LinkedIn is a great professional networking tool. When there are people on LinkedIn that you want to connect with who you don’t know personally, you can reach out to them. You can use InMail ((LinkedIn’s confidential email system) or you can contact people through groups that you belong to. But with these options to connect with strangers also comes responsibility. You need to use LinkedIn responsibly in order to be taken seriously. Otherwise, your networking efforts will make you fall flat on your face.
Here are some cardinal rules of what not to do when reaching out to people for the first time on LinkedIn:
- Don’t spam them. This is huge. Too many people decide that LinkedIn is a great place to reach out to everyone, and they use LinkedIn as an opportunity to mass mail everyone that they can. People don’t join LinkedIn for more junk mail. You are not likely to get positive responses from mass mailings on the site, if you get any responses at all.
- Don’t send an invitation without tailoring it. When you invite a stranger to join your network, give the person some context for your invitation. For example, if you see that the person just published a great post or was quoted in the media, you can mention this as your motivation for reaching out to connect. Without the context, the person doesn’t know why you want to connect, and may not be inclined to accept your invitation.
- Don’t reach out before doing your homework. Research the person that you want to connect with before making contact. Hopefully you will be able to find something in common with that person. It may be that you are both alumni of the same school, that you know people in common, or that you worked for the same organization in the past. These types of things give you a point of connection.
- Don’t immediately ask for something. This is a big turnoff. You haven’t earned the right to ask a stranger for anything. Wait until you have established a positive relationship first. It’s best to give in the beginning and cultivate a relationship so that when you get to the point of being comfortable enough to ask for something, the other person is likely to say yes.
- Don’t start networking until your profile represents you well. Strangers don’t know you, so the first impression they will have of you is from your profile. If they see an unflattering photo, typos, and incomplete information, their first impression will not be a positive one. As much as you may want to start networking now, don’t do it until your profile is top-notch.
- Don’t send any communications without using spell check and grammar check first. Whether it is posting an update, responding to a post in groups, or writing your own post, it’s always best to check your spelling and grammar. What you write is representing you and your brand, and people who don’t know you will judge you accordingly.
Is your profile holding you back from being able to harness the networking power of LinkedIn? Talk to a social media expert today! Call 877-743-9521 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.