top of page

What Message Are You Sending?

By Dr. Ivan Misner and Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Do your direct messages (“DMs”) have you flabbergasted at moments?

Ivan and I were chatting about how absolutely stunned we are at some of the messages we receive and some of the ones we’ve heard about others getting.

If you really are trying to do actual real business on a platform such as LinkedIn, it can be tedious and annoying to sift through the variety of messages one may receive upon immediately accepting a friend request. They vary from real messages, that are genuine and introductory, to the ones we see the most - sales pitches often “cold-calling” and some very strange inappropriate dating requests.

We’re guessing most of you have seen this.  We know we have.  It happens to us almost on a daily basis across social media platforms. It can become so annoying, that you almost want to ignore the messaging services as a whole, but realize somewhere in the mix is value from people actually wanting to reach you for valid and useful matters.

Is the solution having the ability to friend people, but have the ability to turn the messaging functions off?

Let’s give you a real-life example of a recent one from Dr. Misner:

I recently accepted a request to connect with me on LinkedIn from a person who I’ll call Greg.

I’m calling him Greg because… well, that was his name.

When he sent the request, he wrote to me and said,

“I love connecting with founders of companies where we can share mutual connections.  Let’s connect and share insights if you’re open to it?”

I accepted. He wrote back.

Thanks for connecting with me Ivan, I appreciate it!  Anything exciting you’re working on at BNI? Let me know if I can be a resource to you in any way, and thanks again for connecting!

So far, so good.  This was a great start.  But wait… two days later (without waiting for my reply) he wrote his pitch:

Hi Ivan, We have developed a new generation project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence and that allows you to automate your teamwork and always know that you have the best organization in place. I’m sure it would be a great help for you and your teammates in BNI as we already have many clients from your industry using it. You can discover it here with this link if you are interested:  [I’m leaving it out to protect the guilty.] Hope you find it useful and I’d love to hear any feedback you have! All the best, Greg

OK, so now I knew he wasn’t really connecting to share insights.  He was connecting to pitch me.  I didn’t respond. He wrote again a few days later.  He said,

Hi Ivan, I hope you are doing well. I’m contacting you because I really need your help and have something great for you and your business in return. We are a young startup and have created a revolutionary intelligent project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence to automatically plan the work for you. There is no such product that exists today and the increase of performance that you can get with it is just mind-blowing. You can discover our software here: [Leaving out for the guilty again.] and I would be glad to exchange with you on the subject and show you how it works and how it can be a game-changer for your business. We will also offer you amazing pricing conditions as being part of our early adopters. I hope you can help me out and we will for sure over-deliver for you in return. Let’s talk? Best regards, Greg

I so did not respond to that. He wrote again a couple of days later.

Hi, Ivan Hope, you found our site valuable!   I’d love to share some insights with you over a quick call. When would you be available? Greg

I didn’t respond. The next day he wrote, Hey Ivan – making sure you saw my last message.  Any thoughts?

Yes, I had plenty of thoughts, none of which would be appropriate to share.  So, instead, I wrote back… No thanks.

He responded almost immediately, Hi Ivan. Thanks for the feedback.  For my personal knowledge, may I ask you why?

Hmm, I thought – does he really want to know why?  OK, I decided, I will tell him why. I wrote back.

Because you don’t really know what I do, you don’t know anything about me (other than what you’ve read), and we have no relationship (which, if you knew anything about me, you’d know is important).  This is a “cold-call” via LinkedIn and it is against everything I teach in my business.  This “pitch” is the very thing I write about NOT doing to people.  You asked and that is the unvarnished truth.

He replied almost immediately, Interesting. So how do I reach out to you?

I replied.

I do business by referral.  That takes time and effort.  I recognize that “cold-calling” does as well.  I just choose not to do business that way and it is a strategy that has worked well for me and most of the people who follow my work.

He replied almost immediately.

I get a lot of referrals. But right now I’m reaching out to people like you in a cold way because that’s the only way I can potentially get to talk to them. I was just asking for some help as a young and dynamic entrepreneur that has a really disrupting product. Remember how it was hard in the beginning…

I responded,

I do.  That’s how I learned that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.  It’s all about the relationships.  That’s how I built the business.  Reaching out “cold” is not the only way to talk to people.  It is the most expedient way to “feel” like you are doing something but not the only way to do it and I would argue – not the best way.  Those are my thoughts on the subject.  I need to run now. Use the advice, don’t use the advice, that is up to you. Good luck. Ivan

I also sent him a link about the VCP Process in networking.  I’ve never heard from him again.

So, we are caught in a pickle of trying to be responsive or helpful and spending way too much time on one person who just wants to sell you something.

Ivan appears to have way more patience at this than I do. Generally, I will ignore the sales pitch-type messages and instantly report the dating ones, like this doozy sent to me from someone on LinkedIn:

How are you ?

My name is (omitted from this blog) Your profile on LinkedIn was displayed among people I may know ,and you look familiar ,I have been trying to figure it out but there is no lead in my thinking.

Does my name ring a bell to you ?.

I will send my picture to you in my next email ,let's check if you could figure it out or alternatively, we can meet for a cup of coffee or lunch ,what do you say ?

I am excitedly waiting for your returned mail.

N/B ....You are indeed a beautiful woman. I am interested to figure this out please.

(name signed)

Now, we don’t want to pick on LinkedIn and we hope that message above is just spam.  This can and does happen on any social media platform.  It’s happened to us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even BNI Connect (We know – that one is really frustrating to see). This is not just a LinkedIn issue.  However, it does seem to happen there a lot more for us. 

Let’s go back to cold-calling, since we’re going to assume anyone silly enough to send that message above to me, a mom of four sons and married for over 22 years, is either joking or spamming.

Cold-calling is cold-calling no matter what form it takes.  But, it never hurts to ask, right?  Wrong.  Check out Ivan's video here to learn why:

About Us:

Dr. Ivan Misner

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is also the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (, the world’s largest business networking organization.  His latest book, Who’s in Your Room, The Secret to Creating Your Best Life,  is available at bookstores and at

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Elizabeth is the CEO and founder of The Best Ever You Network, co-founder of Compliance4 and author of five books, including the Hay House book PERCOLATE: Let Your Best Self Filter Through. Specializing in mindset, strategy, leadership, and change-based action, Elizabeth helps people and companies around the globe be their best.  Elizabeth attends Harvard Business School for Leadership.

1 Comment

Richard Ebner
Richard Ebner
Aug 07, 2020

My response to cold calling is not cold, but questioning. I am on 11 private Facebook groups. When friend requests show up on my page, I take a quick look to see what I can glean from their profile. If we have at least a few things in common, I accept and wait to see what comes next. I have been fooled at times, and then all of a sudden I realize someone is looking for a sugar daddy, or to sell me sex in one form or another. When these trolls use scantly clothed, attractive woman to try and provoke my interest, I sometimes write back a warning, along with declining any need for their services. My warning to…

bottom of page