LinkedIn is Great for Business – er, I Mean SMART Business.

LinkedIn is Great for Business – er, I Mean SMART Business.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

I am NOT a LinkedIn expert, but I do have more than 26,000 LinkedIn connections and almost 30,000 followers. How many do you have?

I may have more visibility and notoriety than you do, but we are equal in exposure and linking possibilities on the LinkedIn platform. And almost all of my LinkedIn connections are the result of people wanting to connect with me because of the value messages I consistently post.

NOTE: I do not accept everyone. I click on everyone’s profile before connection. Many are impressive. Most are average or less. Some are pathetic.


  • Are you utilizing the power of LinkedIn, or just “on” LinkedIn?
  • How compelling is your profile?
  • How SEO is your profile?
  • How many recommendations do you have?
  • How are you communicating with your connections?
  • How expert are you at searching for leads and connections?
  • How many sales leads are you able to secure?
  • How many sales appointments are you able to secure?
  • How are your connections helping your sales numbers?
  • How are your connections helping your career?
  • What are you posting?
  • How often are your postings being liked, commented on and reshared?

Your LinkedIn profile is a powerful social media image. Maybe your most powerful. And you choose exactly what it is and what it says. When others search for you on Google, LinkedIn is one of the first links they click on. You have a chance to make an immediate positive business and social impression.

THE GOOD: When I realized the business significance of LinkedIn, I immediately sought professional help. I hired an expert to help me with the keywords, layout, and what to include on my profile page. But I didn’t keep up.

Several years later, my friend and partner Jen Gluckow told me my LinkedIn profile page sucked. She showed me how the NEW LinkedIn worked and the significance of having a powerful SEO page. She also taught me what and how to post.

It must be working. I had about 21,000 connections and was “LinkedIn flat.” In the two years since I’ve hired her, I have attracted more than 5,000 organic connections. Or should I say, more than 5,000 potential customers. Huge opportunity. At an acquisition cost of ZERO.

REALITY OF LINKEDIN: I receive requests to link and I also get messages. Some are very nice, some are self-serving, some are insincere, and some are stupid (very stupid). And ALL messages are a reflection of the person sending them. That would be you.

Here are some THINGS about LinkedIn to make you think, re-think, and act:

  • Your picture is NOT an option. Show a professional, but approachable, image. Be proud of who you are. Smile.
  • Have a LinkedIn profile that gives me insight, not just history. Not just what you’ve done, but also who you are and how you help. Your profile is both an affirmation of your expertise, and your pathway to attracting connection.
  • DANGER: DO NOT USE stock LinkedIn messages. It shows your laziness, lack of creativity, and overall lack of professionalism. Standard LinkedIn messages need to be replaced with your own. EVERY TIME.
  • If you’re looking for a job, or working a lead, tell me WHY I should connect. (Where’s the value?)
  • If you’re looking for leads, I use the keyword feature (rather than the job title option) in the “advanced search” link to the right of the search box. It’s free, and you’ll find hundreds of people in your industry or in your backyard that you never knew existed.
  • Why are you sending me an e-card on Easter? I’m Jewish. Not a good move. Three words that will help you: Know your connections. Three words to ask yourself with any message you send or post: WHERE’S THE VALUE? E-cards are a total waste, unless it’s family. I don’t want a birthday card, I want a sales lead or a referred connection.
  • If you’re asking me (or people) to join your group, TELL ME WHY I SHOULD (how I will benefit).
  • If you’re asking me to connect you with one of my 2nd degree connections, DON’T. The only way to ask (and the only way I refer) is from 1st to 1st. And tell me in a sentence or two WHY you want to connect. Don’t ask people you don’t know to make connections for you. You have to have a deep connection with your first degree connection first.
  • Asking for a recommendation or endorsement is BAD. If you’re thinking about asking your connections for a recommendation: DON’T. It is perhaps the dumbest, rudest thing on LinkedIn. Think about it, you’re asking people to “please stop what you’re doing and tell me about ME.” Two words: GO AWAY. If you have to ask, it’s probably because you don’t deserve it. Think about that. Give a valuable message, don’t beg for self-serving info.
  • Don’t tell me you “found something interesting” in your group message, especially if the link is to join your MLM down-line or attend your “free” webinar.
  • Allocate 30-60 minutes a day to utilize this vital business social media asset.

THE BAD and THE UGLY: Here are some examples of MESSAGES and INVITES I have received on LinkedIn. Hopefully they’ll make you think, re-think, and act:

BAD: Hi Jeffrey, My name is —- with —-, a leading —- provider that helps organizations connect with their customers through email, mobile, and social networks. I would like to connect about a potential partnership to help BuyGitomer, Inc. increase their interactive marketing ROI.
This is a typical self-serving (and deleted) message. Why not give me a tip, and ask if I’d like more like it? And stop using dead sales words like “ROI,” and “helps organizations.” Help me, don’t sell me.

DUMB: Hi All, As I continue to work on building my network, can I ask that you do me a huge favor and endorse me here on LinkedIn? I would be more than happy to return the favor and endorse you as well. Thank you for your support! (name withheld to avoid public embarrassment)
Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Give me a break. Spare me. Beg someone else.

BAD AND DUMB: I got this in my message box (I get a few like this every week)(subject line) Your Opinion please. (name withheld) Supplier Business Executive

If you’re hoping for an endorsement or a recommendation on LinkedIn, or anywhere, here’s my two-word mantra: EARN IT! Three more words: GIVE ONE FIRST!

LinkedIn is the business social media site of today AND tomorrow. Harness its power, do not abuse its options, and you will reap its rewards.