For four years, I’ve been in the “real-world” acting as a professional female, working with TANK New Media, a digital agency, and specializing in industries such as agricultural businesses, non-profit agencies, and manufacturing companies.
I’ve been everywhere, man. Yet, each industry has taught me something different and has provided me with valuable life experience. Living the in the real world isn’t so bad after all. I just have one small complaint -- LinkedIn is not a dating website.
Flirting on LinkedIn. Should I Do It? (Spoiler Alert: No)
I recently trained as an inbound sales representative. I thought if I knew how to sell products and services, I would have a better understanding of my job as a marketer. Part of my sales training consisted of beginning conversations on a variety of platforms -- from the phone to email and, yes, even LinkedIn.
In this training, I was told to “help” those I spoke with instead of selling to them. This method changes the sales perspective and allows reps to be a little more psychiatrist and a lot less professional bull rider.
Everything was going well, and I saw my book of business expanding by the minute. To build rapport with my prospects, I added LinkedIn messaging to my sales outreach process. Most of the messages looked like this:
Good afternoon [Prospect name],
It's great to connect with you! Thanks for accepting my invitation to join your network. Enjoy your day, and please let me know if there is anything I can help you with.
Pretty standard stuff, right? Most responses were, “Thanks, Hayley!” while others got more specific and asked how I could help them -- which is exactly what I wanted.
One prospect thought my greeting was so great, he proposed I work with him. I responded with:
“That’s very kind of you, however, I love my job. I thrive off creativity, relationships, and team building. What exactly do you do?”
I quickly received an “I [do this]. Would you like to meet for a drink sometime?” Followed by, “Strictly biz.”
My response? *Delete*
Although I laughed out loud and shared the message with my co-workers, the unprofessionalism amazed me. There are so many online platforms to meet people in a romantic way (i.e., Match.com, Tinder, even Farmers Only). LinkedIn is not one of those sites. It is designed for professionals to network, share business, and recruit for career paths, not dates.
These messages pop up in my inbox at least once a month, and I’m sure other saleswomen have experienced the same thing. However, I want to pursue sales, and to do that, I need to get my messaging right so nothing comes across as flirtation.
How to Avoid Getting Creepy Messages on LinkedIn
First of all, ladies, it’s not your fault. I don’t care what your profile photo is, that “Thanks for connecting” message should never be construed as an invitation to flirt.
There’s no way to control those who lurk on LinkedIn. However, there is a strategy behind professional persuasion. So, let’s discuss best practices for making a professional impression on LinkedIn.
1. Keep your profile picture professional
Your phone may have a terrific camera, but that selfie is not a professional profile picture for LinkedIn. When choosing a photo, consider your audience. Your outfit should mimic something you would wear to an interview, and your pose should be one that conveys your professional attitude, persona, and goals.
Put simply, this might not be the place for duck lips and bar photos. Be smart and ask a friend for advice. Getting a second opinion always helps, especially if you’re unsure if a photo could be misinterpreted.
2. Have a professional message
When reaching out to a connection, be aware of your approach. Avoid, “Hey, I bet that smile would look great in my office,” and stick with, “Hey [Prospec name], thanks for the connection. Have a great day!”
Consider that LinkedIn is online, not in person. You are not able to see body language or hear the tone of voice -- and neither is the other party. Be as professional as possible while enjoying the online experience. Professional messaging goes for both your direct profile and your connections.
3. Make professional gestures
Now that your network is thriving, keep your connections happy with helpful content that solidifies trust. Avoid unprofessional gestures such as:
- Selfies - They’re not professional unless you work for Snapchat.
- Personal photos - That means no photos of you at the gym, with your morning coffee, your weekend brunch group, or your dog.
- Commenting inappropriately - Don’t comment on or share inappropriate or vulgar posts, and unfollow accounts that could put you in an awkward situation.
Instead, stick with professional gestures like:
- Sharing helpful content your connections would find interesting.
- Commenting on posts and sharing opinions -- within reason.
- “Like” posts and blog articles you read, agree with, and would share with your company.
- Endorse connections with skills you’ve experienced first-hand.
- Keep your personal information private.
There’s no perfect way to avoid men sliding in your LinkedIn DM’s, but hopefully these tips will help you dodge the creeps and allow you to stay professional.
And, guys, if you’re reading this, don’t be a LinkedIn Loser. Instead, do the following:
- Download a dating app - Pick your poison, there are thousands.
- Create an account - Don’t use your LinkedIn email address.
- Select your flexing selfie from the gym - Oh boy, you’ve been waiting for this moment.
- Start swiping until you find your sweetheart - Now you’re getting somewhere.
Interested in learning more on best practices for LinkedIn? Give me a follow, reach out, and let’s talk about your current digital marketing and sales obstacles, today.