How should I respond to this LinkedIn message?

I get that question at least once a week from a client. Most of the time, the normal instinct is to “return fire” with a message that says it all, but that’s a mistake.

In this short article, I’ll show you the biggest mistakes to avoid, and how to quickly and easily send effective follow-up messages on LinkedIn.

Mistakes to Avoid with LinkedIn Messages

There are three big mistakes to avoid when sending LinkedIn messages and I’m warning you now: avoid these mistakes at all cost.

There, you’re warned.

Mistake #1: Too much.

Check out this message I got from a fellow LinkedIn’er…

What’s the first thing you notice?

It’s loooonnnggg…

It goes on forever, without really saying much. This guy is in the “I only get one shot, so it better deliver the full payload” camp. Which, by the way, is the most common approach I find on LinkedIn.

The mistake is believing that you’ve just got this one shot to communicate with this person, so you put everything on the table.

This usually leads to lots of people just ghosting you. No reply, no sign of life. Nothing.

If you were at a real-life, in-person, networking event would you ever walk up and recite all of this message to another human (if you answer yes, please don’t go to any more networking events).

The other big mistake he makes is that there’s really nothing to respond to—there’s no question asked, so no need to answer.

Mistake #2: Too generic.

Here’s another message that was dead on arrival:

It’s generic, and clearly sent in bulk. The problem is in his targeting. You can see, he tells me that “Sales Navigator” told him to reach out to me. I get the value in having a “reason” for reaching out, but get a better reason, please. Then he says he noticed I’m a “Founder”—which is true. That’s the title I use on my LinkedIn profile.

The problem is that he didn’t filter his results by anything else, or do any other research to know if I should get this message, because he’s trying to sell me a “roadshow” to meet investors in Silicon Valley for $10k.

Cool, but I’m not in a business that will ever get Silicon Valley VC money (nor do I want it). And, I’m in Florida, the event is 12 days after I received this message in California.

Well researched and relevant messages are great, that’s what you want to send. This kind of generic message is just SPAM.

Mistake #3: Too soon.

The final mistake is moving too quickly to the sale. This guy did a good job with the first message and he got a reply from me. We’re off to a good start until…

All of a sudden I’m in pitchville. Why man, why? Things were going so well. We had a beautiful start to a conversation. Warm me up a little before giving me the hard pitch.

So, how do we fix all of this and keep you from making these mistakes?

How to use LinkedIn Messages the right way.

There are two secrets to getting great results with LinkedIn messaging:

  1. Think in conversations. LinkedIn Messages are NOT a broadcast medium. They’re a place for conversations. Conversations, by definition, involve a give and take between two people.
  2. Be specifically relevant. Actually read the person’s profile before you respond. It’s a gold mine of information that can help you keep the conversation going. Plus, relevance gives context to the conversation and the relationship.

Let’s look at the example from Mistake #3 and see how it could have gone differently.

Him: Steve, I’m glad to have you as one of my connections on Linkedin. How long have you been using Linkedin and how is it working for you?

Me: Hey…I’ve been on LinkedIn for at least a decade. It’s a great place to connect (when done the right way). What are you up to…what’s got your focus right now?

Him: I’m having fun working with business owners to help them find potential clients on LinkedIn. I see you went to the University of Florida. How are the Gators looking in football this year?

Me: Ha…better I hope. I think we have the right coach. We’ve got a bunch of big games this year. It’ll be a test. Which team do you follow?

Him: Ohio State…new coach for us this year. Will be interesting…

Me: Yeah, hope they do well. They’re a powerhouse. So, what are you finding that works on LinkedIn lately?

Him: LI is a great tool for building relationships if you do it the right way… 😉 Hey, if it’s relevant, I did a video on my site that shows what we’re finding to work best. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to shoot you a link.

Me: That would be great. What’s the link?

Him: Here you go: http://linkgoeshere.com

Me: Cool, thanks. I’ll check it out.

Notice how we fixed this example by thinking in terms of a conversation first. See how almost every message ends in a question?

The questions aren’t difficult to answer, and they’re not scripted, either. It’s just part of the conversation…it’s natural.

A lot like a conversation you’d have at a networking event while standing in the buffet line for your rubber-chicken lunch.

The second fix happens when he introduces relevance (‘cause he read my profile) and asks me about the football team from my alma mater—which I’m ALWAYS excited to talk about.

It takes less than 30-seconds to scan someone’s profile and find a nugget like this that you can use to show you’re paying attention, and that you’re interested in similar subjects.

If all of this sounds a lot like making friends in kindergarten, it is. Most of the time we over complicate things, and then wonder why we stop getting results.

Now, notice how he still pivoted to sales, but it was elegant. I asked what he was doing. Then he offered a resource—the video. But he didn’t just give me the link, he asked if I wanted the link and waited for me to accept.

That simple move gets me to “buy-into” watching the video. I want it. I asked for it. I’m moving towards him, he’s not chasing me. Get it? This subtle distinction is important.

Then it stops. And it should. You’ll rarely make a sale in one conversation in real life, and to think that somehow LinkedIn (where we’re all semi-anonymous strangers) will be faster is fantasy.

Now, the next logical follow-up would be for him to circle back in 2-3 days and ask if he could answer any questions from the video or even get on a call to help me figure out how to apply the information from the video to my own LinkedIn efforts.

And then we’re in a sales process…

It’s easy, and you can be your non-slimy authentic self all the time.

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