On Instagram, you rack up the likes based on your photo content. Twitter is where you can forever rant on the viral topics of the day (#socialdistancing, anyone?). And Snapchat (if that’s still a thing) is for flower crown selfies. But if you truly want to make your career dreams come true, then you have to master the art of connecting on LinkedIn.
That’s right—it’s 2020 and creating a message on LinkedIn is basically this generation’s Odyssey. On this platform, you have the power to use your words to connect with all types of professionals around the world—from fellow employees to prospective employers and yes, even those Insta influencers—but it’s not as simple as you may think. There’s much more to it than simply hitting the “connect” button. You have to construct the perfect message that will not only get you more connections, but will likely open the door for future employment opportunities.
The first mistake LinkedIn users make is to rely on the site’s automatic message. You know the one—“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Rather than risking sounding like a robot, add a little oomph to your message box. Don’t know where to start? Keep scrolling to see some do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn connecting etiquette. We promise, you’ll be the better for it.
1. DON’T: Make it about yourself
No one likes a humblebrag. Instead of listing all your accomplishments, use this opportunity to make a personal connection. If the person you are reaching out to is interested, they can click on your profile and see your previous work experience themselves. The below example is a message you should avoid at all costs:
Hi [First Name],
My name is _____. I want to tell you a little about myself. I started my career in ____, then transitioned to ______. I’m currently working with ______. I’ve been told I have great people skills. I’ve also won Employee of the Year for the last two years, and I’m presently gunning for my third trophy.
I’d love to connect with you to speak more about how my skills can help you and your brand.
DO: Compliment the connection
Offer your potential connection some praise. There’s a reason why you want to connect, and this is the chance for your first impression. One way to talk about yourself while paying a compliment is explaining how this person—or the product or company they work with—has positively affected you. For example, you could write:
Hi [First Name],
I’m very interested in the work you do with [Company]. I’ve been following your project the last few months and would love it if you could take a look at some of the similar work I’ve done with my company.
Looking forward to hopefully working together!
2. DON’T: Connect with hundreds of random people
We get it—once you’re an official professional on LinkedIn (with a headshot and all), it’s enticing to want to start connecting with everyone. But not so fast. It’s generally a bad practice to go on a “connect” spree.
Sending the same automatic message to a large number of random users is not only lazy, there’s also a chance these users mark you as spam. If this happens, LinkedIn can suspend your account for a period of time. In the end, you gain a bad reputation and you lose time at making real connections by having your account suspended.
DO: Connect with people you know and want to know
We’re not saying you can’t connect with strangers. After all, networking is meeting with new people. However, you need to have a strategy. Pro-tip: Highlight someone’s career milestone if you admire the person on a professional level and then explain how that has personally impacted you.
As for people who you know, but aren’t well-acquainted with—like former colleagues and college classmates—it’s best to give a friendly nudge and re-introduce yourself. Don’t assume everyone remembers who you are.
3. DON’T: Write your intro as a press release
People often make the mistake of writing the message too formal. Of course, you should always be professional when reaching out to a new connection, but we’re humans and we know when another human is speaking to us. If it sounds too robotic, you’re likely not to hear back from the person. Take, for example, someone who is pitching themselves to a potential new client:
I work as a [Position] at [Company]. This company has been around for _____ years and specializes in [xxx]. I joined the team in _____. Since then our numbers have steadily gone up.
I can provide you with more information on the company as well as more insight into my time here to see if you think we’re a good fit.
Let me know a good time to speak over the phone.
Looking forward to it!
DO: Include personality in your message
If you want to stand out, you need to show your potential connections who you really are. Think about it: If you go to an in-person interview, the employer is more likely to remember the candidates that showed more personality. Maybe it’s a common interest or perhaps a shared appreciation of a hobby that made you stand out.
This same mentality applies on a virtual level. Leave the overt formalities out and strive for a more natural tone when addressing the connection.
Nice to e-meet you! I’m so excited at the prospect of getting to work together. I’m a huge fan of your brand and think my skills, along with the support of my company will be a great fit.
I also noticed you volunteer at _____. I volunteer at my local _____ as well! Let me know a good time for you to speak so I can tell you more about what we can bring to the table and share our stories about volunteering.
Look forward to speaking!
Practice Makes Perfect
Follow these tips and tricks to help you create a memorable message. Perfecting the LinkedIn connection request is difficult, but it’s incredibly worthwhile. Connecting with the right individuals opens doors to more job opportunities and ultimately, a greater network within the professional industry.