LinkedIn reports that 73 percent of its members use the platform for networking with other professionals. As a social network, it makes perfect sense that close to 3/4 of their membership would be taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with like-minded colleagues.
For those of you who want to become part of a conversation and engage with others on LinkedIn, here are four etiquette pointers to keep in mind when networking online:
1. Personalize your connection request. One of the biggest mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn is not taking the time to personalize their request. They click “Connect” and send out the generic invite that says “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
Let’s say you reach out to a professional colleague you don’t know (or don’t know well), take an extra moment to personalize your request and let him/her know why you’re reaching out. Perhaps you both have a colleague, a personal interest or a university in common. This is the beginning of developing a relationship so take advantage of the opportunity to start a conversation.
2. After your request has been accepted, ditch the pitch (see the video below). In other words, your next message to that person should not be a sales pitch. Use the opportunity to share something about yourself, but ask how you might be of assistance to your new connection. Remember, LinkedIn is about building and nurturing the KLT Factor (i.e., know, like and trust) first.
Provide value to the people you reach out to. Send them a link to an article you think may be of interest, either personally or professionally. When I saw that one of my connections (who was also a prospect) liked running and had family in Colorado, I sent him a link to a running event that was taking place in Colorado – no pitch, just something of interest to him that helped me nurture the relationship.
3. Don’t ignore an invitation from someone you don’t know. When you receive an invite from someone you don’t recognize, take a moment to visit their profile first. Perhaps this person could be a referral resource, a vendor or potential customer.
If they’ve made the mistake of sending you a generic connection request, you can reply without accepting their invitation. Reach out and ask them how they found you. They may have been referred by a colleague or maybe they were simply searching LinkedIn. As mentioned in point #1, this is an opportunity to begin a conversation.
4. Engage with others. Engagement on LinkedIn isn’t just about messaging your connections. Take time to “like,” comment or share their posts. When you show that you’re interested in them and what they have to say, they’ll find you interesting.
These are just a few helpful tips and pointers designed to help you maximize your LinkedIn experience. If you’re baffled by the network, start out slowly. In just 15 minutes a day, you can review your Home page to see what your colleagues are posting, share your own update or publish a post.
Want to connect with me on LinkedIn? Visit me at http://linkedin.com/in/debrajason and be sure to personalize your request – let me know that you read this blog post – so I know how you found me.
Have an etiquette tip you’d like to share? Please do so in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million.
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