Professional social media like LinkedIn has made it easier to network and maintain meaningful relations, however, the catch is to not treat it like any other social media platform. LinkedIn comes with its own set of rules, and following the proper etiquette of networking will help you to stand out, build relationships, and increase your success and business results.
So before you hit that connect button and ask a complete stranger for a recommendation, read this.
Connect with people who add value to your work
We’ll start with the obvious – connect with people you know, or know of. Mindlessly adding people simply to boast of a large network makes no sense here. Even when you are accepting invitations make sure you have had at least one professional interaction with the person or the company.
Aim for quality, not quantity when building virtual relationships. When you connect with anybody and everybody, you’re left with a disorganised phonebook, instead of valuable connections.
Build your network in an intelligent, meaningful and strategic manner.
Let your invite speak for itself
Always send a personalised connection request. LinkedIn provides built-in generic messaging options, however, using that portrays a lack of dedication and sincerity. Navigate to the individual’s profile page instead, click on the ‘connect’ button and customise your invitation appropriately.
Make your message unique, gesturing that you’re a legitimate person who takes time for real relationships. Rather than saying “I browsed across your profile”, share specific details like “I was exploring about <insert subject here> and this led me to you”. Give it a personal touch. Be deliberate instead of accidental.
It is also a good idea to do a quick search before you send out invitations. Review their ‘all activity’ section before writing that short, ultra-relevant and well-informed custom connection request.
Respond within 24 hours of being connected
Send a welcome message within 24 hours after you’ve connected. Write a short and friendly welcome message thanking them for connecting and showing your interest in maintaining the connection. You may compliment them on something within their profile, their business or something they have recently shared on LinkedIn. If you can find any commonality with them such as shared experience interests or connections, bring that up. This is the start of your relationship building process on LinkedIn.
Absolutely do not ask them for anything in this message.
Keep your interaction positive
Once you have the connection established, it is very important to maintain the relationship. For starters keep all your conversations polite and professional. Even if they refuse to refer your profile for a job, or do not respond to your query about the HR’s contact, maintain a positive tone.
Develop your LinkedIn relationships through regular engagement. LinkedIn will notify you with trigger events like when your connection starts a new job or is mentioned in the news. Take a moment to congratulate them with a personalised message. When you come across a resource that would be relevant to someone in your network, reach out to them personally with a note and share it with them. When someone is commenting on your content, reply with kindness. If someone shares your content, comment on it and thank them for sharing.
Don’t tag people in your posts
While it may be tempting to tag people in posts that you deem important and interesting, don’t do it. Share with them in a message instead of mass tagging your network. Also, while we are talking about not spamming people, remember just because someone has connected with you on LinkedIn does not give you permission to send them emails right away. Not only is it illegal in some countries, but it is also a highly unethical marketing practice that should be avoided entirely.
Wait before you ask for a recommendation
Recommendation requests is another topic of concern. LinkedIn provides a default message for this one too, but never use them. Always customise messages and do not ask for a recommendation from someone you have just connected with. Invest time in building the connection before asking for a recommendation.
LinkedIn is a professional space, much the same as an office. Actions and behaviour that are not suitable in your office, are also inappropriate on LinkedIn. Just by keeping these few network etiquette in practices, you can cause a profound difference in your ability to connect and build on LinkedIn.