Ten Ways to Avoid Getting Pitches When Asking Questions on LinkedIn

TopTenListOne of the business uses for LinkedIn is to ask and answer questions.

When you help answer questions posed by other professionals, you demonstrate expertise and generosity — thus building visibility and earning a good reputation.

If you want to keep track of questions asked by colleagues, the easiest way to do that is by adding the feed to that specific topic to your Google Reader account. Add more than one topic by organizing them in folders.

Things to watch out for when asking questions

When you're the one asking the question, you'll want to word the question in a such a way that directs members of the network or group in providing the information you need. All too often however, the question is worded in such a way that all it gets are pitches. 

Asking good questions means

(1.) Double checking for lack of confidence in your abilities

When you ask something that reveals superficial familiarity in a subject matter that someone in your role or position should know, the recommendations for services pour in.

(2.) Passing the duh! test

There is a fair share of duh! questions being posted by professionals who define themselves as experts routinely. Might it be worth going over the five attributes of being an expert before posting?

(3.) Showing you've not done your homework

There's an abundance of information out there: wikis, blogs, lists shared daily on things like monitoring tools, analysts who blog, articles, and guides on all kinds of topics. Do some basic search before asking.

(4.) Providing enough information about your objectives

If you ask something generic like "what are the top social media sites?" you might not get to find the ones you're really like to get involved in for your market and customers.

(5.) Putting your question in context

If you pick one tool, let's say it's a traditional marketing tool, and ask your network to rate it against online or digital tools, but give no information as to how it's used and integrated in your marketing, well you won't get the useful insights you were looking for.

(6.) Avoiding veiled attempt at figuring out your own relevance

This is the classic I refer to as "the lie is the in question". If you're asking because all you want is reassurance that your service is cool, you may be in for a disappointment.

(7.) Not tricking the community into doing your work

These are by far the most entertaining as they clearly show that the person behind the question is just sitting back and waiting for the ideas and examples to come in so they can use them as theirs.

(8.) Asking the right way

For example, instead of merely asking if people increased or decreased a budget, inquire about how budgets were reallocated, or something more specific along those lines that will give you insights into what your peers on LinkedIn are doing.

(9.) Not withholding information 

If site users need to interpret your question, they will interpret it to their advantage. You can count on that.

(10.) Not expecting others to calculate the ROI of your activities

Including the time spent asking your LinkedIn question. This is by far the most egregious. Well, by now you should know that a better question is what should I measure to determine the success of my efforts? How about starting with a plan for that one?


Remember that your questions reveal more about you than your answers. Choose your words and context carefully, and you'll avoid getting pitches. Reputation, on LinkedIn or anywhere, is not built on answers alone. People read questions as well.

You can be in control of your experience by doing what it takes to make it useful.

What are some of the strangest and surprising questions you've seen on LinkedIn? When do you ask questions on LinkedIn vs. Twitter, Facebook, or Google+?


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