How To Network on LinkedIn

Best LinkedIn Connect Request Ever

Lately I’ve been getting a lot more requests from to conduct LinkedIn Networking Workshops for B2B sales teams. It seems companies and organizations are finally waking up to the fact that LinkedIn is so much more than an online resume collection. At the same time I’m seeing an uptick in really bad LinkedIn networking attempts. So today I wanted to take a few minutes to share three simple tips that I usually reserve for our LinkedIn Workshops.

If you’d like to hear more tips, you can always request a LinkedIn Workshop for your company. In the meantime, enjoy these simple starters.

How Not To Network On LinkedIn

For the love of God please stop sending the standard, LinkedIn connection requests. As soon as I see, “Hi, I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn Network” I hit delete. It’s a pavlovian thing. When you send the standard LinkedIn connection message you’re basically telling me that you don’t really want to connect, you’re just trying to build your rolodex or worse, you’re a salesperson and you’ve got something to sell me.

Take the time to personalize the message. I’m not asking you to write War & Peace, but write something. Even if you just pick something out of the person’s LinkedIn profile or I don’t know, maybe take a second to check out their company, their Twitter profile or any of the information folks often connect to their LI profile. If at all possible, consider crafting something truly creative that rewards the prospective connection with a good laugh or something in exchange for reading your request to connect. The photo for this post is an actual LinkedIn Request sent to Ann Handley — you can read her entire post here and see if she accepted the connection.

And lastly, while we’re on this subject, don’t ever try to connect with someone you don’t know via the LinkedIn mobile app. When you click the connect button on the mobile app, it automatically uses the standard LI connection message. You can’t change it or personalize it. It’s a HUGE oversight in my opinion, but till they change it, you’re better off just using the mobile app to connect with folks you actually have met in real life.

Using In-Mails

If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to network more effectively, pony up for one of the paid versions. One of the great benefits of the paid version is In-Mails. These are a much better, less spammy and more effective way to reach out to folks on LinkedIn that you don’t currently share connections, groups or anything with yet. Also, LinkedIn guarantees that these emails will be opened and read. If they are not, then LI gives you a credit back for that In-Mail. So you either make a connection or you get a freebie.

I’ve used these extensively to reach folks and honestly, if you get a little creative with it, they can be surprisingly effective at opening doors. So quit being cheap and buy the access to the tools that give you an edge in LinkedIn networking.

Membership Has It’s Privileges

And on LinkedIn one of the privileges of joining LinkedIn Groups is that you get to email or connect with folks that are not 2nd or 3rd degree connections to you without having to resort to spam tactics or In-Mails. So if there is a prospect you really want to meet, check out their group memberships. Then go see if they are just a member or actually active in those groups.

If they’re active, join and get active yourself. Take the opportunity to engage them in conversation via comments on content that is published to the group. Make a point of getting to know them a bit. THEN when you go to connect, by indicating you’re in a shared group, you can reference back to some of those conversations and increase the likelihood they’ll accept your connection request. Even if they’re not active or you’ve not been able to strike up a conversation with them, by simply joining the same group they are in you still open the email connection access channel. But here again, write something meaningful. Tell them what’s in it for them (WIIFT) when you ask to connect.

So there you go, three simple tips to improve your LinkedIn networking. Give them a try and if you have any to add yourself, let me hear them in the comments.

And CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about our LinkedIn Workshops or Social Selling Workshops.

photo credit to MarketingProfs

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    Couldn’t agree more about personalizing the message. If you don’t take time time to explain why you’re reaching out, you’re no better than spam. Even if you’re just looking for a job — maybe even especially so — talk human to other humans.

    • Yep — you’re right Kristen… seems that all of this “instant connection” technology has lulled folks into forgetting their manners. I mean seriously, would you just walk up to someone and say “hey, give me your phone number or hey, give me your email address” ??? But yet, when we forget to personalize the LI invite we’re doing exactly that!

  2. Kindred spirit Tom – hate the generic invite. (Made the app mistake once, immediately tweeted that it was a mistake that I couldn’t customize.) Even customized, I prefer a little more context than ‘we both like oxygen, should totally connect.’ For a time I replied asking where, how we’ve crossed paths and why we should connect; but all too rarely did I ever get an answer, so now I mostly just ignore them.

    Should use the groups more I know, really all of LI; it’s why I’m cheap, not pro – don’t put enough into it to see the returns – but you’re right, for some that is absotively the way to go. And h/t for the WIIFT (use ‘WIIFM’ all the time). FWIW.

    • Davina,

      Yep — that mobile thing really ticks me off. Why they don’t address that totally confuses me. I’m at a conf, I meet someone and what do I do? I pull out my phone to connect with them on LI and I can’t even add a nice, “Hey it was really great to meet and chat… mind if we connect here so we don’t lose track of each other?”

      And get the Pro girlfriend! It’s only like $30 a month but truly worth it — if for nothing else it let’s you see who’s viewed your profile which can be VERY telling and an awesome prospecting tool. And thanks for sharing the post on Twitter — always appreciate when folks do that.

  3. David Wojdyla says:

    Tom, over the last 14 months, I’ve crafted–and tested–nearly 100 “personalized” LinkedIn connection requests. They can be sorted into three buckets:

    A) Failed miserably (74)
    B) Pretty good (19)
    C) Winners (3)

    YSK, the invitations found in bucket C won’t be found in any book or workshop about LinkedIn networking. But just as you advise, they’re (1) personalized, (2) somewhat shorter than “War & Peace” and (3) truly creative.

    Thanks for this post and these tips.

    Best,

    David Wojdyla, the “happiest man in andvertising”
    1500+ connections.

  4. Tom,

    Spot on as usual. Thanks for the tip on NOT using the mobile app for connecting. I have not used it for connecting, but it is good to know.

    I help with a local career networking group in personal branding and using LinkedIn for a job search. A key part of my training is to build connections and I stress “LinkedIn is not Facebook. You should connect with only those people you know in real life or some other way;” e.g., virtually through groups. LinkedIn’s conversation level is that of a trade show or convention. Facebook is the backyard BBQ. Totally different markets.

    With encouraging job seekers to get out and network in real life, exchanging business cards is one way to help build the network as you can use the email address to request a LinkedIn connection. I always, stress the need to modify the standard lame LinkedIn message by telling the person to customize the message and make it personal. Remind the person you are trying to connect with how you know that person, where you met him or her. It prevents your connect request from ending in the trash folder.

    One other thing I have also found thought my 1-on-1 sessions with job seekers is LinkedIn will send out the same lame connection message if the job seeker I am working with uses the connect via “Add Connections via email address book.” It is always best to do it in a personalized way. It takes longer, but it has more value. Best to avoid that process as well.

    • Thanks Jeff — completely agree with you re: using LI. Like any membership, you’re going to get out what you put in right? Come back soon my friend.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Turn strangers into friends. You can certainly use LinkedIn’s toolset to connect (via a personalized connection request, In-Mail, etc.) and take the conversation [...]

  2. [...] privileges, you are both members of the same group; or … when you invite them to connect. Over 90% of the connection requests that I receive on LinkedIn are NOT personalized. Unbelievable! Why would you severely limit your chances of having a connection request accepted, [...]

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