“No way!”

A thick, Chicago-accent shouted at me from the crowd in the middle of a presentation. Standing infant of hundreds of software sales execs, I was showing real examples from my LinkedIn inbox, demonstrating how “sales pros” could have made their digital outreach attempts more persuasive. Sharing “the bad”, I was showing the audience what common mistakes to avoid so they could improve their messages and earn more meetings. Or was trying to anyway.

“No way are those messages real!” Mr. Know-It-All defiantly declared.

A bit taken aback by all-but being called a liar in front of oh, just a few hundred salespeople, I smiled and opened up the LinkedIn app. Handing over my phone to the complete stranger-slash heckler, I silently prayed that my husband or one of my girlfriends wouldn’t text me our usual awkward GIFs at this exact moment.

Navigating to my messages, the critic scrolled through the most recent looking for his proof. Instead, he found mine.

“Oh…” He shrugged his shoulders, trying not to look too embarrassed. “Sorry, that sucks.”

Well, at least Mr. Mouthy got that last part right—non-persuasive digital messages DO suck. They suck up the Reader’s time and energy; they suck up the Sender’s time and energy; they suck to write; they suck to half-read; they even suck to delete.

Most people don’t like sending them OR reading them—so why does my inbox pile up with dozens every single day?! Why does yours? Why do your prospects’?

What if it didn’t have to be like this? What if we could eradicate the world of soul-sucking social sales spam one message at a time?

Even better, what if we could give the sender a second chance, with recommendations on how to improve? What if all of those missed opportunities could be erased and re-sent—a digital do-over!

Like my dad generously bestows upon me every time we play golf together: “E, you can take a mulligan!”

(Mulligan: noun. In unofficial golf, an extra stroke granted after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard.)

Let’s look at a few real examples from my inbox from just this last week. And before anyone asks, yes these are real.

Do any of these people deserve a mulligan? You decide.

(P.S. Names have been blurred out to avoid hurt feelings. C’mon, I AM a millennial. Also, everyone who comments on this article gets a participation trophy).

The Core Biz Clown

Yes, this person actually asked me,“What is your core business for 2018?” My core business is clearly outlined here on LinkedIn—all over the internet too, in fact—and it hasn’t changed too much since 2010.

I had to check this guy out. It turns out he sells retirement programs. Part of his profile stated, “If you don’t have money, I can’t help you.” At least he is better at qualifying prospects then approaching them?

It looks like he is based in Orange County, where I live. If he wanted to send me a message that MIGHT earn him a meeting—or at least a click—his mulligan might look something like this:

“Laguna Beach? Did you know that it’s the most expensive place to retire in the country?! Here’s an article on how a local fellow female entrepreneur around your age caught up on her retirement planning with just a few minor lifestyle changes.”

Thanks, man—good looking out. I’ll check out your company because of that message.

The No Why Guy

Ah, the ice cold request for a “mutual discovery call” with no objective or purpose whatsoever. Even worse? He offers lead generation and appointment setting services. Yes, seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.

In one quick look at his profile I can see that he went to a Catholic college (my profile also shows I attended Catholic school), he has been an entrepreneur for 20 years, that we have a mutual past client and a handful of shared connections. That’s four obvious things in common. There are countless ways to improve this one, but let’s just make it simple and go with the mutual friend open:

“Richard Pryor? How do you know my old buddy from my Catholic college days! With all the press around your new book, this post around on how to convert press hits to speaking leads might come in handy.” 

My response? “Cool, thank you! Well actually, I first met Richard when we were at a tech conference in SF…” BOOM. Relationship ignited.

The Buzzword Bro

Woah. This message is a buzzword landmine. Even if, hypothetically, his immediate, self-promotional pitch did for some reason pique my interest (spoiler: it didn’t), I can’t even attempt to decipher what it is that he’s actually trying to sell without getting blown up. Two “methodology” and two “reoccurring” bombs? I’m out.

But, for this exercise, let’s check him out.

Not surprisingly, his profile is written in the third person, even though we all know he is writing about himself. Everyone knows that people who speak about themselves in the third person are either A) serial killers or B) extreme narcissists.

Despite all the buzz language, I can’t figure out what he does—it looks like something with employee retention? Or maybe he’s in branding? Again, we have 12 connections in common so it would be easiest to lead with one of those. But, for example’s sake, let’s try a different approach:

“Baltimore originally? I’m Philly/NYC guy myself but have worked my way down for Phillips Crab Cakes a few times in my day. 

Love your tagline “Attract attention, increase influence and sell smarter.” Very clear and catchy. Your mobile site popped up a little weird on my Android though—here’s a link to a free mobile web checker to make sure eringargan.com is working across all devices.” 

This message would absolutely spark a profile view! I might even ask whether he’s a Geno’s or Pat’s cheesesteak person and continue the conversation to find out how he knows one of our mutual friends. Connection established.

The Faker

We all know the Faker—the person who PRETENDS they care about you. Watch out for this one! They will trick you into reading their message by saying they were intrigued by your profile, or they checked out your business, or they are impressed with your work—they are LYING.

Once in a while I’ll give an obvious Faker the benefit of the doubt and message them back, asking, “Which part of my profile, business or work specifically are you impressed with and why?” 99% of the time I get crickets back.

If we decide to give this gal a mulligan, she could have a field day! We both like yoga, live in Cali, have mutual past clients, are involved in female mentorship programs and both are professional speakers on the side of our agency jobs. The opportunities to persuade me to engage with you are endless! #Layup.


“Cali yogi pro speaker? Same! Since you are running both Socialite Agency and your speaking business, you might love this “perfect concentration” Spotify playlist I’ve been following. It helps me stay focused and relaxed when I’m multitasking my speaking and agency business.” 

Um—that is awesome! Thank you! Let’s see what you are all about Nice Similar Person…profile clicked and connection accepted!

Your Window of Opportunity

I get between 10-12 of these messages every single day. And I’m not a big deal. 90% of the templated messages the world’s biggest sales organizations send out daily are, shockingly, not any better. Imagine how many of these messages the BIG deal decision makers are fielding (and deleting)!

The bar is set SO LOW for persuasive messaging. With just three little words, you can persuade someone to take action—check out your profile, click on your content, maybe even agree to a meeting with you! Digitally differentiate yourself is as simple as putting a little PUB into your PUBlishing:




Start with something PERSONAL, offer something USEFUL, and keep your outreach BRIEF.

Congrats, you are officially more digitally persuasive than 99% of the social web.

Would you give these people mulligans? Do you think everyone deserves a second chance?


Erin Gargan is CEO of Socialite Agency and the best-selling author of “Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace” available here on Amazon. Erin helps sales, marketing, and event professionals attract attention, increase influence and sell smarter in the modern marketplace. To hire Erin to speak at your next event or help your sales team with their digital communication visit www.eringargan.com.

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