Following my blog earlier this week about different approaches to connecting on LinkedIn and associated etiquette (or lack of it in some cases), I thought it might be helpful to share a few things to consider when sending or responding to connection requests on LinkedIn.
This week – What to do when inviting people to connect:
Ask yourself why you want to connect.
Just connecting to ‘build your network’ really isn’t enough. If you build a wall you construct it of the right materials, not just anything that lies to hand. Similarly networks are built with the right connections, people with whom you share something in common, be it background, interests, connections, industry or something else.
Ask yourself why the other person would want to connect with you.
I get so many connection requests from people telling me that they want to build their network and think I’d be a useful connection for them. They rarely suggest a reason that would make a connection interesting to me.
Dale Carnegie said “The sweetest sound to any man is the sound of his own name.” Focus on the benefit of a connection to the person you are approaching, not the benefit to you.
Read their profile first.
If you’re going to invite people to connect and make your request about them, you need to something more about them first. Don’t connect because you “think we might be able to help each other” before you even have any idea of what they do or might be looking to achieve.
Don’t think that a mutual network means you should automatically connect.
Just because people know others in common to you doesn’t mean you should automatically connect. After all, if everyone took that approach we’d all be connected to each other and not actually know anyone in our networks!
Don’t send a connection request just because LinkedIn suggests you might want to.
Independent thought seems to be underrated by many LinkedIn users! Just because LinkedIn suggests ‘you make know someone’ doesn’t mean you should click and connect. Follow the advice above before deciding whether a request would be appropriate.
Personalise your message.
Please please please do not send out connections with the template ‘I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn’ message. Take a couple of minutes to send something more personal, reflecting what you’ve read on the other person’s profile and sharing exactly why you think a connection would be a good idea.
You may have to go to their profile on the desktop in order to do this as LinkedIn are not very good at making it easy for you to practice what they preach!
Connecting is not enough.
If you don’t know each other just trading clicks will not add someone to your network, certainly not in any meaningful way. Start a conversation with them. You can begin by thanking them for accepting your request and asking a question.
If appropriate, arrange to Skype or meet in person, although not everyone will have the time, or inclination, to do this at an early stage of your relationship.
Finally, don’t be offended by a refusal of your invitation!
See my earlier blog for more. Not everyone agrees with your approach to Social Media. Get over it!
Coming next: What to do when you receive a connection request.