LinkedIn is a great platform to grow your professional network. No longer regarded as just a repository for resumes, LinkedIn’s 610 million strong membership means you can connect with people in any role, any industry, any location.
But doing it incorrectly can damage your business, and your personal brand.
To connect effectively, it’s vital to do things like:
1. Personalise your request
This is your chance to make a great first impression, and stand out from the crowd. So take the time to write a brief note of introduction: it shows respect for the person you’re connecting with and that you’ve made the request deliberately.
2. Read their profile
Familiarise yourself with the whole person, not just their name or job title.
Topics such as causes they care about and content they’ve shared can be great conversation starters.
Reading some of their posts and articles will also give you a sense of their preferred communication style and language preferences. Research shows we’re attracted to people who are like ourselves; the more you know about the person you’re connecting with, the easier it is to write a message that resonates.
3. Find commonality
Giving the people you invite to connect a sense of familiarity helps position your request as genuine rather than spam.
Simple acknowledgements like mutual connections, a LinkedIn group or industry association you both belong to, or industry affiliations and synergies show that there’s potential benefit for both sides, not just yours.
And you’ll want to avoid things like:
1. Using the pre-formatted LinkedIn request
You’ve all seen it: the standard, cookie-cutter connection request from LinkedIn. The one you know had no input from the sender, aside from clicking a button.
What impression did it give you? Did you wonder if the sender even knew who you were?
We all want to be treated like individuals, yet we often forget that others deserve this effort too.
2. Connect and pitch
LinkedIn has incredible potential as a lead generation tool. But like any social media, it’s about community – hence the word ‘social’!
Nothing burns people faster than connecting with them, then immediately sending a marketing or sales message. Not only does create a bad first impression and make them less receptive to future messages, it becomes the proverbial ‘rotten apple‘ – making it harder for other members with a genuine message to be heard.
Give value first. And then give it again. And give it TIME!
Why not ask them who their ideal connection or client is, and examine your network – is there someone you could introduce? Or share some interesting content (not your own) they might find useful.
3. Generic, sales-heavy messages
Once you’ve taken the time to build a relationship, there’s going to come a time when you want to present your sales offer. And that’s not a bad thing. Research shows that social selling is on the rise, and is highly effective if done well.
Just take care to craft a message that is personal, succinct, and answers the perennial customer question: what’s in it for me?
For more tips on using LinkedIn effectively, check out our blog: “LinkedIn: it’s not just for jobseekers“.