When you think about Linkedin what comes to mind?  Do you see Linkedin as a platform for sales or a platform for connection?

In fact.. have you ever sold anything directly on LinkedIn?

More importantly, have you ever bought anything from someone on Linkedin within the website? I would guess that 99.9% of you have not.  In fact, I would argue that if you have done business with a Linkedin connection that you’ve done so after building some sense of a relationship. To which you then did business offline.  That relationship takes time. It doesn’t just happen after a few messages, or even after a simple connection.

That’s why I find it so incredulous that people attempt to sell on Linkedin.

Just this past week I had a very interesting thing happen on Linkedin.

A person (who name I have changed to protect their privacy) sent me a connection request. We had a few connections in common, so I accepted their request. My general rule for accepting connections on Linkedin is that I do it almost all the time provided the profile doesn’t scream of spam.  Prior to accepting the connection, I check the profile. It didn’t give a hint of “spammer”, so I connected.

I then followed up with a personal video thanking the person for the connection and asking them to share more about how they found me. It’s a great conversation starter…unless, of course, you run into…this particular person…whom we’ll call John Doe.

“John” didn’t reply to my video answering my questions instead, he sent me the first step in his spam sales process….

Hi Matt,
I would love the opportunity to speak to you about a business opportunity at your earliest convenience. My company, [company redacted], creates platforms for professional speakers, coaches and trainers to scale their businesses. If you want to hear more, please reply.

To which I reply.

No thanks.
Was that your purpose for connecting?

“John” then responds with:

we offer a technology solution to people such as yourself that can be a source of ongoing revenue. If you want to at least see a 1-page summary of what we offer let me know?

It’s about this time that I realized I might actually not be talking to a person. This might be a BOT. I thought…do people really communicate via LinkedIn without actually reading or answering the questions I asked? Do people really send connection requests on Linkedin without knowing what it is I do, or what it is I focus on?

So I replied with…

I can’t possibly do business with anyone that avoids direct questions. It’s unethical in my book.  Thanks for thinking of me. Best of luck.

While it’s not my thing to provide unsolicited feedback re “unethical” I added that to see if in fact, I was communicating with a person or an actual piece of software.

Well…that got “John” to respond. Apparently, that ruffled his feathers a bit.

He said:

“have you ever heard of network marketing? lol – why is this unethical, since we offer a legitimate service that can help people achieve their goals? What do you do that helps people? How do you reach your prospective audiences????”

Just a note…I should add that the company “John” mentioned in the message was NOT listed on his profile at all. So when he mentions “network marketing” that immediately raised red flags, as though he was working with a network marketing company on the side that wasn’t mentioned on his profile.

I then offered an answer to his questions.

Dude, really? You have no idea what my IP is do you? It’s. Word of Mouth Referrals. With just a little bit of research on my profile, you could have known that before attempting to connect to me and sell me something. I might actually want your product but will never buy if all you are interested in is a sale and not a relationship.
PS…this is FAR from “network marketing” just because you “connect to someone on Linkedin does not mean they are in your “network” You need to earn that right!

Let me repeat that:

Just because you connect to someone on Linkedin does not mean they are in your network! You need to earn that right!

Just because you connect to someone online, in any social network setting, does not immediately make them part of your network. It might in the loosest sense of the word, but surely they are not within your network enough to sell them something. You’ve got to provide value. No exceptions. Even if you did approach them to sell them something do you actually think they would buy from you?

What “John” was doing was clearly selling the benefits of his service. He never spent any time understanding what I do, what challenges I may have in my business for which his service might be the right solution. He also failed to listen to what I said in my initial introduction video or my follow up question. No trust was built and that resulted in me feeling that he truly had no interest in my success or the success of my business.

If you want to grow your business and specifically get more word of mouth referrals be sure to listen to what others are telling you. Use Linkedin to build connections, then if you use it correctly, you’ll build a valuable network, from which you can get more word of mouth referrals!