A small business marketing To-Do list

Specifically What Not To Do On LinkedIn

This morning, I received an inmail on LinkedIn from a new contact.  I’ll only share the beginning because it just gets worse, and you’ll get the drift after this first sentence.

“Staring at your lovely eyes for the past five minutes has been one of the most wonderful encounters I have had in quite a while.”


LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a dating site. Shame on me because I accepted this person’s request without doing more homework.  I got busy and didn’t follow my own rules.  In my haste, I saw he had a photo with his profile and a real job title, so I thought I’d go ahead and accept the connection request.  But this experience gives me the opportunity to share about another what-not-to-do on LinkedIn: stop using LinkedIn to network.

Within the very definition of networking lies the reason career-minded professionals shouldn’t do it. 

The Webster definition of networking is ‘exchanging information with people who can help you professionally.’  What’s wrong with the picture is the sole focus on YOU.  Put it into perspective; have you ever spent time with someone who incessantly talked about themselves?  How much time had to pass before you came up with a reason to excuse yourself? That uncomfortable, slightly annoyed, ‘can’t-wait-to-tell-my-colleagues-about-this-guy feeling’ is precisely why you should netweave, not network, your way to small business success.

How to netweave to success

Netweaving is a relationship-building approach to networking.  It’s a frame of mind and it fits well within today’s socially-focused professional environments.  Social networks focus on building relationships, and this too is the basis of netweaving.  It begins with holding a deeper consideration for people you meet, and then using the knowledge you gain to find ways you can help them.  By establishing mutually-beneficial relationships with our contacts, we are positioning ourselves as a trusted, reliable resource, which is the basis to any successful friendship.

Netweaving requires us to exercise the most important skill in effective communicating: really listening to our audience.   In the post LinkedIn but Disconnected, I covered a netweaving example. I shared how when I receive a connection request, I review the person’s profile and try to learn a little more about them.  I think about my network and look for common interests or industries among my contacts.  I consider ways I can build a professional relationship with this new contact.  I always send a thank you message and offer to help using my network and professional experience.  (I highly recommend this approach to you.)  However, what I am seeing most often is the request to link and then a quick shift to disconnecting, meaning they link with me and then I never hear from them or even receive a reply to my thank you note. I call this “LinkedIn but disconnected” and this my friends is bad for business.

As you grow your network, remember you don’t know everything there is to know about your contacts. You don’t know ‘who they know’ or ‘what they know’.  To get started in the right direction, try spending at least five minutes a day reaching out to three network contacts.  Ask them how their business is going or what’s new? Look for ways you can help them. Even better, if you see a post or update about a contact, or from a contact, engage with them, make a comment or send a message.

Here’s a tool to help. I use a site called Newsle, to keep tabs on my contacts. When someone I’m linked with makes the news, I receive an email. It provides me with the perfect opportunity to connect with the contact.

So what’s in it for you?

Aside from becoming a more thoughtful contact and an active listener, when the opportunity arises to engage your contacts in something you need, it will be well received. The larger your social communities become, the more netweaving opportunities will arise.   It’s quick and easy to put people in touch with each other.

Now it’s your turn, share your best LinkedIn experience with me in the comments.


  • Word Ninja You had me at OK. 🙂

  • OK, first, you really do have lovely eyes, so can you blame guy? Second, because I am passionate about “real” relationship building online, I like the idea of “netweaving.” I do check in with contacts from time to time, but not in the more consistent way you suggest. Great idea.

  • jstolarsmith jolynndeal Great, Joan. I hope he finds it helpful. The links at the bottom of the post show other tips for LinkedIn that might also be helpful. 🙂

  • jolynndeal jstolarsmith Newsle does sound great, perhaps especially for my husband’s business right now.  He’s “sprucing up” his Linked In profile and talking with his partner, who uses Linked In pretty well himself. Also sent him your article, of course!

  • Synnovatia jolynndeal Looking forward to a better experience!

  • jstolarsmith Thanks, Joan! I’ve modified and tweaked my strategy over many years. It all boils down to how I would like to be treated. I want to be the contact my contacts love. I’ve seen an excellent return on my strategy of reaching out to a few contacts every day. I also can’t stress enough how awesome the newsle platform is.  When one of my contacts shows up in the news, I can send them a link to the article and give them proper recognition. It always opens the door to a new discussion.

  • Synnovatia

    jolynndeal Synnovatia Let the revolution begin! <chuckle>

  • As our internet-based business is still a work in progress (as you know!), we don’t yet have a Linked In account; so I have no stories to tell 🙂 But your advice is great and something I will hang onto.  I especially like your “it’s not all about me” attitude and your practice of sending a “thank you” to new contacts along with an offer to help them as you are able; also your advice to reach out to a few contacts every day to let them know you’re interested in what they’re doing and ready to help.  Very “other-person oriented” and a style I hope to adopt.  Of course, the guy your describe at the beginning of your article is creepy and not the kind I, like you, would want to stay connected to 🙂

  • Synnovatia I’m in!  I was lazy with this one and paid for it. It might be time for me to do a little contact cleaning. I loved your “what not to do” post this weekend!

  • Synnovatia

    I feel your pain, Jo Lynn.  That’s happened to me, too – once too often.  I think we should start a pact to not accept the invitations of those who don’t follow the protocol for professional networking. That way we won’t be reinforcing unprofessional networking practices. Who’s in!?

  • SavvyCopywriter Me too! Me too! It was a moment of… Is this a joke? I couldn’t get to the disconnect link fast enough. I have to say, I have a similar reaction when the first in mail is trying to sell me, too. We need to make sure we aren’t in such a hurry with our connections.

  • SavvyCopywriter

    Ew! I’m cringing for you after reading the first line of that in mail request! In spite of it being a pretty gross way to network or scout out a date, it serves as a good lesson for everyone using this platform for business. Thanks for sharing your experience, and your insight!