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Sending a connection request on LinkedIn? Make sure you don’t do this

LinkedIn is a powerful online professional networking resource and likely one of your most useful tools for managing your relationships and online career profile. Building up your network is one of the most important things a professional can do- not just when job searching but throughout one’s career. LinkedIn has done a tremendous job at rolodexing our real world connections online. But it’s also allowed us to go one step further and made it easier for us reach out to people we’ve never met before but share mutual connections and interests.

Whether it’s scrolling through “People You May Know”, searching a name from a business card or looking up employees at companies you’re interested in, LinkedIn makes it so easy to “connect” that all you have to do is click that shiny blue button. But in its ease, you could be doing yourself a disservice.

Connecting this way means LinkedIn automatically sends this generic message: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Not only is this message impersonal, it also lowers the likelihood that your target will accept your request. This is particularly true if you’ve never, or only briefly met, the person before. It’s the equivalent of asking a stranger ‘who do you know and do you want to be friends?’.

While it’s true that this behaviour is more acceptable in the online world, now more than ever, savvy professionals want to keep their networks limited to known relationships. However, they’re still open to meeting new people. But the best way to ask to connect with someone new is to go to their profile and click on “connect”. By taking the extra step of viewing their profile, you are guaranteeing the opportunity to tailor your request message. 

Take the time to make your message personal, and differentiate yourself from the crowd by explaining why you’re reaching out to them, who you are and if applicable remind the person how you met. This is especially important for those looking to take this relationship to the next level (ie- pursue informational interviews). And if you’ve accidentally hit send without tailoring your message? Not a problem- send a follow up InMail or message.

Let us know if you have any personal rules about connecting on LinkedIn.

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  1. Tracey
    October 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    I always keep in mind a piece of advice I recieved awhile back. When I receive one of those ‘generic’ “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” and I do not know the person …. I will respond by asking them how we know each other or do we have a common connection? I may also ask them how I may be of assistance to them by accepting their request. Interesting that more times than not, I never get a response ….

    • October 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm — Reply

      This is great advice and definitely telling of the intentions of the person requesting. Thanks for sharing!

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