wall of spam at the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota
PHOTO: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock

LinkedIn was supposed to be the professional social network. Instead, it turned into a Tinder-esque heaven for spammy cold outreach tactics. 

These tactics aren't working for anyone: they effectively push people to hit the "Ignore" button before you can have a meaningful chat with them. So what can marketers and PR professionals do? Here are three key tactics that actually work.

1. Get a Warm Introduction

People act differently online than they do in person for some reason. For instance, you'd never walk up to someone at a party and instantly launch into a sales pitch. Instead, if you wanted to connect with someone there, you'd ask someone to introduce you.

A simple introduction is still the best approach on LinkedIn, too.

Let's say you're using some account-based marketing tactics where you're using LinkedIn to find people who might be a good fit for what you have to sell.

One of the best things about LinkedIn is that it shows you exactly how many connections exist between you and each person. All you have to do is find the personal connection who already knows them and simply ask for an intro. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about reaching journalists, customers or venture capitalists to raise money. Personal referrals and introductions are constantly cited as the most effective method.

If you don't have a direct connection to someone, get an introduction to the middle person first. Then, come in as a well-respected peer instead of some spammy salesperson.

Related Article: Are LinkedIn Groups Worth Your Marketing Resources?

2. Do Unscalable Activities

Digital marketers are constantly shooting for scale. How can you reach more people, faster, for less money? How can you automate workflows so your marketing is done for you?

Unfortunately, the more scalable a tactic is in social media, the less effective it usually is. Instead, you should be looking for more unscalable activities on LinkedIn to make sure each connection counts.

Let's say you get an introduction to a new prospect. The next step is to figure out what you should say to build some rapport. How do you figure that out? You research their profile, looking for common ground. That could be the school they went to, where they grew up, groups they're in, posts they've previously published, a sports team they mentioned, or upcoming events they're attending.

In other words, you're trying to find things they already care about.

These people don't know who you are. So chances are, they could care less about you, your company, your pitch, or whatever you're ultimately trying to sell them.

So once you find something they care about, that you might have some personal experience with, you have a better chance of getting a foot in the door. Then, you can ask them questions and better understand what they're trying to do so you can help them.

Yes, you're warming them up. But more importantly, you're building your own credibility and trust in their eyes by actually caring about their needs or wants first.

Related Article: Why Your Customer Experience Needs to Be Proactive

3. Pique Their Interest With Original Content

What's the first thing someone sees when they log into LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram? The latest content from their friends and connections.

The problem is the same on LinkedIn as the other networks, though. How do you make sure your content is seen each and every time your connections log in?

There are still a few ways to game LinkedIn's organic algorithm. For example, posts with more comments and interactions tend to be elevated. You can also make content appear less promotional by moving any links from the original post down to the first comment.

Outside of these ideas, you can take the same approach as you would on those other platforms: paid distribution. By now, you should know what your potential customers want or need, based on actually talking to them. So you can create original content, with thought-provoking ideas, contrarian questions, client wins and more.

Then, if you publish a few of these each week on LinkedIn, you can see which start to organically gain some traction and add advertising on top to blow your views through the roof.

It's money well spent at this point. You're letting the initial data, like views and clicks, tell you which posts resonate with your connections the most. It's kind of like card counting at a casino. You know when the deck is heating up and can start doubling down aggressively because you know the ROI will more than justify the short-term costs.

LinkedIn is still one of the best places to make key connections with decision-makers at your target accounts. You just need to drop and avoid the spammy tactics. You need to be a little more clever in how you get personally referred to them, build a relationship over time and then pique their interest when the time's right with content that's virtually guaranteed to convert.