Why It’s Hard To Do Business On LinkedIn

I have to admit that I have a love/dislike relationship with LinkedIn. It’s not the site’s fault; it’s all mine.


Jo Chou via Compfight

I mean, I’m the guy who wrote a post talking about ways to use LinkedIn effectively. I’m the guy who wrote a post about marketing on LinkedIn. Heck, I’m the guy who recently wrote a post about writing articles on LinkedIn

It turns out that I’ve written 8 articles specifically about LinkedIn over all these years, and included the site in 96 articles in total. Not all of them have extolled its virtues because, like everything else, not everything is good there; not all the time anyway.

Still, you’d think that after all these years (I was one of the first 600,000 members there; they even send me a letter of thanks lol) I would have a handle on how it works, how to get business there, how to make true connections and the like.

You know what? I haven’t learned anything. Okay, that’s not quite true. I obviously have learned a lot. But I’ve never gotten any business via LinkedIn. I’ve never generated a single thing that would help me make any money. As I start to close in on my 14th year in business, I have to figure this out, and it’s better to do it sooner than later.

What’s the problem? Truthfully, I’m not quite sure.

It’s not that I don’t talk to people, because I have. It’s not that I haven’t had some nice conversations in the groups there because I have.

It’s that I get the wrong people connecting with me there. Rather, the wrong people who connect with me and then send me a message.

Y’all remember my post on Monday on blog commenting? Remember my very first point on that post, where I said “try reading the article?

That’s something it seems that no one who sends me something does… not read my articles, but not read my profile.


Maybe it’s me, either expecting too much or not wording my profile properly. Either way, the messages I get are either from people who want me to market their product or services as part of what I do, or want to sell me services that I can’t use because I’m a sole proprietor, which they’ve missed from reading my profile.

You know what else? At least half the people who write me put some derivation of the same title, which is “Business Proposition.” Wow, that’s inspiring isn’t it? And in the message they send, they don’t say anything except “I’d like to present a business proposition to you. When would you be available to talk?”

That’s kind of bold, pushy and in a way insulting isn’t it? Those messages always immediately raise the hackles on the back of my neck (linking to the definition for folks not familiar with that term like folks talking to me about MLM stuff (more definition stuff). You know, when they won’t tell you what it is but try to play on your emotions and give you all the platitudes about how much money you can make?

The issue for me is that I don’t want to be pushy. Truthfully, though I’m connected to nearly 1,000 people now (that’s a big jump in the last year), I’m not connected to any of the people I need to talk to that can use my services. Those of you who know me know that I offer lots of different types of services, but my biggest two are leadership and health care finance (linking to something you might not understand, but in case you’re interested…). Through this blog I offer writing services.

The folks I keep hoping to attract and those who can hire me for those types of services. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, I don’t get those folks.

Instead, I get people who either want me to sell for them or want me to teach them what I know so they can progress without wanting to pay me for it. I used to give up a lot of my time in trying to teach people some of these things, which can get pretty technical, and I realized I was giving up a lot of time and not getting anything back.


Mambembe Arts & Crafts via Compfight

I offer lots of advice on this blog about a lot of things. I offer a lot of other advice on my business blog. I will talk to anyone about business in general, people who are thinking about going out on their own or young people who are graduating and would like a bit of advice here and there.

I don’t mind that kind of thing; heck, that’s who I was looking for when I first went into business on my own, and no one would talk to me. I’ve actually talked to some of those folks on LinkedIn, even locally; that’s been fun.

But business? Nope, nada, zip; not even a request for a speaking gig via LinkedIn.

My fault… all my fault.

What to do… hmmm…

For once, instead of giving advice, I’ll ask for some. My friend Peter says that sometimes we give so much information away in our posts that people aren’t sure what to comment on or what to say.

So, here’s your chance. How do you do LinkedIn? Have you been successful in getting any business there, and if so how did you do it? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? If you’ve never used LinkedIn don’t even comment on this one; I’ll save you time and effort in saying “I don’t use LinkedIn…” I mean, after those words or anything similar, there’s no purpose in commenting this time around if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be thinking about how to rewrite the beginning of my profile because that part must be deficient. At least parts of my page look pretty cool, if I say so myself. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Why It’s Hard To Do Business On LinkedIn”

  1. Glad you wrote about this topic. I’ve been meaning to write a post for some time.

    I have received business from Linkedin. Prospects have hired me after reading my blog posts. (Thanks again Mitch.)

    A few years ago, I tried something different. Instead of automatically accepting a connection, I’d email the person asking to have a phone and/or Skype call. I’d say 10% of the people accepted my invitation.

    None of these convos turned into business. However, that was never the point. The reason for the call was to make a personal connection so I’d learn more about them and vice versa. Why? I’m more likely to give them a referral if I know more about their business and who they are as a person.

    I even went as far as emailing or cold calling people on my list, introducing myself as well as the reason I was doing it.

    Last, as I said before, the purpose of the call is to get to know them. In addition, making a good enough impression upon them that they might, just might, recommend me to their circle of influence.

    Personal connections are much more powerful than electronic ones.

    1. That’s a great plan Steve. I assume that everyone who tries to contact you has information available? I ask that because there are lots of pages I visit there where that info isn’t listed. I know mine is; let ’em contact me. 🙂

  2. I think there’s premium level of Linkedin which gives you access to a person’s contact info. Quite frankly, most of the people who contact me are strangers.

    The other thing I forgot to mention. executive recruiters aka headhunters are the biggest users of Linkedin. They’re looking for a warm body to fill a vacancy. Huge business! Did you know recruiters receive one third of the candidates salary if they’re hired by the organization?

    1. I did know that one Steve, about the headhunters. Actually, you don’t have to have a premium account to share your contact information. From my perspective, if it’s supposed to be about business I can’t understand why people are hiding their email addresses, let alone won’t put up an image. Frankly, that’s baby stuff if you ask me; if you’re not ready for that amount of openness then don’t even get on LinkedIn. Why am I there? Because I want people to be able to contact me to do business with them… not FOR them. 🙂

  3. I hear LinkdIn is a good thing Mitch. My girl has gotten some freelance work there. (She is a lead graphic designer for Solar City.) I filled in my profile and did it in a special way some ‘guru’ said to. “People like stories”, he said. So I did it that way…and then left it alone. I guess I should maybe go back? Then I notice you have over 1000 connections and it has not been a strong tool for you? Hmmm. Though we are pretty much in different industries. (Uh, you think? LOL) so maybe I should give it a shot…though it is one more thing to learn and hope it helps…like Google+

    1. Troy, I believe everyone doing business or looking to do business should be on LinkedIn. I also believe that there are a lot of people who got onto LinkedIn just because someone told them they should be there but, like most other social media, they don’t know what to do once they’re there. That makes it difficult to reach out to them because they might never respond to anything you sent them, if they get them at all because some companies automatically send those emails to spam.

      Still, you have to be in it to even have the chance to benefit from it.

  4. I’ve never gotten any business via LinkedIn either, but I think that’s only because many people are actually using LinkedIn for everything else BUT for doing business! The worst thing for me is the fact that I keep getting messages in my LinkedIn inbox from guys, a complete strangers, who are actually trying hitting on me!I was and still am quite shocked truth to be told that there are people out there who are using a business-oriented social network to try flirting with others..!

    1. Anja, that’s a sad commentary on our world but it’s true. So many idiots who think every woman is there only for them to try to meet for… whatever, anything other than business. They reach out to me to market for them; as if!

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