Surefire ways to send would-be LinkedIn contacts fleeing in terror

A lot of virtual ink has been spilled on the subject of how to increase the size of your network on LinkedIn. And one of the best tips is to write a personal note to prospective LinkedIn connections, instead of relying on the soulless boilerplate default text.

Make it compelling, persuasive, charming and engaging. Remind your potential connection how they know you, and what your relationship means to you, like…

  • I really enjoyed working with you on the Chan project. You’re a talented, street-savvy project manager, and I’d love the chance to work together again sometime.
  • You’re one of the most reliable coworkers I’ve ever had, and I hope we can keep in touch.
  • I learned a lot from you when we were working at Flegmar, and I hope someday I can return the favour.

It’s a chance to take an otherwise cold, impersonal transaction, and reach out – even in a small way – in a human, humane manner.

All well and good.

But maybe that’s not what you want to do. After all, not everyone wants to connect with other people.

Maybe you’re trying to vanish without a trace. Maybe you’re sick of social networking, and while you feel some residual obligation to send invitations, you want to be certain they’ll result in complete social media oblivion.

This list, my friend, is for you. Here are a dozen surefire ways to make sure nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to come within a hundred-meter radius of your profile:

  • I have the most wonderful pyramid scheme to tell you about.
  • Interested in connecting? I think our businesses have some real alignment potential, and that project you mentioned in the breakout session could have real legs. By the way, I’m in an open marriage. I’m just saying.
  • I’m really trying to build my network back up, as all of my other connections have died violently under mysterious circumstances.
  • Once we connect, I can tell you how to gain 10,000 new Twitter followers with just one click!
  • I figure, I’m already opening your mail, following you home and cutting your face out of all your family photographs. Why not connect on LinkedIn?
  • Remember me from high school? I undermined your self-esteem with ridicule and social exclusion at every opportunity. Ha, fun times!! Would love to reconnect.
  • We met briefly in the elevator at SxSWi. Well, I say “met”, but you probably don’t remember. People usually don’t. I can’t really say I blame them… I wouldn’t remember someone like me. OH, GOD, I’M SO FULL OF SELF-LOATHING. Would you like to join networks?
  • Good news: you’re one of my known past associates that I am allowed to communicate with!
  • I’m using LinkedIn to connect with people whom I don’t actually like, but who I believe could do me some good professionally.
  • You’re the thing that’s been missing from my network! You know, like the way you can’t make crystal meth without pseudoephedrine.
  • Every once in a while, I choose someone to be a “pity contact”. Today’s your lucky day!
  • Remember, we were all in that thing last year together. You know the one I mean. And if I’m going down, I’m taking you with me.

Got your own suggestions for connection repellent? Real-life examples of LinkedIn trainwrecks? That’s what the comments are for – please share! (Or tweet with the #LinkedOut hashtag.)

Speakers: how to use Twitter to magnify your speech’s online impact

Not to sound like a telemarketer, but can I have half a minute of your time?

How about if it does wonders to increase your profile?

Here’s how I want you to spend those 30 seconds. Open up your presentation file and click on your title slide – the one with your contact info.

Add two words at the bottom – like this:

Twitter: robcottingham

(Make sure you add your Twitter user name instead of “robcottingham”. Otherwise you’ll find this tip works marvellously for me, not so well for you.)

Save the file, and you’re done. If this took less than 30 seconds, use your remaining time to ask, “Okay – so what did that accomplish?”

Here’s the answer. More and more events have a backchannel operating on Twitter: an online conversation among audience members about the presentation they’re attending. They ask questions, offer comments, quibble and praise.

And if they have your Twitter ID, chances are good they’ll mention it. Suddenly, your Twitter presence – and the buzz about your speech – will be shared with their networks, and a lot of those people will share your audience members’ interest in your topic.

Give it a try. And let me know how it works for you.

(And if you’ve had a little experience with Twitter backchannels, try the public speaking ninja maneuver of checking in with the backchannel while you’re speaking, and addressing a few tweets from the podium.)