LinkedIn, Networking, social media, Uncategorized

Identify the “Link” Before You Send a LinkedIn Invite to Connect

Because I’m a digital marketing expert, and advise clients on social media strategy and/or serve as their social media voice, I felt I owed it to the many individuals who use LinkedIn — both the right way and the wrong way — to call out a major user “faux pas” and how to fix it.

Given the fact no job or business is ever 100% secure — times and interest in products and services by current customers change rapidly, management comes and goes, new technology makes certain products or services obsolete, etc. — if you are of employment age, then you should be maintaining an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn and actively using it to connect with both individuals you do know, and individuals you don’t. This will ensure you are adequately connected when you find yourself in need of identifying your next permanent or contract gig.

So, now to the “faux pas”. If you’re going to reach out to someone via LinkedIn whom you don’t know well or don’t know at all, and it’s not totally obvious why you want to connect with them (for example, they are not a close friend, or former co-worker or manager), you should never, ever send an invite to connect without 1) devising a note of some sort  that goes beyond the standard one of “I’d like to connect on LinkedIn.”; and 2) including in your note some context around why you want to connect.

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As a marketer who understands “best practices” and the proper use of various forms of social media, for some time now, I haven’t accepted requests to connect from individuals I don’t know who haven’t taken the time to explain why we should “connect.” However, I’m kind enough to reach out to these “inviters” and ask them why they want to connect before I completely write them off as a possible LinkedIn connection. I hope by doing so, I’m teaching them how to better make connections going forward, so they they and all LinkedIn users will benefit.

A good salesperson knows you have to explain the value-add associated with any product or service you sell. In the case of LinkedIn, you are selling yourself, and you need to explain to your “invitee” why and how they would benefit from connecting with you. As the inviter, you have the responsibility to identify the “link” for your “invitee”. Hey you wouldn’t invite someone to a party or event without explaining what it’s all about, right? The “link” could be having careers in the same field, volunteering at the same organization or ones with similar interests, having attended the same college or graduate school, having a lot of mutual connections, having the same passions/interests, etc. The explanation you provide with your invite doesn’t have to be long. In fact, ideally it shouldn’t be (you can and should wait until your target “invitee” accepts before providing too much detail; you can use the LinkedIn “message” function later on to provide that greater detail). Sample explanations include:

  • “I’d love to connect with you because of our similar interests in healthcare technology”
  • I’d love to connect because I see we have quite a few mutual connections from our careers in community banking”
  • “I think we’d enjoy being connected because I see we are equally passionate about digital marketing”
  • “I’d welcome connecting because I really enjoyed your article, blog post, presentation, etc. about x,y, and z, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.”

So, the next time you go to send a LinkedIn invite to connect, give some good thought as to why you want to connect with the individual in-question, and why they’d want to connect with you. If all LinkedIn users employ this protocol, we can improve on the great tool that LinkedIn already is and make it an even more effective environment for ensuring interesting conversations and beneficial connections happen between the right people.

Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, Networking

Oh Yes, I’m The Great Connector…

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Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the Connector and Pretender rhyme a bit, but I’ve had so many reminders recently of the power of connecting individuals to each other that I wanted a punchy phrase and tune to kick off this discussion.

One of the best characteristics I inherited from my mom, Terry Snow — through observation and/or genes — is recognizing the value and importance of connecting people to each other, and taking the initiative to do so.  My mom is one of the classiest, kindest people I know, and while being a mother of six children didn’t allow for a corporate life, she always introduced individuals from one social or community/volunteer organization circle to people in another circle.  She didn’t care how different the people she introduced were.  She wanted everyone to feel included, loved, and supported, and she saw great value in ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds got to know each other.

Probably because of the above, I’ve always been a connector on the romance front.  Two of my closest friends can attest to my introducing them to their husbands.  My love of playing matchmaker dates back to my early 20’s and I continue that practice to this day; however, as my career and professional life grew after college and graduate school, I’ve also enjoyed and saw the great importance of connecting individuals on the professional front.

I’ve shared many a headhunter/recruiter name with fellow job searchers, and am always passing contract and permanent job leads on to individuals who might be interested in them.  I’ve passed many a friend’s or colleague’s resume on to another friend or colleague in a hiring mode/capacity, and friends have landed jobs or interviews that way.  I also regularly share information about someone else’s services with others who might benefit from that service and/or who might be in a position to take advantage of that service.  My belief is that there’s always plenty of work, and permanent and contract job opportunities to go around, so why not help facilitate some discussions in situations where both parties might benefit?  My other belief — and I’ve experienced this many times over — is that when you help someone out, they are likely to return the favor, and what you put out there in the universe is returned to you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can make a “connection” on your behalf — I’m glad to do so.  While I’m well-situated on the romance front — in fact, a lovely friend match-made me and my wonderful husband over 15 years ago — I hope you’ll consider “connecting” me on the professional front, as appropriate.

I’d love to hear your great stories about how the personal and professional connections you’ve made changed someone’s lives or how someone “connecting” you to the right person changed your life. During this holiday season, don’t forget the importance of connecting individuals who could really benefit from some new personal and/or professional connections.