Why You Should Think Twice About Using Automated Tools On LinkedIn

One of the odd side effects of the social selling movement is the seemingly endless stream of messages and interactions required. This has given rise to automated tools on LinkedIn – apps and browser extensions that will do a lot of this work for you. And I can understand the temptation. But doesn’t anyone else find the whole idea of “automating your social selling” a little contradictory?

Here are reasons why you should think twice about automating your LinkedIn interactions.  

Many of these apps and extensions violate the User Agreement.

Specifically section 8.2 (the points that follow are a subset of the forty-five or so  bullet points in this section).  

8.2. Don’ts. You agree that you will not:

  • Use manual or automated software, devices, scripts robots, other means or processes to access, “scrape,” “crawl” or “spider” the Services or any related data or information
  • Use bots or other automated methods to access the Services, add or download contacts, send or redirect messages;
  • Send spam or other unwelcomed communications to others;
  • Scrape or copy profiles and information of others through any means (including crawlers, browser plugins and add-ons, and any other technology or manual work);

As the sole arbiter as to whether you have overstepped the lines, LinkedIn is judge, jury and executioner.  And good luck explaining yourself to Microsoft, the company that just paid twenty-six billion dollars for that data they just caught you scraping.

Note that while getting caught may be a low probability event, the consequences –  excommunication – can be nasty. Think of crossing the street with your eyes closed. All the cars will probably stop. Would you bet your life on “probably” ?

Anybody who recommends products like these are not looking out for your best interests.

Automated messages have to be generic

This is the easy way to tell when someone is using automated messaging with you. In order to cover all the possibilities with all the people the message will go to, the message has to be generic and bland. It doesn’t sound authentic. In attempting not to alienate anyone, it doesn’t appeal to anyone either.

And being boring at scale isn’t something you should aspire to.  

It can be sorta, kinda, well…fraudulent

You set up your browser extension to look at LinkedIn profiles. What you are doing is giving the other person the impression that you found something interesting in their activity so you had to go and look at their profile.

Merriam Webster defines fraud as  “deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value”.  

That would be you committing fraud. Great way to start a relationship with a connection, isn’t it?

Let me close with a hypothetical situation and a final thought:

Here’s a partial list of abilities I have seen one company advertise:

  • You can set up their browser extension to search and view profiles one after another (in the hopes that the people will think you are interested in them and invite you to connect).  
  • And speaking of connecting, you can set up a search and the browser extension sends connection invites to everyone in the search results.   
  • Then the browser extension accepts invitations to connect for you
  • And then the browser extension sends a welcome message to the new connection
  • And then it takes the three popular social selling trigger events – birthdays, work anniversaries and new jobs – and sends messages to all of those connections.
  • And then the browser extension will “like” your connections’ posts and add generic comments like “This is a really good post!”  

So you could set up this software to look at a certain type of person’s profile, automatically accept their invitation to connect when they bite at your profile view, automatically send them a “welcome to my LinkedIn network” message, congratulate them on any birthdays, job changes or work anniversaries, and then start liking and commenting on their posts. Four months later, you have this lovely, completely automated relationship with this connection, whose real  existence you are blissfully unaware of.  

It seems to me that your browser extension is the one with the connection, not you.