITLE] today”). Read your prospect’s profile. Read anything they’ve written. Then think. Then, and only then, write:
I read your article “What Koalas Can Teach Us About Community.” Your Eucalyptus-leaf-Like-button insight was brilliant!
… Now when you segue into your pitch, you can make it personal, so in the event they are open to inbound sales, at the very least you’ll stand out from the crowd.
If you don’t use LinkedIn for outbound marketing (good for you!), but you’re on the receiving end of those who do…
Feel free to steal this canned response
LinkedIn is primarily a platform for people to inform the world about what they do, so they can accept inbound inquiries. People also use it to list and answer job ads. But no one comes here to be marketed to.
If you are interested in hiring me or my services, let’s set up a time to talk. If, however, you want to pitch me your services in a form-letter cold call, I’m the wrong person for you.
By the way, a word of free coaching: on LinkedIn, you can find out a tremendous amount about someone with a single click. That means letters make you look *especially* bad. A form letter screams “I don’t bother to do my homework.” That’s not a good look, especially if you want someone to hire you.
If you’re going to pitch someone (please don’t) on LinkedIn, five minutes of homework and a minute of customization, will give you a much better chance of coming across in a way that would engender a real response.
I hope you enjoyed this automated response. It attempted to give a clear answer and an example of the kind of coaching advice I give. It’s a sign of the times that this particular coaching advice is so widely needed that a form letter works, but … there you have it.