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.

Paying with Debit CardI 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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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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32 Responses to Don’t make these 4 common author mistakes on LinkedIn
  1. Karin Mesa
    June 18, 2013 | 7:49 pm

    Great advice, Sandra. Thanks. Manners go a long way and sincere interest in others makes a good friend.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 18, 2013 | 8:15 pm

      Karin, you expressed that beautifully. Thank you!


  2. Larry Edwards
    June 18, 2013 | 8:40 pm

    Huzzah. Excellent. Well said. Now, about me and my … arrrgghhhhh 😉

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 18, 2013 | 8:43 pm

      Heh-heh. I love your sense of humor, Larry!

      : )


  3. pamela
    June 18, 2013 | 9:13 pm

    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.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 18, 2013 | 9:26 pm

      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.

      : )


  4. Penelope J
    June 19, 2013 | 2:43 am

    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.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 19, 2013 | 4:25 pm

      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.


  5. Toni Nelson
    June 19, 2013 | 2:07 pm

    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:)

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 19, 2013 | 4:27 pm

      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.

      : )


  6. Patricia Benages
    June 19, 2013 | 5:14 pm


    I am new to LinkedIn as well as a newer author. I have been following your comments and have found them to be most informative. I appreciate your input.


    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 19, 2013 | 5:35 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful, Pat. And thanks for the kind words. You made my day!

      : )


  7. Ian Lauder
    June 22, 2013 | 7:19 pm

    It would be useful to you if I could disagree with any of your points, Sandra, but I can’t.

  8. PV Kulkarni
    June 25, 2013 | 1:18 pm

    Self-aggrandizement is a sure way to keep people away, is a sure way to failure.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 25, 2013 | 1:44 pm

      So true!


  9. Lae
    June 25, 2013 | 2:22 pm

    Marvellous post. I totally agree. Indeed, I deleted a couple of contacts because of those very annoying quirks.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 25, 2013 | 2:40 pm

      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!


  10. Tom Ault
    June 27, 2013 | 4:34 pm

    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?

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 27, 2013 | 6:04 pm

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


  11. James L. Secor
    June 29, 2013 | 11:00 pm

    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?

  12. Wendy
    November 20, 2013 | 7:49 pm

    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. 🙂

  13. Joan West
    December 8, 2013 | 6:36 pm

    Thanks, Sandra. We writers can use all the tips we can get.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 8, 2013 | 7:28 pm

      You’re welcome, Joan!


  14. Joan West
    December 8, 2013 | 6:37 pm

    I don’t know what you mean by “moderation.” Please explain. Thanks, Joan

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 8, 2013 | 7:29 pm

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


  15. Joan West
    December 9, 2013 | 4:37 pm

    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

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 9, 2013 | 4:45 pm

      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!

      : )


  16. Joan West
    December 9, 2013 | 4:58 pm

    Thanks Sandy!

  17. Pat
    January 27, 2015 | 12:40 am

    Ooops. Have I done some of these? Sorry. Don’t have LinkedIn yet though.

    • Pat
      January 27, 2015 | 12:41 am

      Rude wasn’t one of them (gratefully)

    • Sandra Beckwith
      January 27, 2015 | 12:51 am

      Well, hey, you tell me!


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