These LinkedIn mistakes are making you look desperate and valueless – STOP!

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LinkedIn can be an awesome tool if you use it right, but if you are committing any of these LinkedIn mistakes you are probably annoying everyone and nobody wants to talk to someone like that. Read this blog to learn how some great LinkedIn tips, how to avoid the traps and make yourself appear more valuable online.

But first…

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and financial advisor marketing consultant. I have a newsletter in which I send you one actionable, practical marketing tip a day. Please sign up here!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an irreverent and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

#1 Using LinkedIn automation tools

I have personally seen some of you using poisonous automation tools on LinkedIn.


  • Automated LinkedIn messages generated by a bot or some software you installed
  • Cookie-cutter postings that you bought from someone else

Do you really think your LinkedIn connections – your esteemed colleagues, peers, clients, and prospects – are not intelligent enough to know that it’s not really you?

I mean, think about it for a minute. You aren’t connected with dopes, are you?

No. Because you’re not a dope.

Guess what…

Sending out spammy postings or messages has a high price – your reputation. You may succeed occasionally but you are essentially annihilating yourself from your network.

You are essentially telling them, “I don’t care about you enough to take two seconds and come up with something thoughtful to say to you.”

If you don’t have time to create your own messages or postings, you are making LinkedIn too difficult.

Try this simple approach instead:

  • Send this message to five people today: “We’ve been connected for a bit; I’m not sure if my posts about wealth management for [insert category here, such as “doctors, dentists, veterinary practice owners”] are useful. Any suggestions about how I can tailor my content to better suite your interests?
  • Post this today: Write down the best question your clients asked you yesterday. Put it in quotes (Example: “Do I need to take RMDs from my Roth IRA?”). Type one line of clear space. Then type a two sentence answer to that question, and say that if they have further questions, they can comment on the post. This increases engagement and helps LinkedIn want to show your post to other people.

Now, would either of those tasks take you more than a total of 10 minutes?


You can serve people better with LinkedIn, and you should.

So try it today and let me know how it goes.

#2 Having a boring page is more of a LinkedIn mistake than you realize

Focus more on the top of the page because that is what people tend to notice more. The headline and banner photo, and the first two lines of your About section are where you should impart your key value drivers. Who do you work with, why are you better, and what do you want people to do if they need your help.

And make it to the point. Don’t blather on and on like a narcissist. Huge mistake people make on LinkedIn and other social platforms and it BREAKS my brain seeing it!

#3 Posting irrelevant content

People make a big deal about having the colors, the time of the post, all the superficial details line up. Well guess what. Relevant content wins over all that. If it’s relevant people will read it and the format won’t matter that much. If they like it, they’ll read it.

Stop tearing your hair out trying to guess what people want you to post about. Instead, find actual relevant questions that REAL people are asking and use that as the basis for your content. Try joining a Reddit group that discusses the challenges faced by the people you want to serve. Or, just do a Google search and see “people also ask” at the bottom of the page to find out what questions people are asking Google.

Kinda like this:

Step 1. Go to Google
Step 2. Type in one of the best client questions you collected this month
Step 3. Scroll down to the “People Also Ask” section
Step 4. Discover what other questions your clients may be asking
Step 5. Create content answering those questions whether it’s through a video, newsletter, or social post

#4 Not having a killer first line or eye catching image

The first line of the post is the most important because it is what makes people stop scrolling. Focus on that because if you can’t get them to stop and read the rest of the post does not matter. Same thing with graphics. Post an eye-catching graphic or don’t post a graphic at all.

#5 Sounding like a sales schmuck

Literally NOBODY would ever go up to some random person at a party and say, “Do you have enough term insurance or do you need more?”, so WHY is it that financial advisors do this on LinkedIn??

The mistake is that often people pitch the meeting too early on LinkedIn messenger. And it’s so sales slime-y. Anytime you use these words, know that you sound like a sales schmuck:

  • meet for coffee
  • meet for a drink
  • catch up
  • grab a bite to eat
  • sit down and chat
  • get some time on the calendar

Don’t commit this error on LinkedIn!

I recently got this question from a subscriber: “I keep sending LinkedIn messages to business owners, saying that I want to learn about the person and their business. Why doesn’t anyone respond?”

Because those words are the oldest “financial advisor pick up line” in the book.

Lazy, vague, and insincere.

Instead of telling someone you want to learn about their business, why don’t you take a few minutes and actually do it yourself?

It’s not that hard.

Maybe try this instead?

  • Follow the business owner on LinkedIn
  • Follow the company page on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • Subscribe to the company’s email newsletter and/or LinkedIn newsletter
  • Read about the company’s competition and what they are doing
  • Read about regulation impacting them and come up with some insightful questions to ask the business owner
  • See who the business owner likes following on LinkedIn and try to figure out why they like them. Shared values, maybe? What do they admire about that person?
  • Like their updates.
  • Engage with not just the business owner but other key employees at their company by commenting on their posts

Once you have gained this knowledge you can craft a much more intelligent and sincere LinkedIn message to get the business owner’s attention.

#6 Chasing people who aren’t on LinkedIn

Stop trying to prospect on LinkedIn to people who are not actively using LinkedIn. If somebody hasn’t checked their LinkedIn, commented, or posted anything since Madonna had her last hit single, chances are that you aren’t going to be able to build a meaningful relationship with them.

In general, you don’t want to be viewed as “chasing” or “pursuing” anyone too heavily. That’s a cardinal error on LinkedIn.

In fact, I just got this question from a subscriber: “Somebody viewed my profile page on LinkedIn. Should I ask them to connect?”

Here’s my clearest response: HECK NO!

Waaaayy too creepy.

Prospects like attention paid to them in the right way; they don’t like the feeling that you are stalking them.

If you see someone looked at your page on LinkedIn, do this instead:

  • “Like” one of their posts
  • ?Comment on one of their posts intelligently
  • Share one of the posts with your network with an insightful comment

This way, you give them attention without being too close for comfort.

Comment thoughtfully enough, and you may earn their respect and motivate them to be the ones to send the connection request first.

#7 Using it like a microphone

It’s not a broadcast, it’s a ping pong match. You’re not there to drop content and run. You’ll do better in the algorithm if you post things that start discussions because that is what LinkedIn wants, because they want people to stay on the platform.

Question from a subscriber:

“Why should I waste time posting to social media when my audience is full of people I’ll never do business with? Is there a way I can send my content only to 50 year olds with $1MM in assets?


Look, there’s no magic wand.

If you want your content in front of a specific type of person (example, 50 year olds in Voorhees, NJ) on social media, here are two ways:

  • Pay for advertising and target 50 year olds in Voorhees, NJ. This typically costs $700 per month or more plus the cost of hiring a consultant to target the ads. It usually takes a while they get the targeting right. This can get muchissimo expensive.
  • Connect with a bunch of 50 year olds from Voorhees, NJ so they fill up your audience. Get them to engage with your posts. This is free if you do it yourself, but it’ll take time and patience.

#8 Using LinkedIn’s products like LinkedIn Premium or LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Should I get LinkedIn Premium? What about LinkedIn Sales Navigator? 

There is no clearer way I can say this: HECK NO.

LinkedIn is a funny little animal. If you don’t pay for any of their “extra” services like LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator, you can only send out a certain amount of cold connection requests a day (I think it’s about 20). This is their way of mitigating the amount of (hated) spam messages. Don’t make the LinkedIn mistake of purchasing any of these services.

However, if you buy their services you can send out a much higher amount.

You should stay away from cold messaging on social media apps anyways.

You do not need LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator:

  • Nobody responds to InMails, which you can send if you have Premium, because everybody knows its some cold-calling vendor spam.
  • You shouldn’t be cold messaging a ton of people. If you have to do this, your whole approach to social media is wrong.
  • You are way more likely to have success building a community of people who feel the same as you on key issues, mindsets, and topics by using common affiliations.

And by that I don’t mean the typical sales line, “Hey we both went to Notre Dame. You should roll over your 401k to me!”

Here’s a better way.

  • Example: following an influencer who comments on NY State teachers issues (if you are a financial advisor who work with NY state teachers). You see some teacher who comments passionately on an issue related to pay cuts. You then ask that person to connect, and say that you post into your feed about ways that NY state teachers can manage their cash flow better using financial planning.
  • Example: You create a podcast together with a local CPA about the Beneficial Interest Reporting (BOI) requirement that emerged this year. You see several of the CPA’s connections who liked your posting. They are business owners. You then start following them and liking their updates, commenting intelligently until they notice you at which point you ask them to connect (see, there’s already a bit of trust there at that point).

Now wouldn’t you say that’s better than being some spammy bot?

Get creative and build a nurturing, interactive community on a mission that you love and that everyone involved loves. Yes, it takes more time and effort but that is the best possible way to get leads from LinkedIn.

Stop paying for things people hate on LinkedIn.

Instead go find some people who will love you.

  • Love your posts.
  • Love your mission.
  • Love talking to you on a daily basis.
  • Love whatever you will give them.

There’s a gazillion people on the platform. If you’re getting crickets you haven’t tried hard enough to find them.

Or you did find them and you messed it up, probably by foisting one of the “poison pills” on them (see above). Either way, you have some work to do.

#9 Not paying attention to the right people in your feed

Question from a subscriber: “The only messages I get on LinkedIn are spammers trying to sell me something. Why don’t any exciting prospects ever message me?”

The root cause of this issue has to do with how the LinkedIn “machine” works. You may be making the following LinkedIn mistake in order to trigger the wrong LinkedIn response.


LinkedIn wants to expose people to each other who are likely to interact on a repeated basis. They “suggest” connecting with people that they think you’ll like.

So, if you are getting connection requests from vendors, salespeople, and/or recruiters, that is probably because somehow you are (unintentionally) engaging with them in your LinkedIn activity.

Possible root causes:

  1. You are paging over their posts in your news feed.
  2. You are otherwise engaging with vendors, for example, looking at their pages.
  3. You are not engaging with enough ideal prospects because they are not a high enough percentage of your following. Or, you are not paying enough attention to them (viewing their posts, commenting, etc.) to give LinkedIn the signal that this is the type of connection you want to engage with.

As a result, LinkedIn thinks you like to interact with vendors, etc. and suggests your page to such people.

How to resolve this:

  1. Establish a clear mission and purpose on your LinkedIn page and specify who you want to connect with (and who you don’t). Some people even go as far as to state, “Please no solicitations or pitches but I’m fine to connect if you want to build a meaningful business relationship.”
  2. In the worst case, you could adjust your message settings so that you are only able to receive connection requests from people who know your email. See “data privacy” tab.
  3. Increase the ratio of ideal connections (prospects, etc.) versus non-ideal by sending out message requests to the people you want to meet.
  4. Engage more with the postings of your ideal prospects.
  5. Unfollow the pages and postings of all vendors, salespeople, etc. so you aren’t unintentionally engaging with them in your feed.

All of this will teach LinkedIn about the type of person you want and do not want to get attention from, which should influence who LinkedIn “suggests” your page to. And by the way, it’ll help you build an awesome LinkedIn community as well.

#10 Getting followers for the sake of it

Question from a subscriber: “I only have 2,000 followers on LinkedIn. Is that enough or should I get more?”

This is such a lie everyone gets sold – more is not necessarily better.


It’s not the amount of followers you have; it’s how engaged those followers are.

Think of the followers as your clients. You are serving them with valuable insights through your content.

Would you rather have 20 engaged clients who are a good fit for what you offer?

Or would you prefer 2,000 clients who don’t really pay attention to you because they don’t really need what you provide?

Try this today.

Download your LinkedIn contacts. Or, if you’re on Facebook or Instagram you can’t do that – you may have to browse through them online.

Try to estimate what percentage of your followers are truly likely to engage with your posts. If it’s less then 30%, you need to start building a following of the right people.



BOOM – and there’s today’s marketing tip for ‘ya!

#11 Focusing on quantity but not quality of followers

Question from a subscriber: “I only have 2,000 followers on LinkedIn. Is that enough or should I get more?”

This is such a lie everyone gets sold – more is not necessarily better.


Yes, you need more than a handful of people. But it’s not the amount of followers you have; it’s how engaged those followers are.

Think of the followers as your clients. You are serving them with valuable insights through your content.

Would you rather have 20 engaged clients who are a good fit?

Or would you prefer 2,000 clients who don’t really pay attention to you?

Who don’t really need you?

Social media is an amazing opportunity to change the world. You have the chance to find the people who need you desperately.

?They are out there and they are struggling without you. They need you to light them up.

You just have to find them.


It will be so soul-killing if you just look at the numbers. You don’t have to do it this way – there’s a better way. Think of it in terms of community and mission.

Actions to take TODAY

Download your LinkedIn contacts. Or, if you’re on Facebook or Instagram you can’t do that – you may have to browse through them online.

Try to estimate what percentage of your followers are truly likely to engage with your posts. If it’s less then 30%, you need to start building a following of the right people.

And from that following you can build a community.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the ideal person to be in that community?
  • What do they read online?
  • Who do they follow?
  • What are they already doing on LinkedIn, on Facebook? Or are they even on those platforms?
  • What are their core values as people?
  • What are the words they would have to hear me say, in order to become loyal to me, to become inspired, to truly feel I am valuable?

It’s not just a person on a screen – it’s a life you can touch. So whatever community you build, don’t forget to put your heart into it – because trust me, that is truly what people need to see these days.

No more awful LinkedIn mistakes!

Alright that’s all for now. I hope this blog has helped you to realize the mistakes you may be making on LinkedIn.

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Or if you want more…

Learn what to say to prospects on social media messenger apps without sounding like a washing machine salesperson. This e-book contains 47 financial advisor LinkedIn messages, sequences, and scripts, and they are all two sentences or less.

This is a book about financial advisor LinkedIn messages which contains scripts you can use to get new prospects.

You could also consider this LinkedIn training program which teaches financial advisors how to get new clients and leads from LinkedIn.

The Sara Grillo membership is a social media program for financial advisors - but only the cool ones.

Thanks for reading. See you in the next one!

-Sara G


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