I recently received the following message on LinkedIn from a business owner I had never met or heard of: "What sort of a stunt do I have to pull to get a story on my business?"
No introduction, no explanation of what the business was and no niceties at that.
Perhaps it was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but having never met the person before, the tone smacked of someone wanting to "use and abuse". Plus it was kind of rude. Laurel Papworth teaches social media at the University of Sydney and also helps small and large businesses develop online strategies. Here are her tips for what not to do on LinkedIn:
Don't spam strangers
The first time people hear from you should not be when you are touting your new product or pushing your services. Answer questions, show value and then offer consultancy or a product.
Do not be irrelevant to
Some groups are right for you; some are not. Yes, you are a life coach or an IT consultant, but do not join the accountants' group just because they may need you. If you join a group, offer value, or stay out of the chat until it is relevant to you.
Do not only promote your stuff
People are looking for generosity online. Find great articles, pertinent statistics and share them regularly with your community. You will become the go-to person for industry information.
Do not get into nit-pick fights with competitors
Discussions online can be passionate, and everyone is staking a claim in the ground. Make your point, then back out. No one likes a know-it-all, even clients who are looking for experienced businesses to work with.
Do not forget why
you are there
You are on LinkedIn for business reasons but specifically for a business you are passionate about. Do not spend too much time stalking customers and competitors, and don't start to feel like it's a chore.