Have a look at your message box on LinkedIn. Take a moment, it’s fine, I’ll wait.
Do you see any threads like this one?
LinkedIn does all it can to make ‘relationship building’ easy for us. It prompts us to wish people a Happy Birthday or to congratulate them on a new role or milestone. It even tells us what to say.
That’s all well and good but it does have some considerable issues.
Issue 1 – If all you do is click on the suggested LinkedIn message, you get lost in the crowd of people wishing someone well, all using exactly the same language in the same thread. I can’t think of a better way to dilute the impact of an opportunity to touch base with someone. And look – we can reply the way LinkedIn tells us too – no human thought needed in any interaction!
Issue 2 – If the only time you reach out is when LinkedIn tells you to, you end up with a message thread with the other person that looks like this. It clearly demonstrates a lack of engagement at any other time and that you only reach out when told to do so. I know the intent is good but it doesn’t look great.
Issue 3 – Many of the milestones LinkedIn prompts are meaningless. Like many others, I have a number of roles on my profile and I get a wave of messages out of the blue when a random milestone is reached. Very few of those ‘anniversaries’ have any resonance for me.
When the title of my role on a board changed, but not the role, I even got messages from fellow board members congratulating me on my promotion!
Sure, look to those prompts to recognise when it’s a good time to reach out to someone in your network. But then think about that outreach. If it’s a meaningful milestone then great, acknowledge it. But do so in your own way, in a private message and drive a conversation through that opportunity.
And if it doesn’t look like the milestone itself is important, take the opportunity to say hello anyway and start a conversation.
But put some thought into it, personalise it and stand out from the bots in the crowd.