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The LinkedIn Messaging Protocol

This post was originally published on 29 December 2014 on The Archived Blog.  

I like LinkedIn messaging.  It’s a great networking tool and can be every bit as powerful as face to face networking opportunities both in group and one on one meetings.  LinkedIn offers the ability to showcase one’s expertise, create authority and build great business and personal relationships.

Sadly, I’ve seen a shift over the past few years to more sales pitches in the form of status updates and messages, connections being made for that sole purpose and more bulk messages.  While bulk messages in themselves aren’t always a negative, when you’re looking to strengthen the relationships you have already established, lumping me in with 20+ other ‘Robert’s in your contacts is certainly not a positive way to connect with me.

The LinkedIn Messaging Protocol: While bulk LinkedIn messaging isn't always a negative, when you’re looking to strengthen the relationships you have already established, lumping me in with 20+ other ‘Robert’s in your contacts is certainly not a positive way to connect with me.

LinkedIn Messaging Etiquette

I received a LinkedIn message from an individual connection recently.  It was a Season’s Greetings eCard with a clickable link.  From a professional perspective, LinkedIn is about connecting and building relationships.  I think sending a Christmas message, and any personal message for that matter, is a great idea.  Connecting personally develops stronger professional relationships.  What bothers me in this case – not only wasn’t the post personalized, but it was sent, as I reference above, clearly from a block of the sender’s contacts as the majority of the names where ‘Robert’ or alphabetically close.  There was no attempt to even filter who received the message.

Regardless if the intent of the message, it came across as merely an attempt to keep the sender’s name top of mind.  Personally, I see this as spam.  Since every relationship I have on LinkedIn is considered before simply accepting, I’m hesitant to just remove someone from my list so I sent a simple message:

While I appreciate the card, I find being included on bulk messages like this to be spam. 

I would prefer to be left off such messages and those other than of a personal nature.

Thank you.

Robert

I expected a short apology and in the end, no true harm done and as they say, no foul.  What I received back, however, surprised me:

This is LinkedIn!! I prefer to only do or discuss business matters that are not of personal nature on the Professional Business Entrepreneur LinkedIn website. 

Just simply wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays hope the rest of the season warms you up from being so suspicious and you actually enjoy yourself!!

Not only did I not receive an apology, I was accused of being suspicious and not enjoying myself or the holidays.  What struck a chord with me more – this individual prefers not to use LinkedIn for business matters (when LinkedIn is a professional oriented networking site) and the sender wasn’t actually wishing ME anything.  It was a wish to a collective.  At least make it personal to me so I know you care about me as a connection.

I normally would have let it drop at this point but as a social media and marketing consultant I felt it was a good teaching opportunity.  My reply:

It’s not about being suspicious.  Your initial message was not personalized (something I teach being critical for developing relationships) and that message was only a link to an eCard. 

I have used LinkedIn messaging successfully to grow my businesses and consult with others to do the same. I regularly send greetings and other personal messages as well as those for business but I do so with each tailored to the recipient. If I include you as part of a bulk mailing it, to me it (and it should to you) shows I don’t value you personally. How does one grow a relationship if nothing is personalized and the recipient is just part of a collective?

Even the vast majority of my connection requests are personalized with how we know each other or why I want to connect if we do not.

Since this is a network to build relationships, I simply asked to be left off bulk messages as I find them to be spam. I would have openly welcomed a personalized greeting sent only to me.

Case in point, I did recently receive a similar message, replied with a thank you, spent some time on their profile and found they could be a valuable resource for a colleague whom I then referred. Why? They took the time to build that relationship with me.

Robert

…..to which I received no further replies.

So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your connections?  A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

The LinkedIn Messaging Protocol: So how do you send that ‘message’ to all of your #LinkedIn connections? A status update like Maria Orth’s may not be seen by everyone, but it is the right way to do it.

Update:  Shortly after publishing this post I received another message, that while personally addressed, clearly falls into my ‘spam’ category:

I’m reaching out to you since to see if you might be interested in a ground floor opportunity, or know anyone who might be. I’m wanting to make you aware of this tremendous opportunity and would like to ask you an eye-opening question…

As an Entrepreneur, If you had the chance to get in on the Ground Floor of a company expansion (with a company that’s NOT Ground Floor) where you could generate monthly recurring residual commissions on mobile phone bills nationwide, would you want to know how to get in on it?

In addition to bulk messages, using LinkedIn’s messaging feature for the purpose of recruiting, or requesting that I turn over the names of my contacts, to help you build your network marketing business is spam.

A valid recruiting message is acceptable.  If you want to hire me or collaborate on a project, great.  Clearly this wasn’t.

I am happy to receive LinkedIn messages (and would like to connect and discuss any thoughts you may have – including about YOUR business or interests). Just don’t spam me.

The Take Away:

#BeTactical: Regardless of the social site you use and regardless of whether the nature of your message is personal or professional – the end goal is to develop and grow relationships.  You do that by connecting personally.  Bulk messages have value when used correctly.  Just make sure you are using them correctly.

I’d love your thoughts on how LinkedIn messaging is being used or how you use it.  You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!

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Need help with your LinkedIn messaging etiquette, optimizing your profile or how to better leverage LinkedIn to drive branding and revenue?   Contact us  today to schedule a consultation.  If you’re in the Tacoma or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.

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