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LinkedIn: Connection Tip Etiquette

LinkedIn is a powerful tool – no kidding huh!? It seems like every day/week/month there are different ways to enhance and expand your online presence with LinkedIn. Whether it is LinkedIn groups, the ability to make (and receive) recommendations or simply being able to follow industry subject matter experts, there are an abundance of ways to obtain value from being on LinkedIn. I have been on LinkedIn for several years and have made many valuable business connections during this time. I have also had the chance to participate in group discussions, share information with colleagues, meet new people (virtually) from around the globe and connect to professionals from many different industries and professions. To that extent, I feel that there is a certain level of (business) etiquette that should be displayed when utilizing LinkedIn. Therefore, in order to more effectively expand your network and grow your valuable connections, I want to provide you with some basic LinkedIn connection etiquette tips that I have gleaned from my years using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Pen1. John Doe indicates that you are a Friend – When reaching out to someone, especially if you have never had contact with them before, you should provide a frame of reference or a brief note in your connection request. There is nothing worse than receiving a connection request from someone you don’t know with this message, especially when I have never spoken with or met John Doe before. Take the time to use InMail if you have a premium account and send a personal note with why you want to connect and what you see as the benefit to both of you in connecting. If you don’t have InMail and you are not connected via groups, than the “Friend” option might be the only lead in, but then all the more reason to personalize the note that you send to the person with whom you wish to connect.  I am not saying to write two pages, but 2-3 well-crafted sentences like, “I came across your profile on LinkedIn the other day when I was searching for blogs on xyx topic. I was interested in the ideas you had to present and would like to connect on LinkedIn as we both blog about abc and may be able to share some ideas.”

2. The Power of LinkedIn Groups – before trying to make a connection, you should check to see if you are members of a shared group. Part of the power of LinkedIn groups is that it more easily allows you to make connections with professionals in that same group. In your connection request list, simply select that you are part of the same group and provide a 2-3 sentence intro on why you would like to connect. This way, the person you are looking to connect with receives an email that looks like this, “Jane Doe indicates that you are a fellow member of the Business Persons of Canada group.” You should then follow this with a personal note such as, “Hi Sue, I was reading an article on the Business Persons of Canada group the other day that you posted and found it very informative. As we both work in the same industry, I was hoping you would be open to connecting on LinkedIn.” I have used this approach many times and I am batting almost 1.000 with this approach as the other person almost always accepts my invite request.

3. “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” – This one is my personal pet peeve.  If you don’t follow tip # 1 or tip #2, this is the other message that the person receives. Warm and friendly huh? It is important to have a goal or purpose while on LinkedIn. When you blast out a bunch of connection requests with this canned message it looks like you are trying to collect a bunch of baseball cards in the hope that one or two might turn out to be that elusive Honus Wagner card. (In other words, you portray the image that you are trying to pad your connection database in the hopes that there might be a payoff for with your connections, whether it be a job, a sale, etc.)  It can be very off-putting for the recipient to receive this message as it makes the connection request very one-sided. I have heard the following analogy used before: Let’s say you were at a networking event at your local Chamber of Commerce (remember – LinkedIn is a virtual chamber of commerce) and you simply walked up to someone and handed them your business card and said “Let’s connect!” How weird would that be? So why do we do it online? Provide the intro and a brief reason for why you want to connect and the other party will almost always reciprocate. Remember, LinkedIn is social media….hence the need to be “social!”  Networking on LinkedIn is a two-way street – you have to give to receive.
4. Respond to Group Comments – I mentioned before about the power of LinkedIn groups. Part of the beauty of LinkedIn is how easy it is to interact in LinkedIn groups. You can ask questions, answer questions, provide advice, post articles and information, etc. A huge part of the give and receive process of LinkedIn is having other professionals comment on something you posted – whether it is an article, advice or an answer to a question. I recommend, and I personally make it a point, to respond to each and every comment that someone makes when they respond to something I posted in a LinkedIn group. I have had some great virtual discussions this way and have made some great connections. At the very least, I recommend that you thank the other person for taking the time to read and comment on whatever it is you posted. Remember, it is called social media for a reason!

These etiquette suggestions are meant to provide a bit of direction and guidance to help you expand your online presence and leverage the power of LinkedIn. By following some of these tips, you may find your network increasing at a rapid rate and you will also be giving and receiving greater value while utilizing LinkedIn.  I also look forward to receiving your personal LinkedIn invite to connect – if we haven’t already!

Photo credit: Sheila Scarborough

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4 Responses

  1. Scott … nice tips. One of my pet peeves is the endorsement feature. I keep getting endorsed by people who don’t know me from Adam, so really how useful is that? Friends and colleagues endorse each other, people trying to make an impression endorse others and the value of the endorsement is really eroded.

    My tip … don’t endorse people when you don’t REALLY know what you are talking about! Seems kinda intuitive to me!

    Good article. Have a great Holiday Season and super 2013!

  2. Kevin – great points re. the endorsement feature. You are correct, it kind of loses its effectiveness when used this way! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on the post. All the best to you and your family over the holiday season!

  3. […] have blogged many times about LinkedIn etiquette, focusing on do’s and don’ts. If you really want to comb through some fantastic articles about […]

  4. […] about proper LinkedIn etiquette on a variety of topics that can be found here , here, here, here, here and […]

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