Let’s face it, to build your professional network you will want to forge relationships with people who you don’t know personally. So why not use LinkedIn as a professional starting point? LinkedIn is designed for professional networking!
Let’s take a step back first. What are the rules of offline networking? You don’t just walk up to a person and ask them for their resume and list of contacts do you? No, you introduce yourself FIRST. The same rule applies to making connections via LinkedIn, that is if you want to really network.
You don’t want to go spamming people with empty invitations or canned messages to connect. You have to introduce yourself first! If you don’t, you’ll look like a lazy networker/sleazy salesperson who happens to be clueless about building relationships on social media. I know you don’t want that to happen!
The note doesn’t have to be too fancy or deep, but you need to give a reason for the connection. I have heard too many hi-profile professionals say the same thing: they will not connect with a stranger who sends a canned invitation with no explanation. Think about it: why would I add a complete stranger as a friend or connection? I don’t know you so why give you access to my colleagues and network to sales pitch, or worse, tarnish my reputation?
You instantly give the impression that you’re playing a quantity-over-quality numbers game when you send an empty or canned message requesting a connection. What is a canned message? The standard auto-filled connection message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. ” that appears when you send an invitation to connect.
So take 2 minutes to write a message to let someone know why you want to connect. Not only will this increase the likelihood that someone will connect with you, but you have just started a conversation, and you are on your way to building a relationship with this new connection. If your request is ignored, don’t take it personally, maybe you can think of another way to “connect” with that person.
Note: This does not include “Open Networkers”, also known as LIONs. If you see LION after a person’s name on LinkedIn, they are open to connecting with everyone.
Are we connected? Connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/kemyascott. Send me a quick note and tell me you found me via this post!
Looking for more ways to leverage your LinkedIn profile? I wrote a post just for you: A Few Simple Ways to Leverage LinkedIn