I hate LinkedIn. I open it out of habit and accept everyone who adds me because I don’t know why I wouldn’t. I rarely respond to anyone when they message me. But there is one weird trick that you can use to actually get me (and other humans) to respond.
I sometimes like to hassle people on LinkedIn. Why? Because it is a spam garden full of misspelled, grunty requests from international software houses that are looking, primarily, to sell you services. Because it’s LinkedIn it’s super easy to slip past any and all defenses against this spam and so I get messages like these:
Why do people do this? I suspect there is some sort of dubious networking book that helps introverted desk jockeys fill their conversations with canned junk. Gail, over there, seems nice enough and he’s been doing a really nice job keeping up with all of my anniversaries. But why? What did it get him? Maybe I’ll meet him at a conference and he’ll be able to use it as a point of connection. That might be cool, but I doubt it will happen.
Rather than get into that, however, I’d like to explain how to pitch someone like me — a busy journalist and entrepreneur who treats LinkedIn like a whack-a-mole weekly chore that has become more a bad habit than necessity. I know people have used LinkedIn to find jobs. I never have. I know people use LinkedIn to sell products. It’s never worked for me. I know people like LinkedIn.
I think it’s hot vomit in a paper bag.
Anyway, here’s the best exchange I had on LinkedIn in the past few weeks. I mean the very best. It’s one that I replied to kindly and with interest. Why? Because I wasn’t used as a dump for someone’s cheery spam message. Here it is:
That’s it. It’s an actual conversation. Someone says “Hey, I need help” and the response is a quick “What’s up?” Someone on Twitter said that this exchange stroked my ego. Sure. Why not. But it was also the most human interaction I’ve had on LinkedIn in years.
As I’ve said before and will say forever: selling and PR and gathering customers is about being a human. You say “Hey, I have a question,” you asked it when prompted, and you wait for a response. Sometimes it never comes. You move on. A lot of folks have said they prefer a full chunk of text when the get spammed on services but I disagree. I get enough of that in email. I get enough of that everywhere else online. If you’re going to network with me (or anyone else) you’re going to have to try something different. You’re going to have to try to be human.
So next time you’re encouraged to Control-V in some copypasta about your business, don’t. Next time you think it might be a good idea to say “Congragulations on fifteen years at Scrablr!” maybe take another tack. LinkedIn isn’t a game. It’s a conversation tool. Use it that way.