Don’t make these 4 common author mistakes on LinkedIn

What behavior turns you off the most when you meet someone for the first time? If you’re like most, you probably don’t like it when someone you’ve just met:

  • Talks only about himself — the monologue from Hell.
  • Steps into a group and hijacks the conversation immediately, changing the subject to her favorite topic — herself.
  • Corners you and makes a sales pitch.
  • Speaks rudely to anyone.

While you probably wouldn’t react to any of this behavior with rude or boorish behavior of your own, you probably make a mental note to avoid anyone who does this the next time you see them.

Do you run the other way?

It works the same way on LinkedIn. Once we figure out who they are, we avoid those people who are takers or are just plain rude.  Let’s be honest: People do business with people they know, like, and trust. LinkedIn users who are annoying miss important opportunities to connect with people who might be in their book’s target audience or are individuals they can learn from.

Online, as in the real world, you want to be someone who knows how to have a conversation, understands that you can learn a lot that’s useful just by listening, and treats others with respect. And that’s just for starters.

4 common mistakes

And yet, I see authors making the same four mistakes over and over again. I can’t point them out in the discussions as they occur, but I can share them here, hoping that putting a spotlight on them helps others understand what they should and shouldn’t do when networking on LinkedIn.

1. Starting a discussion to announce that we can now buy your book. 

That’s an ad, not a discussion. Advertisers will tell you that their biggest problem is getting their prospects’ attention, which is why so many of them are shifting away from straight advertising and putting some of their promotional budget into content marketing. They’ve discovered that “Here’s information you might find helpful” gets more eyeballs than “Buy me! Buy me!

2. Hijacking a thread.

I recently started a discussion thread in a couple of book marketing groups so I could share MediaBistro’s (awesome) list of 20 free sites where you can promote your e-book for free. In a couple of the ensuing discussions, authors posted random self-promotional messages. One described his new book and included a web link for it, while another announced she was a guest blogger and included a link to her guest post. They were off-topic and openly promotional. Do you think they added to their network on that influential site? Not likely.

3. Send a private “buy my book” or “use my service” LinkedIn mail message.

I get these all the time. Do you? I wish that just once the information would be about a book I might actually be interested in. I have somehow managed to be connected to several employees of a book marketing services company. They bombard my LinkedIn inbox with the same marketing messages over and over and over. Every time I think I’ve disconnected myself from all of them, I get another “check us out!” message from one of them. And as if that’s not bad enough, they all sign their messages with “Love.” Love? On LinkedIn? In a message to a stranger? Really? As a result, I don’t refer any authors to them.

4. Being disrespectful.

Rude behavior isn’t necessary. And it’s unprofessional. LinkedIn is a site for business professionals. We’re expected to behave like we’re business professionals, even if we aren’t. This isn’t a chat room where people use avatars instead of head shots and don’t use their real names. We know your name, what you look like, and where you work. So be nice — even if someone isn’t nice to you. It will take you a lot farther.

Online social networking works the same way as in-person, real-world social networking. As my grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

What tips can you offer for doing it the “right” way?

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  1. I so agree with your points. Really, rudeness should be a crime. And on Linked In, people do NOT get points for being rude, and they get negative points for self-promoting. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Thanks, Pamela! I’m glad this resonates with you. I’m with you on rudeness, too. I’ve come across one individual in some of the groups I participate in on LI who is so toxic that I leave the group as soon as I see his name pop up.

      Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to comment.

      : )


  2. Glad you brought this up. My experience with LI has been mainly positive, but when certain individuals dominate the discussion thread and shut up others who have different opinions, I get out. For me, that is rudeness.

    1. Thanks, Penelope. I’m with you. I’d never tolerate that type of behavior in a real-world professional gathering, so I don’t tolerate it online either. I have trouble “hearing” when people are being mean or rude.


  3. I enjoyed the post and can’t thank you enough for the link to 20 places to promote your book for free. I had done research and hadn’t found some of these sites. I’ll add them to my lis:)

    1. Thanks, Toni. Interestingly enough…when I shared that specific link in one LinkedIn group for authors, I was lectured because I wasn’t really starting a discussion — I was only sharing something helpful. Go figure.

      : )


    1. Thanks, Lae. I’ve done the same thing. I let one advertising message slide by in my inbox, but when it becomes a habit, I disconnect from them.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  4. Agree with you on all fronts. There are far too many folks that only have eyes for themselves. What happened to the way we were brought up to respect others rather than bore them to death?

    1. I think social media fuels the self-centered side of people, Tom. What do you think?


  5. Social media and self-centredness. Yes. Many, it seems, use Linkedin so. I avoid getting involved in writing groups because, here, the ego-centrism and “I know it all” irk the piss out of me. I can get quite caustic and cynical, having a low tolerance for stereotyping, status quo, cliche-driven thinking (to misuse a word). Aside from the cliche-driven sexual stereotyping thread, my favorite (?!) was the one post telling everyone that he knew all there was to writing while noting before beginning that he hated people who…. At the same time, I can get pretty damned pedantic… and then appreciate someone tossing me in my face. BUT (“but”?) I find irony does not play on the Internet; so…do not the irony-ridden get labeled as nasty and destructive?

  6. This article points out the basics of internet manners. I only wish that more people would read and follow advice like this. Thanks for posting it. 🙂

    1. Joan, I’m not finding that word in the blog post. Can you tell me more specifically what you’re referring to?


  7. Sandra, I’m new to this and after I sent my comment, I received a message that said (I don’t remember the exact words) something about my comment being held for moderation.
    Give me time. I’ll catch on with the proper procedure! Joan

    1. Now I understand! “Moderation” is blog talk for “the site owner needs to read and approve your comment before it shows up on the site because she gets a lot of spam comments that are just plain weird.”

      Keep getting out there and learning. You’re on the right track!

      : )


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