How to Guarantee Your LinkedIn Pitch Is Rejected

Businesses are built on relationships — not irrelevant pitches

Carter Kilmann
Aug 18 · 5 min read
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Source: Canva

LinkedIn connections seem less and less genuine these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve connected with some awesome people — professionals, creators, entrepreneurs, and the like. But, for every solid connection, I swear I also have five or six schemers that are just looking for a sale.

In fact, 13 of my last 16 messages are from out-of-the-blue LinkedIn connections that clearly want to push an agenda. A couple tried to tantalize me with high-paying leads (for a price). Others pitched vague investment opportunities and refused to provide context unless it was over the phone.

One even inquired about my interest in selling my company.

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Excuse me, what? I run a one-man freelancing business.

What’re you going to buy? My year’s worth of Medium content? Rights to my unfinished book?

My soul?

At least this gentleman contained his sales pitch to one message and let it be. Last month, a health insurance rep sent me three consecutive messages over five days, as if to progress the “conversation” on his own. Is it a conversation if only one person’s speaking?

In his defense, three other reps from his firm had already reached out to me in the past. So, I knew a pitch for an insurance plan was eventually coming.

Another tactic I’ve seen is what I call the “hook and book.” Connoisseurs of this approach will attempt to bait people with a solution to a general business problem and then set up a call.

Here’s an example:

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Of course, ten qualified leads every week would be fantastic. And it could be a legit offer. But I’m not inclined to continue if you push a call without any context or an attempt to see if it’s even relevant first.

Last, but by no means least, please, for the love of all things business, don’t have your sales reps send identical, copy-and-paste pitches to the same people.

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What do all of these cold pitches have in common? They’re forced, formulaic, and irrelevant. So, they’re guaranteed to get rejected.

What’s Wrong With Forced Cold Pitches

Forced cold pitches are disingenuous. And they all start the same way. “Let’s expand our networks.” “I’d love to help each other out.” People use these justifications as ruses to hit unsuspecting strangers with a sales pitch. They try to leverage the open channel of communication to sell something without determining if it’s even relevant.

It’s not wrong to connect with potential customers, but if you exploit that connection with selfish intentions, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

If you form a genuine connection and establish a relationship (one built on sharing value), then you’re not cold pitching strangers. You’re warm pitching a business acquaintance that you’ve at least had a meaningful exchange with.

The idea is to be transparent and easygoing. Don’t be mysterious. Don’t push someone to hop on the phone.

No one is clamoring to pay you for your services. So, don’t assume a cookie-cutter pitch will win people over.

It’s all about presentation and approach. Which are you more likely to respond to? Someone who assumes they have the solution to your business’s problem based on three minutes of surface-level LinkedIn chat. Or someone you’ve established the foundation of a relationship with (even if it’s digital)?

The latter, hands down.

How to Establish a Quality Relationship on LinkedIn

Beyond “don’t forcefully peddle your products or services to strangers,” what else can you do to foster a quality relationship on LinkedIn? It’s called a “connection” for a reason. You have to connect with them for goodness sake.

Ask thoughtful questions, inquire about their perspective on a related event, trend, or industry.

Treat connections like people, not potential dollar figures. Have a real conversation. It’s a much different tone when you actively engage with someone, learn about them or their business, and figure out if you can help each other.

Here are three more principles to incorporate into your LinkedIn lead-generation strategy.

Profiles exist for a reason, use them to your advantage.

It’s like going to a new restaurant and ordering without looking at the menu. LinkedIn provides people’s in-depth backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Why not leverage this wealth of information? Use it to find commonalities — or an entry into a conversation.

“Oh, I see you went to the University of X and studied finance, what did you think of the program?”

“You worked at X company? That’s awesome, I’ve heard they have a great culture. Did you enjoy your time there?”

Get your connections talking about themselves and their interests.

If you happen to have mutual connections (that you actually know), you can use those relationships to establish credibility via social proof. Ask how they’re connected. Explain how you know them. It helps ease doubt and skepticism.

You’re not just a random stranger then, you’re someone who’s worked with a former colleague or a friend.

Not every situation calls for it, but if you can help the targets of your pitches, it’ll go a long way. It’s the idea of using reciprocity to your advantage. For instance, if someone wanted to sell me a service, I’m more inclined to listen and engage if they share my content first. That makes a better first impression and proves they’re not self-focused.

Final Thoughts

Many will argue that pitching is a game of numbers. And I don’t disagree. But it’s a balance between quality and quantity. Pumping out bland, generic, and irrelevant pitches is pointless. Businesses are built on relationships.

So, build relationships.

LinkedIn can be a valuable lead-generating tool. But that’s only possible with relevancy and transparency. If these characteristics don’t describe your communications, you’re wasting time — yours and everyone else’s.

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