Dear Socially Stephanie:
I have a client who understands it's important to be on LinkedIn, as she refers media to it for her career experience. She wants to be more engaged on the platform but is sick of the sales pitches her profile attracts, and is hesitant to jump in as a result. What boundaries can we set for her so that she is active on LinkedIn, but not bombarded by sales pitches?
Pitchless in Peoria
Ahh, LinkedIn, one of my all-time favorite networks. By the time we get your client going on LinkedIn, she'll be singing its praises too. So without further ado, let's get down to business.
With any social network, it is super important to define your reason for being there. Whether it is to grow your business (I hope), increase leads, find potential distribution partners, or just engage with colleagues and industry insiders, you have to go in with a plan and a strategy. In your client's case, she is open to future opportunities yet hates the pitches. Okay, we can work with that.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to LinkedIn. But she has to understand that the pitches won't stop. LinkedIn is a business network and people are trying to do business. So, unfortunately, she can't have her cake and eat it too. What we can do is safeguard her a bit so that the amount of pitches she receives is a lot lower. This way she can reap the networking and future opportunity benefits while curbing the annoyance of cold-emails.
Meet Mr T., her LinkedIn bodyguard. Okay, okay, you can call it whatever you want. First thing she needs to do is to set up her account under an email that doesn't go directly to her. It could be an email set up for LinkedIn or one that skips the inbox all together so that she never has to see an email from LinkedIn. The next step is to make sure that none of her personal numbers are on there either. No direct line, no personal links. Keep it strictly professional. Next, I want you to make her profile protected so that only people who actually know her and her email can connect with her. This will keep the "connect with everyone and try to sell them anything" people at bay. Lastly, in her headline, include the words "no solicitations or sales pitches."
All right, I think that will keep the majority of LinkedIn intruders from finding her. But I think it is super important to stress that this will also decrease the people who may just be looking to hire her or work with her on specific projects. But hey, that's life, right? You can't always get what you want.
The next thing we should talk about is the fact that sales pitches are still going to happen. It's the nature of the business, and a smart and savvy LinkedIn user will be able to wiggle their way through the guard and into her inbox. Stress the fact that she isn't obligated to return their email or even respond. She can simply delete the unwanted message and move along. Remember, social media is controlled by you, and you define what you want from it.
If this isn't satisfactory, then the next logical way to get around this is to hire someone who can fully manage her LinkedIn account. This person would be her filter, deleting the bad sales pitches and forwarding the real opportunities.
Well, I hope that helps her navigate the sometimes-choppy yet potential-filled waters of LinkedIn. Good luck!
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Illustration by Jesse Wells