Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may have limited use as business tools, but from its inception, LinkedIn has been an effective way to promote professional capabilities and network with colleagues and potential employers.

I was an early LinkedIn adopter, and over the years I’ve accepted most requests to connect that seemed legitimate. However, in the last year, I’ve noticed more and more connection requests that seem to be nothing more than a thinly veiled pitch to sell me something: I help generate leads, or I help coaches get more business, or even, I help people like you be more productive.

I’ve found when I connect with these people, I invariably receive a note back immediately offering me some kind of promotion or asking when they can meet with me to buy their service. Some people don’t take no for an answer, which results in having to go through the convoluted process to de-connect with them.

How do you avoid this trap when you send out connection invitations? Here are a few things to consider:

Review your profile regularly. LinkedIn changes its formats and algorithms on a regular basis. Make sure your profile is up to date and you are using strong keywords to describe who you are and what you’ve done.

Start with reconnections. LinkedIn was first conceived as a way for people to reconnect to existing associates with whom they may have not stayed in touch. These could be people you knew from school or with whom you worked previously, or those you’ve met in social settings. Start there. These people should know you.

Find the connection. If you are reaching out to someone with whom you have not previously worked or to someone you don’t know well, find the common connection and point it out: “Hi, Maria. We met at last month’s chamber of commerce meeting. Let’s get connected.”

Or, “Hi, Keisha. Our kids were on the same soccer team last year. I’d like to connect with you and see how we can help each other.” Or, “John, you may not know me but we both attended Great State University at the same time and I see we had similar majors.”

Start conversations to build connection. Mention that you’ve not kept up with someone since you both left a common employer and you want to learn more about what they’re doing now. Notice a job move or promotion and congratulate them. Consider what conversations you’d consider appropriate and start from there.

Do not sell. Not even subtly. This is regardless of whether or not you have the world’s best coaching course, lead qualification program, or a product to greatly improve a contact’s professional life. Networking is about give and take, not ask, ask, ask.

Don’t use automated programs. There are people who specialize in helping you build programs that automatically send messages to new connections, or to existing connections on a regular basis. Anytime I see something that looks like canned or mass-produced, I hit delete. Your connections will likely do the same thing.

Respond to others. Like and make comments on appropriate posts from colleagues. Find relevant groups, join them, and contribute. The idea is to engage in conversations, not wait for people to come to you.

When in doubt, remember the platinum rule: Do onto others as they would like to have done to themselves. Find a way to make the other person glad to be connected to you.