Have you ever been restricted – or even locked out of LinkedIn and don’t know why? About 3-4 times a week I get this email: “Help! I’ve been locked out of LinkedIn! What can I do about it?” If your business is fueled by your connections and activity on LinkedIn, this can be a very big headache – costing you bit time and money.
While there are several things that can get you restricted on LinkedIn (something other than your name in the last name field, duplicate accounts, explicit content), it has been my experience that most people have their accounts restricted because they automated too many processes on LinkedIn.
Image 1: LinkedIn Account Restriction
Now don’t get me wrong, I do automate some of my activities – and even recommend it. But you must work within LinkedIn’s End User Agreement and you must be conservative in your activities!
Here are some LinkedIn automation DON’Ts and what to DO instead!
Don’t automate SPAM.
By this I mean:
- Don’t use 3rd party apps to excessively automate profile viewing.
- Don’t use 3rd party apps to excessively automate inviting people to connect.
- Don’t use 3rd party apps to excessively automate sending messages to your connections.
In fact, LinkedIn doesn’t want you to use any 3rd party automation tools at all – and has been actively suing both the software platforms and the users of many of these tools, coming down particularly hard on what it considers “data scraping tools.” Having said that, I DO automate some of my LinkedIn activity…at the very least, if you abuse these automation tools your account can be restricted or shut down completely!
Do automate repetitive activities.
I actually do use a tool to automatically send messages to very specific LinkedIn connections (Linked Helper Chrome Extension). But I carefully curate these connections, I carefully curate the content I send them, (I never “sell” them anything in these messages) and I never do more than 200 private messages a day. My rule of thumb is: I make sure every message I send using this automated process, I would have sent manually. I usually only send my carefully curated list:
- A post I wrote specifically for people like them
- Or a tool I discovered that will help them in their LinkedIn marketing and lead gen practices
- Or a free webinar I might be doing
- Or a book I read that I think they might like.
I use the tool because it saves my assistant time and me money!
Do delegate repetitive activities.
I have my assistant do some of the more repetitive daily activities on LinkedIn for me. Since I get hundreds of invitations a week, she goes through and manually messages each would-be connection. Since I am at my 30K connection limit, I have to carefully choose who I accept into my network. (Nicole also has the enjoyable task of deleting people from my network – made 3x as hard by the new user interface.)
Image 2: Responding to invitations.
She goes through every connection request, sends a unique message to each person, and leaves the relevant and/or personalized invitations for me to respond to. She also manages my inbox alerting me to important messages and posts my contact as updates and (when needed) to Publisher for me.
This is a practice I could fully automate, but choose not to, because I think it’s important that human eyes are laid on each and every person who invited me to connect.
Don’t automatically add everyone to whom you connect to your email automation list.
One practice (that drives me absolutely insane) is when people connect to me on LinkedIn and then just add me to their email lists. Just because I agreed to connect with you does not give you permission to spam me with your newsletter that I didn’t sign up for! (In fact, I wrote a whole article on this topic!) I am already signed up to all the newsletters I can handle. If you just automatically add me to your newsletter I will not only unsubscribe from it – I will also report you! (And disconnect from you on LinkedIn – another task my assistant does for me.) If you want to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your automated email marketing process, then simply ask me to opt in! Which brings me to…
Do respond to every invite with a free offer/lead magnet.
When I respond to invitations and new connections, I always give them a variety of free resources. My assumption is that people are connecting with me because they want to learn more about LinkedIn. So, I am happy to provide them with info! I would highly recommend creating a “lead magnet”, a piece of content that your connections would find highly valuable and providing it to them for free.
Image 3: Sending a Message to all Connections.
I add about 50 people a week to my email list- because they OPT IN to get my info! Yes, I would be adding hundreds if I just shoved every unsuspecting contact into my email list – but not only is that a bad practice, it’s actually illegal in some countries (like Canada). So I’d rather have fewer people who actually wanted to hear from me, rather than a bigger list that could get me shut down on LinkedIn, get my website blacklisted or get me sued!
LinkedIn automation can be useful, but only done in moderation with highly curated content and connections. LinkedIn can be a great platform for driving people to your automated marketing list, but only when you give them the option of opting in – otherwise you risk getting your account blacklisted and possibly sued! So carefully consider what, and how you will automate on LinkedIn!