One of LinkedIn’s most important attributes is to offer group members an opportunity to connect with alumni, business, employment, environmental, networking, non-profit, and sports colleagues, to name just a few. There are currently over one million groups to choose from – and if you don’t see what you need, you can consider leading your own group!
Since LinkedIn is all about marketing yourself and reaching out to others, have you considered what kind of impression you’re making with something as simple as your invitation to connect? It’s all about etiquette.
Offer a Professional Introduction
Your initial invitation to a new LinkedIn colleague should be a warm introduction sharing a brief overview of who you are and what you do.
Then, to show off your exceptional manners, add something like, “Please let me know what projects you’re working on and how I can help you.” Be clear on why you’d like to join their network and offer to reciprocate by helping them.
Create a Personal Message
I continue to be amazed at how few people understand the value in properly introducing themselves to a new person online. A thoughtfully written request to connect with a stranger on LinkedIn will be more readily accepted than the site’s default invitation statement, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
By taking the time to write a thoughtful, personal introductory message, you demonstrate that you’d like to build a relationship rather than merely increasing your network numbers. I’ve found that my invitations are often readily accepted when I share my background information, such as, “You and I share XYZ LinkedIn group membership. I work with recent grads and adults in career transition….” I then offer my assistance with projects they’re working on, explaining why I’d like to connect.
As a LinkedIn “Connector”, I can offer to serve as a helpful, valuable resource person to colleagues and the people in their network. Make sure to offer a brief explanation for why you’d like to meet, much the same way you’d introduce yourself in person with a handshake and friendly initial conversation!
A Gracious Response Builds Relationships
Etiquette not only applies to how you word your invitation, but also how you choose to respond to strangers reaching out to you. When I receive a stranger’s standard LinkedIn message, I don’t readily accept the invitation until I find out how we know each other and what their goal is in contacting me. In these cases, I offer a gracious response and question, such as “Thank you for your invitation. How may I help you?”
Recently, I received a stranger’s reply to my question with “I’m just trying to increase my connections.” Most of us will agree that this is not the kind of invitation we would consider accepting, simply because this stranger fails to comprehend that LinkedIn is all about building relationships and personal credibility. No one wants to be “collected” and tossed into a LinkedIn database.
Your invitations will go a long way – with much better results – if you offer to meet a stranger’s needs while adding new resources to your LinkedIn network. Even though this is an online tool, you’re building relationships and credibility, not simply increasing a virtual Rolodex.
Be mindful of your LinkedIn etiquette – and market yourself as a caring, collaborative Connector who’s thoughtful and focused in growing rich relationships.
About the Author: Deborah E. Rooney, M.S., Ed, owner of Power Resumes & Coaching, works with new grads and adults in career transition. She coaches her clients to identify their outstanding transferable skills and core competencies to attract new jobs where they’ll thrive. Deb provides LinkedIn coaching to job hunters and business owners, and strengthens resumes. Deborah teaches her clients how to navigate the digital job searching process with energy and optimism. As a LinkedIn Connector, she uses her network to introduce clients to hiring managers. Connect with Deb on LinkedIn and Facebook!