Ever feel everyone is trying to sell something to everyone else? Perhaps the world is one giant networking group! LinkedIn is a social media site focused on business, yet I think it’s about making connections, not cold calling. How do you interact with people whose only interest is pushing their product?
(Related: 10 Ways People Behave Badly on LinkedIn)
Let’s not be hypocritical. You are on LinkedIn to get business. We should all keep an open mind. I asked a question in a LinkedIn group concerning how to choose which invitations to accept. The most practical answer I received was to accept those from second-level connections with 500-plus connections of their own. I would add it’s an additional plus if you’re also members of the same LinkedIn group.
Interacting With People Who Are Selling
Here are my thoughts for polite behavior and professionalism when you are on the receiving end of a sales message.
1. The 21st Century Cold Call
The invitation you get says, “I sell (service). We increase people’s business 25% or 50%. Are you interested in learning more?”
My response: I ignore those invitations. Under the scenario they’ve created, accepting means you are self-qualifying as an interested prospect.
2. The Sales Presentation Is the First Message
The invitation you receive is more general. “I’ve looked over your profile. I’m interested in connecting with successful people like yourself.” You accept. The other user immediately (probably a system response) sends an introductory message: “Thanks for connecting. I sell (service). We increase people’s business…”
My response: I get these quite often. I message back, “I don’t see a business overlap, but I’m happy to be a connection.” Sometimes the user drops me shortly afterwards, since I’m not an interested prospect. My term for those is “catch and release.”
3. “Let’s talk on the phone.”
After I connect, the next message I receive is, “Let’s talk on the phone. Here’s how to access my scheduling tool to pick a time slot.” I’m thinking this is another sales approach that’s probably untouched by human hands. However, sender’s interest in talking could be quite innocent.
My response: I have a couple. If I think it’s innocent, I message back, “Glad to chat, but I don’t like scheduling calls. Just call me at this number when you have a moment.” Now we learn if there’s a human out there somewhere. Another method I use is saying, “I’m busy on a project right now, but we can easily get to know each other by messaging back and forth.” I wait to see if I hear from the sender. I often send a message to get a conversation started.