5 Quick Tips for Requesting Connections on LinkedIn

Monday, 30 April 2012

Business etiquette is nothing new. Dress appropriately, be prepared, look people in the eye, give a firm handshake. But how does that translate to the online world of networking, conference calls and virtual meetings? LinkedIn etiquette advice abounds, but it’s something people still struggle with. Which is tough, since today it’s entirely possible to do all or most of your business online, rarely meeting your contacts face to face. And while there is no denying that meeting in real life is beneficial for business,  LinkedIn allows you to get a head start and “meet” people online, in a professional setting.

Connecting online can be a great first step towards meeting new clients, reaching out about a job opening, securing a recommendation or just reconnecting with old coworkers. But as a business networking site,  LinkedIn has its own unique set of quirks and unspoken rules to follow. Here’s how to navigate them.

1) Get Your Facts Straight

LinkedIn helps you find connections based on the information you provide them. They’ll also use this to pre-populate options for introducing yourself to connections, so take the time to fill out your bio as completely as possible. And be accurate! It doesn’t help to lie here; the last thing you want is connections asking for things you can’t deliver or employers spotting your exaggerations.

2) Show Your Face

You’d be surprised how many profiles have no picture on LinkedIn, even though they are actively using the site and requesting connections. It’s so easy to add a photo, there’s no excuse not to. And besides all the contextual info and details you can use to explain who you are, the quickest way to get me to remember you and accept your request is to see your face and match a face to a name.

3) Tell The Truth

When you go to connect with someone, the first thing LinkedIn asks is “how do you know this person?” Be honest. Selecting “friend” to avoid having to add details won’t win you points if we’ve never met, either online or off. And saying we “worked together” is not the same as ” did business together.” We’re starting off on the wrong foot if you’re trying to skirt the rules put in place by LinkedIn.

4) Give Me Details

Assuming you’ve now accurately selected how we met, give me some background. If we worked or went to school together, remind me where. Same goes for doing business together; it’s much more likely I remember the guy I saw every day at work then the vendor I met once 3 years ago. And if we don’t know each other? Say that, then use your note to explain why you want to connect.

5) Make It Personal

And I mean actually personal, not fake personal. LinkedIn will let you create a single custom message to accompany all your requests, but go beyond that. Especially if we don’t really know each other. Tell me why we should connect. Do you follow my blog, sit across from me in kindergarten, pull my name out of a hat? Tell me! This is your chance to be creative and make a great first impression.

Follow these steps and your connection acceptance rate should quickly increase. Not to mention, you’ll be opening the door for a better professional relationship you can actually use in the future. And isn’t that what you were going for?

Have another tip, or ever gotten a really memorable LinkedIn request? Share your best connection stories in the comments below!

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