LinkedIn is a social media platform – just!

You can’t approach LinkedIn contacts as you would Twitter or Facebook contacts. Think of Facebook as your pub, Twitter as your cocktail party and LinkedIn as the conference and you will see the difference needed.

There are unspoken rules and protocols when using LinkedIn that need to be observed if you are to reap the best benefit for spending time on this platform.

LinkedIn have made a few mistakes in the past and the professional version still continues to do so as people new to the platform actively try to sell to people they haven’t warmed up yet; few of us respond to this approach today. Power is all with the customer to engage or disengage and the decision is made with lightning speed!

Consider how you would wish to use the platform and try and carry that through.

A definite no-no is the quick response to an accepted request to connect. DO NOT, under any circumstances, fire back a message to someone who has just agreed to connect with you about how you can save them, do amazing things to help them or even say Hi. On LinkedIn this is very close to stalking!  See this excellent example of what not to do- this contact messaged me straight away telling me what he wanted to offer to me – it’s all about them, not me..?


Instead, find out what groups they are engaged in and join in the conversation is a way that shows you know what you are talking about, ‘like’ or comment favourably on one of their posts (once again with care – not too enthusiastically!) and allow them to engage with you in a ‘safe’ environment , building trust and familiarity. This is Inbound Marketing at its best – within quite a short time the person you are targeting begins to feel they know you a bit, they may have checked out your contacts before accepting you so may even ask them if they know you well. If you are delivering a service they could be interested in – you have to feel like the type of person they want to reach out to – you are the expert – you don’t NEED to chase them – or so it is perceived! You can solve their problem if THEY ASK.  I know this is the reverse of everything you may have learnt about sales and it is hard to not think about a massive call to action being required, but the psychology of social media requires a far more subtle approach, but one that is really effective within this environment.

How do you build trust?

Familiarity and comfort is the corner stone of building trust initially on social media. The connection may not know you personally but they are building a picture in their mind of what you are like. They will do this using the tools they have available to them:

  • Your profile
  • Your connections
  • Your endorsements
  • Your testimonials
  • Your website link
  • Your articles or posts
  • Groups you belong to

Your profile:

This should be as up to date as possible – this is the place you get to sell your skills. Do not write in the third person – it is your profile and you have written it. Talk yourself up but don’t brag – let your testimonials do that for you. Make sure that you demonstrate how your various career experiences have helped you reach this stage in life where your knowledge and skills are valuable to people – it is your online CV; make it work for you.

Your connections:

When people are deciding to connect or not with you, the more informed will look at shared connections, who they may be (we don’t always like/trust all our old connections), and if you look to be well connected; do you know someone they may wish to meet? Don’t be tempted to accept everyone – some are simply inviting all and sundry to build their profile, some are looking to sell to you – beware recruiters! – Some will want your connections list.

Your endorsements:

Who has recommended you – are they the same sort of businesses they would relate to? What skills are they endorsing you for? I know that very often we get random endorsements from people but most will select skills they believe you have – so it is a perceived value which in these circumstances have bearing.

Your recommendations:

Who is recommending you? Are they companies they know? Trust? Do they sound genuine?

Your website:

Does it say the same things as you are saying about your line of business or is there a question about the authenticity of the two? Is your marketing message the same as that of your company’s?

You are looking to build a convincing picture to the viewer that will make them either contact you, pick up the phone, ask about you or put you on their mental ‘to do’ list should the circumstances arise.

Your articles or posts:

Are they interesting? Do they read well and have information that is useful or are they a thinly disguised advert which has wasted their time? Do they link back to more information if they want it? We live in a bite sized world where information is given in bullets and the choice to dig deeper is important; time poor professionals will often leave a browser open to go back to something if they are interested.

In order to get the best out of a post or update use a short URL from your website to record how many people are actually visiting the website afterwards. This same URL should be used across all social media posts so you can see which has worked best and when.

Make your posts topical and informative; make them worth reading, but not too long. Any blogs should work hard for you and always lead them back to the website so they explore other articles that may interest them and demonstrate your skills.

Groups you belong to:

At the bottom of your profile page you will find a list of the groups that you are connected with, this tells people what your interests are and who you engage with. People will draw their own conclusions from these and also look to see if you have a shared interest. If you are viewing a discussion and think you would like to make a private comment to someone taking part, then by all means send them a direct message with your thoughts – or a question and get the conversation going that way.

Online Business Directory?

Companies and individuals spend quite a bit of time researching online and your social media profile is important. If you type your name into Google does your LinkedIn page appear high up the list? It is often referred to as an online business directory for a good reason, if people know of you and can’t find your contact details they can search LinkedIn.

 You can see who has been looking at your profile here:


Groups: making the most of them.

Anyone can create a group and manage it.  You could. If you wanted to draw particular people into an area of common interest you can create your own group and invite them. You can only invite your own connections but you can open the group up to allow others to invite as well, so creating a viral network (at the time this is written).

Groups can be a great and safe way to interact with people but they are also full of people who seem to have nothing to do but comment, so make yours pertinent, complimentary or informative. Giving people information which will help them with a question they have posed will always generate a response and often open a discussion; this is a much better way than opening cold. Asking questions on LinkedIn will also flush out people and get a conversation going.

Blogs and articles can also be posted in relevant groups so use these when you can. A moderator may choose to reject them or not but you will have lost nothing by it if you were sending it out anyway. Many groups are open and not moderated for postings anyway.

Using your connections outside of LinkedIn

You can download your connections as a CSV file which will include name, email address, company name and job title. These emails obviously need to be treated with caution as they have opted in to connecting with you via LinkedIn, not via direct email but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make individual approaches – maybe to events happening in your area – an information seminar etc. It is a good way of getting personal email addresses and not generic [email protected] types.

Below are some screenshots that show you how to do this:


The little cog on the top right hand will lead you to the hidden pages – click on Export LinkedIn connections:

gmail screenshot

You will then be able to download the CSV file and use it as required.

This is only a brief overview of some of the ways you can engage with LinkedIn to warm up leads. These tips only relate to the free version which, if used correctly can generate business.

The White Knight Blog