One common complaint voiced by LinkedIn members is receiving unsolicited sales pitches. Most offensive to them is receiving a pitch from a salesperson right after agreeing to connect with them. Some LinkedIn members feel it’s intrusive and violates the true nature of networking.
To sales people on LinkedIn, the complainers might be seen as lightweights. After all, LinkedIn was initially developed to create networking opportunities for businesses who were trying to…well, sell their products. They really don’t see a sales pitch as intrusive, and they don’t expect to be shamed for doing what they think is good business.
A salesperson shamed on LinkedIn
On a recent quiet Sunday, I came across an example of what I would call one of worst cases of shaming I’ve seen in years, if not ever. Without using names and being as neutral as possible, I’m going to use third-person point of view to briefly tell you the story.
A LinkedIn member received a sales pitch in a message right after accepting a salesperson’s invite. The recipient of the message took it upon themselves to announce to the world through a post, which described their abhorrence at receiving the sales pitch, provided the salesperson’s LinkedIn URL, as well as a screen shot of the interaction.
Seeing this post prompted me to write a post of my own (link at the end of this article) describing my reaction to this shaming and providing some solutions to deal with it. A large majority of the people who read the post responded with a similar reaction.
How can shaming be avoided?
The first step to avoid shaming on LinkedIn begins with the offender; salespeople need to understand their connections and only approach those who would appreciated a sales pitch. There are many LinkedIn members who engage in the sales arena and welcome unsolicited pitches.
For instance, one of my close LinkedIn connections, Kevin Willett, said he welcomes people reaching out to him to offer their services. Kevin is the founder of Friends of Kevin, which is a networking group for businesses. He believes LinkedIn is a vehicle to generate business.
On the other hand, someone like me doesn’t appreciate being approached by a salesperson trying to peddle their services or products, especially in an initial invite or the second correspondence we have. I don’t stand alone on this, as you will see from reading the reactions from people who responded to my post.
What should you do if you don’t appreciate being approached?
This gets to the heart of this article. So you’ve been approached by a salesperson and you’re angry. Is shaming that person the answer? There were many suggestions from the people who read and responded to my post. Here are some of them:
Educate the offender on LinkedIn etiquette
See the sales pitch as innocent
Thank you for posting this Bob. While receiving these unsolicited sales pitches certainly seems to annoy a number folks, I think it’s important for all of us to remember that most sales pitches (at least the ones I have received on LI) come with good intentions from people just trying to earn a living.
Of course if the pitch contains hateful language or other truly offensive content, then public shaming would not be out of line. But aside from that, I see no reason to get angry or upset over a well-meaning sales pitch. Let’s be kind to one another and remember, we’re all on this journey together!
Ignore the offender
I recently had a similar situation arise where someone lashed out and I had one of two options: publicly shame or play nice. To be honest I’m still contemplating how to handle it. For now it can be seen as the nice route since I’ve chosen to ignore it and not give it power.
If I address it then I’m putting negative energy out there that could potentially portray me in a negative light as well. End result: it’s not worth the energy. If there’s another situation such as this I might be inclined to respond and try to educate but it would all be situational.
Disconnect or block the offender
I simply disconnect from the person. The online equivalent of a “cold call” seems to be garnering favor among more sales reps. Not a good trend because there is no online equivalent of the “do not call” list (unfortunately).
Resort to shaming
I’m happy to say that, at this point, no one has suggested outright shaming the offender. This is the worst possible way to deal with an unwanted sales pitch. I wonder if the offender has received any backlash. Has this person’s reputation been tarnished? Will this effect their brand?
I hope that those who’ve read this article will not resort to shaming anyone on LinkedIn, because, as some respondents wrote, it could affect your own brand. It could make other LinkedIn users be reluctant to connect or follow you.
What would I do? In the past I’ve used the ignore-and-hope-the-person-goes-away approach. If that didn’t work, I simply wrote back, “No thanks.” That’s worked 100% of the time.
See my post, which prompted me to write this article: https://tinyurl.com/y656zdz3
Photo: Flickr, ParraLobato