By Kenneth Lang
Congratulations on being one of the 700 million members of LinkedIn!
By developing an effective profile, you establish your personal brand, market your skills and expertise, and network more effectively with other professionals.
Be strategic when you connect with others on LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn network serves as an important foundation of your professional network which is valuable throughout your career, when you are employed as well as when you are unemployed.
You have many options to build your LinkedIn network.
When you are launching your LinkedIn presence, I recommend starting to connect with colleagues, friends, and family on LinkedIn. That’s a great way to build up your number of connections, and you may also learn a bit more about their professional backgrounds.
Next, start to connect with people you may not already know well. Think about professional contacts you want to follow up with after --
Reaching out carefully and professionally should increase the probability that you can increase your network.
Connecting does not mean only clicking on "Connect" on someone's LinkedIn profile.
The best practice is to add a personalized message to your connection request.
Personalizing your message will help you stand out from most others who either just send a request to connect without a message or who send out an automated connection request which is sent to dozens of people at once.
Always consider the tone of your connection request and proofread that request before sending.
Using LinkedIn mobile to connect requires a bit more work as LinkedIn does not make it easy to personalize a request the way you would on a laptop.
On mobile if you select "connect," a generic connection request is sent out. Yikes!
To personalize on mobile, rather than select "connect," select the "More…" option on the profile. Then, next select "Personalize invite" from the available selections. That will take you to a page which allows you to personalize your invitation.
Examples of automated connection requests which are becoming more common these days:
Why are these so bad?
Because there is no thought evident behind any of them.
How would you feel if you received one of these automated requests? What value would you get from it?
Many times, if you accept these connections, you are going to get a sales pitch, followed by another one, and then another one – all usually automated.
Here are some examples which can be edited for your specific situation:
In these times, showing empathy is important. Close your connection request with a phrase like "Thanks for your time" or "Best wishes." Show respect for someone's workload because your connection is probably working from home doing many types of multitasking.
Proofread the request too before clicking on that "Send" link!
Congratulations when your request has been accepted! Now, demonstrate your professionalism in your follow-up.
Very few people send a "Thanks for connecting" reply to reinforce their background.
By sending a thank-you message, you will definitely stand out in a positive way. For example:
While there is a fine line between being too "sales-y" and being assertive, these times require you to differentiate yourself even more from your competition. Use both your connection request and follow-up to sell yourself.
Having a solid and large LinkedIn network makes you more visible to those recruiters and other people who can be valuable to you for many reasons, even when you are happily employed. In time, you will receive more connection requests sent to you as you become more active on LinkedIn. You want to be "hunted," rather than the "hunter." LinkedIn is a prime recruiting tool, more than any job board, because recruiters can find details about potential job applicants that a resume or job application will not have.
Kenneth Lang is the founder of KML Consultants (KMLConsultants.com) which offers 1-on-1 LinkedIn training. He facilitates an online weekly LinkedIn Lunch ‘n Learn where attendees discuss LinkedIn best practices. Kenneth is also a volunteer career coach for the Rutgers New Start Career Network which provides older (ages 45+) long-term unemployed New Jersey job seekers with access to free, personalized career services. He also mentors students through William Paterson University’s Pesce Institute. Connect with Kenneth on LinkedIn.