Why You Should Reply to LinkedIn Messages

Fishing isn’t easy.  Finding new clients is hard work.  Fish don’t simply jump into your boat.  When you get a nibble, you need to give it your undivided attention, working your line until you can land the fish. Prospecting works the same way.  Where does LinkedIn fit in?

We’ve heard certain coastal areas have been overfished.  Factory ships with huge nets deplete the stock, leaving others fishing at a disadvantage.  LinkedIn can be viewed as a new coastal area that hasn’t been overfished yet.  But it’s headed in that direction.

You have likely connected with people who instantly start selling.  That’s a turnoff.  You’ve had people who write to you, asking you to access their scheduling tool and setup a call with them!  What’s the motivation?  Like fishing, you need to get people interested in talking with you, then nurture and develop that conversation.

Here’s my logic why you want to respond to every message that comes in your direction:

1. They made an effort.  Even if it seems like it might be a sales pitch, they took the time to reach out.  You can tell when it’s personal or canned.

Strategy:  When people want to learn about me and ask me to use their online scheduler to setup a call, I write back saying “Call me anytime during business hours.  Here’s my number.”

2. They commented on your post.  Plenty of advisors post article links.  The logic is to establish yourself as a subject matter expert.  Someone likes you article or even better, leaves a comment.

Strategy:  When someone comments I write back “I hope you enjoyed my article.”  Another response I use is “I hope you found some ideas to share.”

3. People open up over time.  I post every week.  Some people comment every week.  Gradually you learn about their personal lives and how they spend money.

Strategy:  I try to offer something from our personal life, where we shop to buy certain things or the pricing I found when I looked for that item.  The more you share, the more they will share.

4. Birthdays get easy responses.  I visit notifications every day and send messages on all the birthday, work anniversary and new job prompts. Responses come back, especially on birthdays. 

Strategy:  I don’t stick with the canned responses.  For birthdays I send: “Happy birthday (name).  How are you celebrating?”  When people respond, I comment on what they said they did.  I also try to include “Thank you for taking the time to send a message back.”

5. You are willing to invest in the relationship.  Messaging back indicates you aren’t simply posting with the idea fish will jump into your boat.  You are willing to make an effort.

Strategy:  I try to respond with personal messages, so it doesn’t sound canned.

6. Give them the chance to opt out.  I do lots of messaging, especially with sharing article links.  When we connect, I explain my intent to share article links and the frequency.  I include: “Let me know if this ever becomes too many.”

Strategy:  If people write back and say they are too busy, that’s fine.  I don’t send any more messages with article links.  If a birthday prompt comes up, I usually send a greeting.  I get the occasional responses on that.  I’ve assumed that is acceptable.

7. Silence doesn’t mean you are ignored.  There’s an expression: “Pushing on a string.”  Occasionally I get a message back: “Sorry I don’t write, but I love your articles.”  Another read: “I look forward to your newsletter every Friday.”

Strategy:  Assume your behavior is similar to others.  If you were too busy to focus on responding to messages, assume others are in the same boat.  They might still get read.

8. Your post might get shared.  The person you messaged isn’t bound my two choices, read or delete.  They might like your post so much they share it with others.  This is one of the first steps to going viral.

Strategy:  Occasionally I get the message: “Good article.  I shed it with my team.”

9. I comment in LinkedIn groups.  I work under the logic when you post to the LinkedIn feed, it’s shared with your 1st level connections.  The feed is continuous, so it’s easy for people to miss seeing it if they aren’t on LinkedIn that much.  Posting to groups gives you a new universe of people.  Many are not connections.

Strategy:  If people comment on one of my posts within the group, I answer their comment.  I also try to comment on at least two posts in every group once a week.  If they comment back, we’ve cot a conversation going.  FYI:  Some groups are filled with ads and videos, so I can’t find something to comment about.

LinkedIn has the potential to be a prospect pool.  It can be a group of people who might not be prospects but know people with that potential.  You might be connecting with influencers.  It takes effort to see what you’ve got.

Related: How Can People Tell If You Are Sincere?