I was one part of, quite frankly, a baffling conservation recently. It went something along the lines of:

Stranger: Hey Nigel, I hear you are the LinkedIn go-to guy?

Me: Err, well, some say so…

Stranger: I need leads, can you help?

Me: Sure, let’s have a chat to discuss what you are looking to achieve?

Stranger: I just need leads, what’s your price? I’m happy for you to do all the work.

Me: What do you do?

Stranger: Does it matter? How much does it cost?

Me: I don’t think I’ll be a good fit for you…

Stranger: What? How do you know that?

Me: It’s just a gut feeling…

Leads can’t be bought. Leads are simply a match with a customer who looks like a prospect. Leads can be generated, though, through relevant, authentic, value-giving relationship building. How? By building trust at every step on the journey.

But I didn’t get around to telling this person that in the above exchange…

What is Autoban?

For those of you that haven’t heard of it, the #Autoban campaign is an attempt, by those of us who train and consult on LinkedIn, to deter the people who think they can automate their LinkedIn success.

Automating LinkedIn Connection Requests and Messages

One frustratingly popular way people automate their LinkedIn strategy is by using software to send automated LinkedIn messages, either attached to automated Connection Requests or automated followup messages.

I’ve written before about why I would always recommend adding a personalised note when you send a Connection request on LinkedIn.

Why?

It adds context and familiarity by jogging the recipient’s memory about where you met. It gives them that extra encouraging nudge to accept the request if you can explain in a brief message how you can help them — without selling! However, a message that is a templated, standardised sales pitch that has clearly been churned out multiple times is just as insulting as receiving no personalised message with a Connection request at all. It’s an instant turn-off.

Automating LinkedIn Profile Views

Another automated tactic people are sometimes guilty of using is automating Profile Views. Unless you are viewing people’s LinkedIn Profiles in private mode, they will receive a notification that you have viewed their Profile. This often prompts them to return the favour and view your Profile, where, if they see something they like, they might get in touch with you to find out more about the products/services you sell.

But where does automating Profile Views really get you?

The answer: nowhere much!

Supporting the Autoban campaign for LinkedIn, robot on laptop

Your time is valuable to you, yes? So, I can see why automation is tempting. But ask yourself this:

If you aren’t willing to invest some time and effort in viewing people’s profiles yourself and taking on board what they are looking for/what they can offer, why should they invest time and effort in you? If you aren’t willing to invest some time and energy in personalising a message to someone, why should they give you the time of day?

Sales and Marketing Leader Dan Huang takes an interesting stance when he answers the question: “Can I automate a LinkedIn message?” on Quora. He believes that, in order to do automation right, moderation has to be a the forefront of any strategy:

“If you implement LinkedIn automation properly, it can be an excellent channel for generating highly qualified leads, and the do automation the right way, it’s simply about being genuine and empathetic. Don’t automate everything and anything, don’t spam, don’t sell, don’t pitch… Use LinkedIn automation tools to help you get in front or noticed by people you want to connect with, but once you’ve made that connection, it’s up to you to build a relationship.”

I simply disagree. I reckon that strategic engagement and valuable and relevant content creation will capture the attention of those you wish to Connect with.

Autoban is not just annoying — it is honestly dangerous for the future of LinkedIn for us all.

Relationships aren’t built on automation; they’re built on good old-fashioned engagement. Positive business opportunities come about after consistently showing you have something of value to offer, through producing high-quality and relevant content and offering your tips and advice to others via commenting and sharing other people’s content.

Build relationships and engage with those you wish to do business with!

Have you been affected by automation on LinkedIn? What are your thoughts? Let me know by commenting on my post.

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