LinkedIn has moved beyond being just a job search platform. It’s now THE best place to meet and connect with professionals that you otherwise would never have cross paths with. I’ve met most of my clients, a majority of my team members, and some of the best people all through LinkedIn. I’ve learned a few do’s and don’ts throughout the years and I wanted to share them for others to best utilize this platform.
While LinkedIn is a “professional networking platform,” I’ve found the best way to connect with others is to be a little less “professional” and lean more towards personal. The same way people like to meet new friends in the real world is how you should interact with people on LinkedIn — be friendly, be interested in the other person, and share common interests. Follow these 3 simple tips to help you get the most out of your time spent on LinkedIn and connect with other great people.
DON’T: Just click the bright blue “Connect” button
Would you go up to someone new, poke them on their arm, and wait for them to invite you to their party? Probably not, right? Well that is what you are doing when you send a connection request without a personalized note to someone you don’t know! Extreme analogy, but you get the point — a connection request without context is not the best way to meet someone you admire.
DO: Customize your invitation with a note
You want to know the most sure-fire way to make a good first impression? Hit them with a personalized compliment! Goodbye to, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” and hello to:
That is just one simple example, but the possibilities are endless! You get 300 characters to make an impactful first impression, so use them and give your connection a dopamine boost with a nice, thoughtful message. When in doubt on what to write, focus more on THEM and less on YOU.
DON’T: Just take, take, take
We all need help at some point or another, but it’s important to be mindful of the timing and frequency. Before sliding into the DMs of people you admire, take the time to build a relationship with them first. Once you do, they not only will answer your questions but may even go above and beyond to help you achieve your goals. Build your relationship first, then ask.
DO: Give first
When in doubt, just give. In a world where the average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day, give them something else. Share a compliment; connect your network to each other; go out of your way to help other people achieve their goals. It all goes back to building genuine relationships and viewing your peers and mentors as friends. Friendships happen when both sides want to help the other person. You can make that first move and give without expectations.
DON’T: Be a fly on the wall
I get it — it can be intimidating to put yourself out there in a noisy world, but you’d be missing out on best part of LinkedIn — the community! While you can still learn and get connected by being an observer, you’ll always be in a reactive state. To get real conversations started and have others reach out to meet you, you need to be proactive. So, our last tip for you is to…
DO: Get in on the ACTION!
You don’t have to jump into the deep end from the very beginning. Start small and work your way there. Before posting your own content, contribute to others’ posts by adding meaningful comments related to their post. Share a recent event you attended and summarize the key takeaways you’ve learned from the speaker. (Hint: Tag the speaker in your post and you just made a new friend!) And when you are ready, share your own original content with the only goal to bring value to your network. The more you put in and share consistently, the more you will get out of the community.
“Networking” on LinkedIn can sound scary at first, but it really doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that everyone was in your shoes at one point or another and was also new to developing this skill. If you can give freely without expectations and seek to make new friends, you will be part of a great community that adds a lot of value to your life. Your online connections will turn into offline friends!