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Do you REALLY want to connect with me on LinkedIn?

Last week I blogged about a pet peeve of mine which is the canned LinkedIn connection request of, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Based on the number of views and comments I have received about this post I must have hit a nerve. I have had comments in full on support of my post and those that provided a differing point of view. I truly appreciated all the viewpoints and took the time to engage with everyone as I am always interested to learn more about user experiences with LinkedIn.

Of note, on the differing point of view side of things, some people raised a couple of valid points as to why the eleven-word canned connection request statement is used so much:

  1. If you are trying to connect with someone that isn’t a 2nd or 3rd degree connection already, it is almost impossible to have a connection request get sent any other way
  2. If you are using LinkedIn on a mobile device that is often the only way to send off a request (i.e. the issue is with LinkedIn and their app making it too ‘easy’ to do this, not the user).

LinkedIn ChocolatesWhile I can accept both those counter arguments, my personal experience with this is a bit jaded. You see, what I (used to) do is when I received invites from people I don’t know, and that contained the “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” I would not accept them at first, but would reply back. Yes – you can do that! So, I would hit the reply button and send back a quick note that would state something like, “Thanks for your connection request, I can’t remember if we have met before, if we have, could you please remind me? If we haven’t, in the spirit of connecting, I would like to know how/why you would like to connect with me?”

How often do you think I received a response back to that question? Answer – less than 1% of the time! Of those that did respond back to me, I actually received a great email back from the requestor and happily accepted the connection invitation at that point. I mean, all I was really looking for was to make sure it was a real person looking to connect with me and that they gave it 2 seconds of thought. In other words, I didn’t want to be a baseball card added to someone’s collection because at the end of the day, I value my network I have built up and I don’t feel like giving just anyone access to it…especially a spammer!

So, I guess in all this I remain a bit jaded but I am still open to hear your feedback on this. I am going to need some convincing though. My feeling is that if you send me a connection request and I email you back and you don’t respond, my question to you is, do you REALLY want to connect with me on LinkedIn…or are you just trying to collect names and/or get access to my network? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Nan Palmero/Flickr.com

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“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”

Those have to be the eleven words I hate to see the most when I receive a LinkedIn request. There is absolutely no context or effort involved with these types of requests. It is simply a case of someone clicking on your profile and sending you an invitation while using the standard LinkedIn text. It also gives the impression that you are simply looking to add names to your LinkedIn database collection. Bottom line, you should always take the time to personalize a LinkedIn request.

LinkedIn company name pictureThis is true whether you are a job seeker or looking to make a sales connection. At the very least, a personalized request note is a “softer” request and lead in. Look at it this way, if you were attending an in person networking event, you wouldn’t walk up to someone you never met before and say to them, “I’d like to add you to my professional network can I have your business card?” So why do we do this on LinkedIn?

Here is the thing, you may be committing this faux pas and not even realizing it – so I am here to help! If you are in the “People You May Know” section of LinkedIn (within your account) and you click on “Connect” under the picture of any of the people there, they will automatically get that horrible 11 word request email to connect. Bam – that is it…no opportunity for you to edit the message at all and you probably aren’t even aware of what you have done.

Here is what you should do when you are looking to connect:

Click on the person’s picture/name profile so you can link to their actual profile landing page. Then you can click on the blue connect button where you have an opportunity to personalize a message. The same standard 11 word intro comes up, but NOW you have an opportunity to edit and personalize your request. My advice – take advantage of this opportunity!

So, let’s assume you have followed this advice so far and you are providing yourself an opportunity to customize your connection request. Now it is all up to you This part isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of effort. All you need to do in the request is write a few sentences on why you want to connect with the person. Do this and your LinkedIn life will change forever. For example, in your connection request you could refer to one of the following types of situations:

  • You met them at an event (this is the easiest isn’t one of all)
  • You know of them through someone else and want to connect for business reasons
  • You read an article, blog post, etc. that they wrote, it resonated with you and now you want to connect with them
  • You heard them speak at a conference or event, you enjoyed the content and would like to connect with them
  • You follow them on Twitter (or read something they shared in a LinkedIn group), they share great content, so now you want to connect with them and hopefully you can help them as well.

That’s all there is to it. Personalize the message by providing some context. Most people will accept your invite if there is a bit of a covering note/reason to the request. Hopefully these tips will help you out moving forward, especially if you are a job seeker. I would really like to see that you are doing everything in your power to improve your chances of expanding your network and finding gainful employment. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of Shekhar_Sahu/Flickr.com

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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