"How to behave on LinkedIn" TALKING SALES 219:

John Smibert

"How to network and engage effectively on LinkedIn" - A 'Talking Sales' discussion hosted by John Smibert

Does much of the behaviour you experience on LinkedIn turn you off people who want to engage with you? It does me! More importantly does your activity turn people off you?

What turns me off people on LinkedIn?:

  • I see many requests for connection every day from people who offer me no reason for us to be connected (Result? I IGNORE).
  • When I do read a profile I get no insight as to any reason to be connected (You wasted my time, I IGNORE)
  • I get people sending me messages promoting themselves or their product or service and they no nothing about me and my needs - (THIS IS SPAM, I report to LinkedIn)
  • Articles or posts that promote themselves & products and offer nothing of value - they turn me off.
  • I see aggressive and rude behaviour in comments on articles, posts and group discussions

Adam GraySo when I met with B2B Social Selling expert Adam Gray, I took the opportunity to ask him how we  should behave on LinkedIn in order to network and engage more effectively.

Adam pointed out that LinkedIn is "a platform through which you can exhibit who you are. People want to feel that you're their friend, they want to feel that you're engaging, they want to feel that you're approachable"

And yet many behave in a way that turn others off or wastes their time.

Adam went on to make a string of valuable recommendations that will help us to engage more effectively and to create value for those with whom we would like to establish a relationship. And isn't that the primary value of LinkedIn - effective networking and engagement.

See the full interview to learn more.  This interview is likely to be valuable for sales leaders, sales managers and professional salespeople, marketeers, and business consultants.


Adam Gray is co-founder of Digital Leadership Associates and a strategist, speaker and author in the effective application of social media in business.  

Subscribe to future videos           See previous 'TALKING SALES' videos here


John: Welcome back again, John Smibert here with Adam Gray - welcome back, Adam!

Adam: Hi, John - nice to see you again!

John: Hey Adam, we've had a couple of good discussions on social, and Adam is a world leader in the world of social, particularly in the area of sales and marketing. I wanted to get down to behaviour, if you like, in social. When you talk about teenagers using Facebook, there's a lot of behavioural issues, but I think there's a lot of behavioural issues on LinkedIn too. How do we behave and what's our tone of voice?

Adam: It's interesting that you should ask that, because I think that it's a platform through which you can exhibit who you are. People want to feel that you're their friend, they want to feel that you're engaging, they want to feel that you're approachable, and often what we see is people who, by virtue of the fact they are writing in the third person for example... They think it makes them sound professional; it makes them sound pompous!

John: Oh, I hate that! "John Smibert is a world leader in..."

Adam: Absolutely - there's nothing worse than reading that. The other thing we often make mistakes in is we think that the people that we're talking to have the same degree of interest and longevity in the articles that we're giving them as we do, when it's our pet subject. Often people... "I've got 10 things I must say to you for you to make this sale, so I'm going to do a 10-thing article." We all know that if we go to a one-day seminar or a one-hour seminar, we pick up one or two things from it. So if you've got 10 things to say, let's write 10 short articles rather than one long article, because it makes the things more accessible. You know as well as I do that if I send you something which is 3,500 words, you store it and you go, "I'll read that when I've got time."

John: "One day..." [laughs]

Adam: Yes, and one day never comes, does it? It never comes.

John: I have so many videos I've put away to watch at a later date and never get there.

Adam: Absolutely. So the bit that says this is a two-minute read, that's the one that you're going to read now, and if it's pertinent and it's valuable, you'll remember it.

John: That's why I try and keep these interviews to five minutes, to get a meaty chunk of information out there. You're saying that's the right approach.

Adam: Absolutely right. An interesting analogy is that when you go to YouTube to watch something, you've got a choice of pretty much everything that's ever been recorded in the history of the world. You choose that one particular song by Eric Clapton and you press play on it, and then you get two minutes into it and you're searching for something else. You've got a choice of everything that has ever been, and you can't be bothered to listen to the whole of one thing! People have a very short attention span now, because they're time poor and they have wandering thoughts, and we need to make sure that we're keying into that behaviour. It doesn't make it the right behaviour, but it makes it the behaviour that people have today.

John: And if they're engaged, they're likely to delve further into a subject that they're really interested in. If our subject is interesting, I'll drill down to the next one and the next one and the next.

Adam: And let's remember that we're trying to build a habitual change in these people. If you're going to sit and watch a one-hour video of mine, that's not as engaging as if you watch 12 five-minute videos of mine, because you've got to press the button 12 times to play those 12 videos.

John: I can't imagine people wanting to watch two of these bald-headed gentlemen talking for more than five minutes! [laughter] Tone of voice you mentioned. Tone of voice to me is very important on social. What do you mean by tone of voice?

Adam: Again we use the word "authentic". You have to be your authentic self; if you can, write and speak on video in the same way that you would speak to somebody, because you want to give them an insight into what it's like to be dealing with you.

John: Yes.

Adam: If you seem like a friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, engaging kind of individual, that's so much more attractive for me to have a deal with than somebody that is boring and dull and self-centred.

John: Or overpowering. There's nothing more unattractive than "I'm the expert, here's my expertise, everybody listen," rather than saying, "Hey, that's an interesting point. I've got this thought. What do you think about that?" and having a good tone of voice type dialogue.

Adam: Yes, absolutely. And that dialogue is what you're trying to build in the virtual world in order that people get an insight of what it's going to be like when they meet face to face.

John: I think that's great. The other thing is I run a group called the Strategic Selling Group, and it's great to see good dialogues happening, but every now and again somebody writes a whole article in a comment. There's only so many words you can put into a comment, but then they do it in the next comment and the next comment, and I think, "Hang on, you're not going to get everybody reading that. Just make the key point and encourage dialogue on it."

Adam: Yes, that's absolutely right.

John: From a behaviour point of view, any particular behaviours that we've got to be careful about?

Adam: You mentioned about being overpowering. The art is to lead people by the hand rather than shove them.

John: Help them, help them.

Adam: Yes. If I can give you a little bit of information which makes you hungry, and I give you a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more, I'm building trust, I'm building an engaging behaviour between the two of us. Whereas if I say, "These are the facts, this is what you need to do..."

John: "And what you're saying is rubbish..." [laughs] I just turn it off.

Adam: Yes, and we all to a greater or lesser extent have our own way of projecting that view, if we're not careful.

John: Okay, alright - that's a good, interesting discussion. I think from a tone of voice, dialogue point of view you're absolutely right. We need to consider that there might be a thousand or a hundred people on the other end of this dialogue going on and we need to treat them all with respect, it's like you're meeting somebody and having a dialogue like the two of us right now. By the way, Adam and I only just met 24 hours ago anyway and I'm loving spending time with you, because your tone of voice and your behaviour encourages me to dialogue.

Adam: Absolutely - thank you very much indeed.

John: Thank you very much, Adam - I think that's good value. Send me a note, write down below, and I'll get Adam to give us some feedback on that.

Adam: Thank you!


See previous discussions with Adam Gray:

"Embrace Social or your sales will suffer"

"Why invest in your personal brand"



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