Do You Know the Etiquette of Connecting on LinkedIn?
Grow Your Practice and Presence So You Are Noticed
If you want to grow your network of leads, prospects, clients, and referral sources, then LinkedIn is probably the best social media platform to jump into. Most of you are already playing in that sandbox anyway, and with a few tweaks, you can do better. Much better.
Using Social Media to Build Your Practice
Marketing Techniques: Social Media, Networking, and Referrals
If you want to grow your network of leads, prospects, clients, and referral sources, then LinkedIn is probably the best social media platform to jump into.Â Most of you are already playing in that sandbox anyway, and with a few tweaks, you can do better.Â Much better.
Because of my RV lifestyle, almost all my new contacts over the past eight+ years have come through LinkedIn…which just goes to show the power of the platform.Â But one of my pet peeves is seeing the shockingly poor way we connect with each other.
Donâ€™t Default to the Default
Iâ€™d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
This is LinkedInâ€™s default invitation for making connections.
Why? Â Who are you? Â Do I know you? Â What do you want?
These are the questions I ask when I receive that message.Â And because Iâ€™m a savvy LinkedIn user, Iâ€™m also wondering why I got the default invite.Â (Donâ€™t we all want to feel a little special?)
If you donâ€™t want the people youâ€™re connecting with to ask those kinds of questions, you need to customize your invites.
Crafting a LinkedIn Invitation to Connect
There is an etiquette to connecting on LinkedIn, at least among the people who do it well.Â Think of connecting on LinkedIn as a face-to-face conversation.Â You donâ€™t introduce yourself the same way on every occasion, right? Â There is always a context to how you frame your opening move.Â Why should your invitation to connect on LinkedIn be any different?
I have different messages that I use to connect on LinkedIn.Â Just to give one example, if I see someone who has liked, commented, or shared one of my LinkedIn articles:
Hi [name]. Â Thanks for checking out my “[title]” article on LinkedIn.Â If you think we share similar interests, I’d love to connect.Â Hope you’ll accept this invite.
And all my custom invites are signed â€śRod Burkert | Burkert Valuation Advisorsâ€ť.
I hope you can see that customized invitations like these are more likely to accomplish your objective of making valuable connections while also conveying a glimpse of your intent and personality.
Accepting a LinkedIn Invitation to Connect
Now go back to that imaginary face-to-face conversationâ€¦but this time, someone has introduced herself to you.Â Do you turn your back, walk away, and leave her wondering if she will ever hear from you again? Â Or do you say something like: â€śHey! Â Thanks for introducing yourself.Â What you do is interesting.Â Is there anything I can do to help you get what you want?â€ť
If the answer seems obvious, then what should you do when you accept someoneâ€™s invitation to connect on LinkedIn? Â Do you just hit the â€śAcceptâ€ť buttonâ€”maybe after reviewing the personâ€™s profile? Â Then move on because work and life are coming at you at 100 mph and, you know, youâ€™re busy?
If you do, you may waste an opportunity to build a relationship or, perhaps, even sell a service.Â What if your new connectionâ€”someone who already made the effort to reach out to youâ€”just needs a little nudge in the right direction to make them ask?
Hereâ€™s what I doâ€¦I accept the invitation and send off this response:
Hi [name].Â Thanks for reaching out and connectingâ€¦much appreciated! Â I see from your profile that [list a commonality].Â Is there a specific reason you connected? Â What can I do to help you?
Generally, everyone answers me back with something.Â It would be rude not to, right? Â That is the beginning of an online conversation.Â And youâ€™d be surprised by the number of times people want my advice, recommendation, or serviceâ€¦which allows me to demonstrate how I can provide value to the budding relationship.
You might think typing out all these different invites and thank yous is tedious.Â It could be, but that is where TextExpander (for PC or Mac) comes in.
TextExpander allows me to write out messages and save them as â€śsnippets.â€ť Â A keyboard shortcut you create for each snippet allows you to invoke it anywhere you type textâ€”e-mails, social media updates, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc.Â I use shortcuts like â€śiinvite1â€ť for my different invitations to connect.Â And â€śconnectâ€ť brings up my thank you message.
I hope these thoughts and ideas improve all your LinkedIn interactions, but especially how you send and accept invitations to connect.Â Your mileage may vary, but give it a try and see what happens.
Rod Burkert, CPA, ABV, CVA, runs things over at Burkert Valuation Advisors, LLC. Heâ€™s reinvented his practice several times after going solo in July 2000. Today, Rodâ€™s practice offers coaching, training, and consulting to colleagues and clients in the BVFLS world. And since March 2010, heâ€™s been traveling full time throughout the United States and Canada in an RV with his wife and their two dogs.