I remember the days when people questioned if LinkedIn had any real value. They’ve now grown to over 200 million users and generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue. Times have changed.
Another thing that has changed is the world of online connections. With people spending more time online, and less time building face-to-face relationships, it can be easy for one to have a lapse in manners when communicating with others digitally. That can be especially crucial if you want to connect with someone on a professional level because you would like to do business with them.
Here are a few things to think about when you connect to people on LinkedIn. The web may be casual, but the lack of context clues to go along with your actions make it even more important to make a good impression.
Tip #1 – Write a Personalized Message
It will take about 2 minutes, but make a world of difference when it comes to first impressions. You shouldn’t rely on the automated “insert your name here would like to add you as a connection because you are someone they trust.” Do you realize how silly that looks when you are requesting a connection with someone you don’t know and have never talked to? Take a minute to say hi, introduce yourself, and say why you would like to connect.
That little bit of effort will go a long way in putting the person on the other side of your request at ease. They won’t have to wonder what your intentions are and assume the worst. Instead, they will have a clear picture of how the connection might be helpful to you both.
Tip #2 = Communicate With Others as You Would in Person
When you write your personalized message, take the time to come across as a real person. Don’t be a robot with a one track mind that is only concerned about your personal benefit. I just checked my personal LinkedIn account. The last invitation I got was from a sales rep and his message was “Hi, Do you manage SEM for insert my company’s name?” Instant turn-off.
If I met this individual at a networking event, or heck even through a cold-call, I doubt he’d start off by asking me questions. Also, remember that people are people and not just employees at the companies listed on their profiles. Take a more personal approach if you want to build a real relationship.
Tip #3 = Don’t Take Your Connections For Granted
I once connected with someone on LinkedIn only to have them scrape my personal email address and add it to their company’s email list minutes later. I once connected with someone on LinkedIn only to have them send me a spam message with an affiliate link minutes later. I once connected with someone on LinkedIn only to have them request I give them a personal recommendation minutes later. You get the point.
Never, never, never forget that connections on LinkedIn are supposed to be mutually beneficial. Connecting with people purely for your own gain is not a good look. Always attempt to give before you take.