I enjoy meeting people face-to-face and networking “the old-fashioned way”. You can only do so much online! During networking I usually ask them if they are on LinkedIn and to whom they are connected — fishing to see who we both might know. To my surprise, not only do I get an enthusiastic nod, I usually get either a verbal invitation to connect with them or find a standard invitation in my inbox.
Though I am flattered by the invitation, I have to ask (and sometimes out loud!), “Why does this person want to connect with me?” I am particularly curious if I just met you in person or online!
Last month I met a wonderful insurance specialist in person, for the first time, with whom I had begun a phone conversation with in November 2013. He told me I should connect with everyone in LinkedIn I meet in real life. “Everyone?” I asked in disbelief. “Everyone,” he assured me, saying, “you never know when you will need each other, and it helps build your contact list.”
True, to a point. So, following my natural curiosity to its core, I pointed to his computer screen and asked about a particular connection. He admitted he didn’t really know the person and probably would not do business with him. I asked him how he became connected to this person, and he said, “I don’t know.” This realization floored me.
My 6 LinkedIn Connection Tips for you:
- Know them first. Please don’t lie about how you know someone. Even if you say you are “a friend” when sending an invitation, argue back, “How well do I really know him/her?” Meet again for coffee or lunch. View their LinkedIn profile online. Be more strategic than “spray and pray”, please, and above all, NO SPAMMING!
- Let your personality shine! Be yourself – I dare you! That doesn’t mean using swear words or unprofessional photos. Write as you would talk to them in person. Try putting a small mirror next to your monitor while you write.
- Ask for an intro. Use real-life as an example. Most people would not walk right up to someone they didn’t know and strike up conversation; it would feel a tad awkward. With LinkedIn, you can look through their Contacts to find people you both know. Ask one of these people (that you really know!) to introduce you and tell them why. You will be surprised how many will actually follow through!
- Give them time. People are on LinkedIn, yes, but probably not right at the same time you are, and, if you are not like me, probably not as often! If you have sent an invitation (or were introduced via email, in person, or phone), mark down the date this happened. The last thing you want to do is re-send your invitation too soon and look desperate or over-eager.
- Send a thank-you note. Once your connection invitation has been accepted, send a thank-you note and what you are looking forward to seeing or sharing in this new relationship. Don’t be surprised if your new connection beats you to it! And yes, if you know their mailing address you can send an actual thank-you card with a personalized message instead of an InMail.
- Don’t put them on an email list! Yes, you can have my business card. I may accept your LinkedIn connection request. That does NOT mean you can put me on your email list! That is the fastest way to become ostracized in this network.
What’s your burning question about LinkedIn? Ask me here!
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found!