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On LinkedIn, you often connect with people you have never met in real life. For some with an old-school mentality towards networking, this can be off-putting, but it’s quickly become the norm in many business circles.
Sixty-one percent of professionals agree that digital networking leads to career growth. More than a third claim that even a casual conversation on LinkedIn messenger has led to an opportunity for them.
Still, there are certain aspects of the process to keep in mind when reaching out to a new contact.
1. Don’t comment on their photo
One of the most common and unfortunate mistakes with a new contact is commenting on their photo or physical appearance. LinkedIn is not the platform for this, even if the compliment was made with pure intention.
There are dozens of better aspects of a profile to comment upon to lead off with, such as their summary or work experience, and it’s best to stay focused on the business side of things. It’s natural to want to start things off on a positive note with a compliment, but it’s best to aim for a different angle with new contacts.
Related: The 7 Deadly LinkedIn Sins
2. Be personal with your approach
There’s nothing worse than receiving a connection request from what seems like an automated robot. When connecting with someone you’ve never met, it’s helpful to personalize your initial message towards the recipient.
This doesn’t mean you need to write them an entire letter, but you should read their profile and spend enough time crafting your message so they know you are a human. If you can do this while also letting some of your personality shine, your outreach is far more likely to succeed.
Also, be mindful not to send too many requests in a day. LinkedIn might notice if you send more than 30 connections per day, leading to a locked account depending on your registration status. Bottom line — craft quality messages rather than sending out as many as possible.
3. Be specific (and honest) about your intent
Time is valuable for the business-minded users of LinkedIn, and cutting to chase will be appreciated by your busy audience. A vague request for 15 minutes of your time is a warning flag and will most likely be ignored. Let the contact know who you are and what you are looking for right out of the gate, whether it be a demo of your services or advice in your field.
Being direct saves both sides time. This show of respect and transparency will pay dividends down the line for both your immediate connection success rate and long-term reputation in the industry.
4. Make contacting you easy and accessible
Providing multiple avenues of contact on your LinkedIn profile does a world of good for your page. Listing your email, phone number, etc., on your profile increases the chance your requests are accepted. In addition, it adds legitimacy that you are a real person who is open to business opportunities.
These act as anchors to the real world and some prefer to use non-messenger means when establishing a new business relationship with an unknown person. By not having to dig around for the information, you are far more likely to receive responses to your requests for connections.
5. Remember your visibility
Before reaching out to any new contact, remember that the prospective connection will almost certainly scan your post history and profile.
Even if someone hasn’t actively commented on your post or looked at your profile, they still can see some of your past activity. So, it never hurts to fine-tune your profile and post history to ensure everything listed is accurate and relevant to your current goals.
LinkedIn has tools that allow you to see who — and how many — is viewing your profile each day. So make the most of it and know what kind of traffic your profile typically receives.
By tidying up your posts and profile before you request connections, you can rest easy that when the potential contact reads your profile, it portrays you in an ideal light that will lead to an accepted request.
6. It’s best to give before taking
It can be a bit off-putting to ask for something of value before providing anything of worth to a connection. Getting around this is difficult but not impossible. It can be as little as an insight into a recent post or an idea for collaboration. This moves you from the needy categorization into a more contributive tone, which is far more attractive to new connections.
By giving something free to start your outreach, you display an unselfish spirit that’s sure to stand out from the pack. Take the time to research the connection and see the need you can fulfill for them. It’s just a matter of connecting the dots, and once you do, your connection will make far more sense for both sides.