Without a doubt, LinkedIn is the platform of choice for professional networking. There are countless articles, guru’s and organisations of all sizes with lots of advice about what should go on your profile, and how important it is to have a strong network. Building that network – at the most mechanical level – requires the following:
- Asking others to connect with you
- Accepting connection requests from others
I’m constantly surprised (and usually annoyed) when I see the following show up in my inbox:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
Really? You’re trying to demonstrate your professionalism by asking someone to connect with you using the canned LinkedIn message? I’m curious to find out how often that works. Personally, unless I know the person who has sent me a canned message quite well, I just ignore the request.
Again, there are thousands of pages online explaining the etiquette of sending a LinkedIn request, but I guess it bears repeating given the number of generic connection messages I keep getting.
When sending a connection request to someone, here are a couple of good rules to follow.
Explain how you know them (or not)
- You have worked with them in the past
- You met them (recently or a while ago) at <some event or place>
- You saw them present at <some event> but did not get a chance to introduce yourself
- You know people in common
- You have worked for the same organisation at some point
- You have similar interests to them
Tell them why you’re sending them a connection request
- You admire their work / career
- You were impressed with their presentation
- You want advice
- You want a job
Also, bear in mind where you’re sending your request from. Last time I checked (about a month ago), the mobile apps didn’t give you an opportunity to personalise your connection message.
Remember, you only get 300 characters (including whitespace such as spaces between words and blank lines) to make an impression, so make them count. Your mileage may vary, but these two things are generally what I want to know when I receive an invite, and what I put in when I send one out.