A few months ago my 10-year-old daughter participated in a talent show while we were on a cruise. My husband and I were encouraged to enjoy the show rather than watching it from behind a camera lens because it was being recorded and posted on social media. We approached the Communications Director afterward to ask about accessing the recording and were told it would be posted on TikTok. Puzzled, we looked at each other, “What’s TikTok?” We were informed, “It’s the newest thing. All the kids are using it.” Apparently, we are no longer “kids.”
Regardless of whether you love or hate social media, it is here to stay. While there are plenty of social media platforms you can probably live without, LinkedIn is not one of them if you are on the job market or want to increase your professional status.
Globally, LinkedIn is the largest social media platform designed specifically for professional networking, employment opportunities, personal branding, and business advertising. There are nearly 600 million LinkedIn users worldwide, but unlike Facebook and Instagram, whose users log on multiple times a day, only about 40% of LinkedIn members access the site daily.
LinkedIn is a grossly under-utilized asset. This is unfortunate because over 90% of recruiters regularly use it to evaluate job candidates or actively pursue hires when they have an open position. Many people forget about LinkedIn until they start looking for a new job. If you’ve taken a “set it and forget it” approach to LinkedIn you’ve probably been missing out on some excellent opportunities.
Aside from the 20million+ job postings listed on LinkedIn each year, you can learn about new companies and products, build your personal brand by receiving recommendations and posting comments or articles, and perhaps most importantly, expand your professional network.
How do you grow your network and make connections on LinkedIn? While there aren’t any hard and fast rules, there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure you have the best shot at receiving a response and hopefully, forging a new connection.
Six Tips for Successfully Connecting on LinkedIn
1. Do your research. Do you have someone in mind you’d like to meet? If so, be sure you’ve done your due diligence and know something about him or her to see how you might be able to forge a connection. Do you have anything in common with this individual? Maybe you went to the same university and can mention this to start a conversation.
Alternatively, do you know anyone else from the company? Maybe you could reach out to that person and ask for an introduction.
Regardless of who you decide to reach out to, be sure to read their LinkedIn profile and find out something upon which you can build. You might be able to use that information to say something like, “I read your article on LinkedIn about time management and the challenges of working remotely. It really struck a chord with me and I’d love to learn more.”
2. Use your OWN words. When you push that CONNECT button the recipient receives a generic, “Kelly would like to connect” message. But LinkedIn does provide the option to “include a note” with your connection (see below).
If you want to make a genuine connection, you should show you are willing to make the effort. The personalized invitation doesn’t have to be long, but it should be there and be thoughtful. One to two sentences stating why you would like to be acquainted is typically enough to generate a positive response.
3. Give your elevator pitch. If you’ve met the person before, remind them who you are and where you met. If this is a blind connection, meaning this person probably has no clue who you are, tell them a little about yourself. Again, this doesn’t have to be your life history. But a few lines about yourself gives the connection request an idea of who you are and increases the likelihood they will accept.
4. Woo them. It may have been a few years, but remember the last time you tried to impress a date? Granted, this is LinkedIn, not Tinder, but you should still make the effort to impress. After all, you already know why you want this connection. Tell them why they should want it.
5. Differentiate yourself. One way to make an impression is by demonstrating your worth. Along with your invitation, include something the recipient might appreciate. You could invite them to an upcoming event you’ll be hosting that might be of interest or give a compliment about how you much admired their work on a particular project. If you decide to give any type of feedback on someone’s work, make sure it’s positive. Unsolicited, critical comments from a stranger are unlikely to win anyone’s favor.
6. Give, don’t take. Refrain from asking for anything when you send a connection request. At some point in the future, when the relationship is established, you can ask for help. But if you use the connection request to ask for a meeting, help finding a job, feedback on a resume, or anything else, you probably won’t get a response. An immediate ask indicates you are after something that will benefit you, not a reciprocal relationship.
LinkedIn is a great resource when used to its fullest potential. And perhaps its most valuable function is the ability to network virtually, particularly in the current environment when opportunities to meet new people are limited. Just be sure to craft those connection requests thoughtfully to ensure positive responses. Good luck and Happy Linking!