Indirectly Approaching Someone On LinkedIn

(…and three reasons why I don’t recommend it.)

Here are three ways I see people trying to reach out to prospects on LinkedIn. You will see these referred to as “indirect” methods and are often flogged by the automation crowd which is always a bad sign.

Following

In this method, you follow someone you would like to reach out to. After following them for a while, you – surprise! – send them a message saying that after following them for a while etc etc etc.

Flashing

No, not that flashing. This refers to looking at someone’s profile.

Commenting

This refers to commenting on a prospect’s LinkedIn post.

All three of these show that you nominally found something about them interesting. Your hope is that they will reach out to you and start a conversation, or even (drool) ask you to connect.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of this approach working is low due to these three reasons:

1) They depend on the other person realizing that you looked at their profile, followed them or commented on their post.

You would be surprised at the number of people who never look at who has followed them or viewed their profile. Or they do so sporadically and they miss most of the new followers and viewers. And I am always surprised at the number of people who post and then never seem to monitor the post for comments after publishing it.

2) The other person sees that you have followed/viewed or commented but they don’t read anything into it.

They take your action at face value. “Hmm, Fred followed me. That’s nice.” Or even worse, “Hmm, Dave looked at my profile. I wonder why?” and then never giving it another thought.

3) The third reason is the most important. The three types of engagement – followers, profile viewers and commenters – are all mild forms of appreciation. But…they don’t give your prospect a reason to want to respond to them. These types of engagement don’t answer the “what’s in it for me?” question.

So what should you do instead? If you find someone interesting, reach out to them or just invite them to connect. In your connection note, add in the reason why it is in their best interests to connect with you.

And a postscript: Note that this whole thing works beautifully the other way round. I make a point of checking the list of everyone who likes, reacts to, comments or shares my content. I regularly review my new followers and everyone who views my profile. But I am not looking for what they can do for me, but what I might be able to do for them. If someone in there looks interesting, I send them a message.