There used to be a certain etiquette to asking people to connect on LinkedIn. Salespeople trying to sell. Marketers trying to market. Writers who want to get advice from other writers. You asked permission before you did anything. You made connections with people and developed relationships.
But not anymore. Now, everything is just so blatantly commercial and everyone is asking for something without ever offering anything in return.
Social media has made us lazy, AI is making it even worse. And I’m done with it. If you want to connect with me, follow these 13 steps.
7 Things Not to Do When Connecting With Me for the First Time
- Don’t misspell my name. I’ve been alive for five decades, and I’ve been hammered with the wrong spelling for all five. You will not endear yourself to me, and this almost guarantees I won’t respond.
- Don’t ask me for a meeting to discuss your product. Is this really the first thing you ask your prospects? I don’t even know you. Do you ask people you just met for a date? Did you propose to your spouse on the first date? Why is your first ever email to me an invitation to hear about a product I don’t even know if I want? Nurture the relationships before you try to close anything.
- Don’t ask me to pick my brain for free. I believe in helping people and sharing knowledge, but meeting with you takes time. I won’t charge you my hourly rate, but at least offer to buy lunch. Having said that, I would LOVE to meet with you and teach you, so please ask. But I’m getting a cheeseburger. With bacon.
- Don’t ask for strategies or campaigns. That falls under consulting, and that gets my hourly rate. ($150/hour, 2 hour minimum.) But if we’re friends, I might let things slip and accidentally give you some advice.
- Don’t ask me to read over your stuff right off the bat. I will be happy to later. Later. My TBR pile is so big, it has filled three bookcases. I read 72 books per year, and I have way more than 72 books. When I feel emotionally invested in our relationship, I will be EAGER to read your stuff. If you just ask me first thing, it’s going to the bottom of the third bookcase.
- Don’t not read my bio. I’m a professional writer and a content marketer. I get paid to write books and do content marketing campaigns. You’d be amazed at the number of people who offer to write a book for me or want to sell me their generative AI services. That’s like selling self-driving cars to chauffeurs.
- Use an AI bot to connect with me. There are Chrome plugins that will send the same formulaic emails. I can spot those. I will absolutely refuse to connect with you at all if that’s what you’re doing. You literally have the easiest job in the world: You sit at a computer and move your fingers. Don’t get lazier at that.
6 Things to Do When Connecting With Me for the First Time
- Do some basic research beyond my LinkedIn profile. I’ve written several books and numerous articles. Want to catch my attention? Show me that you read them. Better yet, send me a photo of you holding one of my books. You immediately go to the front of the line on everything.
- Have a conversation with me. Leave comments on my blog or on my LinkedIn posts. Several comments, not just one-and-done. Show me that you’re paying attention and get on my radar. I’ll notice it and think, “Hmm, that person might be worth talking to.”
- Share something about yourself. I like building relationships. I don’t buy from businesses, I buy from people I like. If your very first communication with me is a pitch, I will not be interested. But when friends ask me to help, I may not buy, but I’ll make introductions and referrals.
- Add value to our relationship. The thing you sell does not add value, YOU do. Share an article you wrote. Recommend a book or a restaurant. Post a link to a band or a song you think I’d like. Tell me a story about something cool or funny you did.
- Read my blogs (like my work blog or my humor blog) A lot of writing and content marketing advice you want help with is probably on my work blog. It’s not that I don’t want to give you the advice, but rather, I wrote the articles because I kept answering the same questions. Read them, and then we’ll talk. Over lunch.
- Ask real questions that you would ask someone if you met in person. Again, I believe in relationships. Start a relationship with me. If you were at a networking event, you wouldn’t ask someone you just met for a sales meeting as the very first question, right? You’d make small talk and get to know that person. Make small talk! Ask questions. Not the pre-programmed AI-generated questions you asked the LinkedIn bots to ask. Try to find out things about me, and base those questions on the research you did.
Marketing is hard — well, not that hard. You could be an ironmonger — and it’s being done poorly by people who are looking for shortcuts to avoid the hard work. AI is only making it worse.
Stop looking for shortcuts, stop relying on AI, and start making connections. If you want to connect with me, do it with an eye toward developing a relationship, not booking a sales call with me on your very first communication with me. That’s never going to happen.
Photo credit: Jrouse5 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)
Photo credit: The Carol M. Highsmith collection, Library of Congress