How would you respond to this LinkedIn message?

“Catherine, I hope you’re having a great day. My name is Dr. So-and-So, leadership and empowerment coach. It’d be great to connect to learn more about your work, and review if there’s a fit for my services within your organization or for yourself. Looking forward to connecting.”

My first thought: there’s a guy who hasn’t had enough to do over the Thanksgiving weekend. He was on LinkedIn, trolling for connections-of-connections? Really?

Second thought: I’m pretty sure there’s not a fit for his services here. He leads and empowers people to find a career they love. I found mine a long time ago, without his help. And when that one ended, I found another one! Also, I don’t actually have “an organization.”

I was all set to click “Ignore” when I thought about my exchange last week with a writer friend who habitually rejects LinkedIn connection requests that scream, “I want to sell you something.”

They make no attempt to look at what I’ve posted or the articles I’ve written” he said. “They’ll say something generic like, ‘Hey, it looks like we know some of the same people. Let’s connect.’

 And then I look at what they do, and it’s clear that if I accept, the next message I’ll get from them will be a sales pitch. So, I just cut that off at the pass and ignore them. I don’t feel great about it, but I also don’t want more “noise” on my LinkedIn feed.”

I generally do the same thing, don’t you? When I get connection requests that are obviously going to lead straight to “buy my stuff,” I ignore them.

I do feel some tension about it, though. What if I’ve misjudged the person? Would it hurt me to have one more connection? What would be wrong with having an exchange, and just saying NO when they offer me coaching or copywriting or website design?

In that online dialogue with my friend, I came up with an idea. I think I should start saying “yes” to the people who are palpably ready to pounce the moment I let them into my world.

That way, I can practice saying “no” to their sales pitch. And the practice would be good for me, I’m sure. I’ve long thought my discomfort with “being sold to” is connected to my discomfort with selling.

If I don’t cut their pitch off at the pass …
If I put myself in the position to respond to a direct offer from them …
If I sit with the agita that creates for me …

Maybe I’ll also get more comfortable with the process of making offers myself. And with hearing “No, thanks” once in a while.

So, here’s my plan. Later this week, I’ll accept Dr. What’s-his-name’s connection request. I expect we’ll have an exchange about how his services would fit for my organization or for me. It’ll be a great chance for me to practice being comfortable with that kind of conversation.

I’ll let you know how it goes and what I learn from this experiment.

You’re welcome to play along with me; chances are pretty good you have a similar overture in your inbox. Or you will soon. Are you willing to open a conversation, see where it leads, and get comfortable responding to it?

Share your experience in the comments below.