LinkedIn Etiquette - 4 Bad Behaviors

LinkedIn Etiquette: 4 Bad Behaviors Costing You Business

Did you know most of your favorite business social media channels have been around longer than a decade?

It’s hard to believe that much time has passed because social media is such a big part of our personal and professional lives.

LinkedIn was launched in 2002, Facebook in 2004, and Twitter is coming up on its decade anniversary in 2016. As new channels are added, it’s taking less time for businesses to learn how to use them. Instagram was founded in 2010 and now has more users than Twitter.

Social behavior is also evolving right along with the channels. When a new channel is launched, users determine how they will use it, what the atmosphere will be like and what you can talk to them about when you are on the channel.

Most channels now offer some kind of advertising opportunity for businesses – either through promoted posts or traditional advertisements. The specific etiquette to follow when using the new social media channel is forming much more quickly than a decade ago. Where it used to take months, now it takes only days for us to see advice on how to use the channel for business.

So with our legacy channels, like LinkedIn, why are we still seeing bad behavior? If you’re not seeing value with LinkedIn as a business tool, check your behavior against the common mistakes below.

Personalize your requests to connect.

Are you in it for the quantity or quality?

This is the number one tip you will find if you read articles about LinkedIn etiquette. Those using the channel successfully for business will advise you to personalize the connection request. Tell your prospective connection specifically why connecting with you will benefit them. Point out what you have in common. Answer their hidden question, “What’s in it for me?”

Even if you have thousands of connections, how seriously are they going to take your updates and announcements if they don’t truly know who you are?

When a new connection responds to your LinkedIn connection request, write them back.

This is the second biggest culprit I see with LinkedIn misbehavior. I receive LinkedIn connection requests daily. Despite the advice we find in article after article, very few requests seem to come with a personalized invitation. However, when I look over the person’s profile and if I do see an opportunity to help each other and I decide to accept their request, I will try to write a personalized thank-you and begin a professional dialogue. Surprisingly, some people won’t bother to respond.

My thank-you notes don’t include a sales pitch. I seldom talk about my own business or background unless its tied to something we have in common. I focus on their profile, point out what we have in common and any relevant connections we have in common, and thank them for the opportunity to connect.

Can you imagine being at an in-person event, beginning this dialogue and the person you are talking to not responding? Neither can I.

Don’t make a sales pitch until you know your connection.

I received a LinkedIn in-mail last week addressed to “Dear Jo”. Only our blog followers, my family and close friends call me Jo, so when I didn’t recognize them, it was a flag. The note followed with how they can help me with my small business marketing. Interesting… especially since my company is a small business marketing consultancy. Had the person done the slightest bit of research, they could have tailored their note to suggesting we collaborate or they could have found some other way we could work together.

When someone sends you a lead, respond to it immediately!

As a small business owner, if you are not using LinkedIn to generate leads and create awareness about your business, stop using the channel. I can no longer count the times I’ve sent a contact a lead only to not have them respond until far too much time has passed. I can tell you that I have never sent a second lead in these instances.

The most common excuse I receive is that they didn’t see the note from me because it went to their LinkedIn mailbox and they hardly ever check this mailbox. Change that and use the tool to its full benefit. Sync your LinkedIn emails to your primary email account. Make it easy for your connections to send you leads and quickly take action on those leads.

Are you struggling with how to use LinkedIn for business? Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.


  • Word Ninja Sure! And you have the right idea with genuine compliments. If will vary with each contact. I look at their profile and try to find some way I can help them.  Here are examples of how I have done this with my services. One is showcasing the value of my network. “I see you serve the small business market.  I am always looking for resources for my small business clients and thought your business would be a good fit. I’d like to connect and learn more about your services.”  (I never bait and switch with this and have been a victim of that.)

    Another example is… We do work with Habitat for Humanity, so a natural tactic for me would be to reach out to other affiliates in my area and offer to share about their upcoming events and opportunities.

    Other ideas:

    Create a target list of prospects to use in an upcoming article and reach out to them as a resource. I’ve made wonderful connections with this tactic.

    Connect with those in your target audience who are connected with someone you know. The best way is to look at those who are commenting on the updates of your contacts. These are engagers. If they fit into your target audience, connect with them and mention their recent comments. I connect with people I meet on the comments of other blogs (like spin sucks :)) I always connect with people I meet at an in-person event immediately after attending the event.

    So nice to see you here this morning!

  • Hi, Jo Lynn, can you give an example of how to answer that “what’s in it for me?” question without it sounding like a sales pitch? I generally find something to (genuinely) compliment them on, e.g. project, article, post.

  • Marissa Buckley I have to say I was somewhat discouraged writing this post because it’s similar to others I’ve written. That tells me the same things keep happening! I am guilty of mistakes too but some of it just amazes me, like not responding. If it’s a copy paste – of course – but when it’s genuine, write back!

  • Marissa Buckley

    Thank you, Jo Lynn. This is great advice. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve received a LinkedIn direct message from someone making an irrelevant sales pitch. Many times it’s clear their spiel is a copy and paste message with very few refinements. If only more people would practice what you are preaching here. There are a few good points in here that I need to practice as well. Thanks again.