Why I Linked Out on LinkedIn

linked out on linkedin

Yesterday, I disconnected from two people who had recently asked me to connect on LinkedIn. And this will be my policy moving forward. There seems to be a misunderstanding of how to best use LinkedIn to grow your business. These people are great examples of that misunderstanding.

Linked Out on LinkedIn: Here’s What Transpired. . .

I receive LinkedIn connection requests all the time from people I don’t know. And that’s okay with me. I figure they want to start a dialogue to see if a business relationship makes sense. And usually, that is the case.

Recently, two different people asked to connect. I accepted their connections only to then receive LinkedIn emails from each of them pitching to me.


I don’t even know these people and worse, they don’t know me. They have no idea if I have a need for their product/service. It seemed they made assumptions based on what they could see in my profile.

This is the worst kind of cold calling. It’s like dialing for dollars. What it seems these people did was search LinkedIn for people who meet certain criteria. Once found, they requested connections. And then, once connected, they sent their most salesy LinkedIn email to those people. You know the kind. It goes like this:

“Here’s my great product or service. You should want it. Call me if you do and we’ll talk about it.”


So, what exactly did that have to do with me as a prospect and what I might need? Nothing. It was all about what they wanted and needed.

The Result. . .

I disconnected.

It’s like getting those solicitor calls or spam emails – only worse. It’s worse because I have access to much more information about them. I can see them, so to speak. They aren’t anonymous.

I have the opportunity to build a belief about them – a belief that does not instill trust. If I want to, I could even investigate their profile. I could see who they are connected to and build a belief system around those people as well.

When we understand that sales is about building relationships and trust, we can see how this policy is full of problems. You can’t go from introduction to marriage. You can’t go from connection to a sale. There is work that must be done in between to build a relationship, learn about the prospect, and identify whether they are qualified. Do they need what you have to sell? Can you help them solve a problem?

Once you know the answers to these questions and have developed a trusting relationship with the prospect you can do business with them – and not until then.

LinkedIn is a wonderful platform for building relationships and sharing your expertise. And there is a way to effectively prospect on LinkedIn. When you are looking for an introduction into a company or to an individual, you can see how you are connected to them by using the advanced search function on LinkedIn. When you see a shared connection you can then ask that connection to introduce you.

The key to the success of this tactic is to have really good relationships with the people you are linked to. When you already have their trust, they will be happy to introduce you to others. It is my opinion that this is the only way you should be using LinkedIn to prospect. It is not a cold calling platform.

Take an inventory of how you are using LinkedIn and how others are interacting with you. Make very clear and purposeful decisions about how you are going to build relationships with your contacts.

This is how you will realize the true benefit of the business development opportunities of LinkedIn – and won’t run the risk of being disconnected.

Disconnected Photo via Shutterstock

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Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

27 Reactions
  1. I have the same policy and have had a couple similar experiences in the past couple months. It’s actually tricky to disconnect from someone. I’ve done it before, but for a first-timer it’s almost impossible to find the functionality.

  2. Diane, totally agree. This sort of thing is getting worse. I agree with Robert that the functionality to disconnect from others is hidden. There should be a simpler way to find and disconnect from these people. Maybe there should be spam rating system built into LinkedIn where you can see how spammy someone is before you accept their connection 🙂


  3. That’s sad. I think LinkedIn has a lot of potential when it comes to connecting with people. It used to be real back then. You’re only connected with the people you know but things like these is sad. But then again, you always have the choice to accept their connection or not.

  4. Yes , Ive had the same trouble myself with linked in. Now don’t get me wrong , i love linkedin for other functionality’s and find it a great profiling tool for your business but we need to be able to unlink from people on it as quick as we can link to them. Clayton Coyle might have the answer to this problem.

  5. Diane,

    Yep, I can pretty much relate to your experience. I receive numerous private messages literally selling me their products/services. I even got a couple of my connections spamming me several times a week – indeed, like you, I disconnected them 🙂

    I’ve had enough spam emails everyday (hundreds of them) and getting more from LinkedIn is simply appalling.

  6. Diane:

    I tried to help a friend and contact in business network with removing a person on LinkedIn who did a lot of spamming. It was hard to find the feature of getting rid of a contact at the first glance, but after awhile he found it out by himself.

    As a certified networker I know the process of knowing a person, liking him / her, trusting and then referring and doing business.

    I wonder if we will see a tight business network in the future as an alternative to LinkedIn? Think a Path for your career. What’s your take on Maven? I recently got an invite via LinkeIn.

    • Yes Martin, we might see a tighter network come about. My jury is out on Maven. Haven’t seen much going on with it yet but I’m new to it.

    • Yes. There will always be the option to opt out. Real life connections are always better than online ones.

  7. This. I just updated my LI policy – w/ an amusing list of the various responses I’ve received when I’ve asked these strangers ‘why’ I should connect – because,THIS! I don’t want to open up my network to this kind of b.s. only to have to disconnect. It’s not about sales, cold calls or job prospecting, certainly not about all the spamming and scamming; LI is about being a professional. Thanks for the reminder Diane. FWIW.

  8. I typically love LinkedIn and use it to connect, communicate, and research. It definitely has more good going for it than bad. I just think some people could use an education on how to network effectively.

  9. That is a good protocol. Before accepting an invitation, I always look to see what line of business people looking to connect are in and how are we connected. What I find really frustrating is people that I just connected with or barely know who leave recommendations. If I have never worked on a project with you how do you know you should recommend my skills. This makes the whole LI recommendation function useless.

    • Or how about people who ask you for a recommendation when you’ve never worked with them? How can you grade their service, performance, etc if you haven’t worked with them?

    • I don’t use LinkedIn that much but I often do receive connection requests, some from people I don’t know. I too find it odd when I sometimes receive recommendations from people who hardly know me and what I do.

  10. John @ lead nurturing

    I have been regularly approached by head hunters looking to fill positions with their companies. This has made me not want to add random people. Linkedin is a great tool that can bring so much value, I just wish there was a way to stay away from all the spamming. Great article.

  11. Hello Diane,

    Great article, thank you!

    I think LinkedIn is one of the most misunderstood platforms of them all. I recently wrote an article criticizing those who send generic LI invitations, and believe it or not, some people did not like my saying that I ignore those requests because it’s SOCIAL media.

    We still have a long way to go when it comes to real and heartfelt networking. A lot of people still see the tools and platforms at their disposal as a means to an end…

    • So true! It’s not about what you can get; it’s about what you can give. Build the relationships first. The rest will come

  12. So true Diane…people really don’t understand the value of being on LinkedIn. So many opportunities to make long lasting worthwhile connections are lost because people take the wrong approach to networking and making those connections.