We can probably agree that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for building your network and perhaps creating social capital, however, there are undoubtedly good and productive ways of doing this as well as turn-offs that you should avoid. Note, these are subject to interpretation and therefore based purely on my own preferences and perceptions.
Let’s look at a sample of what came in on my LinkedIn feed in the last few days and how I feel about it:
At least this is a straight forward solicitation, though it can be construed as a bit condescending. VPAs are not exactly the stuff of science fiction. How did I respond: polite “no thank you.”
Although I get dozens of these per week, this one is relatively interesting because it is also quite straight forward, lists the services that the firm offers, and politely asks whether I would like to explore. I haven’t decided, but I’ll probably do some research and then I may schedule an exploratory appointment.
This is yet another interminable coaching offer and, yes, I’m ignoring it because it presupposes my team and I need coaching… which might even be true, but I do not appreciate the presumption.
This is an excellent approach. It asks for nothing but offers a connection and a chat, executive to executive. How refreshing not to be solicited! I’ll probably take him up on it.
Ah! Flattery! Often a potent tool if used properly, but in this case I’m suspicious because it comes from a purveyor of brand consulting, and of all our opportunities to improve this is probably at the bottom of my list.
Hmmm. Well, yes, I did go to that school but I haven’t had any connection with it or its alumni in 38 years so perhaps this is not the most effective appeal he could make. Besides, he obviously wants to offer me financial services that I’m not in the market for.
I’m not sure what this person is offering and I respect his persistence, but if I wasn’t interested the first time he contacted me, then this reminder offers no particular enticements to connect now, so I am likely to continue to ignore it.
Here’s yet another business coach offering services, though it seems more convoluted than normal, since he seems to be offering me something while assuming I don’t want it. I cannot see any pressing reason to engage.
There are several aspects of this message that appeal to me. He was introduced to me by someone I know so I am positively inclined. It’s personal and expresses a decent interest in my well being up front. It also explains fairly directly the value proposition: outsourcing. There may be tasks he can help us with. I think I’ll follow up.
In our view, your connections on LinkedIn should be precious and not necessarily abundant. Choose carefully. If you are serious about the connection, look for someone you already know to make the introduction. That is the whole beauty of the first, second, and even third level connections on LinkedIn. Introductions from people you know are simply more valuable.
Also, on LinkedIn as elsewhere in life, givers gain. Don’t begin your relationship with an “ask.” In other words, before you ask for something, pay it forward and offer something of value up front. It might be just a sincere expression of interest in what the other person is doing, or an article/blog post/or other item of value that you want to share. Perhaps you should like the individual’s posts or share them as a social gesture. You may also want to offer some input on an issue that you can reasonably expect may interest the other individual.
There are many other useful tidbits our clients learn as they begin to utilize LinkedIn as the powerful tool that it is for mobilizing connections to support your career. Let us know if you would like to learn more, and in the meantime, please always use LinkedIn wisely and deliberately.
The Barrett Group
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