How many LinkedIn invitations do you get from people that you don’t know? Some have a head shot photo, some don’t. Most use the default invitation copy that LinkedIn makes available to its users. In my opinion, LinkedIn is trying too hard to emulate Facebook’s functionality and user philosophy: the person with the most friends wins.
LinkedIn serves a different purpose
LinkedIn is a professional online networking site, not a social site. As such, you need to practice more professional etiquette when using LinkedIn. You wouldn’t send a form letter to a key prospect client or potential employer and expect to get hired, would you? You wouldn’t invite a business colleague to an event without including some kind of personalized message, would you? You wouldn’t reach out to someone that you don’t know well and identify yourself as a “friend” without any other explanation as to why you are contacting them, would you?
Then, why is it that the last 15 LinkedIn invitations that I have received say nothing more than name, rank and serial number? Where is the personalization? Where is the professional touch? Why are so many people limiting their outreach activities by using the default features of LinkedIn (“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”)? Is it lack of awareness or just plain laziness?
Establish your own LinkedIn policy
Out of necessity, I have established my own LinkedIn policy. It has two parts: 1) Do I recognize your photo or know you? and 2) Have you bothered to write me a personal message? If you do not meet these simple criteria, I select the button that says IGNORE and I decline your LinkedIn invitation.
If you did make the effort to identify yourself and send a personalized message, then I check you out and decide if yours is a good connection for me. I then invest my time and energy in looking at your profile.
One other caution: if you are just getting started with LinkedIn, reach out to your existing colleagues and family to populate your contact list. Don’t send invitations to high profile people unless you have something to offer – that is, good content and a respectable numbers of contacts. I am suspicious when I receive invitations from people who have only 2-8 contacts. Sorry, but I don’t want to be your guinea pig.
Other tricks and tips to leverage LinkedIn to your networking advantage
Below is a list of the other best practices that I have established for myself when using LinkedIn:
- Include personalized messages with every LinkedIn invitation that I send
- Immediately send a message to the person whose invitation I have accepted. This establishes an immediate touch.
- Send a LinkedIn invitation to people whom I meet at conferences and networking events (within 48 hours)
- As a rapport builder, send a LinkedIn invitation ahead of time to business people that I have meetings with
- Add a relevant piece of content (article, blog, quote) in my status update on LinkedIn at least once/week
- Send congratulations notes to people whose profiles have been changed to announce new jobs, promotions or other accomplishments
- Include my telephone number and email address when I send one-on-one messages to people in my LinkedIn network. I always want to make it easy for them to contact me
Mine your contacts’ databases
I wish that I could tell you that I make a regular practice of mining the contact list of people in my network. I try to do this with new people, but even mining databases for this reduced group presents an overwhelming task. I just don’t have the time or discipline to do that. Instead, I do it on an as-needed basis such as when I am trying to make an important new connection or when I am doing research on an influential individual or company that I’d like to approach.
Social media is powerful, so use it responsibly
With social media, you now have the ability to develop a global professional network filled with potentially thousands of connections from across the globe. You are no longer restricted to the people in your immediate geography. The world is your network.
Many professional people still have their heads in the sand when it comes to LinkedIn and social media. Under-performance on social media could be limiting your company’s marketing platform. It may also limit your future career opportunities.
On the flip side, people have lost jobs because they were reckless on social media. If you’re an employee, I encourage you to check with your Human Resources Department to understand your company’s policy towards social media and LinkedIn before using it. Don’t make assumptions and don’t take undue risks with social media communication.
I’ve created a 9-page workbook that provides ideas and guidelines on how you can more effectively use LinkedIn and other social media to manage your career, grow your business and make yourself more digitally distinct. You can use this workbook as a team discussion tool at your next staff meeting or lunch and learn.
- Download the free mini Workbook-Upgrade Your Digital Presence by Kathy McAfee
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Set your own standards for how you want to interact professionally online. Raise the bar of your social media interactions and increase the QUALITY of your online communication and connection.
If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, please send me an invitation with a personalized message (select the OTHER category, not the friend category, and add my email address, which you can find on my core web site: http://marketingmotivator.net/about-us/contact-us/ Be sure you have your photograph uploaded to your LinkedIn profile. You can find me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/kathymcafee/