I talk a lot about how to make effective use of LinkedIn — today let’s look at some ways NOT to use LinkedIn. Here are nine sure-fire ways to network like a schmuck and achieve exactly the opposite effect you’re probably going for:
- Use the canned invitations. Really — they’re there for your convenience. A lot of thought obviously went into them already, so why should you put any more effort into personalizing your invitations? Everyone loves to get an “I’d like to add you to my professional network” message.
- Any time you see an interesting profile, invite them to connect. Regardless what LinkedIn recommends, nobody really uses it just to connect with people they know. It’s just like a MySpace friend request — everybody does it. Don’t bother to contact them first — no need. Just send them one of those default invitations.
- While you’re at it, invite everyone from all your Yahoo! Groups and other discussion lists and forums. One common interest is more than sufficient reason to connect on LinkedIn, isn’t it? Don’t bother to contact them first either. Just send them one of those default invitations everybody loves so much.
- Ignore those silly contact settings. If you’ve got a business deal or a job inquiry, you know better than they do whether they might be interested — they couldn’t possibly have anticipated this particular opportunity. Just call it an “expertise request” or a “request to reconnect” and then tell them why you’re really contacting them.
- Turn off all email notifications and just use the website. Once every week or two is often enough to handle things — there’s never any urgency to things coming through LinkedIn. If people need to contact people in a hurry they should use the phone and contact them directly, not get introductions through LinkedIn.
- Use Answers to grow your network. What better way to connect with lots of people? You can’t directly ask for connections — that will get your question deleted. Try something more subtle, like “How can I best find other open networkers who are willing to connect with me so I can get thousands of connections?”
- Answer as many questions as you possibly can in as many different topics as you can. Don’t worry about putting too much thought into them — just get your numbers up so you’ll show up as a top expert. And just by the law of large numbers, you’re bound to get a few “best answer” designations. No one will wonder why you have so much time on your hands.
- If you’re a recruiter and someone makes an introduction request to one of your candidates, tell them what your fee is. It doesn’t matter that other people make introductions for you for free — you’re a professional — you do this for a living.
- Ask all your contacts for recommendations and offer them one in return – especially all those people you don’t know who agreed to connect. Just write something generic about what a great guy/gal they are. That’s what reciprocity is all about!
Just follow the advice above and in next to no time you’ll be spending several hours a week on LinkedIn, plus get a nice letter from their customer service department with some free educational materials about their usage policies. What fun, eh?
This post was part of a b5media Business Channel group writing project, 99 Ways to Kill Your Business. The whole collection is a lot of fun, as well as very educational, but on the topic of networking, I particularly recommend: