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Let’s talk LinkedIn. About 590 million people are now members of that social network, according to recent statistics. Of those users, 61 million are senior level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise LinkedIn has clearly established itself as the No. 1 channel for B2B marketers. If you’re in B2B sales, you’re probably using it, too.

The platform can be a powerful social selling tool. But as Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

When I’m building relationships with potential clients, LinkedIn InMail and invitations are part of my social messaging rotation. These tools are very effective for background research and opening doors for that next step in a conversation IF they are done right. When done wrong, this outreach can very quickly shut down a conversation and a potential relationship.

Not long ago, I received a LinkedIn connection request that I’d consider a “done wrong” example of social selling.

Hi Amy,

You want to bring your Lotus Notes Databases to Office 365?

My company, ABC, built a no-code platform for creating Business Apps on SharePoint but didn’t forget that you need to create/update/template the entire solution.

Do you have 15 mins for me to show you how?


Here’s why this message is one of those “done wrong for you” examples, never to duplicate.

  1. It’s clearly a templated message, that perhaps a virtual assistant copied and pasted into an invitation. When it’s coming with a C-level signature, the template effect is amplified.
  2. The strategy may have been an SEO search for “Lotus Notes,” “Office 365,” or “SharePoint” and then use the results to create this invitation. I was a Lotus Notes administrator at one point early in my career and would explain how I showed up in search results. If someone took 60 seconds to scan my LinkedIn profile, it would be obvious that I’m not a qualified connection because I’m no longer in the IT space.
  3. A reference to product comes right out of the gate. When I receive a new request, I don’t mind a sentence or two about the type of work or the industries the sender works with. But it can’t be the core of the message.
  4. The ask for a 15-minute demo. I’m not a fan of the 15-minute meeting request, because it’s tough to honor that time limit in an initial call. It can be a credibility killer. Normally a qualifying conversation or two will happen before a demo request – and maybe those conversations are in the 15-minute range. But in my experience a good demo isn’t 15 minutes if both the seller and prospect are engaged.

What did I do with this request? I hit “Delete Conversation.”

With your social selling strategies, it pays off to be selective with your prospecting efforts, investing the time to customize your messages. You’ll get further, faster, and with much more credibility.

For tips on building your social capital, download a free chapter from my book The Modern SellerThe Modern Seller is Social. 

Or listen to this episode of the B2B Growth Show podcast.


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