Several Words on LinkedIn Spammers (with a Modifiable Pitch Response Template)

Scott Holstad
Jul 3 · 12 min read

Hello! Quite some time ago, about eight months I think, I wrote a short piece in which I (re)stated the section I have written on my LinkedIn profile summary (the About section beneath one’s photo & title) concerning my stance on people who try to pitch me, about how I’m not on LinkedIn to buy/sell anything, but to “build & maintain the highest quality network possible in order to aid others when possible,” explaining that’s how I feel professional networking should be. In essence, for those who did not understand, I was attempting to assert that I do not welcome spam. (You can find that short original piece at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6464144068808101890/.)

That post received thousands of views & dozens of Likes & Comments & both in response to that, as well as simply people coming across what is essentially a template they admire or with which they agree. I’ve heard from hundreds of you personally with universal agreement on my stance, sharing my disdain/disgust with LI spammers & even people asking permission to use my paragraph on their own profiles! (BTW, no need to ask. I welcome anyone who wishes to use it, modify it for their own purposes, share it, etc., to do so. Consider it “open source.”)

I’ve been on LinkedIn for at least 14 years, building what is about a 20,000-person network over that time, & one that consistently continues to grow. And I’ve actually discussed this very topic over the past few days with several different people. One of the points I made was that it wasn’t like this when I joined 14 years ago. I don’t think it was a decade ago either, nor even five years ago. It seems these “spammer” people have appeared out of nowhere over the past few years & they’re annoying a heck of a lot of people, especially other “old timers” like me who remember back when there was a type of “LinkedIn etiquette” people followed. In fact, believe it or not, I still have a Kindle book from a few years ago that discusses how to “succeed” on LinkedIn & one of the things especially emphasized was don’t go around pitching everyone you meet, don’t spam, don’t hard sell people, that there’s a LI etiquette, etc. That seems quaint now, but that book wasn’t published THAT long ago!

As I just remarked to someone, I know people have to make a living & I don’t begrudge them that, but here on LinkedIn, they need to know there are different ways of pursuing that based on such variables such as environment (LI — professional networking — versus a site that allows or encourages advertising, marketing, etc., perhaps through one of the Google ad programs), as well as one’s target audience (“marks!”) (LI vs Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) & so on. Since most of these people have titles or are in departments such as Business Development or Sales Manager or Account Executive, I would think many of these people at least took some college classes in business, marketing, etc., if not even actually getting a full degree in the field. But one doesn’t need a piece of paper to learn how to become a knowledgeable, experienced, successful professional in many fields, & IMO, this is one of the fields for which one does not need a degree.

I have always been very thorough in reading & researching any topic or field in which I expect or will be expected to “know” something professionally & with all of the online classes currently available, there’s no reason anyone couldn’t take classes in virtually any field, such as sales, online sales, sales presentations, marketing, social media marketing, etc. I have taken numerous online classes from a variety of institutions & entities on a very wide range of subjects over the years, in addition to my formal education leading to my various degrees. In other words, I think if you want to be successful, as well as appear to be a professional that people will take seriously, it behooves anyone to make sufficient preparations, regardless of their styles, mine being relentless research & education. Indeed, I don’t come from a sales or marketing background & I’m not a “natural” salesman, but I’ve had some entrepreneurial urges on occasion & have started some five businesses or so, most in fields in which I’m an SME, but at least one that was pretty foreign to me & which would be sales-based. I quickly discovered that I would have to become an expert at virtually every aspect of business, as well as other fields, so I immersed myself in reading, research, classes, interviewing SMEs in these areas, etc., to get up to speed to succeed. I had to learn newer areas, aside from the usual business model, business plan, budgeting, forecasting, market research & analysis, etc. The point is I also had to learn sales, marketing, & advertising, so I gave it my all, as one should, & I learned about different types, methods & strategies for marketing, advertising, selling, whether in the physical world or online. Personally, I would never think of going into a new field, job, career, or even as an experienced vet, without staying current or learning new models or techniques in order to keep up with the times, know my environments, audiences & how/when to modify my tactics for each such situation, not only to succeed & make a profit, but to ensure I didn’t do the opposite & annoy potential customers through ignorance or disregard of how to make the right pitch under the right circumstances.

Yet, not only does it seem that these LinkedIn spammers must be fairly new to the platform, but virtually none of them have done their homework, their due diligence, so instead of observing long standing LI “etiquette,” 85%+ just push themselves on/at you in ways most people often view as rude, unwanted, certainly unsolicited, & so on, & I don’t base that on my own biases, but on the universal feedback I’ve gotten from hundreds of people here on LinkedIn who are tired of being pitched (or basically spammed) by apparent newbies who don’t know how things work, or once worked on LI, nor do they care. And I would wager, most of these are definitely unwelcome.

Still, I receive an unreal number of phone calls, messages & emails daily, can’t possibly listen/see each, even less so respond to most. So those I wish to respond to are ones I deem “legitimate,” & certainly not spam — until recently. You see, I do not comprehend how or why people pitch me because if they even bothered to take 30 mere seconds to actually LOOK at my profile, there are not only several clues that I’m not worth pitching, but there are also some literal & very obvious statements asserting no pitches are welcome. And yet I receive more & more, most showing total ignorance of me, the entities with which I’m associated, my status, my stances, etc., thus showing themselves to be moronic amateurs from whom, even if I were interested in their products or services, I would never work with personally due to their display of ignorance, disregard for me as a possible customer & lack of professionalism. And yet these people just never seem to learn.

The ones that REALLY tick me off (most of them are international, & I’ve not yet figured out the significance of that, but surely there must be?) are the ones who may have glanced at my profile, or titles or whatever, but clearly never spent the 30 seconds necessary to view the Experience section of my profile where, for a long time, I’ve typically chosen to list a few of the 35+ professional organizations of which I’m a member. The few I do choose to list are there for various personal & professional reasons. Thus, my first four listings before reaching my actual company of which I’m President are for professional organizations/associations. Seeing those should be an immediate clue to the fact that these are not for-profit corporations & if one were to actually read the entry for each (which would take a total of 30 seconds), one would see the literal association descriptions or mission statements listed beneath each, with their URLs for further information if one wanted one. Thus, above my actual company, I have listed that I am a member of ASIS International, of AFCEA International (Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association), of the America Foreign Service Association & at the very top & what is therefore displayed when one sees me listed in various networks, etc., even though it is NOT my company, is that I am a member of AOC: The Association of Old Crows. And yet every day, I get deluged with messages, emails & the apparent newer tactic of sending connection requests with a pitch/message (I will NEVER accept any connection request containing a pitch — indeed, I turn down the majority of the connection requests I receive). What is so infuriating, & for whom I am now displaying my lack of patience, are those boasting they can boost AOC’s revenue by anywhere from 30% to 300% in the next year, free up key personnel to go about other jobs & especially those pitching me to outsource AOC’s employees, or at least its call center, to other countries, almost always India. It’s a little staggering & mind blowing to me every time I see one of these. Such people are merely advertising the fact that they never bothered looking at my profile & are simply going by the name of the entity to which I’m attached when one views lists of potential connections, company employees, etc. They assume AOC is a business … because they’re lazy & stupid! All it would take for them to not humiliate themselves (the irony being that they’re unaware they’re doing so), to not display their lack of professionalism, their complete disregard for me — & you — in not bothering to glance at my profile would be for them to spend one minute doing what any professional in any field should do — their due diligence. In this case, that would simply entail glancing at my profile for a very brief period! If they only did so, they would then find out that the Association of Old Crows is NOT a giant money-making corporation in desperate need of outsourcing, but a non-profit professional organization with a very narrow & specific focus with its own self-description pasted beneath their name on my profile. My listing for AOC reads thusly:

The Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government, defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.

If the term “Association” (as opposed to “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” “LLC”) doesn’t tip one off, the description should. At least, I would think so. However, if one still doesn’t understand what AOC is, I also have their URL listed, so all one needs to do is click on https://www.crows.org to be taken to AOC’s website, where the homepage has been featuring upcoming conferences like “Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare Systems Engineering,” webinars on topics like radar, & educational courses on “Space EW,” among others. In addition, the words at the very top of the page read “ Advancing Electromagnetic Warfare TOGETHER.” Finally there is an obvious menu at the top of the page that includes categories such as Events, Programs, Resources, MEMBERSHIP, About, & so forth. Corporate websites typically do not have a MEMBERSHIP category… If after spending 60 seconds on this website one STILL doesn’t get that AOC is NOT Microsoft, Cisco or whatever these people assume, there is little on earth that will help them comprehend the meaning of language, let alone tell how to interpret basic descriptions & topics.

HOWEVER, anyone pitching me should not even have to go to those lengths because there are obvious clues AND outright visible statements on my profile that cannot be misunderstood to let anyone intending to pitch me know to not waste their time or mine. Yet when they go ahead & DO pitch me anyway or try to sell me on products/services, I continue to be astonished at their temerity, stubbornness, & idiocy, to which is owed only a response letting them know how stupid they are (possibly illiterate?), how I occasionally complain to LinkedIn about them & some profiles do get deleted, & that I will block them permanently. Feel free to accuse me of unnecessarily wasting MY time or of accusing me of immaturity & I’ll likely admit to each & much more, but while I don’t bother responding to the vast majority of the pitches I receive, I admit I sometimes DO respond to the latter I just described because I just can’t let them go without making them understand they just made themselves look like fools. In fact, one could possibly assert I’m actually doing them a favor in showing them their mistakes & attempting to teach them better, more productive strategies so they can actually become successful, rather than inevitably losing their jobs due to unnecessary failures on sites like this. So my (“scathing?”) commentary is simply well intended constructive criticism, right?

I have spent too many times writing custom responses to each of these who pitch AOC, but they’ve become so frequent that I’ve realized I can (& have) create a modifiable rejection response template that I can simply paste into any response. And for the sake of those of you suffering from similar annoyances, I’m going to post it here, with the reminder that it’s totally modifiable, & stating that anyone & everyone is free to use this for themselves if & when they wish — no need to write to ask my permission. Warning — it’s possible one might consider this a tad “harsh.” Here it is:

LinkedIn Pitch/Spam Rejection Template:

Okay, I admit — maybe a little harsh. Perhaps overly so. But do these people deserve any tact or diplomacy when they’ve shown you no respect & proven they’ve not even bothered to look at your profile, that they have no regard for you at all yet they expect you to buy something from them? Quite simply, if you think that statement was a bit over the top, you haven’t been exposed to my reactions/responses when people try to gouge me, bully me, sucker me, push me around (even metaphorically), unnecessarily play hard ball with me, etc. As has happened a few times very recently. (The other party typically ends up deeply regretting their decisions/actions.) This is me actually being gentle with people who annoy me. Everyone has their own style, though, so if anyone reading this wants to take or “borrow” the template, as I said, it’s obviously totally modifiable, so those desiring to can easily soften it up if desired while still getting their point across. Frankly, you can create your own template independent of this, so you will be prepared to respond to those who contact you too frequently or obnoxiously or for any reason at all.

As you know, I have a tendency to write thesis-length pieces & this is already 3,000 words. So I’m stopping. As always, I welcome any comments. If anyone has their own spam rejection template, feel free to share. And if you disagree with mine or my tone or anything, feel free to voice your complaints. Please provide detail or an explanation if you do so. There may be some reading this who are in sales or are account execs (actually sales professionals are among my most frequent readers, ironically) who might object to this, who may have a different view & would be like to try to justify the practice I criticize in this piece. Feel free to comment & offer an explanation, etc. I think many of us would appreciate hearing your reason for engaging in this business model on this platform.

Incidentally, I meant to write & publish this several days ago, but I just had neck surgery & haven’t felt very well. However, when checking my messages earlier today, I found SIX such spam/pitches awaiting me! Thus, I knew I had to publish this immediately without the benefit of a rewrite, so my apologies for that. Thank you & happy professional networking!

Scott C. Holstad

President/COO — Retired

WireMe Designs, LLC

July 2, 2019

My LinkedIn profile is located here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottholstad/.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

Scott Holstad

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Too much school, too much reading, some decent writing & editing, too many diverse interests. I’m sometimes here: hankrules2011.com. Also at LI.