Five Common Mistakes on LinkedIn, All in One Email

When I first got the email I’m sharing below, I burst out in laughter. Then I was disgusted. Then… I knew I was going to write about it. My tagline “Learned the Hard Way” doesn’t always mean that I am the one learning the hard way. Sometimes, the wisdom and knowledge I pass on is at the expense of others. Hey, it’s the harsh reality of what I do.

Networking on LinkedIn is Not Hard

Remember, in networking, it’s “Give first, then take.” (Click to Tweet)

The second most popular post of 2013 was a doozy. And from it, you will learn five common mistakes people make on LinkedIn, all from one email.

How NOT to Network on LinkedIn

A warm network is critical in today’s economy.

We live in a connected world, dependent upon relationships. I have written quite a bit about networking before and include links to those posts at the bottom of this one. I have also had the privilege of consulting one-on-one with numerous people about building and maintaining a powerful network. The success stories have been inspiring.

In your efforts to develop a network, please don’t make the mistakes one poor fellow made below.

A friend of mine and I recently got the exact same email from a mutual connection on LinkedIn. This is someone I worked extensively with at another company, so we have a decent relationship.

Here is his email:

Hello,Friends,

I have been on a kick with building up my Linked In profile to help me get into the next level of networking. Along side of our well-built relationship, you continue to positively impact me and I couldn’t be more thankful.

In return, I ask that you endorse the skills or activities you feel I am strong in. Over the next couple of days I will be doing the same for you.

Thanks in advance for your help.

So what is wrong with this email? Oh, where to start? How about the very beginning.

I am not the world’s best typist and I readily admit there is likely a typo somewhere in this post, but an egregious typo in the beginning? And a greeting of “Hello, Friends?” You mean I don’t even get a personal email…or at least a mail merge email? No, thanks. If it weren’t for the learning opportunity this email presented, I would have immediately deleted it upon that greeting.

(NOTE: I do not use it except to keep a local copy of my connections, but you can export a CSV of your contacts in LinkedIn by going to your “Connections” and then towards the bottom right of the screen you will see “Export Connections.” You can use this for sending a mail merge email.)

How to export your connections on Linkedin

I have been on a kick with building up my Linked In profile to help me get into the next level of networking.

I’m struggling to see the relevance to my life here. Perhaps you could at least inquire about my work. Or my family. You do care about those things, right? Oh, that’s right, it’s all about you.

Along side of our well-built relationship, you continue to positively impact me and I couldn’t be more thankful.

So well-built that I haven’t heard from you in two years until you need something? And you can’t greet me by name. How honored. And how exactly do I continue to positively impact you?

In return, I ask that you endorse the skills or activities you feel I am strong in. Over the next couple of days I will be doing the same for you.

In return for what? My positive impact on you or your thankfulness? If you are suggesting that I owe you something because you are thankful, I feel sorry for you. If you are truly thankful for my positive impact on your life, you should be doing something for me! And by the way, I checked, you never did do the same for me. Remember, in networking, it’s “Give first, then take.” (Click to Tweet)

Thanks in advance for your help.

You just set networking back three decades and you thank me…in advance? The nerve!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t maintain a warm network for purely altruistic reasons. Everyone knows that. But I give, give, give so that one day when I really need it, I can take.

In short, this person failed to do five things critical to successful networking:

  1. Give first.
  2. Personalize the email.
  3. Tell me what’s in it for me.
  4. Use spell check and grammar check.
  5. Follow-through on his promise.

For better ways to develop your network, here are some helpful links:

Maintaining a Warm Network – What I’ve Done
Give to Grow Your Network
Your Networking Budget – 200 Hours and $1000
Network Math

Are you making any of these networking mistakes?

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  • brentmkelly

    Amen Matt. I know I have been guilty of some of these things in the past, but have learned how to connect better online. I still some crazy things in many social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. Thanks.

  • Great post Matt and very true. It is easy to forget this.

  • You mean that guy still hasn’t endorsed you??

    “Give, give, give” is the equivalent of Gary Vaynerchuck’s “Jab, jab, jab, right hook”. I like your term better, because a “jab” doesn’t sound like a gift to me.

    Happy New Year, Matt, and thank you for all that you give.

    Now I’m off to LinkedIn to see if we are connected and if I can endorse you for anything. (Is “giving” one of the skills you listed?)

  • Dan Erickson

    Good points, Matt. I delete 99% of emails and messages that are form-like and addressed to friends, followers, people, etc. If I don’t already know you, it’s likely going in the trash.

  • Kirbie Earley

    I hate form emails. I don’t like being addressed as “friend”…I’m with you, if we’re friends, where have you been? I get endorsements all of the time on LinkedIn. The problem with those endorsements is that sometimes they come from people who have NEVER worked with me or even seen any of my work that I’m aware of, so how can they endorse me as a project manager? Sometimes they endorse me for skills I don’t possess or claim to possess. When someone I work with or someone I am in contact with frequently endorses me, I consider that an honor and I do try to return that if I have the opportunity.

    I had an email experience about 18 months ago that really bothered me on many levels. I inquired at a local (but national) college about having some of their Web design student interns do a website redesign for our non-profit. The instructor said sure, the students would get in contact with me.

    The email from the students was horrifying. These are COLLEGE age kids and the spelling and grammar was off the charts bad (things like the wrong there, the wrong your, etc. among the bad). I debated for a long time what to do, then I kindly wrote back, copying their instructor, and suggested that if they wanted to survive in the business world, they might want to fine tune their letter writing, spelling and grammar skills. I probably came off as a *@&%# but I felt they were students and it was part of their education. It was SO poorly written that if it had come from a business person, I would not have done business with them. As it turned out, we didn’t use them, but not for that reason.

    I’m not sure why people feel they don’t have to be careful of those things in email. I read, have spell check set up to run before it sends, and I reread for stupid stuff I might have typed accidentally.

    • That is one of the big reasons why I suggest doing at least 10-20% of the interview process by email or more if the job involves a lot of email.