By Deborah E. Rooney Connect with Class on LinkedIn
How do you reach out to new colleagues on LinkedIn? Do you write a brief introduction about yourself with the reason for your connection request, or do you simply submit LinkedIn’s mysterious default invitation statement, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”?
LinkedIn is a great tool to market ourselves and grow a network of like-minded colleagues. This online community consists of members who are either asking for or offering assistance. Have you considered what kind of first impression you’re making with something as simple as your invitation? It’s all about etiquette. Good manners grow solid professional relationships, in person and online. When you’re unable to meet someone in person, choose your words carefully to convey your personality and professionalism.
Write a Thoughtful Request and Offer to Reciprocate:
Your thoughtfully written connection request sent to a stranger on LinkedIn will be more readily accepted when you’ve taken the time to explain why you’re sending an invitation to them. Forwarding the site’s impersonal invitation is often ignored because it’s not a professional approach to meeting someone new. Whether you’re a job hunter, business owner, or recruiter focused on growing your network, you don’t want to miss any opportunity to share a well-written, warm introduction for why you’re reaching out. Your initial invitation to a new LinkedIn colleague should share a brief overview of who you are, what you do, and why you’d like to connect with them. Clearly communicate your reason for why you’d like to join their network, along with an offer to help them. Show off your exceptional manners by suggesting a mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationship, such as “Please let me know what projects you’re working on and how I can help you.”
Create A Warm, Personal Message:
Few people understand the value of their introductions. Your initial interaction with a new LinkedIn member is more likely accepted when you share your brief explanation for connecting. Consider this a digital handshake in lieu of your in-person physical handshake, name exchange, personal introduction, and friendly conversation. Great manners will serve you well in meeting other professionals on LinkedIn. When you take the time to write a personal message stating who you are, your background, and your reason for connecting, you present a polished image with a clear desire that you’d like to build a relationship, rather than merely increasing your network numbers. An example of a readily accepted introduction that I use begins with, “You and I share XYZ LinkedIn group membership. I work with (describe your project and needs)….” Following that overture, explain why you’ll value connecting and offer assistance with projects they’re currently working on. As a LinkedIn “Connector”, you can offer to serve as a helpful, valuable resource person to them. Consider this a fulfilling, team-building activity, rather than treating LinkedIn as an online numbers game.
Offer An Inquisitive, Respectful Response:
Demonstrating excellent manners applies to both your invitation as well as your acceptance of someone else’s request to you. How you word your connection request will determine whether this new colleague approves of your overture, and your LinkedIn etiquette is further evidenced by how you choose to respond to strangers reaching out to you.
I don’t ever readily accept a stranger’s LinkedIn default invitation until I ask how we know each other and what their goal is in reaching out to me. I reply with a gracious response and question, “Thank you for your invitation. How may I help you?” Why do I take the time to dig further when that member failed to write a tailored message to me? The reason is that we’re all learning how to use social media together, and it involves both patience and education. It would be disappointing to miss out on an opportunity to meet an interesting person because they didn’t have a clue about LinkedIn etiquette. Give people a chance to clarify their request and they’ll appreciate your prompting them for more information.
Earlier this Spring, a stranger’s reply to my clarification question stated, “I’m looking to expand my network, just trying to increase my connections.” She failed to clearly explain what her need had to do with me and this invitation was promptly deleted. No one wants to feel as if they’re being “collected” in a database, and I wasn’t interested in being tossed into a stranger’s virtual Rolodex. This is not the kind of invitation most people would consider accepting, simply because they fail to appreciate that LinkedIn is all about building relationships and personal credibility. An impersonal invitation conveys an impression of laziness, a missed opportunity for a LinkedIn member.
Make time to write thoughtful, clear, personal invitations to new LinkedIn colleagues. Create messages that offer to reciprocate help and to meet that stranger’s needs, demonstrating that you’re a classy, collaborative, Connector who appreciates the value of building solid relationships as a leader in the LinkedIn community.
Deborah E. Rooney, M.S., Ed, is the owner of Power Resumes & Coaching. She coaches new grads, seasoned professionals, and adults in career transition to identify and market their outstanding transferable skills and core competencies to attract new jobs where they’ll thrive. Deborah teaches job hunters how to optimize LinkedIn as a powerful catalyst to connect with their network of colleagues to find great opportunities. She works with her clientele to improve both resume and LinkedIn profile content. As a LinkedIn Connector, she uses her network to introduce clients to hiring managers.
Connect with Deborah on LinkedIn and Facebook!
On LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/drooney
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/ResumeWritingandCareerCoaching
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